Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Section 8- Installment 2: 'Absurdism' and "The Plague"

As I mentioned in my first installment, I plan to relate how the ideal of 'absurdism' relates to Albert Camus's The Plague. Also, as I mentioned before, The Plague won Albert Camus the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature. This being said, I believe, that The Plague's relationship to 'absurdism' begins before one actually even reads the novella. I would like to argue that the relationship 'absurdism' starts when one knows the situation around Albert Camus's death. As one may know, there have been many explanations surrounding how Albert Camus's death is perceived. He died with a manuscript and train tickets in a car accident with his publisher. This is seen as an absolute tribute to this ideal. He died only a few years after winning the Nobel Prize with pockets full of hope. Camus is seen as someone who lived and died by this philosophy of 'absurdism.' However, I would like to argue that, as I have mentioned before, the perception of how he died determines if his death is 'absurd' or not. For example, the same thing can be said with how the population of Oran in The Plague deals with the deaths of their own versus how outsiders view the deaths of those in Oran. 

Without getting too far ahead of myself, I would like to mention a brief synopsis to The Plague. This novella focuses on the French Algerian city, Oran. The novella is split into five sections as the stages of the disease progress throughout the city. The novella mostly follows the character, Dr. Bernard Rieux, and gives a lot of insight from the doctor's perspective. That being said, the novella's main purpose is to show the human condition and how that condition responds to the stages of the illness within the city itself and without. Even with the human condition in play, Camus constantly compares the people in The Plague to rats. Even as early as page 7, Camus makes this comparison. The rats were the warning, yet the population of Oran became the rats. The urgency of the need to keep the human condition can be seen even before the comparison to rats on page 5. The quote is this:

"At Oran, as elsewhere, for the lack of time and thinking, people have to love one another without knowing much about it." 
Even through the illness, the population of Oran is striving to be happy. They keep living, which is in direct correlation to the meaning of 'absurdism.' The population keeps rolling their stones up their hills.

Humans may be rats in some cases, but we seem to feel more than the average rat. We take our fears and turn them into strength in one way or another to fight nihilistic tendencies. Camus had a crap early life, but he made the most of what he had. And, he died as absurdly as he began. The Plague is absurd in its comparison to rats. But, if we think about it, is this comparison really absurd? When we are afraid and act on fear, we may not be any better than rats.

Below is a video calling Camus an absurd hero:

Below is a monologue from American Psycho that seemed relevant:

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