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16 Oct 2006

Between Yes and No

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:01pm

When we are stripped down to a certain point, nothing leads anywhere anymore, hope and despair are equally groundless, and the whole of life can be summed up in an image.

Yes, everything is simple. It's men who complicate things. Don't let them tell us any stories. Don't let them say about the man condemned to death: "He is going to pay his debt to society," but: "They're going to chop his head off." It may seem like nothing. But it does make a little difference. There are some people who prefer to look their destiny straight in the eye.

- Albert Camus, Between Yes and No, from The Wrong Side and the Right Side

The only other writer, to my mind, who writes such direct prose, alluding to similar insights is Coetzee. Reminds me of David Lurie, in Disgrace, saying "One is fine as long as one is alive". No fuss, stare without a blink, objective and maverick. As regards the strength and choice of words, Vivekananda comes as a close match. Russell's writing is more intricate and witty, but it reflects as much conviction. If Freud were a philosopher, he would have been Russell Sr. If JK wrote fiction, it'd have been, in format, like that of Camus and Coetzee. But while Camus suggests resignation and Coetzee suggests acknowledgement, JK would suggest nothing. For him, there's no middle ground. A genius of the highest order.    

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