“s then the people were convinced to
“s energy merely to benormal” Albert CamusWith this sentence, Albert Camus criticizes man’s need to classifyeverything that surrounds him. All societies at some point of their historydoubt their roots and “accepted truths” because they can’t find answers totheir many questions. This leads the various cultures to want to expandtheir knowledge of the world in which they live.Science is one of the many ways in which man does this.
Althoughbiology can explain how we reproduce, physics how the earth rotates, andchemistry how minerals are formed, none of these can give an explanationfor why these events occur and how they started. Human kind can’t live indoubt and therefore “creates” his own truths. An example of “manmade truth”is religion. According to Plato “he was a wise man who invented God”. Thisquote could be interpreted as comparing God to a convenience created bysociety.
Whether God exists or not, he has been introduced and adopted byman. There are over 100 different religions in all the world. How is itpossible that each one of these beliefs are completely true?? The answer isthat they aren’t all correct and we will never know which one, if existent,is accurate. The only thing that man can be sure of is death. So what isreligion but a desperate attempt to explain what is incomprehensible?!Throughout the ages, mankind has always categorized everything:people, places, objects, situations and feelings. This, as religion, is away to “grasp” part of the inexplicable reality in which we live.
Withoutlaws or some kind of structure, man is lost and can go crazy. This canoccur also when accepted truths are proved wrong such as the discovery ofAmerica. Until then the people were convinced to know every detail of theworld in which they lived. The discovery of unknown land proved that mandidn’t know everything of his planet and as a consequence led to theBaroque era, a period of artistic, scientific and literary decline. Thediscovery of the New World shows how every change drastically modifies thelives of people. The person that is reading this essay must try to imaginea world in which religion doesn’t exist and where there is no society thattells us what is right and wrong. How could we possibly go on with ourlives?? We would end up doubting every action taken.
In old mentalinstitutes and prisons, patients were sometimes put, for a few days, in anempty room whose walls were all the same color. There was no differencebetween the walls, ceiling and floor. This is the worst punishment a humanbeing can experience: not only is there no variation, but one loses allsenses of coordination (being all the same we tend to not tell thedifference between the various parts in the room). The reason why I chosethis example is that this is what it would be like in a world withoutstructure. The only difference would be that we would be born in it andtherefore have no idea of what is outside that room.Since we need structure, society makes it for us by defining what isnormal and not normal. The denotative meaning of the word “normal” is”regular and not deviating from a norm, rule or principle”.
This norm isdecided and made by man. In the quote Camus explains that some people”expend tremendous energy” just to be considered normal. Usually peoplewill put great amounts of energy to be considered original and better thanaverage, but in this quote, there is no higher “qualification” than normal.This shows how pessimistic Camus was: all the energy is used only to beaverage. Being normal can be considered the most important objective ofmost people’s lives: be considered normal. After all being normal in modernday society means having a good job, growing a family, having a nice house,dressing well and having a view of the world and life similar to most ofthe other people. I find the word “normal” very subjective.
What is normalfor me might not for someone else. This can be seen especially in KenKesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Although the patients of the wardpercept the world in a different way, they are exactly like everyone else:they breathe, eat, drink and need point of reference.Everyday human beings fight to be considered “normal”. This happensbecause they want to be recognized by the other members of society. One ofthe worst feelings someone can feel is being lonely and not accepted. Afterreading this essay, the readers must ask themselves what their definitionof normal is, and how this corresponds to themselves.
Being part of societyis important, but how much are we willing to give up to be part of thatcommunity? The truth is, as man doesn’t know the world in which he lives,he also doesn’t understand himself and therefore categorizes himself.