Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Cure's Etranger

Albert Camus' The Stranger is one of my favorite books. One reason is because it is a pleasant read; it is like eating a modest meal and swallowing with every bite. The simple sentence structure and nonchalent narration "Maman died today. Or maybe yesterday. I can't remember." are much more portioned than, say, the wild ramblings of Kerouac or the Victorian prose of Lord Byron.

The second reason why I like it so much is because it is like a lead weight--it's elementary literary shell houses a dense philosophical core that is very slow to digest.

One of the most riveting scenes was when Meursalt and his neighbor get in a fight with a pack of Arabs, and Meursalt returns to the beach with a gun and shoots one of them dead, but then for no good reason shoots the dead Arab four more times in the chest. The sound of the thudding bullets and the dread of instantaneously realizing one's resulting fate is captured brilliantly by Camus:

"Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness"

aThe Cure wrote a song ("Killing an Arab")bout this scene in the book:

I can turn
And walk away
Or I can fire the gun
Staring at the sky
Staring at the sun
Whichever I choose
It amounts to the same
Absolutely nothing

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm a stranger
Killing an arab

A lyrical summation of "Damned if you do, damed if you don't" Absurdism there, and a nice video from YouTube from their early days playing basement shows, like this one circa 1980 Boston (the year i was born!) at The Underground in Allston (where my brother lives!). Enjoy the memories!

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