Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Rebellion is profoundly positive"

In L’homme Révolté, Camus points out that "in the act of rebellion as we have envisaged it up to now, an abstract ideal is not chosen through lack of feeling and in pursuit of a sterile demand." In other words, the metaphysical rebellion called forth by the existential condition of being human is not in the pursuit or advancement of an ideology. "We insist that the part of man which cannot be reduced to mere ideas should be taken into consideration – the passionate side of his nature that serves no other purpose than to be part of the act of living. Does this imply that no rebellion is motivated by resentment? No, and we know it only too well in this age of malice. But we must consider the idea of rebellion in its widest sense on pain of betraying it; and in its widest sense rebellion goes far beyond resentment." How far beyond resentment does rebellion go, you might well ask. Rebellion not only goes to the end of human existence, but constitutes our end, that is, the meaning of our existence, our point and purpose. "When Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights," Camus continues, "says that he puts his love above God and would willingly go to hell in order to be reunited with the woman he loves, he is prompted not only by youth and humiliation but by the consuming experience of a whole lifetime. The same emotion causes Eckart, in a surprising bit of heresy, to say that he prefers hell with Jesus to heaven without Him. This is the very essence of love."

Hence, "[r]ebellion…is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended."

Meum cum sim pulvis et cinis

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