Thursday, 7 November 2013

Albert Camus (7/11/13 - 4/1/60) - His Enduring Appeal

A 100 years  after his birth, and more than half  a century after his untimely death, Albert Camus still resonates with the modern world. On 4 January, 1960, this writer, intellectiual, and absurdist philosopher skidded of the road  whilst a passenger in a car, and was killed instantly.
On all accounts  he was of  a sensitive nature, a seeker of maximum unity. An admirer of revolutionary syndicalism, anarchists, conscientious objectors, and all manner of rebels. Standing against totalitarianism in the form of Stalinism and fascism, and was never afraid to speak his truth.
Born in extreme poverty, in French ruled Algeria, to an illiterate mother who was partially deaf, who lost his father in the horror that was  World War 1, despite tremendous disadvantages by the age of 44 he was collecting the Nobel Prize for literature.
At the time his philosophical writings, which  continued the themes explored in his novels - the absurdity of the human condition and the necessity of rebelling against it, were not popular with critics, but his words and their power live on. Does the realization of the absurd reguire suicide? " No" Camus answered it requires revolt. " The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart."
Long have I been an admirer of this man who was not afraid to preach justice, to reconsider his stance, to take candour and reflect, to be as honest as he thought best .After all there is no authority but yourself.
With this year being  his centenary year, I am sure  there will be a renaissance of interest in this great man, this visionary of the absurdity of life,  who expressed so articulately  that human life  is rendered ultimately meaningless by the fact of death, his themes of the alienated stranger, or outsider, the rebel in revolt,  tempered by his own experience,  showing us the readers, the individuals paths where  we can truly be free.
He has undoubtedly become one of the most profoundly original thinkers of the modern age. For him the urge to revolt was one of the ' essential dimensions' of the human race, seen in man's continuous struggle against the conditions of his existence, through solidarity and our shared humanity.
It was his persistent efforts 'to illuminate the problem of the human conscience in our time' that were one of the main reasons he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, and I for one am very grateful to have discovered his enduring words, that  continue to flow with inspiration.

" Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion" -  from, Albert Camus's famous celebrated essay The Myth of Sisyphus.

An earlier post with more biographical detail can be read here :-

Albert Camus - The Smoking Philosopher

Pictures and Quotes from Albert Camus

Albert Camus - The Man who made thinking cool;
music by the Velvet Underground

Camus and the Stranger ( Rare BBC documentary)


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