Such sad news breaking today – Swedish DJ and musician, Avicii (Tim Bergling) has died. His music was unique and had an existentialist flavour to it; he dealt with themes of meaning in work/life, relationships and self-worth.
‘Levels’, released in 2013, was a good example of this. In the video you see a reference to ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ as popularised by French absurdist/existentialist philosopher and author, Albert Camus.
Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of hard, repetitive and frustrating labour. His assignment was to roll an enormous boulder up a hill; each time he seemingly achieved his goal, after much exertion and application, the boulder rolled back down to the bottom of the hill again. And so the story unfolds with monotonous repetitiveness into eternity.
Avicii’s ‘Levels’ explores the meaning of work and the deadening weight of a repetitive existence. But like Sisyphus, there is more than just a modicum of hope in the story. Avicci’s character breaks out of that monotony and issues a wake-up call to colleagues and others he makes contact with; Sisyphus also, eventually finds meaning in his task.
Such is the reality of our existence; the search for meaning and purpose is an essential part of being human; it manifests itself both consciously and unconsciously. It is possible to find meaning in any moment, even in the midst of dullness. It is also possible, in-as-much as we are free from external constraints, to do something different – to seek a change in direction.
As Viktor Frankl once famously wrote: ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom’. It seems that understanding this quest was important to Tim Bergling too.