Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Delusion must be refused

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In proportion as he becomes authentically aware of his own plight, man confronts the absurd -- and finds it not in himself or in the objective world, but "in their presence together." Whereas he seeks to understand himself and his world by reason, he finds that the "only bond" between himself and the world is the absurd. He is caught by a desire for clarity that is frustrated by the irrational abuse of reason itself. If he consents to his situation, resigns himself to it, and convinces himself by his reasoning that things are just as they should be, he abdicates his dignity as a human person in order to enjoy the tranquility of a delusive "order." This delusion must be refused. The absurd must be faced. Anguish must not be evaded, for it is "the perpetual climate of the lucid man." Language must then be used not merely to rationalize and justify what is basically absurd, but to awaken in man the lucid anguish in which alone he is truly conscious of his condition and therefore able to revolt against the absurd. Then he will affirm, over against its "unreasonable silence," the human love and solidarity and devotion to life which give meaning to his own existence. "The doctrines that explain everything to me also debilitate me at the same time. They relieve me of the weight of my own life and yet I must carry it alone."

Thomas Merton, OSCO
(The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton, p. 275)

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