Why would G. W. Bush, an adherent of the school of thought that considers all self reflection weakness be reading a French existentialist? Stranger and Stranger Why is George Bush reading Camus?
Whatever the reasons, Camus’ story line is ripe for geopolitical literary misinterpretation. The main character, Meursault, spends much of his life as the young George Bush did, engaging in escapades that demonstrate little drive or motivation. On a visit to the beach with friends, he gets into a fight with some Arabs. Later, he finds one of the Arabs and without much further provocation shoots him repeatedly. During the circus-trial that follows, and the long hours Meursault spends in jail, he is remorseless and unable to engage in contemplation. On the day of his execution, he has a flickering thought that he might have lived another life. But mostly he’s excited about the day and hopes that everyone will cheer for his death.
I’m not sure that this is even interesting. The Stranger is one of the most accessible writings of literary existentialism. One can appreciate it as a story without knowing the first thing about philosophy. Camus did mean to write a story that had the edge of American detective fiction in mind, stressing the narrative without deeper then thou analysis. Mersault is a clerk who wastes away his days chasing women and watching movies; Bush despite his headstart in life begin avoiding responsibility from the time he left college, avoiding the draft and at least after his first year took little interest in his Guard duties. As Mersault avoids contemplation of his social resposibilities, Bush also dived headlong into 20 years of alcoholism and probably some cocaine use. That Bush hedges when asked about his drug use suggests that he isn’t fully willing to accept responsibility for his actions. Just as Mersault tries to put off responsibility for his. Mersault has a realization or maybe more a kind of revolting pysphological epipthany while in his cell,
“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.”
Long distance literaray pyschological analysis is iffy, yet one wonders if all the cheerleader-like enthusiasm for shock and awe and the tens of thousands of innocent people that have died was the result of some deep self hatred that Bush is acknowledging to himself. Not too far fetched since most men that display the level of arrogance that Bush has usually have some unresolved issues about self image. The arroagnce becomes a mask for their personal short commings. Bush’s resume up to taking the Whitehouse was nothing but failures and riches accumulated solely based on his last name and his father’s connections, the privledged class that thinks life owes them something. Bush like Meursault does acknowledge surface facts, the chronology of things, except for some missing months in Georgia, but hasn’t seemed to learned anything from his life experience. Bush like the existential character always seems detached, unable to do much more then parrot things that others have told him about morality. Having read The Stranger will Bush turn the corner, will the light go on. Probably not,
“I think—tide turning—see, as I remember—I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of—it’s easy to see a tide turn—did I say those words?”, Bush- Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006
Its one thing to read the words, its another thing to digest them.
Much of the time when I get to posting on this blog I’m a little tired. That combined with a slow connection makes me appresciate it whenever anyone makes it easy to do research. The wing-nuttery has made the search for the white-flag waving defeatists easy over the last 24 hours, RightBlogs Turn Against Bush
Here’s Michelle Malkin:
Israel and the West surrender to Hizballah.
Terrorists and the U.N. win.
Israel and the US have been defeated. Hizballah will grow emboldened. As will Iran.
There are more conservative statements of surrender at the link. Its is like watching clowns do a circle jerk, not a pretty sight. The right-wing blogs ideal leader is one that uses the most nukes, nililism becomes the highest form of patriotism.
No one understands what leads people
to do irrational things. We only
know that unpunished violence
festers, then explodes.
from the screenplay CHERRY FALLS by Ken Selden