“He was cold; he wanted to go back down. What was there to see here, after all? But she could not take her gaze from the horizon. Over yonder, still farther south, at that point where sky and earth met in a pure line- over yonder it suddenly seemed there was awaiting her something of which, though it had always been lacking, she had never been aware until now.” – Albert Camus, The Adulterous Woman
After reading The Fall I went on to read Exile and the Kingdom as Camus had desired. A compilation of the “critical moments” of the lives of the introspective. And the short stories are lovely and thoughtful and true. But, I sometimes really wish I was the type of person who could enjoy a Ring Ding. What are you talking about Jessica? A Ring Ding: those cupcake things that one purchases at a supermarket. I’ve never had one. Because they are kind of disgusting. But that is not the point. The point is, does an introspective life enhance ones life? I can’t enjoy a Ring Ding because I know they are chemical laden frank-o-food. Food is perhaps too strong of a term, let’s use my all time least favorite word to describe ingested sustenance – product. Oh, that hurt. But what if I didn’t know? What if thinking about our empty lives is the cause of an empty life. Camus! Help me.
What would she do there henceforth except to drag herself toward sleep, toward death? (174)
Yeah; that’s not really helpful. Anyway. This story is interesting because the adulterous woman in question is not really adulterous. She merely acknowledges herself, suddenly feeling herself in the mystery of the world. That is her adultery. But I love the use of the word- she is an adulteress to her facade.
Since the beginning of time, on the dry earth of this limitless land scraped to the bone, a few men had been ceaselessly trudging, possessing nothing but serving no one, poverty-stricken but free lords of a strange kingdom. Janine did not know why this thought filled her with such a sweet, vast melancholy that it closed her eyes. (172)
I went to church this weekend. I was filling in a work shift, accompanying my client, who is a dedicated church goer. I was transported to my youthful self because the denomination that we attended was the very same that I attended in my youth. No one else in my family ever went or was even affiliated with this church. I went so that I could sing. I attended a church for years, by myself, to sing in the choir.
Retrospection sent me further into my lonely meditative funk.
It was All Saint’s Sunday and the pastor spent a good amount of his sermon talking about the saintliness of us all- seen through our love of one another. But I got tripped up on the program which featured humble, normally unacknowledged, saints- aka, decent people. The depressing part, to me, was that unless the woman was a spinster, her identity was buried underneath her husband. It’s not just the last name, I did that too – it seemed simpler at the time (ah what we sacrifice to the God of convenience!). But these titles were all the husband’s name: Mrs. John Doe, or, the husband’s family: the John Doe family. What does that do to us? If we have no name, instead we are the Mrs. so and so’s…do we disappear? Where do we go? Plus, I just wanted to know what the names were because the spinsters had such cool old fashioned ones like: Mildred and Edith.
Wasn’t that what she lacked? She did not know. She simply followed Marcel, pleased to know that someone needed her. The only joy he gave her was the knowledge that she was necessary. Probably he did not love her. (175)
I sometimes feel lost between the half of my life lived as one name, and the half lived as another. Well…maybe I am just over thinking it. Damn it. I’ll never enjoy a Ring Ding this way!
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
*Title from Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein. Sacred who? Emily.hmmm.