"...obliged to understand rather than to judge."

Tired of blogging (again) for a while, I will leave off where I feel I began. Albert Camus remains perhaps my favorite writer. And I think he currently holds that place that many of the greatest thinkers in history probably held in the half-century or so after their death--they are remembered, but usually compared unfavorably to other, supposedly better intellectuals (Sartre, Beauvoir, Heidegger, etc.). But the passing of time seems to bring Camus' unmatched honesty into relief while it dulls the reputation of the others. Even if that is wishful thinking, I can say very candidly that there is no name from the 20th century more closely associated in my imagination with the idea of "Justice" than Camus.

Since I won't be offering my own thoughts for a while, I can think of no better offering than this excerpt, which makes the difference between the artist and the critic so clear that it may cut the critic deeply (from his Nobel Prize banquet speech, 1957):
For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.
There's a pretty interesting interview regarding Camus with Jean-Marie Apostolid├Ęs available on iTunes for free -- just find the Philosophy course (by way of the "arts and humanities" button) at Stanford.

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