One hundred years of absurdism

7 11 2013

Okay, not really: Camus didn’t begin writing out of the womb.

Still, if Sartre gave us the better line—Hell is other people—and sought to hero-ize our existence, Camus gave us the ache of meaning amidst meaningless-ness. He gave us absurdity.

I’d read The Myth of Sisyphus a couple of times when I was in my self-destructive cups, and, honestly, it didn’t do anything for me. Too much exhortation. Too much hero-izing.

But The Plague, well, that crept in. Yes, there is speechifying, but rather than inflating the speaker, it undercuts him. It is the speech of undoing, of peeling away.

I have realized that we all have the plague, and I have lost my peace. And today I am still trying to find it; still trying to understand all those others and not to be the mortal enemy of anyone. I only know that one must do what one can to cease being plague-stricken, and that’s the only way in which we can hope for some peace, or, failing that, a decent death. This, and only this, can bring relief to men and, if not save them, at least do them the least harm possible and even, sometimes, a little good.

Just so—absurdly so.

Advertisements