Friday, November 28, 2014

Companions in Misery [or "Happy Together"]

On being miserably happy:
[Schopenhauer's] account of others as “fellow-sufferers” in “On the Sufferings of the World” encourages us to nurture a soft spot for even the most flawed individuals. That we are all condemned to the same Sisyphean fate ought to make us compassionate instead of competitive, work together instead of in isolation, and rely on one another instead of just ourselves. While Camus, in his well-known essay on the myth, has Sisyphus suffer his punishment alone, Schopenhauer’s account of redemption through shared misery might give Sisyphus, and us, neighbors to love. Still, Camus concludes, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” And if Camus can imagine happiness for a man sentenced to an eternity of meaningless toil, perhaps we can do the same for dissatisfied New Yorkers. Whether we are grieving the death of a friend or complaining about alternate-side-of-the-street parking, I think Schopenhauer was right to call us “companions in misery,” with the emphasis on companions.
From New York Times, The Stone, Companions in Misery By Mariana Alessandri

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