Albert Camus, our patron saint, is in vogue this year. The Plague has never been more popular, its relevance only growing as focus from the pandemic shifts to fascism—the true subject of the book—ahead of the U.S. election.
As a celebrity intellectual engaged in the great political battles of his era, he took flak from all sides for his principled stands that angered both the establishment left and nationalist right. Privately, he often noted his struggles and doubts in the diaries he kept judiciously until the end of his life.
This entry comes to us from a distance of nearly 70 years, but for our anxious era of doom-scrolling and frustration, it could just as easily have been written yesterday. It is a program of survival:
Stages of healing.
- Letting volition sleep. Enough of “you must.”
- Completely depoliticize the mind in order to humanize it.
- Write the claustrophobic–and comedies.
- Deal with death, which is to say, accept it.
- Accept making a spectacle of yourself. I will not die of this anguish. If I died from it, the end. Otherwise, at worst, shortsighted behavior. It suffices to accept others’ judgement. Humility and acceptance: purely medical remedies of anguish.
- The world moves toward paganism but it still rejects pagan values. They must be restored, to paganize belief, Graecize Christ and restore balance.
- Wouldn’t it be that I have suffered from the excess of my responsibilities?
- Since I am in the desert and lifelessness, I must push aridity all the way to the end so that the threshold is reached and, one way or another, crossed over. Madness or complete control.
- Method: as soon as the appearance of anguished breathing accelerated or slowed down the warning. Thereto associating immediate deprivation of every action and every gesture.
- Second association: general relaxation.
- In the long run: transfer and accumulation of the energy that is characteristic of all want or desire by the temporary suspension of this want and this desire.
- With regard to society, recognize that I expect nothing from it. Any participation then becomes a gift that does not await repayment. Praise or blame then become what they are: nothing. Finally, suppression of the conformist.
- Eliminate the brooding morals from abstract justice.
- Remain close to the reality of beings and things. Return as often as possible to personal happiness. Not refusing to recognize what is true even when the truth happens to thwart the desirable. Ex. recognizing that power, it also, it especially, persuades. The truth is worth all the torments. It alone establishes the joy that must crown this effort.
- Recover energy–as the central force.
- Recognize the need for enemies. Love that they exist.
- Systematically shatter automatisms from smallest to largest. Tobacco, food, sex, emotional reactions of defense (or of attack. They are the same thing) and creation itself. Asceticism not out of the desire that must be kept intact, but out of its satisfaction.