THINKING OF CAMUS

 

 

July 28, 2020

 

 

…..He was raised in the French Algerian port of Oran, his world rent from its axis by the Nazi conquest of the metropolitan homeland.  He had been an advocate of the oppressed Algerian Arabs before the war and had become somewhat famous with his countrymen.  He returned to France and joined the Resistance at the risk of his life.  Emerging from that communal humiliation and torture, Camus wrestled with the specter 0f absurdity in a world that, for him, held no God or afterlife.  His novel, The Plague, begins with the narrator observing keenly, clinically the city of Oran; its bland life, its diverting habits and its drab physical structure.  The town is described in exacting detail down to the dry dust on the hot walls.   Against this backdrop, Doctor Rieux kicks away a dead rat with a bloody maw that he has encountered on his doorstep.  This odd and curious anomaly portends the coming plague.

…..Dead rats..that ancient harbinger of pestilence and dread, who can ignore their presence when they appear on the streets?   Even when the cause and the danger they represent are not clear, a reaction seems imperative. .Camus did not shrink from the exigencies of his time…..he focused on them and confronted them.  He was keenly observant and was inspired to act.

…..I, in contrast, am most comfortable swimming beneath the surface of the waters, though I am aware of grave danger in the atmosphere above.  Optimism gives me a peaceful respite, the blurring of details gives a quiet relief.  In fact, it seems to obliterate details.   Camus and I have adopted different lenses through which to view our worlds.   I do not perceive myself as a captive of the absurd.  I do not profess to know whether God exists or does not exist.   Hope itself remains cherished.   The openness to imagine transcendence is not a weakness to me but a strength; it amplifies my life rather than diminishes it.  In these regards I diverge fundamentally from the philosophy of Camus.  In truth though, I have been observing events from afar here in my quiet reserve.  Who can deny that now there are dead rats appearing on the streets?   There is mortal danger emerging around us.  The times are calling passionately for action, to break the silence.  But what can be done?

 

 

There is grave danger in the air

He is observant down to minutia

I have been swimming under water

And now the peace, the mild turbulences

Have been disturbed

 I have heard an urgent cry

It comes from up above:

 

Break through to the surface

The rats are upon the streets!

 

I breach the waves to hear

The hounds of epoch howl

Their portents now are loud and clear

As the clash that they foretold titanic

Upon the iceberg of perception

Is drawing ever near

 

Most surely we’ll be forced to act

When destiny reveals its face

A flood that drives us with its tide

A paltry rudder in our hand

To mitigate the savage swells

That tear and tumble through our land

 

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