‘The Literature of the Absurd’: Meursault

“The Literature of the Absurd” is a mirrored image on distinguished authors within the Absurdist custom — Beckett, Camus and past — and the methods through which their writings can intertwine with life in typically shocking methods.

My dad and mom bought the identify “Doran” from a giant e book of child names with storks carrying infants and kittens in baskets on its cowl. After I was younger, they advised me it meant “present.” Later, once I tried to independently validate this by a Google search of my very own, I came upon that, though that is the Greek which means, in Irish, the identify means “exile,” or “stranger.” As I’ve grown, I’ve come to understand it’s this final which means that I discover most true to myself.

The Stranger (L’Étranger in French), Albert Camus’ first novel, is a couple of man named Meursault. It begins with the dying of his mom. He reacts coolly. “Maman died as we speak. Or yesterday possibly, I don’t know,” he callously states within the well-known opening line. This eliminated, disconnected angle stays unchanged all through a lot of the novel. When Meursault’s buddy Raymond requests that he write an indignant letter to Raymond’s girlfriend about her dishonest, Meursault does so as a result of “I didn’t have any cause to not please him.” When his lover Marie asks him if he loves her, he responds that “it didn’t imply something however that I didn’t assume so.” When he’s provided a promotion at work and an opportunity to maneuver from Algiers to Paris, he tells his boss that “individuals by no means change their lives, that in any case one life was pretty much as good as one other,” and refuses. This angle ultimately culminates within the pivotal second of the e book — when Meursault, after taking pictures a person who threatens him, fires 4 extra instances into the physique for no obvious cause.

There have been instances once I, too, felt eliminated, disconnected from the world. I first heard of Camus throughout my junior 12 months of highschool. I don’t keep in mind how. I discovered principally on-line about his philosophy of absurdism, which posits that human life and existence are inherently meaningless, and that the widespread wrestle to discover a larger which means to life inevitably leads man into battle with the universe — an existential wrestle which he phrases “the absurd.”

Though an individual can reside for an indefinite period of time with out the belief of the absurd, naively going about their days pondering there may be some inherent which means imbued in existence, Camus proposes solely three options one can select upon attaining consciousness of the absurd. One, to commit suicide and escape existence. Two, to show to some greater energy like God, who can grant life some which means. Camus, who had lived by the horrors of World Battle II as a member of the French Resistance, may by no means settle for this, calling it in impact “philosophical suicide.” The third resolution, and the one proper one in response to Camus, is to simply accept the absurd, however to proceed to rail towards it anyway. Solely by actively revolting towards the absurd and persevering with to wrestle despite it could possibly one actually discover which means in life: not from the universe, or from the next energy, however within the act of wrestle itself.

Across the time I first found Camus’ philosophy, I had simply entered right into a relationship that might drive me right into a protracted, self-destructive downward spiral. Whereas all the things appeared great at first between me and my associate, earlier than lengthy we have been at one another’s throats consistently, every of us performing out our insecurities and accusing the opposite of not caring sufficient, of not doing all the things proper to keep away from stepping on one another’s unseen traps and triggers. It was my first relationship, and whereas I clung desperately to the hope that in some way, issues would possibly sometime enhance between us, that chance appeared to slide additional out of attain every day.

In Camus’ philosophy, hope represents the final word pitfall. The important thing, he argues, to accepting the absurd and with the ability to insurgent towards it, is to first abandon hope. So long as you hope that issues would possibly in some way get higher — whether or not or not it’s by some exterior salvation or your individual actions — you’ll by no means have the ability to turn into actually completely satisfied. You’ll by no means have the ability to create your individual which means within the wrestle towards the absurd.

This proposition appeared ridiculous to me. Abandon hope? Hope gave the impression to be the one factor maintaining me going. I couldn’t reside with this relationship because it presently was, however I couldn’t reside with out it both. If I gave up and ended issues between us, I feared I might find yourself adrift, regretting my resolution, endlessly worrying I had thrown away my finest probability of discovering actual happiness in my life, even when I wasn’t completely satisfied for the time being.

The Stranger is a narrative about hope, although I didn’t fairly notice this the primary time I learn it. To me it was only a story — an fascinating one, definitely, and one which I used to be certain was layered with philosophical complexities that I wasn’t totally comprehending, however nonetheless a narrative nonetheless. Though I empathized on the time with the sensation of being disconnected from the world, of being unable to see past my very own slim insecurities and sometimes falling into intervals of deep despair through which it appeared nothing concrete mattered, and though I admired Meursault for his capacity to disconnect so completely and to stay true to this fashion of being, I used to be lacking the purpose. It wasn’t till a pair months later — an eternity, when in comparison with my painful, tumultuous relationship which had lasted solely six months — once I learn Camus’ first and most well-known essay, The Delusion of Sisyphus, that I started to know.

The Delusion of Sisyphus is Camus’ most full, literary exposition of his philosophy. Camus begins with the placing declaration: “There may be however one actually severe philosophical drawback, and that’s suicide.” He goes on to arrange the absurd drawback of existence, its potential options and advocates for his resolution of accepting and rebelling towards the absurd. He goes additional, offering examples of the life lived by individuals who have turn into the “absurd man,” who’ve chosen to simply accept and embrace the absurd and reside most totally for it: the Don Juan, who throws himself consistently into new relationships with the identical vigor and intent every time regardless of figuring out they may fail; the Actor, who lives a thousand lives by the stage; the Conqueror, who lives true to his beliefs even at the price of these round him.

Though “Stranger” isn’t considered one of Camus’ archetypal absurd characters, Meursault is a person who learns to desert hope and reside with out. Within the novel’s closing few pages, its philosophical climax, Meursault confronts a chaplain who comes to go to him as he awaits execution for his killing of the person earlier. The priest exhorts him to show to God in his closing hour, to free himself from the burden of sin, to imagine in the opportunity of a distinct and higher life after dying. Meursault initially responds with a attribute chilly aloofness, however because the priest continues to push him to embrace God he ultimately snaps, grabbing the person’s collar and screaming on the priest that he’s “certain about me, about all the things, surer than he may ever be, certain of my life and certain of the dying I had ready for me.” On the very finish of the novel, within the closing few traces, Meursault displays that “blind rage had washed me clear,” and at last feels able to open himself to and settle for the “mild indifference of the world.” It’s on this second that Meursault most totally turns into Camus’ absurd man, rejecting the opportunity of the next energy past what he might be bodily certain of on this world, and selecting as a substitute to embrace that surety and dying to reside his final moments most totally.

Meursault may abandon hope and reside for the second within the face of sure dying. May I do the identical within the face of a damaged relationship? I definitely struggled to hold out any decisive motion. That relationship lasted one other 4 months, changing into ever extra frayed, fragmented by a number of breakups and reconciliations, laden by an ever-expanding mass of tangled misunderstandings and snarled conflicts that might be dragged up from the mud in each new argument. However I not less than discovered a method to reside my life despite this. When conflicts flared up like wildfire and I felt utterly overwhelmed, paralyzed by a concern that I wouldn’t have the ability to hold the connection from going up in flames, I assumed in regards to the absurd, and about hope, and reminded myself I didn’t want it. That information saved me grounded. I may cope with issues within the second. There was no want to consider the longer term, or what would possibly lie in retailer for me or my associate. So long as I may simply get by this subsequent day, that was sufficient, needed to be sufficient.

Years later, I nonetheless don’t fake to totally perceive The Stranger. It’s a e book that has been analyzed a whole lot and hundreds of instances, stuffed with nuances which can be nonetheless being mentioned and debated. Whereas Meursault most clearly embraces and rebels towards the absurdity of the world after his confrontation with the priest on the finish of the novel, as an example, I can’t fairly work out why he appears to care so little about his circumstances previous to this revelation — has he already accepted the absurd and deserted hope? Does his chilly, callous nature make his absurd transformation extra doubtless or believable? Does Camus imply for him to be a mannequin for our personal habits? Meursault’s character has been topic to limitless evaluation, and can proceed to be for hundreds of years to come back. On the finish of the day, I really feel content material that I’m able to see a chunk of myself in Meursault, whether or not that be extra in his character at first of his journey or on the finish.

Camus ends The Delusion of Sisyphus with a musing that, despite his everlasting, hopeless toil, and certainly maybe due to it, “one should think about Sisyphus completely satisfied.” Maybe we are able to additionally think about Meursault completely satisfied. And maybe, in doing so, I can discover happiness myself.