Albert Camus – The Stranger

I just finished reading Albert Camus – The Stranger, and I can’t help but identify with the main character. The biggest difference between him and me is that he doesn’t seem to think of much past tomorrow, except that all week he looks forward to being with his girlfriend on Sundays. I put a whole lot more effort trying to peer into the future: planning and scheming, working toward goals. Mersault was a simpleton. An idiot.

And yet if you really dig down and think about things from a relativist viewpoint, who’s to say he’s wrong when he asserts that no life is worth living? We all die and then people forget us. What’s the point? For me it all just comes back to survival. We’re here because that’s what we do, because we’re alive. If it wasn’t what our ancestors did, we wouldn’t be here to worry about it.

I did receive one surprise insight from this book – the justice system is geared to weed out socially maladapted limbic systems. People are so interested in the emotional displays of accused criminals because the limbic system is what we’ve evolved to allow us to function in a community setting. A messed up limbic system makes one unable to function as a cog in the machine, and has to be discarded or repaired or maybe just beat back into shape.

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