Notes from In-house exile. On re-reading Albert Camus’s novel The Plague
(1) March 17, 2020
What else is this “locked-down” high-risk senior citizen to do except read! A nation has chosen, yes chosen, perhaps the most unsuitable individual possible to lead this country in a national crisis. (And don’t bother me with the Hillary’s ‘popular votes’ story; enough people saw his putrid personality as their only hope that racism and bigotry could be made great, again); the 2008 election should not have even been close. It’s amazing (but not surprising) that in all of Trump’s Corona-virus presentations, he so mirrors the virus’s disconnection from, and indifference to human feelings; he can’t even summon up the most basic scripted words of compassion and inspiration; it seems that the plague can only take humanity, but it can’t create one.
A plague (like Trump, bail reform and “stop and frisk”) is a revealer and explainer of personal values. Mean people in the midst of a plague will horde their kindness, and others will become wonderfully heroic. This in many ways, is the same way a blank sheet of paper (or screen) confronts a writer, a blank canvas challenging a painter… A plague, any plague, invites and requires a personal individual response, based on the internal qualities of those upon whom the plague imposes its ugly ever-presence; we can neither hide from the plague, nor hide who we are in the plague. Our unique authorship assignment is our choice of who we choose to be in response to the plague; it will not make us something different, only point out and amplify who we truly are when no plague is present; it will only make us better if “better” is already settled and seeded in our spirits. Surely stifle and crush any good in us that is not anchored in serious truth and personal authenticity. The plague will severely test the truly brave and lose. Will we mirror the plague’s detached coldness in our own unique characteristic way? Or, do we become bravely bold in affirming the best and most heroic values any person can summon. Our ‘humanness’ is both our strength and our weakness. This is the hard part, the desire to be selfish; to narrowly define “family”; finding it hard to find the true meaning of “turning the other cheek”; compelling oneself to be compassionate and forgiving; to not find joy in the lost joy of others… to be, what a virus cannot be… to be fully human.