El Cabrero is laid off this week so this post was prepared in advance. Regular publication with links and comments about current events will resume Monday August 24. In the meantime, I've been blogging about the 10 books that have had the biggest impact on me growing up. I'd be interested in finding out what would be on your list...
Today we reach #9, but let's review the earlier ones: 1. The Bible 2. The Book of Common Prayer 3. Poe's stories and poems 4. Lord of the Rings 5. Tao Te Ching 6. Karate-Do Kyohan 7. a tie between Freud and Jung 8. Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra and...
9. The Plague by Albert Camus. I don't know about the Gentle Reader, but I went through a tragic existentialist phase from which I may never have completely recovered. Camus was someone who, like karate master Gichin Funakoshi (see #6), has been a kind of moral compass for me.
He grew up poor in what was then French Algeria. He became a Communist briefly as a young man but soon broke with the Stalinists. He called em like he saw em, alienating both the left and right when they needed it. My favorite book of his was the novel The Plague (which admittedly was kind of a downer). Good though.
It's the story of an outbreak of plague in the Algerian city of Oran and how people dealt with it. The plague, of course, was a metaphor for some of the worst social ills of the 20th century, which are still with us.
Here's my favorite quote from it, which serves pretty well as a political platform:
"All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it's up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences. That may sound simple to the point of childishness; I can't judge if it's simple, but I know it's true."