Existentialism is the belief in laymen terms that the world is yours. You have complete control over how you let experiences make or break you. In The Stranger, Meursault remembers how to be content in prison because he has no other choice. Some people would choose to be miserable at the fact they will not have freedom for the time being. Meursault learned to imagine and remember the joys of his life and desires he longed to have but could go without. This is the same as Sisyphus and his rock. He is in eternal punishment and instead of trying to find ways to “beat the system”, he is content with the fact that he will return to his rock everyday and they will complete the same uphill battle; for him mentally and physically. The world is what you make of it. Make do with what you have and find happiness and content within yourself so you won’t look for materialistic things etc. to bring you joy.
“What is Love?” Last week in class we touched on the extremely messy topic of “The Meaning of Life.” The first thought for many to an answer for this complex question was love. However the point was made that love, is simply an illusion. This poses the question, “What is Love?” Most people have one of two stances, either it is indeed an illusion that means nothing, or it’s one of the most powerful emotions we have. I argue that there is a gray area in between these two opposite ends of the spectrum. First, to understand “love,” we must acknowledge its counter, “hate.” I think most everyone can think of one person they hate. Whether it be a political figure or someone they have interacted with in the past. There are a lot of reasons people hate, the most common would be the constant disagreement with the actions one makes. Therefore, if you can grow to “hate” someone based on their actions, you certainly can grow to “love” someone based on their actions. The feeling of love is extremely powerful just like that of hate. Neither of these connections is fake, however, certain actions are required to build them into something meaningful. Whether or not you want to label this particular connection with the title of love is up to you.
This is just my current perspective, it’s completely subjective, and it definitely stems from self hatred and projection, so there is no real philosophical validity in my thoughts. Regardless, here they are: There is this thing called optimistic bias that overrides any potential validity to an existential argument. Claiming life in general is a gift is a very selfish mindset. claiming that the overwhelmingly incomprehensible amount of suffering on this planet is a gift just because you are alive is straight sociopathic. We all claim to look for the best in life while still wearing our “good person” hats just so we don’t have to accept the actual unbearable pain that others go through. The human ego is unbelievably disturbing and the internal reactions you have in reading this is proof. The feeling of, “oh but I’m not like that, I truly care” No you don’t. You feel empathy, yes, we all do, but you don’t truly care and I don’t truly care. My proof is that I’m here typing this and you’re here reading it when we both know this accomplishes nothing and helps absolutely no one but yourself (also myself) and your ego for thinking your perspective on the world holds some magical levity that makes you a good person. This isn’t calling out anyone in particular because it’s all of us. We simply cannot care about anything more than our own lives for survival. I am a hypocrite, we all are. The counter argument to this is that “you can’t just decide that for everyone.” And you’re right, I didn’t decide it, your biology and internal subconscious defense mechanisms did. Why did my parents have me? To give their lives meaning? Why do we all want to have kids? To give all our lives meaning? It’s selfish to ignore what’s going on and pretend you’re above your biology. It’s literally engrained into us to reproduce like every single animal on the planet, we just attach some “deeper meaning” to it because we don’t want to accept the fact that this decision was made for us when we were born. There is no reason to have kids that doesn’t involve the parents desires. But what if you want your kid to have a good life? What if you’re going to raise him well and give him a happy environment? This is where our ignorance comes full circle; there is still all the unbearable meaningless suffering in the world. It didn’t go away just because you were able to ignore it and focus on your kid. Again, I am not better than anyone. I suck as much as everyone else, but trying to force “self love” into my head as an excuse to not think about the truth in front of me is so conflicting. Yes! Amazing! Why didn’t I think of that? I don’t have to think about it all the time! I don’t have to constantly have the weight of suffering I could never understand on my shoulders because it’s not happening to me! I can stare at my phone and feel like a good person because I’m “against bad”. This article is meaningless, it accomplishes nothing. Our thoughts on how the world works and should be perceived are meaningless because of the infinite amount of experiences we’ve never had. I don’t know why I’m sharing this, It goes against the basis of what I’m saying, but it also goes with it as I also suck. I also think that my privileged view of how the world is meant to be perceived is correct. It’s something I can’t control and you can’t either. The ego hates to be wrong. It denies it but it absolutely hates it. At least our generation is wasting time online rather than having eight kids because they were bored. Moral of the story is I literally don’t know anything and your interpretations on the morality of the subject are completely valid as to pretend I understand anything is narcissistic; also, please adopt.
In Albert Camus’s essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” he argues that there has been a great misconception in regards to the mental state of the former king of Corinth. Rather than believing Sisyphus to be a miserable being imprisoned by his own fate, Camus notes that this fate might just be his liberation.
Now how might a former king trapped by an eternal condemnation have control over his fate? Well, that’s where Camus points to the part of Sisyphus’ punishment that we might not ponder as much. He claims it is in the, “hour of consciousness” that Sisyphus is “stronger than his rock” (2). That is to say that his descent is not a symbol of his tangible failure, but rather the moment in which his fate belongs to him.
By definition, existentialism as a philosophical principle requires one to assume absolute responsibility over individual free will. And, Sisyphus has accomplished just that. Instead of succumbing to his damnation, he thwarted the gods intentions and became the ruler of his destiny. Just as Meursault rejected the priest’s desire for him to repent on death row, Sisyphus similarly challenges his immortal captors by finding true happiness within his fatalistic condition.
I have always been a realist, I was baptized catholic but have been lapsed since birth. Without religion, my life has been fairly open ended. I do not have a straight answer for the question of “what happens when we die?”, although I used to think I had it all figured out. I used to firmly believe it was lights out, nothing. I lived my life this way up until a month ago. A month ago was when my dog died. People who have never had a pet don’t understand the pain of losing one, but it is a greater pain than anything I have ever felt in my entire life. I have dealt with a great deal of death in my life, friends, uncles, grandparents, but this pain did not compare. It got me to thinking, I really do hope there is something that comes after life. I do not like to think of my fuzzy little man sitting in darkness for the rest of his life because I know that he is up chasing squirrels in doggy heaven.
As Evil Mr. Heidkamp argued in class, 2020 is most definitely proof that God does not exist, and I agree. 2020 was confirmation of this theory but I have always felt this way about religion. In The Stranger by Albert Camus, Mersault expresses his views on God, “I had only a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God”(Camus, 120). I completely agree with his statement. I once had a friend who told me, “My life is just a staircase to heaven and with each new day, I need to do everything I can to move up a step”. The irony was that she was not a very good friend or person. However, that statement makes me weep internally. Living your life with the fear of going to hell or elsewhere is not a healthy way to live. You should live your life as a good person because that is the good thing to do, not because of an external motive.
There are times where I wish I was raised believing in God. Sometimes that is the easiest answer when life gets hard. Nevertheless, I personally see God as a lie and I do not want to live life in a lie. I find peace in knowing that I came to this conclusion on my own. I was not specifically raised as an atheist, a catholic, or agnostic. If I wanted to go to church, I could have gone with my grandmother. I have read portions of The Bible and decided on my own that this violent, sexist, and extremely self-contradicting book is not something that I would be proud of supporting. I was given opportunities to research and observe other religions, and I was allowed to not believe in any of it as I did for so long. Now, I am allowed to accept that I do not know and I may never know, and that is okay.
In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, Meursault’s mother passes away before the book begins. A series of events occur, including Mersault shooting a man, which result in a prison sentence. To most, prison is probably not the most ideal place to live. With no freedom, Meursault has to give up his job, women and cigarettes. To Meursault, prison is not so horrible after awhile. Camus writes, “So, with all the sleep, my memories, reading my crime story, and the alteration of light and darkness, time passed” (80). Meursault realizes life is meaningless, and everything is up to the choices he makes. When he explains his time in prison, he does not complain about losing the freedom to visit his job, girlfriend, or friends. He decides to live life in prison by using what he has, and not missing what he used to have. Meursualt creates games, digs out old memories, and reads the same crime story over and over. He doesn’t believe being in prison is a bad thing, because he has no other hopes or dreams. He is where he is, because he has done what he’s done, and now he must pay the consequence for it.
Living life this way can seem depressing, but ultimately, it means Meursault is not unhappy. He does not wish for anything and in fact, even when Marie comes to visit him, he doesn’t display affection or happiness to finally see her. While many people pray they will never have to spend a day in jail, Meursault has a different approach. As Maman used to believe, “after awhile you could get used to anything” (77).
The Discrepancies Between The Stranger And L’étranger And An Existentialist Conversation
I sat down to read L’étranger for the first time a few springs ago, and every so often I reread the first few pages or chapters aloud.
The flow of …
Aujourd’hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.Camus, Albert. L’étranger. Éditions Gallimard, 1942, p.1.
… is something that has burned into my memory.
Reading both the English and French version of the novel evokes vivid images and a world I constructed and fabricated so clearly sophomore year. Rereading the first few pages of this book had become an almost obsessive behavior, but it was comforting because it transported me to a world that paralleled a time in my life that felt hopeful and purposeful (which was somewhat ironic). I associated the way Meursault would hold a cigarette, the vast expanses of Algerian beaches, the bright lights of the funeral home, and the red sores of Salamano’s dog with the end of my sophomore year in an inextricable way.
When I picked up this book in English for the first time, I was off put. The same images that came with the rhythm of the French version that I had read aloud repeatedly ceased to appear. It was strange, so I would blink, and attempt to read again and conjure up the world of Meursault. I think that as I continued to read, but there was always a certain uneasiness that followed. Which maybe was an appropriate accompaniment for the book.
This anxiety that I am missing something surfaces everytime I read a book that I know was originally in a different language. Anna Karenina should be in Russian, Norwegian Wood should be in Japanese – what is slipping through the cracks of the language barrier that I will never be able to grasp? I trust modern translators, and I know that popular translations are meticulously constructed to preserve the original meaning. But I also know that there will always be something missing – which makes me want to learn more languages. But then I wonder if learning these languages outside of a native context will skew my understanding.
Nevertheless, last school year I hadn’t thought of Meursault for a while until 2020 had upturned all of our worlds in March.
Similarly, I recall turning to Huis Clos (No Exit) by Jean Paul Sartre in order to explain the absurdity and relentlessness that this year. I prominently recall a list of existentialist vocabulary that prefaced the play in our thin paperback copies.
L’absurde – Reality is absurd because we recognize our inability to explain its existence. The outside world exists without apparent justification, foundation or purpose.
La nausée – Nausea is the feeling of repulsion that takes us when we become aware of the absurdity of reality.
L’angoisse – Anguish is the normal condition of those who have become aware of their total liberty, and the fact that there are no universal values that can justify the choices they have made.
L’authenticité – A man who has grasped and accepted the fact that he is free, who has realized what his situation is, and who has, within that situation, chosen to engage himself in the world around him so as to affirm his liberty, is an authentic person.
Le choix – Man is condemned, because he is free, to choose what he is going to be, by his daily actions. This choice also implies the attitude of the Others and hence is another source of anguish.
La liberté – To be free is to recognize one’s complete independence; to make one’s own life through one’s own initiative; to reject any idea of absolute Good or absolute Evil and to accept no judge or mentor to save one’s own conscience.
I remember writing that I was overcome with la nausée while driving in my car, listening to Dreams by Fleetwood Mac last spring. I had taken to driving long distances with my Dad as a form of escapism. I would drive along rural highways and never get out of the car, and that gave me a lot of time to be pensive. I felt as if I was hit by something so large and overwhelming that is was indescribable. It sunk in my stomach like lead. And everything around me seemed to take on a new lens as irrelevant and frivolous. As a went through the sequence of trying to justify the turbulence that had uprooted my junior year (before March, I had also had a difficult and unusual year), I realized that searching only made it worse.
It was cringely nerdy, but I had to take out my copy of Huis Clos in order to explain and document this feeling that had overwhelmed me on the drive. I realized that this was la nausée, but this brutal experience had taken me one step closer towards la liberté. It was something I had to grapple with in order to move away from the brink of hopelessness. Which I sometimes fear removes its authenticity. I can’t use it was a means to escape something, because that is just as harmful. I think I am grappling with my relationship with l’absurde everyday, but not in too conscious a way. It is a balance that I will be trying to find for the rest of my life.
While at Celeste’s, Meursault eats dinner with a small woman. She is very direct, precise, and quick. This intrigues Meursault enough to follow her after dinner to see what she does next. This woman is described as a “robotlike” (43) by Meursault. This woman seems like a foil to Meursault because she does everything with direction: “Ordered her whole meal all at once… While she was waiting for her first course, she opened her bag, took out a slip of paper and a pencil, added up the bill in advance, then took the exact amount, plus tip, out of a vest pocket and set it down on the table in front of her” (43). From the moment she sits down she does everything with purpose. This is clearly the opposite of Meursault, who through the story aimlessly lets life happen to him as he does things like turn down promotions and marry a woman he is not in love with.
Calling her the robot woman seems odd as Meursault could be described as a robot himself. He seems to feel no emotion and just does exactly what he is told to do. I think this woman could be an example of why some critiques of existentialism and Meursault are hypocritical. As some say that it is dark and assumes life has no meaning. The character of the robot woman shows how a person that is the exact opposite of an existentialist, one that has great belief in the systems that humans have created, could be just as bad. As while Meursault seems not to decide anything for himself she does not either, as she is trapped in a routine determined by systems outside of her control. Meursault and the robot woman show how opposite extremes in world view could result in similar people.
The Stranger written by Albert Camus is largely a stream of consciousness into a character Meursault. Things happen in the plot, events that would change someone’s life permanently, but the narration is so distant that it brings the focus away from the plot and to the mind of the character.
With Meursault as well as Camus’ portrayal of Sisyphus in “The Myth of Sisyphus”, the characters that are attached to existentialism aren’t philosophers; they are unaware of the exact nature of what distinguishes them from others. Sisyphus goes from sad to happy in his respective story, which is a little simpler of an interpretation of the philosophy despite its being much more difficult to read. Meursault is more complicated in that he isn’t necessarily happy or sad, or important even in his own head. He finds some enjoyment in daily activities like eating and napping, and finds conversations interesting, but he feels neither doomed nor enlightened.
For a lot of the story, Camus seems to throw problems and events at Meursault to see how he reacts.
A lot of time passes in the first and second chapter of part II. And for the most part, Meursault’s lifestyle is stagnant. The eleven months that pass of his questioning have virtually no effect on his mental state, and his five months in prison only act as a rehab from things like going to the beach and smoking, and then he becomes adjusted and lives what to him is a complete life, with brand new daily activities:
“So with all the sleep, my memories, reading my crime story, and the alternation of light and darkness, time passed” (80).
I think that losing track of time is less of an effect of prison and more of the natural consequence of an existentialist philosophy, personified by Meursault’s circumstances. Meursault values life for the sole purpose of being able to live, but there’s no reason for him to value time. There’s evidence that Meursault has abandoned parts of his life just to lead a simpler life, and this chapter shows that he also has the ability to abandon time. So, where Camus threw a prison sentence at Meursault, he discovered something new about how Meursault wants to live life.
The following is my favorite quote from the story (so far).
“At the time, I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowering overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it” (77).
Existentialism is a theory that emphasizes the importance of free will and determining your own fate. A fate that is not determined by social constructs such as family, love, religion, and gender. Existentialists believe that society should not restrict an individual’s life or actions and that these restrictions inhibit free will and the development of that person’s potential.
When it comes gender, society usually puts emphasis on the MALE/female binary. We are socialized through our families, our education, and the media to believe that certain characteristics make up these two genders. This binary that is forced upon us in not an accurate representation of our community as gender is a spectrum and not everyone’s gender identity matches with their birth sex.
However, how a woman looks and acts is drilled into our brains since birth. Society sets standards. If you meet them or rebel against them is theoretically your own choice. Rebelling against society’s standards is easier said than done. With our constant exposure to the portrayal of gender whether through the people we interact with the movies we watch, at some point both working to fit the stereotype and working to defy it, our choice is not purely our own.
As a young woman, I have debated this choice. Do I stray from the mold? Is it even my choice?
From a young age, I identified as a “tom-boy”, which is the six-year-old versions of refusing stereotypical gender roles. I would not let an article of pink clothing touch my body, because it was too “girly”. Later, I choose to reclaim this “femininity”. I wore pink. I did my make-up. I thought it was my choice to reclaim these “feminine” habits. However, through the view point of existentialism, this choice was not free will. It was heavily influenced by society and its archaic gender roles.
I don’t think there is any better time than 2020 to be talking about existentialism and existential crises. An existential crisis occurs when a major life event, not necessarily a positive or negative, occurs and causes a person to start asking questions about their identity.
Imagine you are a musician who has been playing an instrument since a very young age. An opportunity arises to perform a solo at a concert and you practice and practice and practice to absolutely nail your performance. But when the time comes, you play notes offkey or out of time and totally bomb and begin to question whether the time you put into music was really worth it.
The choice to pursue music was one you made off your own free will (exercising existentialism) and ultimately grew to become a large part of your identity. Existential crises are necessary for our growth as human beings since they can provide new outlooks on life and existence and also force people to face the choices they’ve made in the past to create their identity.
When I hear the phrase “there is no meaning to life”, I’d almost agree except for one exception- I believe there is no universal meaning to life.
After our class discussion about existentialism, it became abundantly clear to me that no matter what the opinion of life was, everyone had their mind made up on a specific meaning of life. Some argued that love is the ultimate goal, while others stated that we are all just avoiding death.
Our own individual experiences with life shape what we believe the meaning is, and that’s what I think makes this conversation so interesting. Existentialists can argue that one theory makes the most sense, but in actuality we all are clueless as to what the meaning of life actually is. Religion, our upbringing and experiences, our thoughts and ideas- they shape our own explanations for why we are here.
It’s hard for me to gather the words to explain my thoughts on existentialism because it is so universally confusing. No matter what we believe the meaning of life is, there is the underlying truth that no one really knows why we are here. The only thing we can do is come up with our own explanation to help rationalize this absurdity called life.
Mersault’s character is direct; he sees things how they are without reading into anything, finding meaning in anything, or expressing any real emotion. His view of life is, to say the least, unusual. Though he appears this way to the reader at first glance, his actions suggest a deeper humanity that other characters cannot see in him.
When he is in the midst of his examination Mersault reflects on the clerks’s menaing of life: “That was his belief, and if he were ever to doubt it, his life would become meaningless. ‘Do you want my life to be meaningless?’ he shouted…. But from across the table he had already thrust the crucifix in my face and was screaming irrationally, ‘I am a Christian. I ask Him to forgive you your sins. How can you not believe that He suffered for you?'” (Camus 69).
The clerk defines his life’s meaning based on Christianity, and is utterly confused when he realizes Mersault does not have even an inkling of belief; the thin reality the clerk holds onto threatens to crumble and he grow irrational and terrified.
Mersault is confusing and absurd to other characters, but Camus frames him in this way for that exact reason: to make not only other characters, but the reader uncomfortable. He is meant to make one rethink the constructs of life and recognize that everyone has different definitions of a life well lived, and that meaning must come from a place deep enough that it cannot be so easily unravelled.
I always look forward to sitting through English class with Mr. Heidkamp in the AM of every A day because its practically my first class considering I have gym 1st period. Even 2 days back when I woke up from a late night sleep with my eyes half open and Mr. Heidkamp started speaking what I thought was Chinese. No of course he wasn’t actually speaking Chinese but he was definitely spitting out some knowledge to us youngsters. I feel this lecture given by Mr. Heidkamp resembles an old Gandalf the grey revealing his magical secrets to his fellow hobbits. Not only do I mention this resemblance because of the funky hat but because of what was being discussed. Mr. Heidkamp reviewed the term existentialism which I had never heard before and I guarantee I wasn’t the only one. He then thoroughly discussed multiple meanings of life that tie in with existentialism. I for one completely disagree with the theory. I don’t believe life is just one big simulation created by the society we live in. The decisions you make in your life shape the type of person you are, life is what you make it. Everyone in this world is different from each other, everyone carries a different mindset, everyone makes their own decisions. If life is just one big simulation then it doesn’t bother me because in my eyes I’m living in my world, I’m living my life, controlling my own destiny,
A few weeks ago, my family had a movie night. We decided to watch the new Netflix movie, Social Dilemma. I had already been familiar with how addicting and damaging social media is, but many parts of the movie surprised me. I was scared to learn that everything we do is recorded in order to make social media more addicting to each individual. How long you look at every post or website is recorded, and then your feed is increasingly tailored towards your interests. In this movie, they also shared how much our personalities are influenced by what we view everyday on social media. I started to ponder how much every person I know is actually genuine. Or is everyone becoming more and more like a machine?
In our Wednesday class, when we started discussing existentialism, this movie popped into my head right away. More specifically, when we talked about each of our lives and the social expectations at each stage of our lives. It seemed that our class was pretty divided when certain questions like, “Is love real?” were introduced. Like my thoughts during the movie, I wondered, is the feeling of “love” real, or is it socially constructed and we only feel “love” because we are so pressured into feeling it? And is this “love” the meaning we all search for in life?
Listening to Mr. Heidkamp’s talk about the meaning of life, I came to two conclusions: life is random and life is different for everyone.
Life is random. Nobody knows what’s going to happen to them in 10 years or 10 days or 10 minutes. Life throws challenges and obstacles in our way in order for us to grow. To teach us how to deal with pain and suffering and how to move on from that. It also teaches us how to appreciate the happiness and good moments in our life. No ones life is all happiness or all pain. You have to go through one in order to go through the other. Because of all of this, there is no such thing as a perfect life. Since you can’t choose what is going to happen next, you can’t create the idea of a perfect life.
Everyone’s life is different, we are all different people, so they have to be. Everyone has their own opinions, values, and beliefs. Everyone has their own personality and style. The saying that no two people are alike is very true. Two people could be the exact same in looks and beliefs, but still have that one thing that makes them different from each other. Same thing apply for the meaning of life. Each person has there own idea of what life means to them. Not one person can discover the “real” meaning of life. There is a reason beliefs and opinions are a thing, to make people their own person. Just like no two people are alike, no two lives are alike.
Basically, life is crazy and unique.
Mr. Heidkamp’s discussion on the meaning of life was very upsetting for me at first. Relationships, love, and helping others are all incredibly important to me, and so hearing that all of those ideas were just “illusions” was really discouraging. However, as we continued to talk about these ideas through a pessimistic perspective, I started to wonder if I agreed with everything being said. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t sure, but even if I did agree, did I even care?
Even if my values were all illusions, what did that really mean? These concepts and feelings are real to me, and in my life, that’s all that really matters. Life doesn’t have to have “meaning” for you to enjoy it, and these concepts don’t have to be “real” for them to be important for you. Since nothing matters, why does the concept that “nothing matters” even matter?
Eventually the class came to a similar conclusion, and we all discussed how life gives the meaning to life, and that that can mean something different for everyone. As long as you’re content with your life, that should be enough. We are the ones who give our lives meaning, so we are also the only ones who can take away that meaning by saying “nothing matters” (so don’t say that!).
I think that these beliefs are why I don’t really like the main character in The Stranger by Albert Camus. Many view him as smart for realizing that life has no meaning and being above it all, but I don’t know if I agree. Sure he’s figured out the “secret to life,” but what does that even do for him? He’s completely disconnected from the rest of society and apathetic towards every thing that happens in his life.
Maybe this is what makes him content, and in that case, he has found his meaning in life and I think that’s great. However, from my perspective, his life seems sad. I want everything in my life to have meaning for me personally, even if it doesn’t for the rest of the world. Since nothing matters, anything can matter.
Mr. Heidkamp’s talk about the meaning of life brought up the idea that anything we feel, or any meaning we find in life–love, relationships, the pursuit of happiness–is an illusion created by the society we live in. In a sense, he said that nothing truly matters, has intrinsic value, or is “real”. I would argue that because nothing matters, it doesn’t matter if something is “real” or not. If we believe something to be true or if we value a particular thing, that should be enough. It is unnecessary to get bogged down with the details of whether something is an inherent truth or whether we have been conditioned to think so by society.
Take love, for example. Mr. Heidkamp questioned the existence of love and whether it is something natural or something created by society. As and I and other students pointed out, it shouldn’t matter whether love is real and natural or not. We feel what we believe to be love for other people, we think that it is real, and it doesn’t matter if love is actually an illusion because believing in love doesn’t hurt anyone. Believing in all of these things that could be illusions just helps us to enjoy life and to find our own meaning in it.
If nothing matters and everything is an illusion, choosing to reject that idea, and to believe that there are some transcendent truths to life, doesn’t matter either. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, we can do whatever we want and believe whatever we want. Anything can matter.
So I was a bit groggy after just barely waking up for advisory and then laying in bed until English started. I was hoping for a relaxing start to my day as I didn’t get much sleep, but instead here comes Mr. Heidkamp wearing a crazy hat and talking about the meaning of life. That was definitely not how I expected to start my Wednesday. Throughout my time reading the stranger so far, I’ve been frustrated by lack of plot, the attitude of Meursault, and the general social commentary style of the book. I knew this was coming though and I expected discussions going forward to be more about the meaning of the book than the book itself. When listening to the lecture, I began drifting a bit into my own thoughts about the true purpose of life. That was until I basically heard Mr. Heidkamp say life doesn’t matter after spending 20 minutes discussing the many various meanings. This is when I got upset. I simply just don’t agree with that lecture or the meaning of this book. In my perspective, life is what you make it. If you spend time thinking about life and what it means, you’re wasting time you can spend figuring out what it means to YOU. Life is not the same for everyone. Every single person will have a slightly varied meaning of life. But why spend time trying to think of that meaning when you can just live. I believe that thinking about what life means is a complete and utter waste of time. You’re never going to truly understand life. So why not just live it instead?
Mr. Heidkamp, sorry but your lecture last class had me pretty confused and I have to say I disagree, somewhat. I remember you saying when you look at the world you see a lot of “pain and suffering” and I agree. But, I also see a whole lot of happiness, positivity and good stuff happening. I mean look at the last century, surely you and I would have been drafted and fought in ATLEAST one war while also living through the worst economic depression ever, a far more deadly disease, and overall lower quality of life. Today, look around, look at life, I can say I’ve got an infinite number of things to be grateful for and I have the most positive perspective on life despite this pain and suffering. Maybe I am not empathetic enough or maybe I have not suffered enough to see this pain that you do. This brings me to my next point and how I am going to connect this blog post to existentialism. Which by the way, we should discuss more since I am also fairly confused on that theory. Based on google, an existentialist believes that individuals have freedom of choice and ultimately are responsible for what happens in their lives. You control your destiny, God is not real and you create your own life your own way. Existence before essence. After learning this term, I would have to say I am an existentialist and the reasons for this lie in my belief regarding the creation of the universe and human life in comparison to the universe itself. The universe is thought to began 13.8 billion years ago and is infinite in size. The universe could be infinite in time as well but who knows. This is why nothing matters. Humans are not only physically irrelevant compared to the cosmic size of the planets, galaxies and the universe itself but we are also irrelevant when comparing our lifespan to the universe. We only live for 100 years, at best, and homo sapiens came along some 200,000 – 300,000 years ago so even in that regard, we are a blip in time. There are 7 billion other people and billions that came before so lets face it, you don’t matter. This sounds negative but I think about it in the most positive and happy way possible. If I don’t matter at all to the universe then the universe is quite literally mine and the same for everyone else. The world is yours and your life is yours so do whatever you want and just have a good time because you’ll be gone one day. So even though we don’t matter at all, I find meaning and matter in that, leaving me with the theory that it’s up to me AND you to ball out, be happy, have a good time and be kind.