Freedom will be defended.
UPDATE: After writing this post at 10:41, I decided to read "The Stranger," which I have to admit, I'd never read. I have read some Camus. I've even read "The Plague" twice, once in French. And I've read enough books in French that I have to wonder why "The Stranger" wasn't one of them, since the writing is especially simple. Water, red, stones, sky, eyes, light, sweat, knife, gun, belly, blinded, dog, white, sun, glare, trees, tears, God, happy, hope. You could get used to the vocabulary quickly and enjoy the repetitions. But I read it in English today. It's 4:35. It was interesting to read a copy of it that had been in the house for a long time, that my son had read once and filled with marginalia. I couldn't tell whether his notes were influenced by a teacher's lecture or if they were purely his. I had meant to try to think about how the book would have been perceived by President Bush, but that didn't last too long. Fortunately. It would idiotically taint the book to waste any time thinking about President Bush in connection with -- for example -- the group of threatening Arabs:
They were staring at us in silence, but in that way of theirs, as if we were nothing but stones or dead trees.Sorry not to have some ripe political analysis for you. I suppose I could say President Bush seems to have a complex relationship to his mother, and maybe he thought about that when he read this book, which has a theme of the character's relationship to his mother -- mainly, his seeming inability to feel anything at her death. His reaction is to drink coffee, smoke, sleep, start a new love affair, go to a comedy movie, and go swimming -- something people really take the wrong way. Did you know that Barbara Bush was criticized for not attending her own mother's funeral?
Here are three things The Stranger learned from his mother:
1. "[I]t was one of Maman's ideas, and she often repeated it, that after a while you could get used to anything." (p. 77, Vintage paperback)ANOTHER UPDATE: Some more sentences, written on a few hours' reflection.... An ordinary man receives the jolt: his mother has died. His response is ordinary but also extraordinary. He smokes, drinks coffee, and seeks new love, real sensation in his ordinary world. He seems numb and inexpressive, and he follows various characters who lead him into their more fully formed lives. Marie offers love and marriage. He follows without seeing the importance of it. Raymond draws him into jealousy and revenge, and he goes there too, and doesn't see a reason not to. Killing a man or not killing a man seem like equal chances on a coin flip, and, seeing life that way, he kills a man. On trial, his emptiness and his search for sensation, for some feeling of living, become the argument for the prosecution, the reason why he is guilty. Condemned, he thinks it through. He sees the significance of life, even a short life, even a hated life, and finally recognizes that he exists, which is enough, which is everything.
2. "Maman used to say that you could always find something to be happy about." (p. 133)
3. (Realizing why Maman had taken a "fiancé" when she was close to death) "Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again." (p. 122)