What’s So Interesting About The Stranger?

Meursault walking along the beach.

The Stranger is a book that stays true to its name. The reader follows a man who goes by the name Meursault and throughout the book we see Meursault respond to certain events in a peculiar manner that we wouldn’t deem as “normal.” Meursault is shown to have close to zero emotions on anything. It’s the way he acts and responds towards people that make him such a frustrating character.

Story begins with the death of Meursault’s mother. He explains to the reader that he never felt a deep connection with his mother. Of course he didn’t want her to die but he quickly accepted the fact that there was nothing he could do about it. He also didn’t seem to care all too much about her death. He never cried nor felt any pain compared to the other residents at the mother’s home. His interactions with the workers there were also quite unusual. He never wanted to see his mother corpse to see her one last time and his attention was toward the sunlight a lot of the time.

After his return from his mother’s funeral, he meets Marie again and begins to “date her” one could say. However, their conversations are quite strange to say the least and in my honest opinion, I don’t view relationships in that sense. Meursault goes out with Marie but doesn’t love her. You can see this throughout several of their conversations. On page 41-42, Marie questions Meursault asking him “do you love me?” Meursault showing no emotion says that he “didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t love her.” It’s this conversation where he reinforces his commitment to not showing any emotion towards anything.

So the questions still rises: What’s so interesting about The Stranger? The only thing I could comprehend is that we follow a man who doesn’t act normal in any sense that we can imagine. He’s the stranger in his society and people don’t know how to deal with him. That’s why the reader gets so frustrated with his actions throughout the book. We don’t understand why Meursault does the things he does and that’s why this book is so interesting. We don’t know what his next move is gonna be because he doesn’t act “human.”

This book forces us to think in a different way about human interaction and the way of thinking of a single person. This book is so interesting because it frustrates us, it shows us different ways of interactions, and it forces us to question society and how weird we are to others.

Meursault-Senpai is perfect

The main character in the stranger is a poorly written, author insert character meant to be a mouth piece for Camus to preach his world view.

With cards thrown on the table so hard they are embetted into it, I think it’s a good idea to explain myself. In the novel Meursault is the main character and fits the mold of Camus’s philosophy perfectly, acting as a foil to those who do not. Let’s start at the beginning, in the very first few pages of the book Meursault’s mother dies and he is taken to her funeral. Here he shows very little if any remorse and sadness, a fact that the nursing home director brings up during his homicide trial. Here Camus takes a shot at one of his most hated “social constructs” preventing us from being a “radical subject” and making us “act in bad faith”, family. Meursault is the only one to be above this concept of family and is punished by others for it. the directer is not the only character to be used as a puppet for Camus to sh#t on from on top his high horse. Marie represents the construct of love, the magistrate and the concept of faith, the prosecutor the concept of justice, hell even Meursault’s boss offering him a job in Paris is a shot at power and success. This makes the characters no longer characters, their dolls, puppets, straw man, pieces of notebook paper with faces drawn on them, a real character has a purpose that is driven by themselves, by not including this Camus makes this 100% on his philosophy. Unfourtunatly his philosophy has an extremely smug and self satisfide air to those who are “radical subjects” and as such renders the progatinist to a saintifide status. Below is a simple over view of the book and in my humble opinion equally as valid and good as the original.

Image result for meursault the stranger

Is Existentialist a Synonym for Pessimist?

Every time we’ve entered class this week I was thinking about whether or not an existentialist could ever have true joy. Could a person who ultimately believes nothing is real and has no meaning find any kind of purpose in life? Could an existentialist play the game of life while still maintaining their beliefs? To me, that just seems absolutely dreadful. Like it is explained in Camus’s “Myth of Sisyphus,” the true tragedy comes from consciousness and ignorance seems to truly be bliss.

I personally, am very okay with living in that ignorance. I don’t think I would like to look into the eyes of my father and think “this is not real,” or marry someone someday out of practicality. To me that seems like sticking yourself in one hopeless, never-ending box.

But in what parts of existentialism could one find happiness? Sometimes I think about what I would do if I truly did not care what people thought or about the consequences of my actions. If I didn’t believe in the system of education, I know I most certainly would not do my homework, I would not be, what seems like, relentlessly stressed over college. I definitely would not equate my value to the 4 digits of my SAT score. In that sense, I believe I would be happy.

But I feel like existentialism is inherently selfish. Those things I mentioned before, only benefit me. Existentialism seems very much solely focused on self and not on how the choices I’d make would affect others as well. If I suddenly stopped caring about school then I would be negating the hard work my parents put in to move to Oak Park so I could get a good education.

So, if I did not care about others and I didn’t care about probably ending up impoverished and bitter, I would be an existentialist. But I don’t prefer those things, so I’m good.

Is Mersault a Sociopath? Maybe, but he’s a smart one.

Ever since we discussed the true meaning of life and what our values actually mean, I’ve been thinking about the idea of existentialists being a “threat” to society while also perhaps being the smartest (and maybe the dumbest?).

The reason why I think characters like Mersault, from The Stranger, is incredibly smart and self-unaware at the same time, is because of the fact that he disregards the feelings of others when making choices about how he acts. In some sense, he ignores what we think of as core values; with that, he also avoids the suffering and pain that comes with each of those values. Of course, he still is confined to certain parts of society; such as work, living expense, etc. however, he’s either hyper-aware or unaware (or at least works to be unaware) of other’s actions and feelings. Despite these things, Mersault is perhaps on the smarter end of society (according to existentialists) because he is aware of the illusions of our core values (or is he?). He therefore escapes all the pain and suffering that comes with these values. The idea of avoiding pain and suffering by detaching yourself form the societal norms is smart in some sense but also makes people around you think you’re a sociopath.

I think one of the main reasons we, as a society, find people like Mersault so repulsive, is because he does not abide by what we consider as societal norms (such as being empathetic or sympathetic towards different people and situations). He is what we define in society as a sociopath. If he ignores people’s emotions and puts no effort in being sympathetic and empathetic towards others, he is therefore following what existentialists believed living for yourself meant. Be truthful to others no matter what? Fulfill human potential by living for yourself and only yourself? A.k.a, radical subjectivity. However, because these are the core values of radical subjectivity and existentialism, does that mean all existentialists and those that live by the idea of radical subjectivity are sociopaths?

Honestly I think I’m going off on a tangent at this point. Let me move on. Mersault is seen as a threat in society to not only the other characters in the book, but also to us, the readers. He lacks so much in human empathy and sympathy that we view him as unable to have these thoughts and therefore a sociopath– which we often view as a threat. Because we view sociopaths as a threat to society, it often leads us to punishing them. This is seen in The Stranger when Mersault is punished and faces consequences for killing the Arab. He showed no remorse in court when he was being tried for the murder which is exactly what the prosecutor used to his advantage when he was speaking to the jury (83-102). Because we view sociopaths as a threat to society, is it just to punish them? I think it depends on what they do and how they act on their lack of empathy and sympathy. In Mersault’s case, I think yes, he is deserving of punishment but the idea of shaming sociopaths BECAUSE they are sociopaths does not make sense to me. Again, I’m going off on a tangent but I’m thinking of some comments people made in my class today.

The idea that Mersault has a mental issue, is often brought up in my class really intrigues me. Do we shame those that have a hard time showing emotions in society? Why do we do that? I’m ending here because I think if I write anymore, I’m just going to get more confused with myself and my tangled ideas.

Existentialism: Not an Excuse to Be a Jerk

I don’t know about other class periods, but my class has been having a lot of debates about whether Meursault is a perfect existentialist who has achieved radical subjectivity and is free from society’s oppressive power structures or is just a bad person. I would like to suggest that the answer is, well, both. Meursault is undoubtedly an existentialist. He has accepted that nothing in life has meaning. However, the answer to the question of what sort of person he is, morally, lies in how he deals with that knowledge. 

As a result of the realization that life is meaningless, Meursault is sort of a jerk. He does things that hurt others, such as writing a letter to Raymond’s ex-girlfriend that he knows is going to get her into a bad situation and murdering a guy, under the premise that “nothing matters” and these actions are “meaningless.” However, that’s just wrong. His actions do matter. They matter to the people they affect. Even if Meursault is enlightened and knows that none of our suffering matters in the long run, that doesn’t give him the right to inflict unnecessary suffering upon other people, because that is infringing upon their freedom and subjectivity. 

Some might say that Meursault’s complete apathy and disregard for the things and people around him is the only natural response to existentialism. But I disagree. I believe that there is another way to respond: the idea that because there is nothing but this life, we have to spend it making the most positive impact on the world that we can, reducing the small fraction of the suffering of others that it is actually in our control to reduce. We have to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, fight for the rights of the marginalized, et cetera. 

While this idea may initially seem counter to existentialism, it actually fits with it perfectly. Because there is no afterlife that people who suffered on earth will get to enjoy after death, we should make sure that they suffer on earth as little as possible so that the entirety of their existence is not miserable. Sure, it’s ultimately meaningless, but it’s nice to do anyway. After all, nobody likes to suffer, and it’s kind of a jerk move to say to someone, “Well, suffering is inevitable, and everyone eventually dies anyway, so I’m not going to help you out from under that fallen tree that is crushing you lifeless.” Because if you were the one suffering, even if you knew it was meaningless, you probably would appreciate if that suffering could be diminished or removed. 

What I like about the “helping others” response to existentialism is that it can coexist with mutual recognition. Existentialism, no matter what, allows the existentialist to be a subject. However, if the existentialist realizes that others are subjects as well, their natural response will be to want to help them. In this light, existentialism can be a force for good not only for those who practice it but for the whole world. 

Altogether, I would say Meursault offers insight into one way an existentialist life can be lived, but certainly not the only way. Existentialism can make us apathetic, yes, but it also can rouse us to action. After all, life is meaningless, but we have to spend it doing something. Why not spend it doing things that make others a little bit happier?

The Existentialism of Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour. It’s the talk of town across the world but especially in high school classrooms; it’s nigh impossible to talk to someone without at inkling of what it’s about. On its surface, Mario Kart Tour a pretty neat game: the controls are simple but tight if you can put in the practice, nearly everyone with a phone and stable WiFi connection can play it, and even if you’re bad, you’ll still be able to have fun and compares scores and characters with your friends. However, underneath its friendly exterior lies the crux of why it’s so successful and also horrifying: the gacha system.

The Gacha Mechanic in “Mario Kart Tour” is simple: 5 rubies per pipe or 45 for 10. Each pipe contains a character, kart, flyer that is either normal, super, or the ultra-rare high end.

“Gacha” is a term that specifically relates to a loot crate type mechanic in a game. However, for a gacha game, the entire game must be centered around the gacha/loot crate mechanic because success for a gacha game is nothing but dollars. Thus, to entice players to spend, gacha games will design mechanics to support this gacha structure: they’ll be free to play, the best characters/skins/etc. will be attainable by free-to-play players but much more available to big spenders, the most desirable and valuable items will always be the rarest, and there is always a limited edition item whose rate to get will be temporarily be higher. In turn, all of these features make it so that as soon as free-to-play players hit a wall in their progression, either they want a specific character or want to fulfill a certain goal, they’ll spend. However, gacha games need one specific type of player though: the “whales”. The ones who will drop entire college funds to get their favorite character. In order to capture these whales, the gacha game must not give enough to the free-to-play player to keep the whales satisfied with their purchase and continue playing. This preference is usually demonstrated by low rates of getting the premium currency and premium features that greatly aid whales.

Mario Kart Tour rates. The rarest high-end characters and karts are locked behind a 1% probability. Same goes for the spot-light driver, kart, and glider.

In Mario Kart Tour, one can find all of these features in abundance. The flow of rubies is high initially, but quickly drops off over time. Specific drivers, karts, and gliders are “recommended”, i.e. given more items and bonus points, for each individual level, and all of the high-end items (including drivers, karts, and gliders) come out to a 6% probability. Of course, one’s probability increases and comes 100% if they use 100 pipes, but that comes out to 450 gems at the least, coming out to nearly five $50 of in-game currency. Mario Kart Tour’s most devious feature is it’s gold pass: for the low price of $4.99 a month you can get yourself around $20 of premium currency, “free” items, and even an extra mode — the ultra fast 200cc. And if you’re a free-to-play player, good luck getting those high-end characters or getting enough points on the later levels, you’ll need the items especially suited for that level to get the highest chance. But those items are usually the high-end items, and to get those you can grind — you can get 5 rubies bi-daily, the most consistent method of getting rubies for free, or just save up 12000 coins, although you can only get 300 coins per day from races. Ultimately, once you’ve completed all the tracks, there’s nothing left for you to do except compete with other players to get a higher score. But yet again, to compete with the best players, you’ll need to either grind or spend.

Gacha games in a nutshell.

Most people will grind. Some will spend a couple dollars lying around, maybe they had a leftover iTunes or Google Play gift card burning a hole in their pocket, but once that’s moneys gone, they too will grind. Finally, the whales will spend as they want, but even despite their spending, they too must grind: they have to finish the same levels as everyone else and play their best in order to out-compete those who’ve spent less money but much more time refining their karting technique. But the point of the matter is, no matter how much you spend or play, you must grind and the grind never ends. There will always be another glider, kart, and limited-edition swimsuit Mario left to acquire and another tour to finish. So what’s the point, if you can never get everything, at least, not for long and never taste victory, if never for more than a few fleeting days?

There’s always more road.

Indeed, what’s the point? The game will tell you to get a high-score on each track, but the game is ultimately a vessel for Nintendo’s paycheck. But the for the players, the highest scores only last as long as the tours, two weeks, and the best characters will be out-placed by newer, likely more appealing characters. While they last, those scores don’t necessarily mean anything either, they’re fine as bragging rights but no-ones getting accepted into college based on their Mario Kart Tour score (at least for now). And even if you move past those scores and you genuinely enjoy the characters you have, the game servers could always be taken offline and all your progress, your characters, your scores, your achievements, will cease to be. So again, what’s the point?

Snoopy, ever the bastion of wisdom.

Ultimately, there isn’t any inherent meaning or point for the player. Just like in our real life, nothing in the game inherently matters. That being said, like existentialists would say, that doesn’t mean that there’s meaning to be found in the life or game. Just because your high score doesn’t last doesn’t mean it’s without meaning: you worked for it after all. Ultimately, the game has meaning insofar as you give it meaning. I believe that this self-created meaning is fine, as long as you know what you’re getting in for. Since if you don’t and play the game according to Nintendo’s terms, then you’ll still find enjoyment, but are still confined in the soul-crushingly monetary system that Nintendo have created.

Another ground-breaking Nintendo phenomenon. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m also level 35 and own at least 5 shinies.

So how do you going about giving the game meaning? I believe that the answer to this question lies best in the story of Pokémon Go. For those uninitiated, Pokémon Go was a phenomenon when it come out. People were spending their entire afternoons, weekends, etc. catching virtual Pokémon. People were playing so much and so devotedly that they broke laws and found a dead body. After the initial rush, most people had quit the game, but even now, the most devoted still play the game, maybe alone or maybe with a group of like-minded players, and enjoy themselves.

Ultimately, I believe that from an existentialist point-of-view, both sets of players, the launch players and the current players, both have found their rock. The launch players played enough to find enjoyment by having fun with their friends, strangers, and Pokémon, and when they no longer enjoyed it, stopped. They were happy, and their happiness came solely from their own toil. For those devoted enough to play to this very day, they too are happy. They’ve played the game through the thick and thin, and have likely created their own schedule and checklist for their game. But everything they’ve done, from catching, battling, to walking and driving to special location, have been of their own accord. They’ve derived meaning from their self-imposed routine and must be satisfied with their efforts, since why would they still be playing if they still enjoy it.

Back to Mario Kart Tour. Eventually, I predict that around 95% of the player base will die out. After this launch period, most people will either get fed up or bored with the system. A minority will keep on playing, and a smaller minority will continue to spend big. However, this prediction isn’t to say that anyone who quits or stays is wasting their time, but rather the opposite: they’ve spent their time meaningfully. When they played, they likely played due to other people playing, after all, no-one wants to be left out. But from their efforts, they’ve been able to stand a common ground with many people united by Mario Kart. In essence, through Mario Kart, they’ve been able to bond and connect with people. However, even if they haven’t, they’ve still staved away their boredom for another few days.

Ultimately, there is no deeper meaning to Mario Kart Tour. But just because there’s no inherent point to it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing it by yourself or with friends. In the end, we’ll all be dead, our accomplishments will be forgotten, and our name will never be spoken again. Thus, there’s no reason why Mario Kart Tour is any less meaningful than anything else we do. So if you like Mario Kart Tour, then keep playing it, spend money on it if you’d like. If you’ve never played before, either out of rebellion or ignorance, then try it out, it might be fun. But whatever you do, enjoy yourself. Or don’t, just act as you please.

Here’s a “The Stranger” reference. Song is quality. Thanks for reading!

Meursault’s Realization on Life

Throughout his novel, The Stranger, Albert Camus portrays the idea of existentialism. Camus exposes the true self and cold nature of human beings in order to show Meursault’s realization of the meaningless of life.

Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the freedom to choose and make decisions without trying to achieve someone else’s standards. Existentialists acknowledge the dangers and outcomes of their decisions and take responsibility if future outcomes.

The Stranger provides several examples of analyzing and revealing the true self and cold nature of human beings. When Meursault shoots the Arab and one of the Arabs draws his blade and holds it up to Meursault, Meursault is not annoyed by the Arab’s undermining activity, he was disturbed by the extreme heat and light from the sun that reflected at him. Meursault describes his feeling of discomfort from the sunlight when he says, “The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes” (Camus 59). Meursault was not afraid of being attacked by the Arab, he felt uncomfortable in that situation. As a result, Meursault shot him even though he did it due to his feeling of annoyance. Later, Meursault gets arrested, but he does not realize the severity of his actions. Meursault shows this when he says, “Then he wanted to know if I had hired an attorney. I admitted I hadn’t and inquired whether it was really necessary to have one” (Camus 63). Meursault is ready to move on and accept his punishment. His actions expose how existentialists take actions into their own hands, dealing with the consequences later. 

Death is a common idea among existentialists, which is shown when Mersault expresses his actual affections for Maman’s death, those of distant and dislike. The investigators were aware that Meursault had shown insensitivity the day of Maman’s funeral. He explains his feelings towards Maman by saying, “I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything. At one time or another all normal people have wished their loved ones were dead” (Camus 65). Meursault displays his anger towards his Maman when he sent her to a home, losing their connection. This reveals that people often get too involved in their lives, wanting them to distance themselves even more. Meursault demonstrates this characteristic during Maman’s funeral service where he did not show any sympathy and when he decided to not visit her anymore at the home.

Meursault’s Meaningless Existence

Throughout The Stranger, there is a crucial theme that underlies every passage; existentialism and the meaninglessness of existence. This theme and Camus’ opinions on it are demonstrated in many ways in the book, but in particularly, through Meursault’s character, his words and his actions.

Camus’ background of being a existentialist writer, who believed that humans must make their own meaning in a world that is essentially without meaning, paved the way for Meursualt’s character. Meursault is a detached figure who views and describes much of what occurs around him from a removed and distant position. He is emotionally dispassionate to others, including his own mother and Marie.

Image result for existentialism

There are many times throughout the book, where Meursault demonstrates existentialist views. The point of the book that stood out to me in this regard was when the magistrate was waving the crucifix is his face. Meursalt’s only response to this powerful scene was, “I was hot and there were big flies in his office that kept landing on my face” (page 68). This complete disregard for a moment that would typically evoke emotion from someone further illustrates his existential beliefs.

Even the murder that Meursault commits is meaningless in his eyes. He provides no reason for killing his victim aside from being bothered by the sun. His actions are without reason. He feels as though he lives in an absurd world in which nothing is governed by reason. 

The whole basis and frustrating reason behind Meursault’s character is the fact that it demonstrates existentialism, which can be both very interesting and complicated to understand.