Up@dawn 2.0

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Camus' Absurdity 3/4

“And my lawyer, rolling up one of his sleeves, said with finality, "Here we have a perfect reflection of this entire trial: everything is true and nothing is true!" (Camus 91)

I love this sentence. There is no truth in absurdity that the prosecutors can understand. They want the simple: guilty or not guilty, good or evil, fact or fiction. However, absurdity cannot provide these things since they do not exist in the absurdist point of view. The valid truth to Meursault is incoherent and unacceptable to the rest of society. It takes Meursault almost the entire book to realize he is a criminal because he did not mean to kill a man it just happened. To him, “any case one life was as good as another” (Camus 40) and truth, like anything else, just does not matter in the end.

"Camus’s preoccupation with the nature of being, for example, and his rejection of reason and order in the universe, are both existential concerns. When Camus presents the Arab’s murder as the result of a random series of events, and Meursault refuses to lie in court to help win his case, we enter into existential realms of human action and responsibility. There is no outside force governing our lives, according to the existentialists; individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. Meursault’s ultimate vindication is in having remained true to himself and to his feelings in a society that cultivates deception and hypocrisy."
“But all the long speeches, all the interminable days and hours that people had spent talking about my soul, had left me with the impression of a colorless swirling river that was making me dizzy”(Camus 104).
The complexities to society, such as the nature of the soul, are simply nonsensical to Meursault. He is so far removed from society’s perspective that all the details swirl together. This result mirrors the situation above except the roles are reversed.  The valid truth to society is incoherent to Meursault. It is almost like the two parities are lost in translation. I find it interesting that while they are discussing his fate, he is much more concerned that these conversations are pointless and irritating. For example, if two intelligent Chinese individuals were discussing the fate of our world in Chinese aboard an airplane, and they were sitting next to an ignorant American, there would be a similar effect. It is so fascinating how the struggle between religion and the absurdist philosophy mimics cultural struggles like language barriers. Especially since neither side is capable of understanding something so apart from their truth or belief system; whereas, people usually make an effort to overcome language barriers. It seems communication between the religious and the absurdists is like translating the ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics into modern English: there are no linguists trying to figure it out either. The process of long debates over his case is effective for society, but it is absurd to Meursault. 

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