The Stranger

Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything.

College-level philosophy classes are insufferable.   Not because of the assigned reading or the in-class discussion, but because of the other students, particularly those that enjoy the art of the filibuster.  You know, the ones that are always simultaneously trying to win over the approval of the professor and make an event of some brain-numbing navel gazing mental breakthrough they just had after considering some of the material.  Some of the mind-gasms I’ve witnessed in past classes were enough to make me roll my eyes hard enough to stare at my brain.

Reading philosophy texts can be quite the challenge as well.  Since so many basic philosophical principles have already been established, many modern philosophers have decided to delve into these ideas and look at them in new ways or criticize them.  I once wrote an essay on Derrida’s criticism of Foucault’s view of Freud’s theory relating to… well, honestly, I forget.  I tried to forget the whole night; I was writing an essay on madness and it nearly drove me to that point.

For this reason, it was refreshing to read The Stranger by Albert Camus.  It was short, to the point, nicely translated, and it didn’t take ten years of scratching my chin in an exotic tea café to understand.  It’s basically Existentialism 101.  If you have any interest in 20th Century Philosophy, this book is the place to start.  The main character is amoral, apathetic and just floats around, sighing the whole way.  When you think of that stereotypical image of a beatnik French girl in a black turtleneck, smoking a cigarette, bored… Camus invented that ethos!  This book undoubtedly left its mark on thousands of writers and philosophers and I’m sure it was an outrage when it was released for its godlessness and borderline-insane nihilistic ennui.

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