Passing Life Around the Corner

(This plays scenery is simple, a street corner. Patrons will pass throughout the day without the
scene changing. The exact street corner is insignificant; all street corners exist as essentially the
same. “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often
born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door. As it is with absurdity” (Camus 12).

(7:00am, three men waiting to cross on their way to work)

Sisyphus: I have this thing today at work.

Adam: What’s your thing?

Sisyphus: Well, the thing is… work. It’s a habitual eight hours over and over again,
masked by an illusion of difference.

Allison: I see my eight hours as an opportunity to fulfill a responsibility and help
people, plus I get to explore the infinite within myself!

Sisyphus: I just do not understand how every prior day culminated into this day. It’s

Adam: I feel you dude. This daily routine feels like I am eternally pushing a rock
up a hill.

Allison: It’s not a beautiful rock for you?

Sisyphus: Sometimes I think so, at least that would make me happy. But sometimes I
just ask myself why a few too many times.

Allison: Exactly! Perhaps embracing this absurdity is a good thing? Or maybe
you’re succumbing to the temptation of continually postulating why?
What are you trying to do, solve the hard problem?

Adam: Maybe, Allison, you just haven’t explored the absurdity enough. But hey,
the light just turned green, should we stop into Starbucks again today?

Sisyphus: Yeah. A coffee before work sounds nice. It’s either that or suicide?

Allison: Coffee sounds great!

Sisyphus: The coffee is practical. But today, today, I will choose to do nothing. I am
going to sit on this corner and watch life go by. Enjoy your coffee. I am
going to stew in the absurd.

(Sisyphus sits on the street corner)

(7:30am, one man and one woman wait at the corner, both holding longboards)

Sarah: Joe! I’m excited for this trip to Redwood National Park. Unfortunately, I
slept only a few hours last night—but these trees inspire me.

Joe: Yeah, the sequoias are going to be beautiful. You know that they can grow
to 250 feet tall?

Sarah: And 30 feet in diameter!

Joe: I see, you have done your research.

Sarah: Of course I’ve done my research! These beautiful trees kept me up almost
all night.

Joe: Well, put some of those sleepless hours to use and tell me some facts.

Sarah: Ready? Giant sequoias can live for over 3,000 years! Imagine being alive
for 3,000 years…

Joe: Oof.. that sounds like a lot of effort. More effort than 80 that’s for sure.

Sarah: But would you know the difference? Annnndddddd continuing, the bottom
half of the trees are branchless and on the top half, the leaves branch out in
a fractal pattern.

Joe: Sounds beautiful.

Sarah: They are! But can I share a frustration? I’ve come to a wall. Despite all
this time I’ve spent researching, I’ve realized something.

Joe What is that?

Sarah: Well, despite all the research I’ve done, I’ve realized two things. One, I
can only truly know about them by experiencing them. The internet can
only tell me so much.

Joe: Well that makes sense. You can’t expect to know about what a tree’s
presence through the internet. Isn’t that basically the reason we’re visiting

Sarah: Correct. I’m afraid though, because despite my passion for these trees, I
fear I will not be able to get to completely know the tree, even if I hug it,
water it, climb it, or kiss it.

Joe: What do you mean?

Sarah: An acute feeling of a denseness, a denseness that exists within the tree. To
a certain degree, the tree is foreign and irreducible to me (Camus 14).

Joe: I guess “at the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman” (Camus 14).
Hey, the light is green, lets cross the street.

Sisyphus: (sits and says nothing)

(8:30am, three clowns wait at the street corner)

Clown 1: I couldn’t pick a mask this morning. Blue or red. Just couldn’t decide. I
had to flip a coin.

Clown 2: Sounds like you’re eluding the responsibility of choice. You know the
choice doesn’t really matter, right?

Clown 1: You always say that. I know you’re wrong, I just know it! The color
matters and determines the course of my life from here on out. Usually, I
pick the right color from the rules I’ve laid out.

Clown 2: You know my stance on this. The decision justifies the decision itself.
Anything outside that doesn’t matter.

Clown 3: Unless you really think you can win ha.

Clown 2: And that would be betraying life.

Clown 1: And I disagree. My hope signifies hope. After all, it’s definitely better than

Clown 3: Well, yeah. If you think life isn’t worth living. But that would be giving it
too much power, like deeming it too much or impossible to understand.
Just like anyone else, I didn’t ask to be put here. I’m just a clown.

Clown 2: But either way, you’re giving up to those two imposters, playing a victim
or searching for answers. The answers are only as powerful as the

Clown 1: Ugh. Whatever. This is just absurd. How many kids will be at your
birthday parties today? I have 32.

Clown 2: I have a big one, 104.

Clown 3: I don’t have a birthday party today.

Clown 2: Then why are you wearing the mask?

Clown 3: I didn’t think about not putting in on…

Sisyphus: How strange that you have never stopped to question, what do you mean
you’ve never stopped to ask? You habitually expend effort and put on a
mask and you never question it? You never stopped to look. It is exactly in
your pursuit Mr. Clown that you do not even know what distance is, let
alone all that is re-lived through deciding.

Clown 3: What do you mean?

Sisyphus: One word my friend… Absurd, you cannot embrace it.

Clown 3: You’re weird homeless man, maybe you should go and make something of
yourself. Whatever absurdity you are speaking of, we’re going to cross the

Sisyphus: Rather would I choose myself to be nothing than put on a mask and never

(9:12am, a dog and his owner stop at the corner)

Owner: (looking at dog) What does life look like from your perspective? I know
you see with different colors, and you have an excellent nose, and really
cute paws… but I mean, how does this street corner FEEL to you?

Dog: …

Owner: Oh that’s right, you’re a dog.

Dog: ….

Owner: I guess we can imagine right?

Sisyphus: I’m not so sure of that. It’s a dog you’re a human.

Owner: So?

Dog: ….

Sisyphus: If you can’t compare the existences of two humans. What makes you think
you can do it for a dog? In fact, you can’t even explore your own the
infinite metaphysical world! (Camus 10) What makes you think you can
do it for a dog?

Owner: …I thought it would be an enjoyable exploration while I wait for this light.

Sisyphus: If you really wanted to describe its life, you could start at its habits since
habits constitute much of existence. Through this you can explore it

Owner: You know what, this seems absurd. I’m going to cross the street.

Dog: …

(10:32am, two teenage girls wait at the light holding cameras)

Hannah: What did you have for breakfast this morning? Also, can your mom take
us to get our nails done for Prom this weekend?

Rose: I had a delicious breakfast: rye toast and strawberry marmalade with sea
salt. We also still have that delicious blackberry juice that tastes like
liquefied blackberries: leaves, sweetness, slightly prickly thorns.

Hannah: Oh my god! You totally had a better breakfast than I did. I had some Life
and whole milk. Life, the cereal. Better than Suicide Flakes, but still just
Life. And yes, she can take us on Thursday! I’ve already selected my
color, aquamarine tangerine. What color are you going to get?

Rose: Sounds like a fine breakfast? Sometimes you just have to embrace your
Life, don’t you? Its not always going to be good. Someday I will run out
of strawberry marlade. I’m not sure yet, I’ll look during class today.

Hannah: Let me know the second you’ve decided!! Also… GUESS WHAT?!

Rose: WHAT!?

Hannah: I think Jason is going to ask me to prom tomorrow!

Rose: What makes you so sure?

Hannah: He was like totally dropping some hints yesterday.

Rose: What did he say?? Do you think he was flirting with you?

Hannah: He asked me, “do you have a prom date yet?”

Rose: I’d say that pretty much seals it, as close as we, two beings separate from
his being, can get at least. It’s a shame you have to wait until tomorrow.

Hannah: Yeah, ugh. We just have to wait. I wish I could enjoy this day more. But
now I just want tomorrow to come.

Sisyphus: (bursts into the conversation) You belong to time! Everything in you
ought to reject tomorrow as it is not certain. But you sit here and long for
it, you long for the unknowing that tomorrow MIGHT come (Camus 14).

Hannah: Rose let’s cross the street, this guy is absurd.

(12:01pm, Jaspers, Chestov, Heidegger, Husserl, Kierkegaard, and a man wait at the light )

Jaspers: Hey, look guys, Sisyphus is sitting on the street corner. He’s probably
going to try and attack the meaning of meaning again.

Chestov: Hey Sisyphus, here to tell me again that the acceptance of absurdity and
filling it with God constitutes a leap into escaping? (Camus 37).
Apparently, I am taking the leap without even knowing.
Kierkegaard. Hahahaha that’s hilarious. At least my criteria for measuring a logical
system fails and my leap constitutes a transcendence into what I know to
be impossible (Camus 40).

Husserl: That’s a fine way to go; in your thinking, you have run through making
conceptions of the world and attempted to explain it. Apparently, I only
attempt to describe experiences as convolutedly as possible without really
explaining anything! (Camus 43)

Heidegger: Letting this situation reveal itself to me gives me anxiety. (Camus 24)

Sisyphus: How funny you all appear to provide answers to the paradox. The
paradoxical nature of the truth is that there is no absolute truth! And in
that, the absolute truth is that there is no truth. You may escape all you.
like, but you’re merely crippling in the face of the absurdity.
A man. I don’t understand what any of you said, especially you Heidegger, but I
do know that this guy Sisyphus is trouble. I believe he entrapped himself
in logic; a logic that fosters an empty void. A void of absurdity. Let’s cross
the street and leave this man in his void. We cannot help him.

(12:59pm, two CEO’s, both dressed in pinstripe suits, wait at the street corner)

CEO 1: My employees are pushing me to give them an extra day off for the 4th of
July this year. What do you think I should do?

CEO 2: We both know that holidays just commemorate the past and give people a
sense of unity through the shared collective memory of an event and its
reenactment. These holiday things really get in the way of making money.
My stock price would rise 1% faster per year without them! I calculated it
last night in my excel spreadsheet.

CEO 1: I know I know, they’re a nuisance. But part of me thinks there might be
some intangible benefit… maybe a moral boost? After all, I want them to
enjoy their habitual routine and make me money since without my fellow
human I am nothing. But I don’t want them to think that I am just breaking
this habit like it means nothing.

CEO 2: I understand. That’s a tough decision. You have more of a heart than me. I
built it into our employment contract, “limited time off for holidays.”
They have free choice after all, if they didn’t like my terms they could
EASILY get another job!

CEO 1: You have a great point. I just don’t know, I need to think on this decision
some more.

Sisyphus: The holidays and workweeks are familiar and calm their hearts! As for
you two, this so-called money thing you idolize so much, it is no more
stable than their work cycle and holidays! You’re either living in practical
assent or simulated ignorance! Either keeps the world from creaking and
tumbling into shimmering fragments. (Camus 18)

CEO 2: Is that homeless man talking to us?

CEO 1: I’m not sure. He sounds kind of absurd though. Let’s cross the street.
(2:09pm, three ballerinas stop on the street corner)

Ballerina 1: You all killed your leaps in the performance today!

Ballerina 2 & 3: Your leaps were also impressive!

Ballerina 1: Thank you, but the amount of faith you demonstrated in the unknown just
after taking the leap inspired me.

Ballerina 2: Well thank you, but your Grand Jeté at the end was magnificent. The way
you propelled yourself into the air and executed the splits brought me to
tears. You gracefully challenged gravity and, for a second, appeared to
float across the stage as if the basic laws of physics did not apply to you!
It’s as if you were a swan in your last life, channeling your ephemeral
beauty and grace into your flight.

Ballerina 3: I second what she said.

Ballerina 1: Thank you! I have been practicing for weeks. It’s nice to have finally
nailed it. Time to start working on the next leap!

Sisyphus: You may leap into the air well, but have you taken the most important leap
of all?

Ballerina 1: Not sure. What is the important leap?

Sisyphus: Let me ask you some questions. When you woke up this morning what did
you do?

Ballerina 1: Stretched and brushed my teeth.

Sisyphus: Why?

Ballerina 1: Because I wanted fresh breath and wanted to be ready for the

Sisyphus: Why?

Ballerina 1: I don’t want my teeth to rot and I had been preparing for the show for

Sisyphus: Why?

Ballerina 1: Because I need my teeth and I love the show.

Sisyphus: Why?

Ballerina 1: I don’t know, its just the way it is I guess.

Sisyphus: Why?

Ballerina 2 & 3: Hey, let’s cross the street. This guy is starting to sound like one of those
absurdists who cannot bring himself to choose a leap.

(3:46pm, two dolphin keepers wait at the light)

Keeper 1: And there I was cleaning the glass of the dolphin exhibit and a porpoise
came up to me from out of nowhere.

Keeper 2: Which porpoise came to meet you today? Happiness, Reason, Fear, or

Keeper 1: Reason visited me today. It put its nose up to the glass as if it where
thanking me for clearing the fog that clouded the pane.

Keeper 2: I find that Reason often does that to me too. He seems to validate my
efforts so that they appear logical and worthwhile.

Keeper 1: Yeah, I like Reason. When the porpoise looked at me, in that moment, I
realize the solution, clearing the glass, paves way for the problem,
choosing a method to clean the glass. Without my method for clearing it,
my squeegee, the I could not conceive of the glass being clear (Camus 15).

Keeper 2: I have the same thoughts! Also, when was the last time you saw
Happiness? It’s been a couple days for me.

Keeper 1: I don’t know. I have mostly seen Reason and Hope. Happiness? I like that
porpoise, even though I haven’t seen him in a couple weeks. I miss the
elation that porpoise inspires.

Keeper 2: I find it an elation so exalting that it leaves me content. Like everything is
perfect, perfect for me.

Sisyphus: Do you fools not see the absurdity in vacillating between these porpoises!?
They are fleeting and birth an absurdity that highlights the confrontation
between your silly human needs and the silence of the world (Camus 28).

Keeper 1: Who are you?

Sisyphus: My name is Sisyphus.

Keeper 1: Well Sisyphus. You have certainly brought me to a lucid state. I would like
to explore this further. What do you mean by silence?

Sisyphus: What do I mean by silence!? Does the world not talk, does the world not

Keeper 1: Well of course it does. So it cannot be silent.

Sisyphus: Of course it is! The barista requires your coffee order but asks nothing.
The doctor diagnoses your cancer but tells you nothing. Your porpoise,
Reason, is nothing more than a sign your have deemed to be
significant—filing the search for an answer with your method.

Keeper 2: Sisyphus you’re being irrational. How could you expect to know how deep
a lake is by simply throwing a stone into it?

Keeper 1: I agree. Actually, I think you sound absurd. We’re going to cross the street.
(4:00pm, a mother and son stop on the street corner)

Son: I can’t wait to be older mommy! I want to be an adult. I want

Mother: I would trade places with you in a heartbeat son.

Son: Why?

Mother: You’ll understand when you’re older. Just enjoy this street corner for what
you don’t know it to be, that is, without prior experience.

Sisyphus: You’re nostalgic because you’re jealous of your past.

Mother: And so? “We get into the habit of living before we get into the habit of
thinking” (Camus 8).

Sisyphus: Your desert. It is not a dessert is it?

Son: We know dessert has two “s”s because you always want two desserts! I
learned that in school today.

Mother: That’s very good honey. I don’t know who you are sir, but…

Sisyphus: But that is exactly what your nostalgia does! You wish, O how you wish
you could have another desert. You long for a thirst and a hunger different
from what you know today. You thirst and hunger after a thirst and hunger
you knew less well.

Mother: And you thirst and hunger after the thirst and hunger!

Sisyphus: No mam, I have no thirst and hunger. I revel in my sweet desert and
nothing more. I sit on this street corner and watch life go by. What could
be more pleasurable, what could be more satisfyingly unsatisfying? I am
nothing. I am absurd!

Son: Mommy, what is absurd?

Mommy: You’ll hopefully never learn, but if you do, you will when you’re older.
We’re going to cross the street.

(5:12pm, Sisyphus sits on the corner and picks up a hand-held mirror that fell out of a stylists
bag moments before)

Sisyphus: Who are you? What is you? What is what? Why are these questions I can
ask? Damn you sentience! You have entrapped me outside of me. What is
me? Is it my face. I see it. I touch it. My face sees my face touching my
face. I can touch it, yet I still feel disconnected from the life I am acting.
“This very heart which is mine will forever remain indefinable to me.
Between the clarity I have of my existence and the content I try to give to
that assurance; the gap will never be filled. Forever I shall be a stranger”
(Camus 19). I have sat here and enjoyed the void I have built around
myself. I have constructed impenetrable walls to safeguard me in my void.
A void where meaning cannot surface. This void suffocates everything and
therefore nothing. I have become an absurd man. Each person has stopped
and chosen to continue and has left me behind. I have lost this day but in
such, I feel the distance between myself and my feelings. It gets me no
closer. It is an empty distance. I believe I am entrapped in my own logic,
entrapped in logic for only logic can conjure questions which have no
logical answers. Perhaps I can be an absurd hero existing in tragedy
insofar that I am conscious. (Camus 121). The only difference is that now
I have no one to share it with.

(5:19pm, friends come back from work and stop at the street corner)

Allisson: Hey Sisyphus. How was watching life go by today?

Adam: Yeah; did you find what you were looking for?

Sisyphus: Well no… But I am glad that I entered the absurd. Sometimes, as Billy Joel
says in his song Vienna I gotta , “take the phone off the hook and
disappear for a while…its alright [I] can afford to lose a day or two.”

Adam: Indeed, Sisyphus you know the truth, “you can get what you want or you
can just get old” (Joel).

Allison: Wait! Didn’t you get fired for not going in to work?

Sisyphus: Fortunately, I did.

income, your passion, your pride! Its all lost. What a mistake you have
made. You have stopped yourself from reaching your goals.

Sisyphus: Yes and no—and only a mistake if you believe in the true absurdity that
one choice could be categorically superior to the other. Allison, if you are
trying to reach an end, I am afraid that the only end you will ever reach is
death. Even so, I realize… Not taking a stake in this day left me detached
and gave me the opportunity to become an observer within my own life. I
didn’t care about anything and I didn’t care that I didn’t care! I had no
feeling, no attachment to my existence, actions, or experience. No
attachment to this onslaught of information that I did not ask for.

Allison: That’s pretty dark Sisyphus.

Sisyphus: So is unknowingly pushing a rock up a hill. Allison, “you’ve got your
passion and you got your pride, but don’t you know that only fools are
satisfied” (Joel).

Allison: Actually, you’re kinda right. But we both know that ignorance is sweet
sweet beautiful bliss.

Sisyphus: This is true. But in cutting myself off from the flow of life, I learned that I
am also an observer in this play. Sometimes it’s nice to take a
backseat, but truthfully, I would rather be an actor. I want my rock back,
but this time, I’m going to make my rock, my rock.

Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus (and other essays). Vintage Books, 1955.
Joel, Billy. “Vienna.” The Stranger. 1977.

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