death is our common fate in an absurd universe. He declares in effect that all meneven the man who insults and oppresses himhave a natural community. One can find similar affirmations the old man and the sea essay and protestations on behalf of humanity throughout Camuss writings. State of Siege ( LEtat de Siege, 1948) This odd allegorical drama combines features of the medieval morality play with elements of Calderon and the Spanish baroque; it also has apocalyptic themes, bits of music hall comedy, and a collection of avant-garde theatrics thrown. Camus, Philosophical Literature, and the Novel of Ideas To pin down exactly why and in what distinctive sense Camus may be termed a philosophical writer, we can begin by comparing him with other authors who have merited the designation. Camus considered the Absurd to be a fundamental and even defining characteristic of the modern human condition. For example, in The Stranger Meursaults long confinement during his trial and his eventual execution are presented as part of an elaborate, ceremonial ritual involving both public and religious authorities. New York: Vintage-Random House, 1956.
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Taken together, those words and actions embody a core set of liberal democratic valuesincluding tolerance, justice, liberty, open-mindedness, respect for personhood, condemnation of violence, and resistance to tyrannythat can be fully approved and acted upon by the modern intellectual engagé. One of the prominent concerns of the play is the Orwellian theme of the degradation of language via totalitarian politics and bureaucracy (symbolized onstage by calls for silence, scenes in pantomime, and a gagged chorus). That is, it is not based on a particular moral theory or principle (such as Cesare Beccarias utilitarian objection that capital punishment is wrong because it has not been proven to have a deterrent effect greater than life imprisonment). Indeed, as even sitcom writers and stand-up comics apparently understand (odd fact: the comic-bleak final episode of Seinfeld has been compared to The Stranger, and Camuss thought has been used to explain episodes of The Simpsons it is largely through the thought and writings. Since the Absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance. It is proudly and inconsolably pessimistic, but not in a polemical or overbearing way.
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