George Bush and Camus

Maureen Dowd, like Slate yesterday, finds it interesting that George Bush is reading Camus:

It takes a while to adjust to the idea of W., who has created chaos trying to impose moral order on the globe, perusing Camus, who wrote about the eternal frustration of moral order in human affairs. What does W., the archenemy of absurdity as a view of life, kindle to in C., the apostle of absurdity as a view of life? What can W., the born-again monogamist, spark to in C., the amorous atheist? In some ways, Mr. Bush is supremely not a Camus man. Camus hated the blindness caused by ideology, and Mr. Bush wallows in it. Camus celebrated lucidity while the president keeps seeing only what he wants to see.

Mr. Bush’s life has been premised on his confidence that he will always be insulated from the consequences and the cruelties of existence, unlike Meursault. W. or his people always work to change fate, whether it’s an election or the Middle East.

If you think about it long enough, though, it begins to make a sort of wacky sense.

“The Stranger” is about the emotionally detached Meursault, who makes a lot of bad decisions and pre-emptively kills an Arab in the sand. Get it? Camus’s protagonist moves through an opaque, obscure and violent world that is indifferent to his beliefs and desires. Get it?

If there was ever a moment when this president could regard the unanticipated consequences of his actions, behold the world littered with the very opposite of what he intended for it and appreciate the gritty stoicism of the philosophy of absurdism, this is it. Iraq in civil war. Al Qaeda metastasizing and plotting. Hezbollah, Iran and Syria knitting closer, celebrating a “victory” in standing up to Israel, the U.S. and Britain, and mocking W.’s plan for a “new Middle East.” The North Koreans luxuriating in their nuclear capability. Chávez becoming the new Castro on a global scale.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment