Nov

15

 Since learning French for over a year, I needed to read a book in French. Somewhere on the net, L'Étranger was recommended as an easy and good book to start with. I read briefly that it's a story taking place in Algier, which intrigued me because I travel around that country, in Tunisia and Morocco. So I decided to read the book and started without first reading any in-depth introductions. It did turn out that the vocabulary and sentences are relatively easy in most parts, so I could grasp the ballpark meaning (80% perhaps). But I must say that it's not like any easy novel I am familiar with that usually tends to have a clear theme and story line.

L'Étranger starts with the protagonist Meursault going to his mother's funeral, where he did not look at his mother (a first striking feature to me), but rather conversed with some staff members of the retirement home, had some smoke and coffee near his mother's corpse, and observed in detail the elder attendants' behavior at the funeral. It's a very strange instance, so I tried to anticipate what might develop from this.

Then, it's a story the next day back near his work place where he met a former female co-worker during swimming. They then had some romance. Later when she asked him if he loved her, he surprisingly said that if she would like him to love her then he would love her. Unrelated to the previous story. But OK, then, I felt, then it will be a love story.

Then about his work place where his boss intended to send him to work Paris, for which he was not too eager. Then he encountered his neighbor, an old man who constantly abused his disobedient dog. Again, all unrelated stories.

Then another neighbor, Raymond, invited him for a meal and drink. Raymond wanted Meursault to help him to deal with his unfaithful Arab mistress. He agreed to invite the girl to Raymond's apartment where Raymond had sex with her and insulted and beat her. The police intervened on the violence, and then Raymond asked Meursault to testify in court that she was unfaithful, and he agreed. Another unrelated story.

So it was now more than a third into the book and I had no clue what the book is all about. So I started researching on the net and learned that it's a classic with profound meanings. Absurdism!

According to wikipedia: "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe. The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously.

So Meursault was a natural dweller of Absurdistan, where things are purposeless, meaningless and irrational!

Later on, Meursault killed an Arab, brother of Raymond's mistress, and was thus jailed and tried for murder. He was sentenced to public decapitation mainly due to his unsocial nature and lack of remorse.

With the philosophy behind, it's a very interesting book.

The Absurd exists on a broader extent as we think.

The human mind is not wired for understanding randomness and probability.

Quantum physics revealed the random nature that contradicted to the belief that the physical world is supposed to be deterministic.

Haven't we had enough debate on market efficiency: i.e. humans are rational or irrational by nature?

What about the fights between fundamental analysis and technical analysis? What are the mumbo jumbo?

Is the market predictable or on a random walk?


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