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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

The Philosophical Absurd

  1. FADE IN.


  2. Act 1


  3. INT. SLEEPING ROOM - DAY


  4. Waking up, PETER grabs his phone to read notifications.


  5. PETER (V.O.): Here's a Quora Digest on Albert Camus. I've heard about him when I chatted with others on Existentialism decades ago. I've never read his works.


  6. Peter checks time.


  7. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, it's only 05:50. It's high time I read his piece here: The Myth of Sisyphus.


  8. Reading.


  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Sisyphus defies gods and chains Death so that no humans need die. When Death is liberated, Sisyphus has to die. In the underworld, Sisyphus escapes but is captured. The gods sentence him for eternity to push a rock up a mountain, let the rock roll down from the mountain top and Sisyphus has to start all over again.


  10. Pausing.


  11. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): What a torturous. inhuman and degrading treatment.


  12. Reflecting.


  13. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd):What is Camus trying to convey in the metaphor?


  14. Pausing.


  15. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Sisyphus hates Death but is condemned to repeat a meaningless task. At the peak of accomplishing an objective only lies the foot of another.


  16. Pausing.


  17. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): That's no different from humans who want to live life but have to perform the same task every day; or one career after another.


  18. Reflecting.


  19. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, that's absurd too.


  20. Act 2


  21. INT. SLEEPING ROOM - CONTINUOUS


  22. Peter surfs the web.


  23. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Camus says: "There's only one serious philosophical problem... and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that."


  24. Pausing.


  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Camus thinks what deserves investigation is: Does the realization of the meaningless and absurdity of life necessarily requires suicide?


  26. Pausing.


  27. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): He thinks the absurd condition is this: We build our life based on the romantic hope of a better tomorrow. But tomorrow brings us closer to death. But we behave as if we aren't aware of the certainty of death.


  28. Pausing.


  29. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): He doesn't believe rationality can explain the world and therefore humanity ends in abstract metaphors.


  30. Pausing.


  31. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): He cites examples that some philosophers commit philosophical suicides by reaching conclusions that contradict the absurd condition.


  32. Pausing.


  33. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But he rejects suicide. If one is dead, the absurd human condition wouldn't exist.


  34. Pausing.


  35. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): He thinks that living humans can get metaphysical freedom by being liberated from the hope of a better tomorrow.


  36. Pausing.


  37. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So, his thesis is that once awaken and freed, what counts isn't the best living but the most living, with passion.


  38. INT. STUDY - DAY


  39. PETER (V.O.): Let me investigate Camus further.


  40. Peter surfs the web.


  41. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): An absurd category is the actor: "He demonstrates to what degree appearing creates being. In those three hours, he travels the whole course of the dead-end path that the man in the audience takes a lifetime to cover."


  42. Thinking.


  43. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Thus, the audience watching a performance reflect their attempt to "revolt" or escape from Camus' absurd condition so that they're ephemerally freed and can have ephemeral hope in those three hours.

  44. Peter is attracted by a TV news story.


  45. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, a Bollywood actor has killed himself at the age of 34.


  46. Peter is in deep thoughts.


  47. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The actor must have felt his absurd condition.


  48. Act 3


  49. INT. STUDY - CONTINUOUS


  50. Thinking.


  51. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): If one isn't living anymore, his absurd condition ends too.


  52. Reflecting.


  53. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): But even if the human condition is absurd, one doesn't have to end one's life necessarily.


  54. Pausing.


  55. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): While one might not be able to live the best life, one can still live the most life.


  56. Pausing.


  57. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): To Camus, I might have been spending my life meaninglessly for over 4 decades in civil service. But I did create, capture and deliver value to society in addition to meeting my physiological and psychological needs.


  58. Pausing.


  59. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's true that I'm getting old and death is approaching, but I'm still living with passion.


  60. Peter surfs the web.


  61. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Writing about absurdity, Camus won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957 at the age of 44.


  62. Pausing.


  63. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Since I turned 34 I have been writing a lot non-romantic and non-metaphysical stuff. My objectives, one after another, was to create better institutional infrastructure, hoping for a better Hong Kong.


  64. Pausing.


  65. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I believe very few people would actually rely on gods to save them in the present world, although they might still hope for afterlives.


  66. INT. SLEEPING ROOM - NIGHT


  67. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): As an intelligent being, I won't dismiss my once-in-a-lifetime being and my mental faculty lightly. As long as I'm staying alive, I can continue to create and deliver value, hoping to leave a timeless legacy.


  68. Peter turns off the light.


  69. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Hope that I could wake up again tomorrow.


  70. Peter sleeps.


  71. FADE OUT.


  72. THE END


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