Saturday, October 23, 2010

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27 - The alternative

Happiness, why refuse?
In accepting it, it does not aggravate the misfortunes of others
and even that helps to fight for them.
I find it unfortunate that we feel ashamed to feel happy. Albert Camus

St. Albert Camus pray for us!

late July 1961. I'm in front of a hundred students of all races, enrolled in summer literature French at the Sorbonne in Paris. I give a lecture on Albert Camus, who has just died, a victim of a "senseless" accident (1).

Camus has fascinated me for many years.

When Juvénat in Chertsey, I saw, almost in delinquency
The Misunderstanding Camus, I was hit without knowing too much about the reason for my fascination. Then I read The Plague , The Stranger and dense Myth of Sisyphus . And finally Exile and the United which, according to some collectors, let shine glimmers of faith in its author classified as agnostic. It was in the days when all that had attracted smell existentialist. I also read Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, The Devil and God and Huis-clos. I was dazzled. These authors had the gift to write and say real things that also make sense of nonsense.

After completing my course at Jesus Magister, in early June, at the end of the Grand novitiate I went to Paris with that Brother Real I had met first at St. Victor in 1947, then to Chertsey from 1954 to 1957. We got along like a house afire.

In the summer of 1959, I had enrolled in courses in French culture at the Catholic Institute of Paris.

This time, both to test my "new faith" that the recoveries to avoid too easy non-Catholic writers, I enrolled in more secular university of the Sorbonne.

We stayed at John Dolent among Eudists, just off Prison Health.

All our spare time we spent crisscrossing the spider web of the Paris Metro. Not to see the monuments, but also to run the theaters, watching films that we missed: Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal Bergman, all films de Carné, some Charlie Chaplin and the darling of the time, La Dolce Vita Fellini. There was also War and Peace, Ben Hur in addition to some classic French comedy. These shows cost nearly nothing. Real brother and me, we had the same attitude already well ahead of that which prevailed even in the community: while we were on site was better, in keeping with our vow of poverty, enjoy. "" culture harms no one, not even teachers "they said while jokingly as if to answer critics of fantasy.

Courses at the Sorbonne

At the Sorbonne is mostly over 45 hours on the existentialists, Sartre and Camus that caught my attention.

The huge rock that frail human seems to go top of the hill is the image that says everything Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus , Plague , Camusian look at the world and a sense that life could take in response to absurd ruling.
And it was at the Sorbonne, not at the Catholic Institute of Paris. There was no need to read Camus always on the nose glasses Catholic critics. Camus read with Camus, The Plague with The Myth of Sisyphus , nothing else.

Students who wished could attend the class in the critical eye of a teacher presentation of about 30 minutes on an author of their choice. I enrolled and I naturally selected Camus, The Plague alongside The Myth of Sisyphus . It was an easy topic. I wanted to deepen my knowledge of Camus. I experienced that oftentimes the best way to learn was to teach.

The alternative - a spare wheel

Enlightenment who had crowned thirty days of exercises with St. Ignatius had done his hundred days. Everything was fine. As a pattern that inflates the lungs at the sight of his workers at work, I saw Christ present everywhere at once in the human pulp in order to bring out the joy of his resurrection and the influence of his love. But hunting and the natural change their spots. Gradually the doubts came back. My world view and life darkened. I wanted somehow the road of faith, but a spare tire that would address its failures was welcome. This is what Camus has given me.

Yes, man is his own end. And it is its sole purpose. If he wants to be something in this life. Now I know the rest. Conquerors sometimes speak to conquer and overcome. But it's always "overcome" they hear. You know what that means. Every man felt the equal of a god at times. So at least they say. But this is that, in a flash, he felt the stunning grandeur of the human spirit. The conquerors are only those of men who feel their strength enough to be sure of living constantly at such heights and in full consciousness of this magnitude. [121] It is a matter of arithmetic, more or less. The conquerors are the most. But they can not more than the man himself, when he wants. That's why they never leave the human melting pot, plunging more than burning in the soul revolution. The Myth of Sisyphus Editions Gallimard 1942 p. 81

A world that had evangelized after the sword or be part of Catholic dogmas, despite all the blessings of heaven, still marked by the absurd heavy sin. Despite the resurrection, the death raged all day and hit the sinners and also children. The limbo does not bring them back to life or of their affection.

It must have been blind or unwilling to fight not to see the world's beauty in the flower that blossoms in the field or playing its electrons as a part of football. The connection to the resurrection did not alter either the gravity or the exquisite beauty of this world.

Coping with reality of this world and find meaning, happiness and such action was the challenge presented to me that Camus.

There always comes a time when one must choose between contemplation and action. This is called becoming a man. These rifts are awful. But for a proud heart, it there can be no middle ground. There is God or the time, the cross or the sword. This world has a meaning that transcends its highest agitation or nothing is true that these agitations. We must live and die with time with him or escape it for a greater life. I know we can compromise and we can live in this century and believe in the eternal. It's called acceptance. But I hate that term and I want all or nothing. If I choose the action, do not believe that contemplation me as an unknown land. But she can not do everything myself [119] give, and deprived of the eternal, I ally myself with time. I do not want to fit into my account either nostalgia or bitterness, and I just want to see clearly. I tell you, tomorrow you will be mobilized. For you and for me it is a liberation. The individual can do nothing and yet he can do everything. In this wonderful availability you understand why I exalt and crushes both. It's the world that it is I who crushes and releases it. I supplied all their rights. The Myth of Sisyphus Op. cit. p.79

The journalist was right in his impatience with happiness. But he was right when he accused? "You live in abstraction" Was it really the abstraction that these days spent in the hospital where the plague put out all the stops, bringing to five hundred casualties a week? Yes there was a share in the misfortune of abstraction and unreality. But when abstraction starts to kill you you have to deal with abstraction . Plague Edition Gallimard, 1947 p. 85

The source of the happiness of Sisyphus

The world of Camus, before being beautiful, was opaque and night, as heavy as the rock of Sisyphus, but how real and uneventful. The absurd sticky unpredictable and dominant like the plague.

Faced with this absurd widespread human Camus is very small and very humble. Reed Pascal, as free as Dr. Rieux before the plague.

But what makes the genius of Camus, this man stuck Sisyphus or succumbing to every moment in the inescapable gravity of the rock, is not under sentence . The plague does not need men to punish sin. It's here. A disaster that sticks to everything it touches, like oil on the sea And before her, Rieux resists Sisyphus his rock blocks on the steep slope of life.

And Sisyphus who stands and is happy! Blessed with a quiet happiness, quiet and efficient. And what makes him happy, his condition is reasonable man plunged into the magma soulless and challenging. Her happiness he derives not from a title of nobility artificially attached to his or her blood ancestors or an extraterrestrial energy to offset the failures of his nature, but its daily action, the patient to impose the room, its rationality to the world without a name, to identify and to harness its benefits. The joy of job well done, that of a mission accomplished. The triple action, the focus of Buddhism: asking the right look, just keep the thought, the complete effective action.

If other, instead, that Rieux could see on the thresholds of houses, in the fading light, embracing all forces and looking angrily, they got what they wanted, c is that they asked the only thing that depends on them. Rieux and when turning the streets of Grand Cottard and thought it was just that from time to time at least, the reward came joy those which are sufficient for the man and his poor and terrible love. Op. cit. p. 272

Although it is known that the absurd beyond us like the plague, it will always come back, we do not defeat either in whole or in part, the struggle day by day, inch closely against the rock that overwhelms us with its gravity, we will overwrite one day we become like him, with his absurd, totally, and probably forever, this struggle of man grows here and now. She's glad that Dr. Rieux qu'aphone well before the death of a child he continues the fight against the plague, always, as she comes.

In the same motion prevailed, Rieux turned and threw him with violence:

-Oh! That one, at least, (a child) was innocent, you know!

... Rieux fell back on his bench. He looked at the branches, the sky, slowly regaining his breath, slowly swallowing his fatigue.

- Why me talked with this anger? Said a voice behind him. For me too, this show is unbearable.
Rieux turned toward Paneloux:

- It's true, "he said. Forgive me, but fatigue is madness. And there are hours in the town where I no longer feel that my rebellion.
- I understand, "murmured Paneloux, this is revolting because it passes our measure. But perhaps we should love what we do not understand.
Rieux straightened up at once. He looked Paneloux, with all the strength and the passion he could muster, and shook his head.

- No, my father, he said. I'm getting a different idea of love. And I refuse to death to love this establishment where children are tortured.

Ah! Doctor, he said, with sadness, I just realized what we call grace.
But Rieux had left to go back on his bench, the depth of his fatigue returned, he said more gently:

- That's what I did not, I know, I know. But I do not want to discuss this with you, We work together for something that brings us beyond blasphemy and prayers. That alone is important.

Paneloux sat near Rieux. He looked agitated.
- Yes, he says, yes, you also work for the salvation of man.

Rieux tried to smile.

- The salvation of man is a too big word for me. I'm not going that far. Interests me is his health, his health first ... . P. 198-199
The sap of happiness lies in the struggle more than in the flower, in action than in its outcome.

After this study and the presentation of my talk, I began to see things from another angle.

It was what it was amorphous, devoid of meaning and purpose. It is human reason which gave its beauty and commitment of men, its purposes. The atoms were then animated and threatening, neither good nor bad, there. Einstein had torn their mystery and had harnessed. Disease, virus came and went like the plague, unknown, opaque. Pasteur with or without the strength of the Risen had pierced their armor and decoded their orders. And so on. The action of the man himself is not connected to the In-Top effaced the sin of the world, educated its absurdity. In this world what was Jesus born. It is this question that he had married in the doubling of love connected on the heart of God.

There were more similarities than contrasts between the cause of Jesus and that of Sisyphus. Like today between the tasks of Christians and those of the Communists or the Greens, or those pursued by Amnesty International.

Camus's gaze was also justified by many examples from everyday life. The philosophical meaning researcher conducting the opacity of the world at his arms, the politician who seeks to establish peace and better living conditions that are, the teacher who fight against the absurdity of ignorance and so suite for all trades the world and for all women and all men fully engaged in the human pulp.

From within the Christian clan, Sisyphus was condemned without a hello doubly reprehensible. Simply remove the curtains and opening the window a little to see that Sisyphus was not a pagan myth, he had the power to bring people together like no false exclusion and child Jesus in the Kingdom or Teilhard de Chardin in the field of mind to climb the noosphere.

I did not intend to artificially unite men and the world in one easy syncretism which softens the absurd and make it sweet and tasty, but for me, with Camus, the image of Jesus, that of Karl Marx, Gandhi, a Teilhard de Chardin and many others combine very well together. The opposing points of cultural and social childishness.

Camus made me realize that the sun does not shine in the Catholic camp. Wherever it shines, it generates light and shadow. To feed humanity as well as loaves of meaning, we need all the land that rises and the sun sets.

Camus inside me forever. And sometimes with Jesus Christ. In me they are brothers with Sisyphus. Workers in the vineyard of meaning.

After the illumination of the risen Jesus known after my retirement thirty jourset who had revived my life on the rail of the faith, Camus is a safe alternative, a sort of spare wheel which does does not detract from the brilliance or the effectiveness of the eyes of faith.

For your days of optimism, the resurrected Jesus is everywhere piercing every night with his light and all the pettiness of his love. When you win the spleen because you also see the world plunged in the molasses of the absurd. With Camus, you can get out of it by using tools that you can handle. Resisting takes effect. Search for the True and the Beautiful is a noble human task and enjoyable.


In mid-August, Réal brother and I went on board the Queen Elizabeth toward New York. Visit New York, a cherry on the cake that had lasted three years. The return to Montreal was long the impatience to see her home. After Rome, Paris and New York, Montreal seemed a small rural village. It seemed that there was no longer the same. Ferments new energy shot out from all sides. And I carried my luggage in my two buds who only wanted to grow: Camus and Jesus. The real always opaque to clear. The light at the end of each tunnel.


(1) Albert Camus died in a car accident Jan. 4, 1960.
(2) See Memoirs ... V. II, No. 20 Juvénat Chertsey - Brother Anatole

(3) Exile and the Kingdom , 1957, is the last work published by Camus in his lifetime. Six new that express the same thought, the condition of exile of the man in the land of men, and efforts towards establishing its own "kingdom" of freedom. Click

(4) will Camus's Myth of Sisyphus , told by Homer, illustration his conception of the human condition in the universe that surrounds and beyond. He modified the myth of Sisyphus in making a non condemned by the gods but the image of the real man immersed in a world cut off from any rationality and purpose (the absurd) and in which man will find happiness (Sisyphus happy) in the struggle and resistance by the sheer force of his reason. The Myth of Sisyphus (full text) is the masterpiece and theoretical designs while Camus The Plague is a concrete illustration.


The chronicle of Jean Claude

DIRECTORY 1959-1960
No. 54

In this year, says there are 61,378 students in 174 schools run by the brothers in Canada.

Recruiting is more difficult and we always try to direct more energy to the secondary school students.

For the first time, according certain conditions, the provincial government subsidizes the formation houses of the Congregation from public funds.

It always promotes traditional movements in schools: JEC, cadets of the Sacred Heart, Eucharistic Crusade, and others.

At the graduate level, there is a greater tendency toward religious studies courses.

There were two closings of houses and a new foundation.

Due to fewer temporary profession, the average age of the professed a province starts to climb.

previous seven Canadian provinces :

- 1571 professed
- 62 novices
- 1242 juniors
Next issue: The # 28 returned home


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