Who is the Real Stranger?

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As I became familiar with the strange qualities of Meursault as the story developed, the question that stuck out to me was, “What was Camus purpose for characterizing Meursault the way he does?”

Meursault is caught in a world where no one really thinks the way he does. Have you considered the possibility that the title “The Stranger” comes from the inability for Meursault to understand others as opposed to others understanding him? Throughout the story it is clear that Meursault is different from everyone else, but what if Camus is referring to everyone but Meursault as “The Stranger.”

All of the characters in the story have a different role and relation to Meursault. I would argue that these characters with the exception of Meursault act as “the norm” in our society today. It is easier to understand and empathize with the thinking of the other characters because we have been exposed to people like them before. But is it possible that our characterizations that represent “the norm” are incorrect? Maybe Meursault is discomforted by the way the other characters act. Maybe he is the only character that isn’t in fact “strange.” Maybe he is living the “right” way. Maybe Meursault isn’t “The Stranger” after all.

How Existentialism Appears in the Song, “Boredom” by Tyler the Creator.

The fun, hip hop song: “Boredom” by Tyler the Creator, may have lyrics that aren’t as happy-sounding as the beat in the background. Obviously, the word “boredom” comes up a lot in the song, as well as the phrase “find some time to do something.” So how bored really is Tyler?

Yes, Tyler is bored, but really he could be questioning if he is an existentialist…. Due to the amount of times the phrase “find some time to do something” is said, it seems that Tyler the Creator is not satisfied with his life. He feels as though he has nothing to look forward to in the future with all the time he has in the world. This can be interpreted as a form of Extensitailsim. Existentialism’s main idea is that people exist for their own free will. Humans define themselves throughout their lives and make their own meaning of life. In this song, Tyler is emphasizing that people need to use all their time on Earth to the best of their ability and especially “find some time to do something.” The understanding of the song is really up to the listener, but if you listen closely you might hear a snippet of Existentialism.

Existentialism and its Relation to Isolation

Existentialists value the rejection of standard social constructs as a pillar of humanity, but this conviction can be extremely ostracizing. Unfortunately, while leading an existentialist life may be personally liberating, it is extremely unpopular. Outside of those who share in the existentialist ideology, an existentialist would have quite a difficult time fitting into society. In The Stranger, Mersault keeps everyone at an arm’s distance. He has some friends (Marie, Raymond), but it is very clear to the reader that Mersault isn’t particularly close to these people. The reason behind this is because Mersault’s outlook on life holds him from coexistence. He can no longer understand conventional societal norms.

Existentialism isn’t an ideology for the social. Its lonely, and besides the perceived personal freedom, it could ultimately be unrewarding. It is difficult to judge whether or not existentialism is truly worth the effort. Sure, you may have a new outlook on life, but said outlook immediately puts you on the outside looking in to society. The norms that existentialists reject are pillars of mainstream society. Existentialism imprisons one in their own mind, as they can no longer willingly be apart of a society that contradicts their beliefs. By choosing a path of existentialism, one creates a cycle of rejection. By rejecting societal constructs and norms, society will reject the existentialist right back.

“Groundhog Day” as an Existentialist Film

The movie “Groundhog Day” is about a man, Phil Connors, who has a bad outlook on life. But by some fluke of nature, Phil ends up repeating the same Groundhog Day over and over. At first, Phil is confused, and keeps repeating his actions every day so that they are the same, in case the next day is not a repeat of the last. But then, Phil begins to realize that he can act however he wants and there will be no consequences because there will be “no tomorrow.” He begins to break many social and societal constructs, basically doing whatever he wants because he knows there will be no repercussions. He ends up becoming happier and having a better outlook on life once he begins doing this. He has a new level of freedom that he did not have before.

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One particularly interesting thing about “Groundhog Day” is that it portrays a positive view of existentialism. I think it’s easy for many people to say existentialists are simply pessimistic and refuse to see any good in life. “Groundhog Day” refutes all these statements. Phil begins the movie tied to societal constructs meant to give life meaning. After repeating the same day over and over again, Phil is set free from these constructs. He no longer fears society’s judgement of his actions. And only when he gets this freedom is he truly happy in the movie. Although existentialism is, on one level, about trying to shy away from things we traditionally think gives value to our lives, it’s also about the freedom we can acquire from living without these social constructs.

One other connection that I think must be made here is the connection of “Groundhog Day” and Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus.” Much like Sisyphus, Phil must repeat the same day, pushing his “boulder” up the hill, just for the day to repeat or the boulder to fall back down the hill. But Phil begins to recognize the absurdity of life as he repeats his days, just as Camus says Sisyphus must accept the absurdity of life as he pushes his boulder. Camus says that once you realize how absurd life is, you can find amusement and even happiness in its absurdity. This is why he proposes that Sisyphus is happy, and this is why Camus would also consider Phil to be happy as well.

Existentialism and The Individual

While discussing existentialism for the first time I was very confused and frustrated. Lots of the things that I thought brought meaning to life were illusions in the eyes of existentialism.

While discussing existentialism for the first time, I was very confused and frustrated. Lots of the things that I thought brought meaning to life were illusions in the eyes of existentialism.

Existentialism defines life as absurd, and I do believe life can be wild and unpredictable, but not that friends and family don’t bring meaning to it. Existentialism overall is about living a life as an individual and for oneself.

In The Stranger, we can witness the philosophy of existentialism through the narrator’s perspective. Meursault, the narrator, lives his life as an individual and does things his way and when he wants too. The book focuses on Meursault’s outlook on life, and he realizes that it is about living, not for others, but yourself. Meursault finds meaning while sitting alone in his jail cell, which isn’t an exciting place to be, but he gets used to it.

As the book comes to an end, we see Meursault contemplating in his head about life. He is not thinking about others, but himself and the fate that was to become a reality. He was learning to exist, which brought happiness to him.

Overall after reflecting on the ideas of existentialism and The Stranger, I can grasp their purpose better. But I don’t think I can give up on the “illusions” that I believe brings meaning to my life. Everyone has a different way of seeing themselves in the world, but I think I can say my isn’t through existentialism, but others might so keep living on as an individual.

Albert Camus’s existentialism is not as depressing as you think.

Existentialism is a complex philosophy. Due to the very nature of existentialism, to question one’s purpose and reject the conventional meanings people give to life, most would be led to believe that existentialism is simply a synonym for pessimism. Other existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, strengthen this stereotype that existentialism parallels nihilism. However, a common misunderstanding is that all existentialists believe in a life without meaning. While Albert Camus accepts that life is absurd, unlike other existentialists, he rejects complete hopelessness. Camus argues that one must accept that their life will not mean anything in the long run, that one’s actions will be ultimately futile and human life will always be absurd, but one must live on nonetheless. Even with this knowledge that the universe was not made for us, Camus still believed that life is worth enduring. The fact that you as an individual exists at all is meaningful on its own. We must acknowledge the absurdities of human existence, but to strive to be as happy and content as we possibly can anyway. As Camus writes in The Myth of Sisyphus, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”. After Sisyphus accepts the hopelessness of his situation, he embraces his burden and thus, it is no longer a punishment for him. Once you realize that there is no inherent meaning to life and that we do not truly have any particular purpose, only then can you become truly free to create your own meaning. When you really look deeper into the message behind Camus’s ideology, you’ll realize that it’s actually about being happy.

Mersault’s Accucastion, and Camu’s ability to write

I believe that throughout the scene of Mersualt’s case, there was another factor that ultimately resulted in the sentence he got. I feel that throughout the case, there were more mentions on things that didn’t really pertain to his case than things that did. At one point, it really felt as if he was on trial for not going to his mother’s funeral, not for killing a man. A quote that perfectly explains how I feel is on page 96, where Mersault’s Lawyer states “Come now, is my client on trial for burying his other or for killing a man.” Before I heard him say these lines, that was the exact same thing I was thinking. On top of that, later on in the paragraph the persecutor goes on to say ” I accuse this man of burying his mother with crime in his heart. This pronouncement seemed to have a strong effect on the people in the courtroom.” I think that these lines are important because you really start to see existentialism, or the lack thereof, at this point. These people are judging Mersault upon a social construct, it is not a life requirement to love, or grieve for anyone.

On a different topic, I wanted to talk about the skill of Camu as a writer. At the beginning of The Stranger, the book felt so slow and so boring that it was as if Camu was a bad author. As we began to learn more about existentialism, and Camu’s feeling upon it, I began to really understand the skill that Camu was displaying with this literary work. He was writing from the POV of someone who is so outset, so different than most people. His ability to write an entire novel from the mind of someone who seems to not care about anything that a normal person cares for is amazing. When you’re reading, it really feels like an autobiography, like Mersault was a real person at some point. That is what makes me think that Camu is such a good writer, he can effectively become someone so different than the average human. He can become someone completely void of the average human feelings, and emotions.