“For the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world…… For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate” (Camus, 1989, p.109).
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“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world”
Does life actually have a meaning? This is the question that most philosophers, theologists, scientists as well as other academic scholars ponder to answer. Meursault is trying to bring out the philosophy of absurdity of life in this episode.
The assertion of this philosophy is that life has no redeemed or rational meaning. That is there is no purpose or discernible meaning of the human existence.
The reason is that what happened in the past has no meaning and the only thing that matters in our lives is what is presently happening since we do not know what will be happening in the future.
Given the fact that there is no real meaning of life does not necessarily mean that people should lead a life of despair, rather people should live there moral and humanist life.
This is clearly illustrated with Meursault acceptance of the gentle indifference with things around him. After realizing that there is no difference between being executed and waiting to die at old age, Meursault find piece with him and the society that persecuted him.
Critically looking at the Meursault life processes, the implication of this is that moral orders have no natural or rational basis. However, we should not approach life with a moral indifference.
In as much as the universe may present itself as cold and indifferent, we should always uphold the human dignity and moral values. This is what the final episode of Meursault life portrays.
“…. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone” (Camus, 1989, p.109)
What matters to Meursault is the escape to freedom from the machineries of justice that condemned him to death. He came to the reality that when life has ended so too is existence. This also brings him to the realization that the hope of salvation from God is pointless rather an obscurity of the realities of death.
In fact, the way of life in the world is substantial and the meaning of life is exposed through events that are being experienced at that particular time. For this reason, Meursault find it difficult to connect to those who show concern to the social conventions that are found in the world around them.
Quite absurd, Meursault feel deprived of the physical pleasure when for instance; he was put in prison for emotionless behavior. This does not mean that people do not follow the conventional societal beliefs neither do they believe in God nor salvation but rather the absurdity of existence.
If we can all share in this belief then we should enjoy life. It is the enjoyment that is derived from the day to day existence neither looking forward nor backward. That is the love for life that is based on doing what I feel I want to do and not what the society, religion or others would deem correct or common.
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It is also true that life remains constant and it is only physical things that are really changing. The implication is that life is equal among human beings. There is no life that is greater or better than the other. The equality in life can only be manifested in death.
Whether you are rich, poor small or Nobel, death is a reality that faces not only human kind but also all living creatures. Death is the force that is conscientious for the unvarying and consistent character of human life. In fact, experience offers a deeper understanding of human life conditions.
“…. for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate” (Camus, 1989, p.109).
This is what I find intriguing in this passage. In fact, the quotes are found in the very last lines of the book. Upon meeting with the chaplain, Meursault completely acknowledged the absurdist thought that the world is unsympathetic to individual interactions and that existence is deficient of coherent order and importance.
All through the course of the narrative, Meursault was approaching this disclosure devoid of noting until he came to terms with the hopelessness of evading his demise.
He understood the fact that the unresponsiveness the world is to human relationships is a pure manifestation of its own personal lack of concern to human interactions and correspondence, bring to mind, a feeling of friendship that leads him to brand the world brother.
In contrast to the earlier episodes when Meursault was satisfied at best, in this occasion, Meursault discovers active happiness when he finally became open to the actuality of human existence. Despite her position in society, Meursault still find happiness.
Meursault did not mind being called a criminal. Meursault really wanted companionship, which ironically, is an angry mob baying for his blood on his execution day. Meursault recognized his awaiting capital punishment as the consummation of his novel perception.
Camus, A. (1989). The stranger. Trans Matthew Ward, New York: Vintage International.