Primary absurdity manifests a cleavage, the cleavage between man’s aspirations to unity and the insurmountable dualism of mind and nature, between man's drive toward the eternal and the character of his existence, between the “concern” which constitutes his very essence and the vanity of his efforts.
Chance, death, the irreducible pluralism of life and of truth, the unintelligibility of the real—all these are extremes of the absurd.
“An Explication of The Stranger.” (Originally titled “Camus’s The Outsider.”) First published in Situations I (Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1947). Reprinted by permission of the author, Librairie Gallimard, Rider & Co., and Criterion Books, Inc.
From Literary and Philosophical Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre (New York, 1955). was barely off the press when it began to arouse the widest interest.
This exile is irrevocable, since he has no memories of a lost homeland and no hope of a promised land.” The reason is that man is If I were a tree among other trees . I would be this world against which I set myself with my entire mind. One experience is as good as another; the important thing is simply to acquire as many as possible.
“The ideal of the absurd man is the present and the succession of present moments before an ever-conscious spirit” is lawful.
These are not really very new themes, and Camus does not present them as such.
They had been sounded as early as the seventeenth century by a certain kind of dry, plain, contemplative rationalism, which is typically French and they served as the commonplaces of classical pessimism.
If we think of scientiﬁc nominalism, of Poincaré, Duhem and Meyerson, we are better able to understand the reproach our author addresses to modern science. His very method (“only through a balance of evidence and lyricism shall we attain a combination of emotion and lucidity.”) recalls the old “passionate geometries” of Pascal and Rousseau and relate him, for example, not to a German phenomenologist or a Danish existentialist, but rather to Maurras, that other Mediterranean from whom, however, he differs in many respects.
“You tell me of an invisible planetary system in which electrons revolve about a nucleus. But Camus would probably be willing to grant all this.