On the Night of His Last Falling

Posted on:Feb 22, 2013
By:Flint McGlaughlin

[Editor's Note: The poet J. V. Cunningham once observed that “…gloss demands / A gloss annexed / Till busy hands / Blot out the text…” I do not wish to add gloss to the text below. I will only mention that if you find yourself unable to understand (as I did), it may be helpful to heed the advice in the last block of verse and judge it with your body, not your mind. The work is started here below, but because of its very particular formatting, we recommend that you download the PDF version. -PC]

I cannot reach him...I can see him, faintly, through the haze of darkness, across the gaping chasm. He is poised on the ledge, a tiny shadow, thrusting upward from the stone, back arched, head high, a matador. My God! What is he seeing? "Son! Son!" I have called to him again and again. He does not answer. I am not sure he hears. The wind is fierce, treacherous, blasting its will through the granite. "My Son!" There is no reply. What is he thinking?

To continue reading, download the PDF.


Quin McGlaughlin on Mar 14, 2013

I think I understand a little more. I read Camus, about Sisyphus. My understanding is that according to Camus, the primary tenet of the “Absurd life” is the conflict between human desire for understanding and human inability to obtain it and thus the closest we can get to knowledge is an acknowledgement of this truth and an acceptance of the reality it imposes on us. His call to action is not a philosophical conclusion, but an invitation to live life free of the very need for conclusions.

As a side-note, one of the things I’ve observed, is that I believe we tend to strip potentially life-altering perspectives of their potency through categorization. It would be easy for some scholar to make the mistake of dismissing a philosophy like Camus’ by deeming it a class epidemiological argument of “can we know anything.” I think philosophy shouldn’t be decided. It should be woven. There are many theories of human nature, many philosophies, all individual attempts to interpret the same perceived reality. One cannot be too careful in deciding what he believes (and consequently lives for), and yet, one cannot be too careful to make sure is always believing something. Belief is the best we have.

What makes Camus’ philosophy profound, I think, and more or less transcendent of common philosophies, is his sacrifice of Hope. Camus sacrifices the need for Hope in his philosophy in order to embrace truth at its face value. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. Rather than cling to his need for understanding of anything, he embraces an understanding of his inability to understand. But, he stops there. For me, I think faith is the only viable solution to his dilemma and yet the very one which he adamantly denies. Faith isn’t simply in spite of our inability to understand, it transcends our inability to understand. It is a gift. Faith is a choice, and that power of choice, a precious gift. Faith even transcends belief though many would consider them synonymous. Because belief is “based upon”,  and faith is “despite everything”.

My assumption is obviously that the paper reflected some of the philosophical break-through that you’ve had over the past 5 years. What it seems like based on the paper is that while your thinking transcends Camus’ you also sympathize with him “I am not Camus asking if life is worth living. I am Sisyphus, asking whether death is worth dying.”. I sympathize with him too. But you once wrote an observation about how a ‘good ending’ in a story depended upon where you placed the climax. Well, I think Camus placed his climax too early in his cycle of thought. He hit bottom and he stopped. Rather than dig until he found something deeper. I think Pascal was far greater than Camus. He found the bottom, but he didn’t stop. He knew he could not know but chose faith “despite everything”. His climax was farther along the story and according to Christianity, closer to the conclusion. I’m aware that I don’t fully understand your thinking or philosophy underlying the paper, but this is all simply according to my understanding.

I want to write you more often now to discuss things like this. Growing up, I don’t think I’ve shared much of my own thought. Topics like this are things I’ve been planning to talk to you about for a long time but I just never did. I’ve been thinking about things like this growing up my entire life. You instilled that in me. But for during most our talks I think I always tried to listen. At least as far as I can remember, if you recall, many of our talks I just sat quietly. I used to wonder to myself if you knew how much I was absorbing and thinking about, agreeing or disagreeing. Now that I’m starting to become a man, I want to share some of my thinking with you so that I can learn more. There are so many things I want to talk about. Please let me know your thoughts, dad. I’m hungry for growth.

Thank you for everything, dad. Everything I will ever be I will owe to you and the countless ways that you’ve invested and poured into me.

- Q

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