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The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

By Jake Oblak, IV Form

The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

What is the meaning of absurdism? How are absurdist people perceived by others? How can someone be impacted by this lifestyle? These are all questions that arise from The Stranger by Albert Camus. This philosophical novel follows a man named Meursault through a portion of his adult life. His experiences in the book range from his romantic relations with his girlfriend Marie to being sentenced to the guillotine after being convicted of murder. Throughout these events, problems emerge as a result of Meursault’s absurdist lifestyle, and personal values. Consequently, Camus delivers an eloquent introduction to absurdism and negative impacts of believing in a counter-cultural philosophy, but based on his own logic looking for a message in his writing would be ignorant.

Absurdism is an uncommon philosophy compared to modern day ideologies, but its outlook on life is unique. Absurdism is defined as “a philosophical perspective which holds that the efforts of humanity to find meaning or rational explanation in the universe ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least to human beings” (New World). As this definition explains, absurdism is based on the idea that life has no meaning and is completely arbitrary. As a result, looking for any kind of meaning in life would be considered futile. Through an absurdist lens partaking in events in order to fulfill a requirement created by society is ridiculous. This is a common theme which occurs repeatedly throughout The Stranger. Absurdists believe in doing what feels right to them, rather than doing what is right in the eyes of the norm manufactured by society. (more…)

Survival With God: On Piers Paul Read’s Alive

By Lindsay Davis, IV Form

Survival With God: On Piers Paul Read’s Alive

Alive by Piers Paul Read, a survival story of a plane crash in the Andes Mountains, recounts how the survivors’ trust in God influenced their resilience during a crisis of life and death. In 1972, a plane carrying Uruguayan rugby players and other Uruguayan citizens crashed in the middle of the Andes. While the travelers suffered many injuries or died from the crash, the fight on the mountain came most from their will to survive and the actions needed to outlast the miserable conditions of the Andes. The rations of food, sleeping conditions, injuries, and pre-existing relationships affected the mental status of each survivor. Their bond with God helped them to make life at the Fairchild fair and optimistic. The survivors who boarded the Fairchild came close to death in the Andes, but their hope for survival and reliance on God pushed them through the mental pain and helped inspire their faith in physical recovery.

The survivors ate the flesh of their dead companions knowing that was their only way to survive. God had inspired the courage to engage in repugnant cannibalism. Over the course of the seventy-two days, while the survivors’ mentality fluctuated, food supplies ran out and the concern of starvation became apparent. The injuries and losses suffered by some of the Fairchild passengers would not matter if they could not feed themselves. Although most of the boys were expecting the point at which they would need the protein of their fellow dead friends and passengers, Canessa was the first to discuss aloud with the group. After eliminating the idea of eating the seat cushions and digging deep for grass, the bodies that surrounded them on and in the snow were the last plan. (more…)

An Examination of the Ethics of Examining with Hitchcock and Foucault

By Jason Zhang, VI Form

An Examination of the Ethics of Examining with Hitchcock and Foucault

Surveillance requires two groups: those who are watching and those who are being watched, which brings up the morality of surveillance. Is it appropriate for someone to observe another person intentionally? Does a person’s behavior change if they know that they are being watched? How is a person affected when their privacy is stripped away from them? Both the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock and the essay “To Discipline and Punish” by Michel Foucault attempt to answer these questions. In Rear Window, Jeff is a brave man who has a history of racing sports cars and being in the military. Unfortunately, his adventurous life comes to a halt when he injures his leg. Jeff is forced to remain in his small, New York City apartment for weeks. Besides the occasional visit from his caretaker and his girlfriend, Jeff’s life is unbearably uneventful until he begins to watch his neighbors from the rear window. Likewise, Foucault’s essay “To Discipline and Punish” tries to understand the consequences of surveillance, but from the perspective of a prison’s architectural design. The prison cells of a Panopticon are arranged so that they all surround one viewing tower placed at the center of the circular building. Therefore, a person inside the viewing tower can see every cell and every person in a cell can see the person inside the viewing tower. Although it is never explicitly said whether or not surveillance is good or bad, both Rear Window and “To Discipline and Punish” come to the conclusion that surveillance is a powerful action. (more…)

Pitch Project TV Show Winner: Noise

By Bailey Horne, Nathan Laudani, and Luca Vicinelli, VI Form

Pitch Project TV Show Winner: Noise

Concept Art by Bailey; click on image for Trailer.

Logline
Police Partners and best friends Walker Gibney and Irvin Demak undertake a horrifying mystery to uncover the disappearance of multiple individuals in a nearby forest.

Elevator Pitch
Walker Gibney, Irvin Demak, and two other police officers get a call and go to investigate a noise complaint in the woods. As they reach the woods, they split up to cover more ground, and the other two officers disappear. When the missing officers don’t turn up, they look further into the matter, and a bigger mystery unfolds. There are supernatural gifts, a fearless leader, and a war that nobody knows about until now. Meanwhile, Walker is facing an internal struggle with his family. The divorce between Walker and his wife has broken many relationships, especially the bond between Walker and his daughter, Sophia. As the mystery unfolds, he must make decisions that will center around the fate of both Fort Collins and Gib’s loved ones. (more…)

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Tree: On Cisneros’ “The Family of Little Feet”

By Grace Kingsbury, V Form

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Tree: On Cisneros’ “The Family of Little Feet”

Everyone has heard the saying, “the apple does not fall far from the tree,” but is there any truth to it? In “The Family of Little Feet” from The House On Mango Street, Esperanza plays a game of dress-up with her friends, Rachel and Lucy. They are given old high heeled shoes and strut around Mango Street, flaunting their beautiful shoes and long legs. The three girls are catcalled by many older men in the neighborhood, but they enjoy the attention. In the short story “Girl,” the girl is taught of chores that are expected of young women by her mother. Her mother stresses the importance of maintaining a positive reputation and looks down on promiscuity. Due to the differences in their upbringing, Esperanza expresses her sexuality whereas the girl suppresses hers as seen in their prominent accepted hobbies, varying feedback, and female role models. (more…)

Referred Pain: Societal Ailments Manifested as Individual Illnesses in Dystopian Literature

By Ms. Margaret Caron, English Faculty

Referred Pain: Societal Ailments Manifested as Individual Illnesses in Dystopian Literature

 “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

  • The Princess Bride

Perhaps life is indeed pain, as Goldman suggests, or perhaps life is only pain when a government’s control and society’s structure become so stifling and warped that its people develop pains and illnesses as a reflection of that government deterioration. The unbearable agony experienced by Westley in the Pit of Despair is not unlike the pain experienced by the residents of the Thieves’ Forest as they are unjustly forced out of their homes; Buttercup’s sorrow at hearing of Westley’s supposed death mirrors Florin’s morning when they hear news that their new princess has been killed; and Count Rugen’s six-fingered right hand embodies a distorted hand of justice. A corrupt prince, an abuse of power, and manipulative treason are made more palpable by a character’s singular screams and suffering.

This narrative tactic is evident in the novels of Atwood, Zamyatin, Abdel Aziz, and Ishiguro. The Handmaid’s Tale, The Queue, We, and Never Let Me Goshare similar authoritarian governments, sick characters, and broken social systems. Offred, Yehya, D-503, and Kathy are broken, ailing humans, but they are also members of irrevocably broken societies and authoritarian governing bodies. These characters’ illnesses are more than mere byproducts of broken government control and societal values. Rather, these dystopian societies with authoritarian governments posit characters’ physical ailments as representative of larger societal illnesses and failings. (more…)