The Myth of Sisyphus

by Albert Camus

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What is Camus's view on the function of art in The Myth of Sisyphus?

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Camus argues that art is an essential element of human survival. The person who makes art takes on the role of reminding people of the importance of survival in an absurd world. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus asserts that life is meaningless, but people nevertheless must struggle to survive, because the only alternative is suicide. Through their creativity, the artist is the social actor who must convey this message.

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Albert Camus discusses the importance of art and the artist in The Myth of Sisyphus. He locates the artist as a crucial social actor who bears the burden of communicating the importance of survival in a world that he characterizes as absurd. Survival requires creative energy, which the artist is positioned to provide. According to Camus, life is meaningless, but that is all the more reason that people struggle to survive. In taking the side of life, Camus also argues that suicide is the only alternative for those who cannot accept the absence of meaning.

Accepting that life is devoid of meaning is a crucial element of fighting against annihilation. Art is uniquely crucial to survival because it does not depend on reason or logic. Acceptance of absurdity requires people to discard the conviction that life proceeds according to any logical plan.

All people are artists, Camus implies, in the sense that creativity is the key to survival. Accepting that art both destroys and generates experience, the artist resolutely continues to express the same set of themes. Camus thus equates art and survival with the endlessly repeated task of Sisyphus.

Camus highlights the performativity of life by focusing on the actor as a specific type of creator; the others are the seducer and the conqueror. The actor who performs on stage exemplifies acceptance of the absurd because they do not seek reality beyond the mask of their performance.

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