Today, November 7 would be the 100th birthday of philosopher Albert Camus. The writer died in a car accident on January 4, 1960 at the age of 46. Through his seminal works “The Myth of Sisyphus,” “The Plague,” and “The Stranger,” Camus popularized and expounded on the theories absurdism which, according to Wikipedia, “refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any.” Camus wrote and spoke extensively about the value of art and its relationship to absurdism. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on December 10, 1957, he discussed how his art, if nothing else, connected him to his fellow man:
I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.
Click here to read the rest of the speech. If you speak French, you can listen to it in its entirety below.