Readings from Camus and Melville

I once said that, after the experiences of the last two years, I could no longer hold to any truth which might oblige me, directly or indirectly, to demand a man’s life.  Certain friends whom I respected retorted that I was living in Utopia, that there was no political truth which could not one day reduce us to such an extremity, and that we must therefore either run the risk of this extremity or else simply put up with the world as it is.


They argued the point most forcefully.  But I think they were able to put such force into it only because they were unable to really imagine other people’s death.  It is a freak of the times.  We make love by telephone, we work not on matter but on machines, and we kill and are killed by proxy.  We gain in cleanliness, but lose in understanding.

Albert Camus
  –“Neither Victims nor Executioners,” in David P. Barash, ed., Approaches to Peace.

I would up heart, were it not like lead.  But my whole clock’s run down; my heart the all-controlling weight, I have no key to lift again.
I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where’er I sail.  The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track; let them; but first I pass.
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harborless immensities.

Herman Melville
  –Moby-Dick