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The Absurd Man

The Absurd Man

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Published by Suman Sana
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Uploaded from Google Docs

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Published by: Suman Sana on Jun 01, 2012
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08/20/2013

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The Absurd Man
"My field," said Goethe, "is time." That is indeed the absurd speech. What, infact, is the Absurd Man? He who, without negating it, does nothing for theeternal. Not that nostalgia is foreign to him. But he prefers his courage andhis reasoning. The first teaches him to live without appeal and to get alongwith what he has; the second informs him of his limits. Assured of histemporally limited freedom, of his revolt devoid of future, and of his mortalconsciousness, he lives out his adventure within the span of his lifetime. Thatis his field, that is his action, which he shields from any judgment but his own.A greater life for him cannot mean another life. That would be unfair. I am noteven speaking here of that paltry eternity that is called posterity. Mme Rolandrelied on herself. That rashness was taught a lesson. Posterity is glad to quoteher remark, but forgets to judge it. Mme Roland is indifferent to posterity.There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen peoplebehave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has noneed of rules. There is but one moral code that the absurd man can accept,the one that is not separated from God: the one that is dictated. But it sohappens that he lives outside that God. As for the others (I mean alsoimmoralism), the absurd man sees nothing in them but justifications and hehas nothing to justify. I start out here from the principle of his innocence.That innocence is to be feared. "Everything is permitted," exclaims IvanKaramazov. That, too, smacks of the absurd. But on condition that it not betaken in a vulgar sense. I don't know whether or not it has been sufficientlypointed out that it is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitteracknowledgment of a fact. The certainty of a God giving a meaning to life farsurpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. Thechoice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice, and that is wherethe bitterness comes in. The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does notauthorize all actions. "Everything is permitted" does not mean that nothing isforbidden..The absurd merely confers an equivalence on the consequences of thoseactions. It does not recommend crime, for this would be childish, but itrestores to remorse its futility. Likewise, if all experiences are indifferent, thatof duty is as legitimate as any other. One can be virtuous through a whim.All systems of mortality are based on the idea that an action hasconsequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurdmerely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly. It is readyto pay up. In other words, there may be responsible persons, but there are no

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