172. Camus: Something Must Happen!

Albert Camus, in chapter two of his profound novel The Fall, has his character Jean-Baptiste Clamence present us with the following troubling, yet certainly applicable in some cases, observations:

“Have you ever noticed that death alone awakens our feelings?  How we love the friends who have just left us?”

“Notice your neighbors if perchance a death takes place in the building.  They were asleep in their little routine and suddenly, for example, the concierge dies.  At once they awake, bestir themselves, get the details, and commiserate.  A newly dead man and the show begins at last.  They need tragedy, don’t you know; it is there little transcendence, their aperitif.” [“An apĂ©ritif is an alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite and is therefore usually dry rather than sweet.” (Wiki)]

“Something must happen – and that explains most human commitments.  Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war, even death.  Hurray then for funerals!”

Camus’ insights are helpful in making us wary of the ways – evil ways to be sure – our often superficial and sensationalistic society temps us to vicariously feel alive, important, or superior at the expense of other people’s suffering.

Go here for a related thought I had many years ago when I was in traffic.

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