Mersault and I

Posted in Prose by Sandra on February 18, 2009

In my Philosophy 101 class last year, my professor introduced us to Albert Camus’ works. By that time I was beginning to feel a real despair for how subjective the class was. After the professor asked for our opinion on Mersault (of “The Stranger“), I voiced my opinion- that simply, to be Mersault must be very painful. My opinion was faced with silence and what I had thought was derision and dumb-founded shock that someone could point out something so silly and “duh” to everyone else.

In embarrassment and some anger at being embarrassed (because my opinion didn’t warrant a full-blown discussion), I started scribbling my on-going thoughts of the class discussion which proceeded with another student’s opinion. (Yes, I was a vindictive little kid, ill-adjusted too. Still am, probably.)

Mersault had a passionate life too, non? He was alive in the sense that the ordinary people weren’t. The American style of written life is colourless, and dry — which is what Camus had adopted in the first half of the book.

“He didn’t care”? No — I think he didn’t not care — but he was detached. It hurts to be Mersault, I think.

I pay attention to the little details when I feel nothing. Is it possible to not feel anything? Where everything is just hardened, dry, detached from my life. When decisions were just a nuisance that stood in his way of living. Like right now — except that the opinions of others irritated me. The presence of humans around me bothers me because they make no difference in my life as a whole. Mersault, [you are my] twin. Everything that Mersault did, he had a reason. Everything he didn’t do, he didn’t have a reason, nor motivation to do it. It seems like a simple lifestyle, the cleanest way to deal with the mess of life.

We feel nothing if there is no reason to. Sex is just an interaction. Fucking is just another term. And desire is something to be entertained whenever it arises. What would I do anything, that Mersault didn’t do?

Nothing, I think.

Except that I wouldn’t be as patient as him, to keep it all in till the end.

Did Maman’s life — or death — affect him? No, I don’t think so. The death is just another event in his life. It was a way of opening the book. Or maybe it did. Made him think and consider. Made him step out of his comfort zone — to go to the home where she’d lived her last — and break his routine. And then Marie. It seems convenient, that Marie should replace his mother’s presence (physically) in his life.

Even the way weather affects him is similar to mine. Like everyone else to a lesser degree. Or maybe really, I am not similar to him at all — but the desire to be something like him. Not someone, but something. Yet I can never be someone like him because his umbrella reaches further than mine can. Love, marriage especially. Life can be a film-roll — if only for a while in my life.

Like that time I was worried/vexed about my mobility than to feel anything when I was with Emmanuel. “I don’t feel anything. Not even love for you.” I suppose that affected, offended him. If I remember right, he was quite distraught indeed.

I’m not sure how I feel about this all in hindsight.

Still embarrassed, I believe.

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