I disagree with Camus’ argument about the constant pain in the human condition, mostly because of the extreme view he takes. To a certain extent, I do believe that life is full of suffering and the facade of hope and love is what keeps people going. However, Camus takes the stance that life is somewhat worthless, and when you die doesn’t matter.
This is seen in Camus’ novel, The Stranger, as he opens with the infamous line “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday”(1). One interpretation of the quote is that it doesn’t matter what day Maman died, but on a more personal level it could mean it doesn’t matter that Maman died at all. This meaning would show that Camus doesn’t value life much, if at all, and he doesn’t value the experience of living simply because all life ends with death.
Not only is his point of view downright depressing, it also makes many aspects of life meaningless if it doesn’t matter when you die. Camus was an absurdist, and he believed that love is just a facade of life that keeps people living, but is truly worthless. But without love, there is no emotion in life, and with no emotion life would be meaningless.
This I strongly disagree with, because I think what you do with your life is what matters, not the end result. The feelings in life and what you do with the short time you have is what is most important. Therefore when you die would matter because being blessed with a long happy life is quite the opposite of dying early without enjoying life itself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Overall, it doesn’t matter that life will end with the pain of death, it matters that you live your life with emotion and love.
2 thoughts on “The Journey is what Matters”
I think you’re definitely correct on the emotional gulf that would be caused if one believed in an objective essence to life before having that be taken away by abstract ideas of “existentialism” and the “absurd”. Furthermore, I personally believe that life does have meaning (whether that be an objective or subjective meaning), even if it is difficult to discern at first. However, I disagree that Camus’ devaluation of life is necessarily depressing. For Meursault, it is the devaluation of life which allows him to live simply and to act without needing to be constantly worrying about the past or the future. He is freed from societal expectation, but that also leads his fate.
I do agree with you that Camus devalues emotion, but I don’t necessarily agree that without love life is meaningless. I think that the purpose of life itself is to live. It doesn’t matter when you die, and it doesn’t really matter what you do with your life either because we all die in the end. I do think that the purpose of life is to experience it. I don’t think that love is required to have a meaningful life but some emotion is. I also don’t think Camus is arguing against all emotion throughout the stranger, but he is definitely stating that love itself is a facade that creates meaning and I agree.