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There is a space between what we say and what we think, and that gap is never fully realized. But we can continue to try to connect the points, and eventually maybe we can get somewhere.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Plague

I recently finished the fantastic work by Albert Camus entitled The Plague, and I thought I would share some quotes that I took down. Some are depressing (given the subject of the book), some are difficult to understand when taken out of context, however I feel they are all relevant in some way; either to my life, or your life, or to the understanding of life in general. It was an incredible book with a difficult subject and an extremely powerful, profound message on the purpose of existence and humanity. Camus has a way with his words that enlightens the mind while entertaining it, and I would highly recommend any and all of his works.

Part I -

"But what are a hundred million deaths? When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination."

"The thing was to do your job as it should be done."

Part II -

"...they had speedily to abandon the idea - anyhow, as soon as could be - once they felt the wounds that the imagination inflicts on those who yield themselves to it."

"One grows out of pity when it's useless."

"... since the great longing of an unquiet heart is to possess constantly and consciously the loved one, or, failing that, to be able to plunge the loved one, when a time of absence intervenes, into a dreamless sleep timed to last unbroken until the day they meet again."

"'And I, too, I'm no different. But what matter? Death means nothing to men like me. It's the event that proves them right.'"

"The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness not true love without the utmost clear-sightedness."

"There was nothing admirable about this attitude; it was merely logical."

"'But since then I've done a bit of thinking.' / 'About what?' / 'Courage. I know now that man is capable of great deeds. But if he isn't capable of a great emotion, well, he leaves me cold.'"

"'Well, personally, I've seen enough of people who die for an idea. I don't believe in heroism; I know it's easy and I've learned it can be murderous. What interests me is living and dying for what one loves.'"

Part III -

"...since love asks something of the future."

Part IV -

"But when a man has had only four hours' sleep, he isn't sentimental. He sees things as they are; that is to say, he sees them in the garish light of justice - hideous, witless justice."

"In short, they were gambling on their luck, and luck is not to be coerced."

"... no matter how much work he had put in, he was always a ready listener and as agreeable companion."

"'Have you noticed' he asked me, ' that no one ever runs two diseases at once? Let's suppose you have an incurable disease like cancer of a galloping consumption - well, you'll never get plague or typhus; it's a physical impossibility. In fact, one might go farther; have you ever heard of a man with cancer being killed in an auto smash?'"

"'Do you know what I think? They're fretting simply because they won't let themselves go. And I know what I'm talking about.'"

"But I suspect that, just because he has been though it before them, he can't wholly share with them the agony of this feeling of uncertainty that never leaves them."

"'There's so much wickedness in the world,' she said. 'So what can you expect?'"

"'For nothing in the world is worth turning one's back on what one loves.'"

"'I know. I'm sorry. But weariness is a kind of madness.'"

"'But perhaps we should love what we cannot understand.'"

"True, the agony of a child wad humiliating to the heart and to the mid. But that was why we had to come to terms with it."

"... we must go straight to the heart of which is unacceptable, precisely because it is thus that we are constrained to make our choice."

"'One would like to do something to help him. But how can you help a judge?'"

"'... as you may see - that each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody's face and fasten the infection on him. What's natural is the microbe. All the rest - health, integrity, purity (if you like) - is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power, a never ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses.'"

"... that a loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes n hour when one is weary of prisons, of one's work, and of devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart."

Part V -

"... destruction is an easier, speedier process than reconstruction."

"There can be no peace without hope."

"... he was thinking it has no importance whether such things have or have not a meaning; all we need consider is the answer given to men's hope."

"They knew now that if there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain is human love."

"... and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise."

"... that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city."

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