The political and cultural noise that we are all experiencing is quite literally deafening. It is precisely at times like these that writers and artists are desperately needed to help alleviate that noise and remind us of what is important when we ponder not only our own lives but the larger human condition as well.
What is in fact the aim of every artist? Albert Camus was asked during an interview. He answers:
“To depict the passions of his day. In the seventeenth century, the passions of love were at the forefront of people’s minds. But today, the passions of our century are collective passions because society is in disorder. Artistic creation, instead of removing us from the drama of our time, is one of the means we are given of bringing it closer. Totalitarian regimes are well aware of this, since they consider us their first enemy. Isn’t it obvious that everything which destroys art aims to strengthen ideologies that make men unhappy? Artists are the only people who have never harmed the world.” (Camus, Albert. “Three Interviews.” Lyrical & Critical Essays. New York: Vintage Books, 1970, pp. 353-354.)
Twenty years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on “Albert Camus & The Post-Modern Generation.” At that time, our collective cultural and societal issues were different; yet remnants remain. I never imaged then that our political climate and dividedness over basic human dignity would become significantly and devastatingly worse.
Engaging once again with my intellectual mentor while rereading my thesis, I felt a shiver and at the same time a sense of poignancy amid our current distress. In light of this, I decided to post the conclusion of my thesis, with the hope that it will inspire others to further explore Camus’ work and find some solidarity, some solace.
Camus believed that “every authentic work of art is a gift offered to the future.” His writings, his compassion, his ethics, his authentic work of art, are needed now more than ever.