I met Camus and I threw him out the Window

308We were in the coffee shop when we started to argue.We got home and we were still arguing. We slept and when we woke up, the tension was still there. A week later and we were still unable to settle our differences. Eventually, we had to just part.

Camus, was great, but somehow, after a long time, I found myself arguing with a book. I picked up Albert Camus’ The Stranger for the Read Harder Challenge. He was one of those authors I see read by many, but never got to until recently. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked him. The pace of the book was slow and it was hard to get interested. A few chapters in and I was hook, but as I reached the climax, I found myself in need for discourse and discussion. I struggled to agree with Camus’ resolution, hence my research on his philosophy of Absurdism.

With Camus, I found myself looking back and thinking that had I read this in my late teens to mid twenties, I would have subscribed to his philosophy. Presently, however, I am in disagreement. I felt, that his character’s rejection of the priest, his acceptance of his life and his letting go of hope is but a beginning of a journey. Camus’ however ended it too soon.

I wouldn’t say this is a proper review, rather, it’s a discussion on existentialism. For the past few books ago, I have been confronted by man’s search for meaning, forcing me to research on existentialism and other philosophies related to it. I didn’t throw Camus out the window, as my title would suggest, I did find that Camus engaged me in a very serious discussion that propelled me to think about my search for meaning.

Man, is said come to the world faced with the Absurb, which is that he seeks the meaning of his life, however, he is faced also with the reality that he will fail to find it. Naturally, man must resolve this great disappointment. Nihilism, would solve this through self-inflicted death. Existentialism resolves this by creating meaning, while Absurdism proposes that man accepts this truth and then be free. My explanation may be too simplistic, but I am not a philosopher and I am not writing a dissertation on any of this.

For purposes of discussion, I’ll use this simple explanation. Let me put into context my thoughts in this matter. I had a dreadful childhood, the kind you wouldn’t wished on anyone. By 5th grade I decided to kill myself. In my teens, I surrendered to life being constant suffering without true meaning, and by my late 20s an encounter with myself changed me and now I live believing that everything had its purpose. That said, I have at several points in my life confronted with this search for meaning. Why me? Why this life? Why must I suffer?

Prior to recent books, I never gave much thought to my philosophy in life. I lived my life and made choices, and changed as I discovered more of life. I lived it based on what I believe to be the most logical resolution to my own problems. I decided to live and to hope. In reading Camus, I found myself forming my opinion or belief on this question. I started this foray into existentialism without me knowing. I stumbled upon it when I decided to read Dostoevsky. I found that I believe in the meaning, in a life that is meaningful. Not necessarily pre-destined, but something that is meaningful.

I reflect further into other books that have looked into the meaning of our existence, the value of our lives. I look back at Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and remember the words The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next. While in Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki the protagonist only begins to live the moment he began desiring something. Desire propels life. And as to Dostoevsky, I quote “For the mystery of man’s being is not only in living, but in what one lives for. Without a firm idea of what he lives for, man will not consent to live and will sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if there is bread all around him.”

Copying passages reveals the person. It reveals the state of a person’s being as we only copy passages that strike us. And what my quotes reveal to me is that I believe in hope. I believe in something greater. I believe in meaning and finding meaning. I believe creation of meaning and that in the journey that we take in search of meaning, we do find it if we earnestly seek it. It is impossible say that Camus was wrong. Because acceptance of what is, is freeing, but to say that there is no purpose that life just is, makes for bleaker view of a world. I have been there and I have since changed.

I do not dislike Camus, while I might have thrown him out the window figuratively, he allowed me to think of my own philosophy. His book brought me insight and allowed me to be thoroughly engage in a healthy argument with a book, something I have missed for quite some time now.

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