Lines that Arrested Me from Camus’ Notebooks (1942-1951)

I recently read one of Camus’ notebooks and jotted down some lines that arrested me. My comments are in parentheses after the quotes.

Sex leads to nothing. It is not immoral but it is unproductive. One can indulge in it so long as one does not want to produce. But only chastity is linked to personal progress. (Where is the evidence for this assertion? He doesn’t provide any examples.)

There is a time when sex is a victory—when it is separated from moral imperatives. But soon after it becomes a defeat—and the only victory is then won over it: chastity. (Chastity as victory?)

Unbridled sex leads to a philosophy of the non-significance of the world. Chastity on the other hand gives the world a meaning. (It does? Massive and unnatural repression of instinct I would think)

Any life directed toward money is death. (I don’t know a single person who has ever directed their life toward money. But there are legions of them out there and they are killing the planet.)

Heat ripens people like fruit. (Great line.)

A literature of despair will never be universal. (I’m not sure I know what this means, but happy endings don’t seem to endure as well as sad or indifferent ones.)

It requires buckets full of blood and centuries of history to lead to an imperceptible modification of the human condition. (So true.)

Write everything—just as it comes. (This is the way I have been writing lately. Nothing is planned. It’s led to some surprising results.)

The sea: I didn’t lose myself in it; I found myself in it. (This would go on my gravestone if I was ever to be buried anywhere, which I won’t. When I know my time is up, I will walk or plunge into the ocean.)

Those who write obscurely have great luck: they have commentators. The others will have only readers, and this, it seems, is worthy of scorn. (This is certainly true for some writers and musicians.)