Just finished The Stranger. Looking for discussion. What did you guys think of it?
Feel free to discuss Camus and Absurdism, too.
Man, people round here aren't gonna take kindly to this thread.
In short, the book is about how life can only hold meaning in the context of death. Meursault, an antisocial and a nihilist, couldn't grapple with death until he himself was faced with it, but his final moments of life were lived with passion. The book in a way aims to awaken you the reader to death in the way conviction awakens Meursault, a call to arms to live life passionately. Don't get down on the lack of meaning and wallow in self pity, death is an absolute, make something of your life as a reflection of it.
>In short, the book is about how life can only hold meaning in the context of death
Nope. Mersault finds meaning to his life in his death, however, i.e. exciting the crowds.
Up to that point, he felt he had no meaning: he just was.
Look to Sisyphus.
This is a good analysis. Also, I think for such a short book it offers some really great commentary on society as a whole. There are several different layers to this book aside from the "death is an absolute so make life what you want it to be," because yes, whole Meursalt was a Nihlist and didn't care, he also enacted force upon the world, and the world returned in kind.
Left to his (Meursalt) devices, the book is about one thing, but when others come into play it becomes about us. As a whole.
How do we treat individuals like Meursalt? Do we punish, lock away the people who frighten us when they don't play by our rules? Does society inflict its' will and directive on other people? This book advises us to, yes, escape from our own existential panic, but also at the same time critique those around us. They too have built their own system out of "thin air", so to speak, and enforce it to the death. When we don't fit in, when we are too imperially different and estranged from this, we become pariahs. Not just for our philosophy but for the way it counters the rhetoric of the body public.
So I guess what I'm saying is beyond just singular philosophy, there's a couple other things in here to consider, mainly society and other people's place in the world. The spiderwebs we are bound by but cannot see.
I'd advise you to do your HS lit homework :^)
But hey, in all seriousness, it's this: Sisyphus is damned to push a boulder up a hill his entire life, right? It never gets up there. But he finds happiness in this task, makes joy for himself, generates it (read Sarte if you haven't). That's the idea. We're damned to this strange universe of nothingness, to an empty library with empty books. Absurdism and Sisyphus inspire us to write in those books, to create meaning from ourselves.
That's kinda it, I think. I might be wrong.
Also I swear to dog if I find out you've turned this in for your shitty senior book report on Camus I will find you and I will make repeated and violent dickings your new existence.
Is Absurdism just a more mature sort of nihilism?
Also it's obvious after reading the Myth of Sisyphus that Meursalt was meant to be the epitome of the "absurd man". I think it's wrong to call him a nihilist like >>7594557 said. Nihilism is defeatist. Absurdism calls for hope in spite of vast existential terror. There's something both comforting and terrifying to it. Nihilism is just terrifying.
I wrote a tiny piece about it: http://www.vnord.net/posts/2015-08-04-The-Stranger-Parable.html
>After reading Albert Camus’ L’étranger as my first French novel (the language, unlike the concepts, is simple and elegant), I decided to read some thoughts and reviews that others had written. Surprisingly, it seemed that my reading of the work was substantially different from most others’. Only a small part of this can be attributed to the difficulties of translating a French work where the character of the prose plays an important role - the overarching plot and themes are still the same.
Where many seemed to find in Mersault a misunderstood atheist anti-hero or something of the sort, and a critical message about social norms and the like, my lasting impression was that of the contemporary archetype, immersed in a sweltering passive nihilism - partly hedonic, but chiefly apathetic. After the loss of sedentary values, after the Entzauberung of our perceived reality, there is nothing. Only absurdity. Actions, and even ideas and thoughts become meaningless and indifferent at best. Mersault comes to this very realisation at the end of the book. This to me is the most interesting part - before the last section, his thoughts and actions had been exclusively deterministic. This is still the case at the end of the book, but in the incredibly beautiful final section, he becomes self-aware, he gains the ability to reflect on his own nihilism, thus transforming it from a passive and apathetic nihilism into an active nihilism. Just as the universe is indifferent to Mersault, Mersault who was previously only indifferent towards society and temporality, now also becomes indifferent to the entire cosmos and his own being. He embraces his own annihilation, even if it may only be conceptual.
I’d be very careful to not, like some, ascribe the values of Mersault or even the inversion of his values, to Camus himself. While L’étranger is clearly a parable, it seems to me that any moralistic interpretation, whether relativistic or even anti-moralistic, is a grave error. Camus, I think, wants us to reflect on the meaning of our own existence without judgement. The lack of finality in the ending is not, I think, like some readers have suggested, an invitation to the reader to decide for himself what Mersault’s fate is. No, to me it is a clear invitation as any to completely refrain from this, to not judge either Mersault, his action, those surrounding him, the universe itself, or ourselves, at all. We are invited to partake in his active nihilism, and to judge only our own reflectiveness or lack thereof. To not find or discard hope, but to transcend it. To act and think (thought itself being a form of action) without desire, to become an active agent of a chaotically deterministic universe.
camus sartre and kierkegard have been mentioned in the sopranos.