Albert Camus and the Absurdity of Philosophical Suicide

On Camus’ Absurdism

On November 7, 1913, Albert Camus, the absurdity of philosophical suicide, was born in Algeria. He died in Villeblevin on January 5, 1960. Died at 46 due to an accident, many people started getting to know Camus because his first novel, The Stranger. The novel began to receive awards such as the Novel Award in 1957 in literature. He introduced thought and created a school of philosophy in existentialism, namely absurdism, through this book. It is challenging to understand Camus’ thinking because he does not explicitly and systematically explain absurdism. There are many assumptions that people classify Camus as a writer rather than a philosopher other than the metaphorical diction and typical absurdist hyperbole. However, Camus’ structuring philosophy is in a literary style, not just conveying his thoughts. He invites the reader to feel his thoughts atmosphere as a philosopher in a concrete way in the language of feeling.

The Stranger

The Stranger tells the story of a fictional character named Meursault, a melancholy but passive character. Besides not having the spirit of life, Meursault is reflected in how he lives his daily life. It is an example of the impropriety and meaninglessness of life when most people cry and are sad to hear the news that their loved one has died. Meursault is just ordinary, as if nothing happened. Meursault realizes that life will always continue when his mother is there or not, and he always carries out his routine. Nothing has changed. Meursault also sees the crowd with his perception, apart from having a hobby of visiting the busy people on the street through his apartment’s narrow glass. Apart from looking at them and thinking that the environment on the road is a theater performer, he also assesses himself the characteristics of everything and all substances.

Meursault’s Retrospective

Meursault looks at the reality in front of him, judging himself as a stranger there because he is not a busy human being on a busy street. He observes the road and thinks about them, on the street, is a reality from the crowd and a perspective from Meursault’s life itself. Albert Camus and his absurdity and philosophical suicide is awareness of differences rather than environment, about people’s thoughts through routine rather than according to a human act itself where he rejects the environment itself. When Meursault was on vacation to the beach with his friends, suddenly, one of his friends had a problem with Arabs. Meursault approached one of the Arabs. Coming one of the Arabs, Meursault shot him three times to death. Neither guilt nor fear, implicitly, he knows what it feels like to kill as if getting an answer he has been looking for all this time.

No Parallels

Meursault was willing to surrender himself to be jailed and tried, but while in prison, he still felt that nothing had changed and felt life was going as it should. During the trial process, Meursault still felt normal, and nothing made him happy or sad. Meursault always answered, loudly, the questions raised by the judge, jury, and prosecutor. Apart from being honest, if he kills Arabs, his motive is not hatred and desire.

Most of these questions also cornered Meursault, not around the shooting case, instead leading to his personal life about society as unnatural or strange, even personal questions such as about his mother or why he did not just shoot non-Arabs. In the end, Meursault was found guilty and had to be executed for his curiosity to pull the trigger. He hopes people welcome his death with insults and contempt rather than nothing at the end of the story.

Unblinded

Meursault, accurately, is a young man but for different from society in general. He became a stranger as he began to realize the meaningless and absurd about life. Apart from seeing life as a long journey, this phenomenon is a temporary stopover like filling a gas station or resting in a small apartment and continuing the next day’s journey. Albert Camus explains that Meursault chooses to become an actual human according to his will, as the absurdity, does not want to be a fake, does not want to lie to his feelings, and emphasized philosophical suicide. Being a natural person is like the absence of grief at death, finding out, and feeling wrong assumptions on a murder other than not wanting to become a social or social formation. In essence, Meursault tries to fight loneliness and teaches that life is always going on.

The Sisyphus Absurdity

On a long road without any feelings, absurdity is a condition in which humans cannot determine life’s purpose and meaning. It is mainly about the human condition, not understanding what life is, and the sense of being a living human being. The ambiguity of the purpose of life is an absurdity in itself. Camus also explained that life is tough to understand and too unnatural to use reason and logic. However, this representation of Meursault illustrates an awareness of this absurdity. He chooses to be a human who lives in the past, present, and future.

Absurdism is more precisely a conceptual depiction of the mythological story of Sisyphus, a king from Corinth, where Zeus cursed him for pushing a rock to the top of a hill forever. As Camus described in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, this story tells, in addition to many versions, of Sisyphus pushing against a rock and not going to stop rolling. When Sisyphus tried to push the rock and made it to the top, it rolled back down. Sisyphus had to move it back to the top and so on to the end. For Camus, man is a figure representing Sisyphus, regarding human consciousness as something meaningless and purposeful.

The Meaninglessness

Even though he did not see as a curse the result of right or wrong actions resulting from suffering, Camus saw this phenomenon, in reality, as a life that humans must live through. Man has his stone and desires to push it to the top until he sees for himself if it rolls down again. That is how Camus describes the absurdity and meaninglessness of life, about humans only making ends meet without knowing what life is. The meaninglessness of life is like a journey where one has to reach a destination. However, after achieving that goal, what else? The answer is to seek another goal until every human being dies. Sisyphus is a momentary human will and inclined to obey all absurd things even though it does not change a life.

The point is not how Sisyphus should finish his sentence. It is whether he is happy or not. The impermanence of life is an assumption of life as very pleasant. Camus’ emphasis on Sisyphus’s story is a human reality when he likes to push the rock. Not giving in to death, Camus also offers a solution to the meaninglessness of life by assuming life is about the meaning of happiness itself. Life’s meaninglessness will always continue, about looking for life’s purpose because life itself is never objective. Each return to the life experience of every human being. Humans always push the rock to the top, and it is just a matter of time for the stone to roll down again. Desire through desire as well as curiosity will always pervade humans even though it is futile.

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Comments

  1. I’ve never read any of Albert Camus’s works, so I was glad to read your thoughts about The Stranger. If I come across this work, I’ll be back to visit your post to compare notes. 🙂

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