Bush is reading Camus’s The Stranger while on vacation right now. And not only that, but he’s “quoting” Camus in his speeches. In a speech last year, he noted, “Albert Camus said that, ‘Freedom is a long-distance race.’ We’re in that race for the duration — and there is reason for optimism.” But one wonders whether Bush fully groks Camus’s concept. Here is the complete passage from Camus’s The Fall that Bush is alluding to:
Without slavery, as a matter of fact, there is no definitive solution. I very soon realized that. Once upon a time, I was always talking of freedom: At breakfast I use to spread it on my toast, I used to chew it all day long, and in company my breath was delightfully redolent of freedom. With that key word I would bludgeon whoever contradicted me; I made it serve my desires and my power. I used to whisper it in bed in the ear of my sleeping mates and it helped me to drop them. I would slip it� Tchk! Tchk! I am getting excited and losing all sense of proportion. After all, I did on occasion make a more disinterested use of freedom and even — just imagine my naivete — defended it two or three times without of course going so far as to die for it, but nevertheless taking a few risks. I must be forgiven such rash acts; I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know that freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with champagne. Nor yet a gift, a box of dainties designed to make you lick your chops. Oh, no! It’s a choice, on the contrary and a long-distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting. No champagne No friends raising their glasses as they look at your affectionately. Alone in a forbidding room, alone in the prisoner’s box before the judges, and alone to decide in face of oneself or in the face others’ judgment. At the end of all freedom is a court sentence; that’s why freedom is too heavy to bear, especially when you’re down with a fever, or are distressed, or love nobody.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.