Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Albert Camus (7/11/13 -4/1/60) - The Smoking Philosopher

Ah Mr Camus........see him up there, he did not smoke because it was a luxury or even  pleasurable he smoked because it was  just part of something he did. Absurdity as philosophy, this was his way. He describes his whole philosophy in an essay The Myth of Sisyphus
Despite several attacks of tuberculosis and living in poverty he  kept on smoking.
For him life itself and therefore humanity was irrational, he was labelled an existentailist but he rejected this..
Albert Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria in 1913, his father died one year later, and Camus was bought up alone, in acute poverty. He spent a lot of his days looking for  reason in a world of alienation.In 1934 he joined the Communist Party, but his relationship with the party was difficult and would remain ambvialent throughout his life. In 1934 he married Simone Hie, a morphine addict and in 1938 he became a journalist, writing for an anti-colonialist newspaper after dropping out of the University of Algiers.
He moved to Paris in 1940, looking for work with the leftist press,  married again, to a pianist and mathematician named Francine Faure,  and had two twins Catherine and Jean in September 1945,and found himself  a teaching post. In 1943 he joined Combat  a clandestine resistance cell, working underground, helping with smuggling activities and acts of sabotage.
He became the editor of Combat's magazine in 1943 where he deveoped his philosophies and strong moral convictions, and it was during this period that he published works that extended his ideas. He wrote ' This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction.' He became associated with the French Anarchist movement, and wrote for several anarchist publications like  Le Libertaire, La Revolucian Proletarienne and Solidaidad Obrera. His real concerns  were for the plight of the ordinary man, not just in France or in Algeria, a search for solidarity, a humanity that does not divide.
His novels...... The Ousider (1942) and The  Plague (1947)  and The Fall (1947)  have  become pivotal texts for me to reach over the years. Here his themes developed further, a humanism grounded in nature  with people of the left accusing him off drifting away,  because he strongly critisized elements of communist doctrine. However he remained a man of the left. In 1949 he founded The Group for International Liasons with the Revolutionary Union Movement, through which he wanted to show the world the more positive aspects of surrealism and existentialism.. He labelled nihilism as the most disturbing problem of the twentieth century, in is essay The Rebel  he paints a terryfying picture of ' how metaphysical collapse often ends in total negation and the victory of nihilsm, characterised by a profound hatred, pathological destruction and incalculable death. Another theme that remained with him was his pacifism.
And whatever your opinion of the man he became obsessed with the human condition and its many forms.He accepted it's contradictions, and that's good enough for me, just because  life defies logic, and is irrational, does not mean it is less valuable or means that it does not need to be defended.
Towards the end of his life, human rights in particular were what essentially preoccupied him, and when the United Nations welcomed fascist Spain as a member under Franco he resigned from his work for UNESCO. He worked with imprisoned Algerians, and in 1957 was awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature.
Albert Camus died on January 4, 1960 in an absurdist car accident... he was buried in the Loumarin, Vacluss, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France.
So thanks Albert, whose ideas I have often found represented in the world around me, peppering them and illuminating them.  He was also a goalkeeper of rare promise from what I have heard, oh and I forgot to mention Mr Jean Paul and Simone de beauvoir....another time perhaps.
In the end he accepted lifes contradictions, he once remarked ' life is absurd and death renders it meaningless - for the individual. But mankind and its society are larger than one person'.
Right off to light myself a cigarette.

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