Sunday, September 5, 2010




: of, relating to, or suggestive of the labors of Sisyphus;specifically : requiring continual and often ineffective effort

When I first learned of Sisyphus, I must have been about fourteen; ninth grade was the year the school curriculum introduced myth into our young lives. I remember reading The Odyssey, or at the least, its Cliff Notes. I didn't read much of anything at fourteen. Perhaps Dean Koontz.

It was with Greek mythology that I first considered the concept of eternity. I grew up without any sort of religious beliefs or concept of eternal life. Heaven and hell were vague concepts at best—like southern California and boarding school, respectively. But when I read stories of Sisyphus forever pushing a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll back down, or Prometheus having his liver forever pecked out by an eagle, these images resonated far more with me as an adolescent than previous images of a nondescript fire-y pit of foreverness. I suppose it's in the details.

The thing that has always bugged me about eternity is consciousness. I'm assuming the reason eternity feels so daunting to us (as a race) is because the small part of our brains used for consciousness is unequipped to fathom anything that doesn't have an end. We understand life as a closed circle, not a infinite line. The thought of pushing a boulder up a mountain every day forever is literally unimaginable. I wonder how this activity would feel if the pusher was under the impression there was an end—sort of like factory work. Executing the same task every day, knowing it will always be the same, and eventually there will be retirement or death. If this wasn't the case, the SISYPHEAN subject would probably do one of two things:
a) lose his mind
b) gain access to the part of his mind from which the idea of eternity is fathomable
I truly wonder what it would feel like to be able to grasp this idea. Forever. I just don't get it.

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