Our Fettle

Are we not all alike, constantly talking and to no one, forever up against the same questions although we know the answers in advance? – Albert Camus, The Fall

This book ran its course through me over the long, weary, on-going (hence my photo free posts) days of the post-hurricane camp out. We started out trying to fortify ourselves against what was coming. We tackled it cheerily, even with some measure of fortitude. I laughed along with M. Camus:

I confess my weakness for that mood and for fine speech in general. A weakness that I criticize in myself, believe me…my consolation is to tell myself that, after all, those who murder the language are not pure either. Why yes, let’s have another gin. (6)

Oh Let’s! Why not? But as the long, dark, weary hours passed it became increasingly difficult. Nothing to do but contemplate the fettle we are in: something I normally work very hard to avoid.

After all, my dream had not stood up to facts. (54)

Camus’ charm and pithy summations of the state of the world and the truth in people’s hearts goes down easy. He is never too cynical for a little self-deprecating humor at any rate.

You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question. (52)

The protagonist in The Fall has simply come face to face with his own disappointment of who he is as opposed to who he imagined himself to be. His fine rhetoric, good deeds and pretty words disguised from himself his true self, and the disillusion is ripe. When he is truly put to the test, to stand up for the love of his fellow man that he prided himself on, he fails. Where his words act as a sort of subterfuge, his actions cry out the truth, and he knows it. That is his fall.

But I will admit to saving my deepest pity for the girl on the bridge that he ignores.  She knows the answer. Whatever test she confronted has brought her to the brink. The confirmation of her answer is felt in the empty air streaming through her fingers as she finds herself alone, falling. How profoundly sad her feeling must have been, because the truth is, at least at that moment, she is truly  unloved. And that is worse than not loving.


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