Well, it’s time again for Boozy Books and this week we’ve picked a real doozy. It’s time, dear readers, that we break from the expected and try something that challenges who we are, the way we think, and how we see the world. Today, nerds and nerdettes, we will be diving headfirst into Albert Camus’ philosophy of the absurd with his existential masterpiece The Stranger.
The story of an apathetic French Algerian, The Stranger challenges the concepts of traditional emotions and morals from start to finish. Written as a first-person narrative the reader sees a lot of unpleasantness as told by the unfeeling Meursault. He does not experience any range of expected human emotion and his only concession seems to be placing people into categories of interesting or annoying. He lacks feeling at his mother’s funeral, he lacks feeling in his “relationships”, he lacks feeling in bed, and to top it all off this lack of concern is demonstrated flawlessly when he murders a man with no particular motive or… wait for it… feeling. The man is an existential machine! Nothing matters because there is no meaning in the world beyond the meaning we assign it and he has assigned literally zero meaning to anything.
The book is a fast read and ends with possibly the only tantrum of Meursault’s apathetic life in which he laments the absurdity of the human condition and the meaninglessness of his very existence. The universe is indifferent to mankind and, thus, so is Meursault. Poor, bitter, indifferent, murderous Meursault….
So what are we pairing with this deliciously dark story? WHO CARES! If Meursault has taught us anything it’s that nothing matters, right? So drink wine, or liquor, or beer. HELL, drink wine and liquor and beer. The world is amoral. The world is absurd. Life is unfair and we’re all going the way of the bloody dinosaur so drink up!
If you really want to enjoy existentialism I say do it with a stiff drink or two and rediscover your own humanity by saying to yourself “why would you just kill some random guy? Why would you kill anyone, period?? Yes, death is coming for us all, but you don’t have to expedite it, you crazy existential bastard!”
With that said, enjoy the book and enjoy some drinks, but please take Camus’ message with a grain of salt. While our mortal time may be limited, we cannot live while incessantly preparing for the arrival of death. So live, love, eat, drink, read, explore, dance, sing, cry, laugh and above all do it with passion.
Adieu mes amis,