If Life Doesn’t Matter, Then Why Try

In Camus’ The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault is portrayed as a carefree, apathetic person who seems to float through life without giving attention to anything, including himself. Meursault is a prime example of an existentialist who finds no meaning in anything.

The first incident of this is in the beginning of the novel when Meursault’s mother passes away, and Meursault shows a severe lack of emotion about his mother, and treats his life as if nothing happened. He continues by getting with one of his former co-workers, Marie, with whom he hooks up with multiple times and shows no care for. She even asks him if he loves her, and he straight up says no. Another example is when he notices Salamano abusing his dog, and he continues to stay friends with him, despite the socially unacceptable actions. Additionally, Meursault is friends with Raymond, who is believed to be a pimp and has beaten his mistress. Meursault even tries to bail Raymond out and eventually kills for him. Finally, when Meursault is in prison, he comes to the realization that it doesn’t really matter if he is executed, because his life will be no different than if he dies of old age. Meursault understands that his life is pointless no matter the outcome or his actions, so he might as well just try to be happy.

Summer Reading – Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis – A Discussion of Michael Lewis and Salomon Brothers.

Since the beginning of high school, I have had an interest in finance and economics, mainly because my parents are both analysts, and as I have taken more classes to explore the field of finance, I have found that I too, am hoping to start a career in finance. As a prospective finance major and hopeful analyst, my father gave me a few books to explore individual careers in finance. The first of which was “Liar’s Poker,” a semi-autobiography detailing Michael Lewis’ rise on Wall Street as an bond trader at Salomon Brothers.

The book begins with the chairman of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, and a bond trader, John Meriwether, playing a mind game called liar’s poker, in which they bet on the serial numbers of a dollar bill. While it may appear that the two men are just playing a game, the very core of Liar’s Poker, reading other people, is central to a career on Wall Street.

Michael Lewis ends up landing a job at Salomon Brothers, and is put into their rigorous, one year training program where he is to learn about bond trading. After the training, Michael becomes a bond trader, and throughout the next ten-ish years, Salomon changes CEOs multiple times, with two of them ending up in jail (they’re kind of like Illinois), and eventually, Salomon becomes the target for a hostile takeover by Drexel Burnham. Further, the economy crashed in 1987, and while Salomon had to cut most of its employees, Lewis was instead rewarded with a large bonus, and Salomon continued to operate. The book finishes with Lewis quitting his job because he feels his pay should reflect the amount of good he does for society, and he doesn’t think he deserves his salary because selling bonds doesn’t do all that much for society.

Science vs. Abuse of Power

In George Saunders’ Escape from Spiderhead, the readers are introduced to the drug experimentation that certain criminals are subjected to. In his story, Saunders creates a justice system in which certain criminals are used as human test subjects for various new drugs. The main two proponents of this experimentation mentioned in the story are Abnesti and Verlaine. Abnesti constantly tries to justify his actions as for the common good and for scientific drug advancement. On page 67, Abnesti speaks regarding the original data from the first Darkenfloxx trial, stating “‘Well, that was good enough for me,’ he said. ‘But apparently not good enough for the Protocol Committee… we’re going to need to do a kind of Confirmation Trial.'” This affirms the notion the Abnesti is concerned with scientific advancement, but the mental torture he inflict upon Heather implies that he is more concerned with keeping his power.