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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…)
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…)
By Dr. Colleen Worrell, Director of The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning
Deep Work in Practice at St. Mark’s (Part 3)
Deep Work is a skill that the Center is hoping to build into each student’s “learning playbook.” The first two LEO articles (Make Deep Work Your Super Powerand Productivity, Neuroscience, & Deliberate Practice) aimed to introduce the term and core concepts to the St. Mark’s community. This third article focuses on deep work from the perspective of two St. Markers, 6th Former Sophie Haugen, and Classics teacher, Dr. Harwood. Each of them responded to the following questions:
- What are some ways that you deliberately practice deep work at (or beyond) St. Mark’s?
- What is the value of deep work?
- What recommendations do you have for St. Marker’s who’d like get started with deep work?
Sophie Haugen, 6th Former:
I am not an expert on “doing” deep work, but I do try to practice it and I have learned about its importance, especially as a student at St. Mark’s where our schedules and lives are extremely packed and do not easily enable us to practice deep work all the time. Last year, I fell into a multi-month-long rut of frustration and lack of satisfaction from everything I was doing in my academic courses. I was putting in excessive time and what I perceived to be effort and hardwork but was not seeing the results in my grades or my actual understanding/engagement with the material. (more…)
By Nick Hallal, Niki Klodowska, Alex Jeong, VI Form
The Psychology of Lowering the Drinking Age
While researching the effects of alcohol on the brain, our group plans to concentrate on the effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain. We plan to research the neurological effects it has on the adolescent brain, the short and long term effects of alcohol consumption, and the psychosocial aspect of underage drinking. Through our hypothesis, we seek to understand why the legal drinking age is still set at 21 years of age instead of 18 years. We hope to understand why there is such a large problem with underage drinking, and we will determine if our hypothesis that lowering the drinking age would help with the problem. (more…)