EDITOR’S NOTETo continue living is to express the ultimate “yes,” whereas to commit suicide is to ultimately say “no.” This is the crux of Albert Camus’ philosophical essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” in which Camus logically explores what possible reasons we might have to say yes to life. Because it’s absurd, isn’t it? – to continue living even for one more minute in the face of inevitable death. In the face of the absurd, Bartleby, the scrivener, of Herman Melville’s 1853 short fiction masterpiece “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street,” simply calls life out on its bluff and starts saying no – or rather: “I would prefer not to.” What follows is a proto-Kafkaesque spiral into extreme withdrawal and self-entombment. This withdrawal is freedom for Bartleby – freedom from work, from tedium, from subordination – although it’s an incredibly passive form of freedom. It’s a “freedom from” life, as opposed to the more actively obtained “freedom to” live. This is rebellion in its truest, purest form: the obstinate resistance not only to the unpleasant and unjust aspects of life but to life itself. And, yet, as Camus suggests in The Rebel, a “man who says no… is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.” And so for each of Bartleby’s rejections, might there be an unspoken acceptance of — or, at the least, a preference for — something else? Or is this guy so hardcore punk-rock that he’d even go so far as to eventually reject preferences altogether? To every moment we’re granted at least one of two responses: yes or no. Bartleby, the scrivener, chooses the latter to its extreme, comical, haunting end.