Albert Camus was a French Algerian philosopher most notable for his writings about life’s absurdity and existentialism. Camus believes that “nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” This normalcy that Camus writes about is perhaps the normalcy of struggling to continue living our repetitive and mundane lives, knowing that we exist in an absurd world that contains no answer and is outright futile. Despite the anguishing realizations of the meaninglessness of this world, Camus asserts in his philosophical papers that we must continue to naturally live our normal lives, without turning towards suicide for a solution.
According to Camus, there exists but one fundamental philosophical problem: suicide. The issue of suicide arises when one day, an individual has an abrupt awakening and realizes the passiveness of his recurrent lifestyle and the absurd world where resides in. All along, this individual’s habit had been physically living, but now he has acquired the habit of thinking. The beginning of this realization initiates the beginning of his mental undermining by the weight of the grave truth. There is no answer to life’s absurdity. No meaning, no solution, nor an identity. Life is but a repetitive futile struggle. The maddening anxiety initiated by these realizations reaches a climax with two options remaining: committing physical suicide or committing philosophical suicide. According to Camus, he argues that we must choose neither and instead struggle to live normally while still being conscious of the absurd.
Unlike other existential thinkers, Camus opposes the belief of utter nihilism and hopelessness. He states that suicide is never the answer, neither physically nor philosophically. We mustn’t be afraid of the downfall that awaits us. We ought to accept this downfall, then get back up and ascend once again. For escape through suicide is utter cowardice. Physical suicide is hastily committed without any proper reflection; this sort of suicide is never logical and tends to be a result of extreme passion. Philosophical suicide, on the other hand, is even more wretched, as it forces one to feign happiness and expunge awareness of the absurdity. Philosophical suicide is committed when the anxiety of the absurdity is far too burdensome and conflicts with the individual’s actions causing cognitive dissonance. As a result, the individual commits suicide philosophically and lies to himself about the meaninglessness of his life.
Even though life refuses to answer our most desperate questions about existence and our identities, we must still struggle to live through this silence until the very end. For if we do not continue living, then the suicide that we bring with our own hands manifests our defeat against the sadistic villain of absurdity. This inevitable anxiety will continue to loom over our lives and linger until death takes us away. Therefore, instead of trying to escape or annihilate this absurdity, we must struggle to live our normal lives as we generally would.
Living a life that isn’t maniacal and instead rests on normalcy ought to be our aim. Achieving this lifestyle of normalcy is nowhere near easy. First, it begins with the nauseating discovery of truth, then overcoming suicide, and concludes by leaving a never ending bitter taste. We mustn’t let our realizations of life’s truth obliterate our sanity and plunge us towards death. Nor should we let the haunting bitterness drive us to denying this tormenting truth. Instead, we must strive for a normalcy where we maintain a balance and our lives are full of exhilarating experiences and zeal. One must learn to cope and live with this lingering existence of anxiety, nothingness, absurdity, and the uncertainty of death. Despite all this adversity, if an individual can “expend tremendous energy” to live a “normal” life without losing his sanity then that individual is what Camus would call an absurd hero. The individual, who is an outcome of all these realizations, recognitions, and acknowledgments and still chooses to live to the fullest, is indubitably the true absurd hero. This individual who exerts all of their energy to live normally in the best possible way has defied his fates. He has challenged the meaninglessness by submitting to becoming a player of life’s absurd games and dares to enjoy the normalcy despite the difficulty.
In short, people remain blind to the harsh mental struggles and labors that afflict the absurd heroes, who battle all their lives as they strive to live happily and normally in this answerless world. Unquestionably, life is capriciously meaningless. However distressing it may be, we mustn’t turn to physical nor philosophical suicide. Instead as Camus suggests in his quote, we must strive to live our normal lives as fully as possible no matter how burdensome this absurd truth may be.