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  1. #1
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    Default Reminisce about Camus' Stranger

    Is Mersault amoral, or just true to his nature: There is no God, and I don't make the leap of faith in order to escape from meaninglessness, I do not live according to the Divine Plane. This world is absurd, and I am guided by the invisible hand of randomness.

    What do you think? Do absurd philosophy is a recipe for life, or just escapism defeated rationalism of the 20th century?

    Mersault kills the man with no regrets, was charged, with no remorse, his mother dies, he is indifferent. "The mother is just a woman who gave me birth", says one of the absurd heroes.

    There is an interesting parallel with Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov kills the old woman and suffer from the consequences of Christian morality. He was tortured by extraordinary guilt. Mersault, in contrast, is indifferent - the world is absurd. No need to look for morale when everything is meaningless. The world can not be rationally explained.

    What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hacbad macbar View Post
    Is Mersault amoral, or just true to his nature: There is no God, and I don't make the leap of faith in order to escape from meaninglessness, I do not live according to the Divine Plane. This world is absurd, and I am guided by the invisible hand of randomness.

    What do you think? Do absurd philosophy is a recipe for life, or just escapism defeated rationalism of the 20th century?

    Mersault kills the man with no regrets, was charged, with no remorse, his mother dies, he is indifferent. "The mother is just a woman who gave me birth", says one of the absurd heroes.

    There is an interesting parallel with Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov kills the old woman and suffer from the consequences of Christian morality. He was tortured by extraordinary guilt. Mersault, in contrast, is indifferent - the world is absurd. No need to look for morale when everything is meaningless. The world can not be rationally explained.

    What do you think?
    I think we are meaning creating animals. And we prefer any meaning to no meaning.

    Camus was exploring the aftermath of WW II in Europe when old meanings were dying and new meanings were coming into existence. So perhaps Camus was exploring the hiatus between meanings. And interestingly Camus was a man of integrity.
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    I remember the most striking part of the book being the trial. The way the people misunderstood him and tried to paint him as this picture of an evil man. Meursault wanted to speak up for himself, but he didn't know how, and he was advised not to. I remembered that because it's a very uncomfortable feeling to be mislabeled by those that don't care to know you, even worse to be seen so negatively, even worse to be told to sit there and let it happen. He was convicted based on the picture the prosecution painted of him and yet he felt no indignation.

    Meursault had this ambivalence towards a world that seemed morally contradictory. His ambivalence seemed to make him uncertain in how to feel about different things, so rather than feel he numbed himself. Even in prison he tried hard to numb himself to a nihilist view that everything was absurd and meaningless. It didn't always work and he struggled toward the end with the Chaplain that provoked his anger/frustration about everything. But the striking thing about him was that while all this numbing was going on we got to experience the conflicting thoughts within himself that led to the numbing. It was as if it was in his nature to be morally principled, as if the conflict represented a need for it and the resulting detachment and meaningless of life (as seen by him) being a reflection of his inability to be himself. He welcomed his death at the end as form of rebirth, perhaps so that he could live again and be himself.

    Of course, this could all be a projection of myself. I don't think I could know that, if it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hacbad macbar View Post
    Is Mersault amoral, or just true to his nature: There is no God, and I don't make the leap of faith in order to escape from meaninglessness, I do not live according to the Divine Plane. This world is absurd, and I am guided by the invisible hand of randomness.

    What do you think? Do absurd philosophy is a recipe for life, or just escapism defeated rationalism of the 20th century?

    Mersault kills the man with no regrets, was charged, with no remorse, his mother dies, he is indifferent. "The mother is just a woman who gave me birth", says one of the absurd heroes.

    There is an interesting parallel with Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov kills the old woman and suffer from the consequences of Christian morality. He was tortured by extraordinary guilt. Mersault, in contrast, is indifferent - the world is absurd. No need to look for morale when everything is meaningless. The world can not be rationally explained.

    What do you think?
    The attitude of the main character always reminded me of schizoid personality disorder. See the following link: Dual Diagnosis and the Schizoid Personality Disorder

    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    I think we are meaning creating animals. And we prefer any meaning to no meaning.

    Camus was exploring the aftermath of WW II in Europe when old meanings were dying and new meanings were coming into existence. So perhaps Camus was exploring the hiatus between meanings. And interestingly Camus was a man of integrity.
    Actually, "The Stranger" was published in 1942, so it wasn't post-WW2. But that's a mere quibble. For the most part, you're right. He was reacting to the aftermath of WW1, the Depression, the Ethiopian War, the Spanish Civil War, and then Munich and Hitler's invasions in Europe.

    In January 1955, Camus said, "I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: 'In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.' I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game."

    Thus, taking what you said and phrasing it a little differently:

    In the 1920s, the author Marcel Proust looked backward and tried to capture the last gasp of royalty, aristocracy, and nobility before the turn of the century in his book "Remembrance of Things Past." In the 1940s, Albert Camus looked forward to the modern world and tried to capture the birth of populist rule of the masses: "Fitting in" versus "not playing the game."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    I think we are meaning creating animals. And we prefer any meaning to no meaning.
    Interesting note. But, I think Mersault is a defeatist representative of the absence of any meaning.

    Camus was exploring the aftermath of WW II in Europe when old meanings were dying and new meanings were coming into existence. So perhaps Camus was exploring the hiatus between meanings. And interestingly Camus was a man of integrity.
    Camus has certainly been in schism, as well as its relative Raskolnikov.
    It is a schism, of course. The rift within the soul. To find a new way out of this gap. It can be interpreted as a crucial existential crisis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    I remember the most striking part of the book being the trial. The way the people misunderstood him and tried to paint him as this picture of an evil man. Meursault wanted to speak up for himself, but he didn't know how, and he was advised not to.
    Mersault is, certainly, a mirror all of us in many aspects.

    Meursault had this ambivalence towards a world that seemed morally contradictory. His ambivalence seemed to make him uncertain in how to feel about different things, so rather than feel he numbed himself. Even in prison he tried hard to numb himself to a nihilist view that everything was absurd and meaningless.

    I think Mersault has a position. He has no doubts. The Stranger is a kind of religion, if we can call it that. A-Religious religion.

    Of course, this could all be a projection of myself. I don't think I could know that, if it is.
    I think everything ( to a greater or lesser degree) is a projection of ourselves. So, and Camus' Mersault.

    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    The attitude of the main character always reminded me of schizoid personality disorder. See the following link: Dual Diagnosis and the Schizoid Personality Disorder
    Shizoid traits, maybe, but not SPD. Mersault suffers from philosophical concerns.

    In the 1920s, the author Marcel Proust looked backward and tried to capture the last gasp of royalty, aristocracy, and nobility before the turn of the century in his book "Remembrance of Things Past." In the 1940s, Albert Camus looked forward to the modern world and tried to capture the birth of populist rule of the masses: "Fitting in" versus "not playing the game."
    Very interesting reading. But I think it is the eternal theme of the schisms within the human soul, and finding a way out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hacbad macbar View Post
    Very interesting reading. But I think it is the eternal theme of the schisms within the human soul, and finding a way out of it.
    Absurdists didn't give a damn about the soul.

    I think "The Stranger" was just another dystopian novel. Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty Four" was written about the same time as "The Stranger," and the protagonist in that novel comes to pretty much the same fate as Meursault in "The Stranger": He is jailed, he awaits death. Or look at Kafka's "Metamorphosis": The protagonist gets turned into a bug, he dies, he gets swept out with the trash. There's no uplifting message in the end, no moral to the story, nothing about the soul. Just a realization and acceptance that you don't really matter and life will go on without you. I read "The Stranger" in pretty much the same vein.

    Those books are very different from Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," which is about traditional Christian redemption. (Raskolnikov undergoes a religious conversion after he is jailed and exiled for the murder.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    Absurdists didn't give a damn about the soul.

    I think "The Stranger" was just another dystopian novel. Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty Four" was written about the same time as "The Stranger," and the protagonist in that novel comes to pretty much the same fate as Mersault in "The Stranger": He is jailed, he awaits death. Or look at Kafka's "Metamorphosis": The protagonist gets turned into a bug, he dies, he gets swept out with the trash. There's no uplifting message in the end, no moral to the story, nothing about the soul. Just a realization and acceptance that you don't really matter and life will go on without you. I read "The Stranger" in pretty much the same vein.

    Those books are very different from Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," which is about traditional Christian redemption. (Raskolnikov undergoes a religious conversion after he is jailed and exiled for the murder.)
    You did not quite understand the parallel between Raskolnikov and Mersault, nor between Dostoevsky and Camus.

    I know that you might be at a tender age hence the identification with the absurd hero Mersault.


    What I'm trying to observe are the commonalities between different heroes and different epochs.
    But when you think about it, there were always Raskolnikov and Mersault. Everything is a circle. Repeats.

    They are here now, among us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hacbad macbar View Post
    You did not quite understand the parallel between Raskolnikov and Mersault, nor between Dostoevsky and Camus.

    I know that you might be at a tender age hence the identification with the absurd hero Mersault.


    What I'm trying to observe are the commonalities between different heroes and different epochs.
    But when you think about it, there were always Raskolnikov and Mersault. Everything is a circle. Repeats.

    They are here now, among us.
    I don't identify at all with Meursault. I never liked the character or the book. "The Stranger" was an early work of Camus's, and it was slushy and vague. I prefer Camus's later book, "The Plague": Camus's philosophy and cosmology are much clearer there.

    I'm just surprised that you find commonality between fictional characters of Dostoyevsky and Camus. Dostoyevsky was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and hard-core religious believer. Most of his novels try to reconcile the Bible with modern life. Myshkin in "The Idiot" and Alyosha in "The Brothers Karamazov" were intended to be templates for a modern-day Jesus. Raskolnikov was meant to be a broken sinner who repents and finds salvation.

    In contrast, Camus's characters were absurdist characters. Camus was a hard-core atheist. (His atheism comes out very clearly in "The Plague"). He believed that people could be heroes in the short-term, but in the long-term it didn't really matter because the universe is random, cold, and harsh. Innocent and evil alike suffer horrible torments. At random.

    Frankly, I can't imagine more dissimilar authors and literary characters.

    Oh well, enough said on the subject. I'll let it go. If you think Meursault and Raskolnikov are some sort of spiritual twins, that's fine with me. It does me no harm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    I don't identify at all with Mersault. Never liked the character or the book. "The Stranger" was an early work of Camus's, and it was slushy and vague. I prefer Camus's later book, "The Plague": Camus's philosophy and cosmology are much clearer there.

    I'm just surprised that you find commonality between fictional characters of Dostoyevsky and Camus. Dostoyevsky was a died-in-the-wool conservative and hard-core religious believer. Most of his novels try to reconcile the Bible with modern life. Myshkin in "The Idiot" and Alyosha in "The Brothers Karamazov" were intended to be templates for a modern-day Jesus. Raskolnikov was meant to be a broken sinner who repents and finds salvation.

    In contrast, Camus's characters were absurdist characters. Camus was a hard-core atheist. (His atheism comes out in spades in "The Plague"). He believed that people could be heroes in the short-term, but in the long-term it didn't really matter because the universe is random, cold, and harsh. Innocent and evil alike suffer horrible torments. At random.

    Frankly, I can't imagine more dissimilar authors and literary characters.

    Oh well, enough said on the subject. I'll let it go. If you think Mersault and Raskolnikov are some sort of spiritual twins, it's no skin off my nose.
    Be honest and say, have you ever been Raskolnikov and Mersault. At any stage of life.

    Only dishonest man can reject those parts of the human psyche.

    If you're honest, you'll recognize Raskolnikov and Mersault in yourself, you'll get a clear parallel between Caumus and Dostoevsky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hacbad macbar View Post
    Be honest and say, have you ever been Raskolnikov and Mersault. At any stage of life.

    Only dishonest man can reject those parts of the human psyche.

    If you're honest, you'll recognize Raskolnikov and Mersault in yourself, you'll get a clear parallel between Caumus and Dostoevsky.
    Now you're saying that I'm "dishonest" for disagreeing with you?

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