Reading and Meaning continued with The Plague by Camus 


Couldn’t get back into the text of The Plague yesterday, La Peste, but the book still stayed the day with me. Sat right there reading the news with me on my phone, scoofing. I want to raise the issue brought forth by the Father Paneloux character and his impassioned speech, really judgement, on the town. The basic point is it’s their fault, their sinfulness, their complacency which brought the plague. You forgot you were in a doll house and how all the things had to be played with and put back in the correct way. 

Camus captures the responses of the different characters to the speech. Our main man Dr Rieux reluctantly seems to agree, but on different grounds. It is people’s ignorance that’s makes them evil. But another character Tarrou seems to challenge the Dr. on this. Yes they are ignorant, but about what exactly? They knew what was coming, they should have done something else, but they don’t. It’s not as simple as the facts. And I think all agree, the Fathers speech felt true. 

And maybe it is. The Father’s speech is a turning point in the story. It’s the bitter pill the town has to swallow to endure. Acceptance. What a frustrating, flaccid, and yet so important concept for the human mind to come to terms with. Perhaps we create a whole theological and cosmological ideology to make it make sense, our acceptance. But then the facts, they just don’t add up. We live in a surreal, cinematic place. At one point Camus has one of the characters note, that the wailing of a cow, has become indistinguishable from the sound of a suffering person, and somehow in that horror they wash each other out. 

And still I bring it back to us, the reader. We listen and ingest it all to what end. To go back to whatever “work” there is to be done, with some initiative, because now we know we suffer, and maybe sort of why, and we’re all made equal in that. Doesn’t work like that though, instead what seems to happen is the glue of reality itself starts melting. Sometimes older forms of reality reassert themselves, like Christianity in the text,  and sometimes we discover new and often even more absurd ways to deal with it. 

Where I’m at in the book. The Dr. has decided to forgoe the Man’s edict and methods, and try to do what him and his consorts feels is best. Which I’m sure is going to work out great…let’s see…

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