Re: virus: Camus U?

Tim Rhodes (proftim@speakeasy.org)
Fri, 29 Jan 1999 01:11:16 -0800

Bill wrote:

>uhoh - I have never even heard of Camus or _the Stranger_.
>
>I'm from Southern AZ - 32 yrs old

Hmmm... Kind of what I suspected. As you know, you and I are about the same age, same demographic, so I think it may have just been a local thing.

Matthew wrote:

>ditto... but being from Utah, this doesn't surprise me too much
>(mormon controlled community..) who/what is it and is it worth reading?

Okay, now I see why I get all the baffled responses when I rant about post-modernism--many of you aren't even aware of the question that it was developed as an answer to. (Or the answers it was developed to question.) If one wasn't aware of the modern existentialism, a witty answer to it would easy be lost on you.

Yes, it is _well_ worth reading. If you've read Kafka without also reading Camus you're only getting part of picture. (And if you haven't read either--who let you in here anyway?!? :-) "The Plague" and "The Fall" are good too, and if you want a more dry philisophical discourse I'd recommend "The Myth of Sisyphus" But "The Stranger" is really the best starting point. You can probably find a couple paperback copies of the Vintage Press translation of _The Stranger_ (printed in 1954) in just about any used book store for about $1.50.

-Prof. Tim

"He fluttered his hands fretfully; then, sitting up, smoothed out his cassock. When this was done he began talking again, addressing me as "my friend." It wasn't becuase I'd been condemned to death, he said, that he spoke to me in this way. In his opinion every man on earth was under sentence of death.

There, I interrupted him; that wasn't the same thing, I pointed out, and, what's more, could be no consolation.

He nodded. "Maybe. Still, if you don't die soon, you'll die one day. And then the same question will arise. How will you face that terrible, final hour?"

     I replied that I'd face it exactly as I was facing it now.
     Thereat he stood up, and looked me straight in the eyes.  It was a
trick I knew well. I used it to amuse myself trying it on Emmanual and CÚleste, and nine times out of ten they'd look away uncomfortably. I could see the chaplin was an old hand at it, as his gaze never faltered. And his voice was quite steady when he said: "Have you no hope at all? Do you really think that when you die you die outright, and nothing remains?"
     I said: "Yes."
     He dropped his eyes and sat down again.  He was truly sorry for me, he
said.  It must make life unbearable for a man, to think as I did.
     The priest was beginning to bore me, and, resting a shoulder on the
wall, just beneath the little skylight, I looked away. Though I didn't trouble much to follow what he said, I gathered he was questioning me again. Presently his tone became agitated, urgent, and as I realized that he was genuinely distressed, I began to pay more attention.... "

from "The Stranger" by Albert Camus