“At The Very Instant He Struck The Tree”

Facel Vega Brought Camus Death

I mentioned the great existentialist, Albert Camus, as someone who had impacted my own religious thinking. A reader notes that in William Faulkner's obit for the great writer, something of the same came across:

Camus said that the only true function of man, born into an absurd world, is to live, be aware of one's life, one's revolt, one's freedom. He said that if the only solution to the human dilemma is death, then we are on the wrong road. The right track is the one that leads to life, to the sunlight.

He did refuse to suffer from the unceasing cold. He did refuse to follow a track which led only to death. The track he followed was the only possible one which could not lead only to death. The track he followed led into the sunlight in being that one devoted to making with our frail powers and our absurd material, something which had not existed in life until we made it. He said, 'I do not like to believe the death opens upon another life. To me, it is a door that shuts.' That is, he tried to believe that. But he failed.

Despite himself, as all artists are, he spent that life searching himself and demanding of himself answers which only God could know; when he became the Nobel laureate of his year, I wired him 'On sault l'â me qui constamment se cherche et se demande'; why did he not quit then, if he did not want to believe in God? At the very instant he struck the tree, he was still searching and demanding of himself; I do not believe that in that bright instant he found them. I do no believe they are to be found. I believe they are only to be searched for, constantly, always by some fragile member of the human absurdity. Of which there are never many, but always somewhere at least one, and one will always be enough.

People will say he was too young; he did not have time to finish. But it is not How long, it is not How much; it is, simply What. When the door shut for him, he had already written on this side of it that which every artist who also carries through life with him that one same foreknowledge and hatred of death, is hoping to do: I was here. He was doing that, and perhaps in that bright second he even knew he had succeeded. What more could he want?

(Photo: the car crash in which Camus was killed.)