Oh So Late Camus !
My Dearest Albert, if only, before being born I had read you, I would have prepared myself better to survive this place which everyone around me calls ‘world’. I know the popular saying, “It’s never too late” ; but indeed it is late, monsieur. Today I’m a man, a grown up, a man born and brought up amongst these people who comprise the world and rarely so they know you or what you wanted to tell them. I’m a man now, who is pre-occupied with how this so-called world works. No, I don’t mean this world is cunning ; it’s pleasant actually, in a way which appears melancholic to me. But sorry I am, now that the veil of this world and its ways cover my soul. You say this world is ‘Absurd’. True, but I got to know about it no sooner than yesterday. In the past twenty years of my life, this world was a place to establish my name, to leave a mark, to bring about a change. Sorry to say, but in those twenty years, that is what I was taught. And so foolish my heart was that it took these preachings for granted.
Death smites us all. I knew this all too well in my early twenty years in this world, as I stood like an onlooker to one such event. Death is a game changer. The only problem is that it changed me only eight years after when I first witnessed it. Yes, I felt Death eight years later.
What is the value of a human life ? What is the value of any life ? What makes one’s life worth living ? How to measure what is worth living ? Who is the judge to measure what life is worth living for ? The answers to all my queries were nowhere to be found. And boy, I looked all round to fetch even tiny miny clues that this world could offer. I was disappointed. Miserably. All the learning that I had gathered in my past twenty years of existence came to a standstill on the matter of ‘Death’. How could it be that a world which teaches you how to live has no answer about why to live when death shall knock one day ? Funnily enough, the world was even more deceiving when I asked this question out loud. You live for your loved ones, they said. Okay but does this mean that one day when my loved ones die, I won’t have a single reason to live ? Well, you will never run short of having loved ones in your life, they explained me. Hmm, that was an interesting answer. And it might actually be even true. But if that is the case, then why shall I indulge myself in the meaningless motive of acquiring wealth when I can spend all the life with people I live for — my loved ones. But how will you spend your life with loved ones without money ? The world punched me with this question, a jab right away. The more one runs his imagination wild, the more the questions get entangled. And I am an imaginative kid. Am I the only person who is thinking too hard about death while everyone around me behaves as if it doesn’t exist ? Why have people around me shun the question of death altogether ? Is death even moral ? Does it follow the norms of morality that creep this world ? Death can’t be moral, I thought, because if that was the case then no innocent would ever die. And we all know at least one person who we think died innocent, at least one person whom we think Death took too early. Death surely is immoral. As far as I had observed, this world was genius in taking notice towards things they thought immoral. Why nobody then gives a damn about Death ?
It would be difficult to reason why, but a fit of suicidal rage hovered over my soul quite some time back. I listened to what this world had told me, “You live for your loved ones”. My Dad is still alive, I ought to live. And so I made the easiest of all decisions — to live. Adamant, but, I was to find a clue about what all this fuss about life and death is. That was when I discovered you, my Dearest Albert. Your first impression made quite a mark on me. Infatuated ? Maybe I was.
With all your reasoning you convinced me that this life is absurd. Well, not entirely but almost. I was no believer of God or religion, so had no chance of committing philosophical suicide. Like Kierkegaard, I couldn’t even come to terms to take the leap of faith. But I, because of my upbringing, believed in the world’s reasoning, that I have to live for my loved ones. I believed that truly. Kierkegaard never believed that. I doubt whether you did too. Now since I had a reasonable reason, taught by the world, to live the life, I found it hard to accept that life as is, is Absurd. Your reasoning, Albert, is that the world is absurd but not worth committing suicide. I look at it from a different angle : if one can’t commit suicide because of even a single reason, the world is not absurd. Voila, it has meaning. Your argument, Albert, is that one must embrace this Absurd world and an absurd life, a life meaningless but full of cheer. Well, a kiss on the cheeks of your loved ones, that is not embracing the Absurd Albert, it is rejecting life as Absurd. Sure, it’s not easy to challenge you Albert ; you have all the philosophical authority in the world. But I am offering you a reasoning given to me by this very same world which made you stand on that pedestal of philosophical literature. Whether that is even remotely ironic or not, I don’t know.
I am now a man of this world, who lives and survives in this world for his loved ones. … I am also a man who is uncertain whether in his future there are any loved ones worth living for.
The Stranger (1942)
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
The Plague (1947)
The Fall (1956)
There are two kinds of people that I have encountered in my small life of twenty, Albert. They are either the ones who, when having witnessed death, submerge themselves under the heaps and piles of materialistic world, just to keep themselves busy (are do they busy themselves subconsciously as a means to embrace the absurd life ?) and there is the other kind, those like you and I, who question the nature of this life. People falling in the latter category, I have read many but not known anyone. People in the former category, well, look around, they are what makes this world what this world is. Have they committed philosophical suicide ? Maybe yes, but in their eyes they have a well substantiated reason to linger on. I don’t know why, but Oscar Wilde was right in saying, “Everybody is self-righteous”. And if Oscar is indeed right, it makes me ponder, if everyone is self-righteous then why this crisis, why this debate, this hoopla at all ? Why ? You are right in your own regard ; I, in my own ; and those who have hanged themselves with philosophical suicide are right to do so too. As I asked earlier, everybody ought to die, so who’s the judge about how to live ?
The problem now with me, Albert, is that I have grown all too big, both physically and intellectually, much to my own disdain. I simply, without questioning, can’t accept what you have to offer, Albert, as enticing as it may feel. And that is why I say, I should have read you before being born. I would have been fresh in my mind — no new thought but already the wisdom of how absurd this life can be, and that I have to enjoy all this absurdity and not instead cry over the tragic fate that this absurdity brings to me. Alas ! It’s too late now Albert. I am now a man of this world, who lives and survives in this world for his loved ones. I am also a man who knows that he is, as of yet, too naïve to talk about reasons of living. I am also a man who is uncertain whether in his future there are any loved ones worth living for. Time, again as this world says, will decide for me. Till then, I have to make the case for the emotion of melancholy which assists me better than to believe in embracing the Absurdity of this life.
Now, since we have got talking, my dearest Albert, I can’t resist but tell you that I often think, if you still were alive, what fun it would have been to get into the pants of your brain, Albert !