A passage from Camus’ The Plague which is very relevant now, 67 years later.

I’m reading this for the third time.

The plague

Albert Camus is one of my favorite authors.

I read The Plague in college, liked it so much that I bought it 20 years ago and read it a second time.

The other day I took my son to an appointment, and I decided I wanted something to read while waiting (besides lame recipe magazines). I grabbed the first book I could find sitting in the bedroom which is saying quite a bit because my bedroom currently borders on hurricane-level messiness.

I grabbed it and we ran.

This is the first paper book I’ve read in years since I’ve turned my back on the beautiful purity of bound books for the siren call of the Kindle.

My experience with Kindles has been shit, and Amazon, in recent years, has been shit as well.

I considered replacing it with a Nook until this relapse in which I re-discovered the absolute visceral joy of holding and reading a real book! It brought back my youth. I don’t need an e-reader. Nothing matches a physical book, and real books are what I shall continue reading. Amazon can take its Kindle and shove it up its collective, too-big-to-care-anymore ass.

Now, in a nutshell, to set the stage for something I want to cite from the book, a plague has beset a remarkably average citizenry in an equally unremarkable town in Northern Africa. In anticipation of heading off the spread of the virulent disease, authorities essentially “close the town down” and do not allow anyone to enter or leave. Even the use of telephones faces restriction.

Camus embarks on several pages of narrative where he describes the atmosphere of the town as it slowly acclimates to this sliver in time where it was “frozen” by the civic quarantine. And he describes something I found very interesting and which escaped my first 2 reads simply because the internet, social media and blogging were not existent, or in very primitive forms, at the time.

On my third read, these paragraphs now strike me for their prescience, being that I am now “living the future.”

Do you notice it?

First Vintage International Edition, March 1991

First Vintage International Edition, March 1991

  • Oh yeah! The pay phone!
    Some interesting memories here too.
    O.K. I have heard of the author and it could be my aversion to thing French, but I think I might like to read this book sometime. I’m surprised you have not recommended this before knowing my love for such things as plagues and associated end of the world stuff.

  • just a random dude

    Thinking about it some more, it seems people got used to the ease of modern communication in the form of payphones. The loss was felt deeply.

    • Socially Extinct

      Pay phones hold many, many, many great and miserable memories for me. Memories our Generation Cell will never know.

      Man has always sought to communicate in many forms well beyond earshot. Smoke, electric signals, radio signals, digital signals. It’s amazing. It’s as if he’d rather have conversation separated by thousands of miles than with the person next to him.

      • just a random dude

        It’s not an either/or. We want to communicate with the close at hand and the far away.

    • Socially Extinct

      BTW, the 2nd paragraph in this passage strikes me as a comment upon the “art” of blogging :)

  • just a random dude

    Telegrams are remarkably similar to text messages…

  • On topic: That’s interesting!

    Well, as Camus would no doubt have said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

  • OT: “My experience with Kindles has been shit, and Amazon, in recent years, has been shit as well.”

    Speaking of shit, did you know you can have poop delivered to someone?


    Hope you don’t have any enemies! Because I know how you’d react! ;)

    • BTW, I see that some of the links that come up with that Google search are about a different kind of poop delivery; namely, women pooping while delivering offspring. Don’t they know which of their muscles to contract and push? Sheesh! ;)

    • Socially Extinct

      Ha!! Not OT at all. You merely took an existing concept (which I volunteered) and squeezed out a great funky intellectual detour.

      I thank you!