Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Moral of the Story – Making Existential Jam

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
- Albert Camus, the Myth of Sisyphus

I won’t pretend to understand existentialism. I don’t have to articulate the philosophy however, to like what Camus offers. I just love that in the final sentence above, he argues that hope that can be found at the end of Sisyphus’ rainbow. No pot of gold, no pie in the sky, no pretending we have immortal souls. But, instead of despair, we find reason to hope.

My latest obsession is making jam, which I apparently understand as well as existentialism. I’m experiencing some problems there, mostly involved with the last part where the jam is supposed to set up and get jammy. Mine is more soupy. When, despite carefully following the recipe, the stuff doesn’t gel, I begin to despair. I then add pectin, and end up with something rubbery that would make a better hose gasket than toast topping.

While my jam jars boil in the big pot on the stove, I experiment with making labels, which is almost as much fun as making the jam, because at least I can control the result. Someone used to say that if you were an atheist you might as well murder your neighbors in cold blood because the only thing stopping the rest of us from doing that was our fear of eternal damnation. Yeah, that was my Mom, whose faith sustained her, but mostly puzzled me.

The moral of this story? Why, simply that the godless can’t possibly fuck things up worse than the religious fundamentalists who have conflicting Divine Causes to kill and die for. For me at least, it’s easy to imagine us happier without god than to imagine that some day my jam will set.


chaiselongue said...

I completely agree about religious fundamentalists of all kinds and have never understood existentialism properly either. But the jam - well, have you tried special jam-making sugar? Something I've found here in France, I suppose it's got added pectin, but I hope no unpleasant chemicals. You just bring it all to the boil for 7 minutes and like magic - or religion ?? - it just sets!!! The big advantage of this method is that the fruit still tastes 'fruity' rather than over-cooked - yes, there is hope!

walk2write said...

Maybe you need some new pectin. It has a limited shelf life. I'd like to meet a truly godless person. I've never known one, though some atheists I've been met claimed to be. Even Camus can't resist a romp with the gods to explain that he doesn't believe in any. Love your labels, and your flavor combinations are certainly unique. They sound like blue-ribbon ideas to me. Did you enter any preserves in the fair?