Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview #7

 Sisyphus was a character from Greek mythology, his actual existence every bit as uncertain as the alleged creator of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the supposed poet, Homer.  As those two iconic epics evoke the name of Homer today, the mere mention of Sisyphus conjures the image of an individual every bit the analog of the biblical figure of Job, playing out the role that made him famous.  In the case of Sisyphus, the role was the eternal chore of pushing a large boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it tumble down to the bottom where, once it came to rest, Sisyphus was fated to repeat the action.  Many of the accounts of Sisyphus and his severe punishment imply that he was in fact a king, one who had been given his punishment by the gods, Zeus among them, for, among other things, the temerity to assume he was on the same level as the gods.

The plight or, if you will, task, or punishment of Sisyphus is, in some critical deconstruction, a metaphor for boring, repetitious work that in addition to its unvarying routine is meaningless.


Interviewer:  There were those commentators who claimed you were assigned your punishment by Zeus for revealing secrets of the gods to mortals.

Sisyphus:  Are you suggesting I was revealing secrets as a way of demonstrating my importance?


Interviewer:  Other commentators still infer your punishment came as a result of your having flirted with one of Zeus' mortal, er, girlfriends.

Sisyphus:  I could tell you some stories about that old fart, Zeus, like the real skinny on that Leda and the Swan routine, but hey, I'm in this gig for eternity as it is.  No telling what would happen if I told what I knew.


Interviewer:  A twentieth century thinker posited in a longish essay using your name, that you are essentially a happy person because of the task assigned to you for all eternity.  He goes on to argue that  humans distrust chaos, are drawn to order and certainty.

Sisyphus:  Crazy Frenchmen.  Leave it to one of them to come up with such a theory.  Camus, right.  Al Camus?  All I can say is, before you can be so goddamned sure--get my joke there?--about a man's existential condition, try pushing a boulder in his shoes for an eternity or two.


Interviewer:  So you are not happy at your work?

Sisyphus:  I get by, but that's because I'm not afraid to put my mind to use.  Pushing a rock up a hill, you can see things from a whole new perspective.  The wife comes around, complaining we don't have as much quality time as before, and my mother, always with the "You never call, you never write."  Like I have all this time to call her.  Some graduate students come around, wanting to do their thesis on me--what they call my plight.


Interviewer:  Is your condition a plight?


Sisyphus:  I could never figure what the fuck a plight was.  Sounds like some colo-rectal disorder, you get me.  Listen, my father and his father before him, they were kings.  Lot of fucking good it did them.  Dead before their time, if you get my drift.  Me, I've got something they never dreamed of.  I've got job security.  Now if you'll excuse me, I got to get back to my boulder.

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