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Albert Camus' Absurdist Philosophy and Mass Murder

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posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:09 PM
In Albert Camus' play entitled Caligula he portrays an emperor who wants to show his subjects the meaninglessness of life by forcing on this absurd acts of violence and madness. By Caligula's demoniacal creativity in manufacturing scenarios that challenge, and ultimately subvert, his people's conventional morality and understanding of the world he forces them into a chaotic world whose only operative force is absurdity.

The emperor's small scale cruelties have terrifying significance. He makes ridiculous normal human values by forcing people into impossible quid pro quo scenarios. All their time is spent being preoccupied with these things and at a certain point in the play the Roman people accuse Caligula of being a terrorist. Caligula feigns surprise, and reiterates the purpose of his actions, saying they are a gift to the people - letting them understand life's inherent meaninglessness. He goes on to add that in the time he was been emperor he never went to war, saving thousands of lives even though he killed a few people here and there.

The main point of the play is that leaders can go to war for esteemed reason like freedom, or justice, or peace, or glory which are really just abstractions in the subjective collective mind. They mean nothing, yet they make the populace feel good. And if the populace is made to feel good about war a huge number of people are killed with no regrets as a result.

Yet, if the emperor is the cause of a few senseless and absurd deaths, instead of a million deaths that were justified by some abstract and vague idea about freedom or something, it is considered more reprehensible. He somehow proves that the deaths of a few people can be more reprehensible then the deaths of millions all based on if we are able to justify it to ourselves.

The recent shooting in Colorado done by a crazy lunatic is unjustifiable. We can't rap our heads around why such a heinous act would occur and so we simply say the guy was crazy and he snapped, case closed. It was an absurd act of violence and absurd acts of violence bring out an excess of anger and negativity in people. When a senseless act of minor violence (not saying what happened was minor) is compared to a large act of violence that makes sense, we are more offended somehow by the senseless act. And if (by some divinely inspired hypothetical bargain) we has the choice of exchanging one for the other we would probably choose the large act of violence that can be explained because while there is more bloodshed, it is less a perversion of the human spirit.

What the recent shootings did more than anything (whether James was the shooter or not doesn't matter, what matters is that he is the PERCEIVED shooter) is pervert the human spirit because the act is ultimately contrived absurdist calamity. This means that the scale of karmic degradation is extremely large.

I don't know anything about the theories concerning a negative harvest before 2012 or religious views on the end times or whatever... BUT I DO know that what happened in Colorado is the perfect scene that will really bring the negativity out in people. They will hear about it, want the suspected perpetrator to be crucified, and then whatever belief structure they have will take a major plunge towards the abyss of meaninglessness.

Don't believe me? Consider what one of the victims who was shot in the arm by shotgun pellets said,

"I’m a man of faith, but it gets tried in times like this,”

Said by Marcus Weaver.

You don't have to be a direct victim of the act and you don't have to believe in God necessarily. Everyone who lived through that experience and I believe everyone who has heard about the event - their beliefs henceforth will tend more towards meaninglessness and absurdity from being subjected to an explainable calamity.

If I were a Christian, which I am, I would say this is clearly the Devil's work. His plan is to defeat people's spirits and ultimately kill them. First he wants to kill the soul, then the body, and if successful he wins the celestial wager he made with God similar to the wager made over the soul of Job in the bible.

It is the plan of the Evil Empire to breed negativity with acts of negativity, to corrupt the spirit the subvert optimism into resignation. A people defeated in spirit are a people easily conquered...

In this purpose I think they have recently been hugely successful.

Messaging boards talking about Jerry Sandusky or James Holmes are all filled to the brim with huge amounts of negativity. These things will become concurrently more frequent. The stench will keep building and building and eventually complete madness and destruction will ensue. Demons walk among us... They have specific orders to do what we have seen them doing, substituting basic human goodness and order for absurdity and meaninglessness.

I am rambling, but these are my thoughts of late.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:21 PM
You've made an excellent argument which really got me thinking, up until the religious bit. Another factor that seems to be at play is the possibility that Americans and the British consider the lives of their compatriots more precious than those of foreigners. When a dozen people die on American or British soil it's a tragedy, but a few thousand deaths in the Middle East is a statistic.

If Caligula really wanted to prove the worthlessness of human life, surely he would have gone to war and slaughtered thousands abroad, and the fact he didn't suggests he was a psychopath who was merely justifying his own acts of murder. Therefore his belief wasn't the same as that he was imposing on others.
edit on 23-7-2012 by XeroOne because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:24 PM
In terms of your 'a few meaningless deaths vs. war' thing...

I actually thought about this the other day...say in this case with the movie theatre shooting, or any other case where someone murders a few people. Now people will say these sorts of people are absolutely evil, and all this stuff. NOW, I am NOT saying murder is OK. However, a country can kill hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people in 'war,' and this is OK. But for someone to murder a few people is the greatest act of evil.

I thought this was a semi-profound realization. This led me to think of WHY we have this mentality. I then realized it all centered around the concept of 'war.' If you are at war, you can kill as many people as you want, and it is ok. That is the justification. I then thought, what is war? I realized that 'war,' in the sense that we understand it, ONLY applies to governments. In other words, government's have somewhat of a free pass to kill as many people as they want, so long as they call it war. Noone else can kill anyone, cuz noone else can go to war. If someone has some spiritual ideology or some other kind, and they believe they should kill for it, they are BY DEFINITION murderers/terrorists/evil. Again, I am not suggesting murder is ok, but I find the fact that we consider someone who murders a few more evil than a government who kills millions disturbing, and the reasoning behind it sad.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:34 PM
reply to post by XeroOne

If he went to war it would have needed to be justified by a collective abstraction like 'freedom' or 'justice' or 'glory of the empire', because (Camus believes) war between nations is always justified. Domestic terrorism however is not.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:37 PM
reply to post by djr33222

Dear djr33222,

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

You make some good points about the attempts to make us believe that life is random. There is a poem which says, "Things fall apart, the center will not hold". When people believe in nothing, nothing works. The worst communist society works better than a society where there is no belief. I first noticed the push when a book came out called "The World According to Garp", it eventually became a movie with Robin Williams. The whole point of the book and movie was to say that life was boredom mixed in with random acts. There is a scene in the movie where Garp is looking to buy a house, after looking at the house a plane crashes into it and Garp immediately says they will take the house. His wife is shocked and he says something like, "This house is perfect, what are the odds of that happening twice". He never asks why it happened in the first place, like is the house in line with a landing strip.

We have convinced ourselves that nature follows rules and that animals follow patterns; but, humans do not and therefore we assume that they are random; but, they are not. Because humans can determine for themselves how much of what they may miss some underlying truths, we assume all sorts of world control views. Some are right and some are wrong; but, by muddying the water enough people stop looking or hold dogmatically to something that satisfies what they want to believe about themselves. I think I rambled; but, good post and you gave us all something to think about. Peace.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:38 PM
reply to post by TheJourney

You have effectively epitomized the entirety of the philosophical dilemma. 'WAR' is an institutional construct.

This construct is amoral yet inherently always justified.

This just gets the gears in my mind turning...

I gotta slow down.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:42 PM
They are intelligent well thought out thoughts, though.
Nice job op

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:47 PM

The worst communist society works better than a society where there is no belief.

O man. That line just slapped me in the face with truth. Even horrible dictatorships try to instill some type of decent morality...

That quote from the bible..

It's stuff like that which gives me chills.

Honestly, human nature is better outlined in the bible than in any other source ever conceived by man. What ever it is that inspired the bible knows people inside and out.

posted on Jul, 23 2012 @ 09:52 PM

When people believe in nothing, nothing works. The worst communist society works better than a society where there is no belief.

Didn't Plato say something along the same lines? That a perfect society is one in which free will doesn't exist?

posted on Jul, 24 2012 @ 03:47 AM
Excellent thread, i don't really have anything to add, but i'm going to be following this conversation closely.

Camus' philosophies were overturned by Pirsig, but having said that you are right in saying that what Camus wriote reflects what is happening today, it's that mindset / belief.

posted on Jul, 24 2012 @ 04:58 AM
reply to post by djr33222

You have raised some good points DJR. S&F

That is why I tell people all the time to get rid of their television, turn off the radio and be very selective about the things that your mind consumes. That old cliche "Violence Breeds Violence" is more profound than most people realise.

The dark spirits that surround us know how easy it is to train a human mind using negativity and fear.

Meditate on Love, Be Love - That is my message.


* Ned

posted on Jul, 24 2012 @ 05:44 AM
I don't know what made me read this posting, but some things need to be pointed out to me. The light blub just went on, thanks. Somethings just never enter my mind until the right moment I guess.

posted on Jul, 24 2012 @ 11:13 AM
S an Flag..Very astute thread op didnt need the religion inserted but each to there own..

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