Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

President Bush read Camus' existential classic, The Stranger. The French laugh. I'm bewildered. Americans wonder who Cah-mus is. Arabs have more evidence President Bush is the "crusader" they always knew he was. Slate's John Dickerson explains:
Whatever the reasons, Camus' story line is ripe for geopolitical literary misinterpretation. The main character, Meursault, spends much of his life as the young George Bush did, engaging in escapades that demonstrate little drive or motivation. On a visit to the beach with friends, he gets into a fight with some Arabs. Later, he finds one of the Arabs and without much further provocation shoots him repeatedly...Unhappy tales of East meets West are found in the papers every day, so presumably the president was looking for more, but his aides will not tell us what he made of the story of a remorseless killer of Arabs. White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush "found it an interesting book and a quick read" and talked about it with aides. "I don't want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism," said Snow.
As always I think people are looking much too deep into Bush's motivations here, but it is striking for him to advertise he read a book by the hated French's literary hero whose main plot line follows a callous killer of an Arab Algerian. Even funnier, Camus' atheism is widely known and his abhorence of positivism unquestionable considering his body of work described the utter absurdity of life. Maybe Dickerson's surmise is right though, maybe Bush is just trying to better himself.