“Creating is living doubly.”

In “The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama” Nicholas D. Kristof has a throwaway paragraph that’s better than the whole rest of the piece:

Just imagine for a moment if it were the black candidate in this election, rather than the white candidate, who was born in Central America, was an indifferent churchgoer, had graduated near the bottom of his university class, had dumped his first wife, had regularly displayed an explosive and profane temper, and had referred to the Pakistani-Iraqi border…

Be sure to also read Bill Saporito’s “How We Became the United States of France”, if not for the content then at least for the brilliant writing. Personally, I have no qualms with admitting my admiration of the French. I just finished reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, one of France’s finest writers. The blurb on the back of my copy calls Camus “aphoristic,” by which I think they simply meant that he’s eminently quotable. A few of my favorites:

“We get in the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.”

“A man defines himself by his make-believe as well as by his sincere impulses.”

“Practical assent and simulated ignorance [allow] us to live with ideas which, if we truly put them to the test, ought to upset our whole life.”

“Thinking is learning all over again to see, to be attentive, to focus consciousness; it is turning every idea and every image into a privileged moment.”

“From the evening breeze to this hand on my shoulder, everything has its truth.”

“One of the only coherent philosophical positions is thus revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his own obscurity. It has an insistence upon an impossible transparency. It challenges the world anew every second… in that day-to-day revolt he gives proof of his only truth, which is defiance.”

“The doctrines that explain everything to me also debilitate me at the same time.”

“What counts is not the best living but the most living.”

“Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?”

“A man is more a man through the things he keeps to himself than through those he says.”

“Even men without a gospel have their Mount of Olives. And one must not fall asleep on theirs either.”

“One recognizes one’s course by discovering the paths that stray from it.”

“A profound thought is in a constant state of becoming; it adopts the experience of a life and assumes its shape.”

“There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.”

“Great revolutions are always metaphysical.”

“No truth fails to carry with it its bitterness.”

3 thoughts on ““Creating is living doubly.”

  1. 1) I read the France article earlier today (yay digg?) and I think I’d like the US more if we really were the United States of France. For a lot of reasons, though, I don’t know that we could ever get anywhere close to being that cool. Time to just move to the real thing.

    2) Camus is amazing. I haven’t read any of his more philosophical pieces but his fiction is incredible. “The Fall” is also ridiculously quotable.

  2. I need to read more Camus (does there exist a possible world in which that statement is not true?). He hits a sweet spot between serious philosophy and entertaining fiction. His writing doesn’t reduce to aphorisms in the way that Nietzsche does–all that he writes is an integral part of the greater whole but is eminently meaningful in bursts. In short, he is a first class poet who happens to write novels.

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