Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Fear is a method"

Camus was no pacifist, but he deplored the logic of thinking in categories. "We have witnessed lying, humiliation, killing, deportation and torture, and in each instance it was impossible to persuade the people who were doing these things not to do them, because there is no way of persuading an abstraction, or, to put it another way, the representative of an ideology," he wrote. Terror makes fear, and fear stops thinking. The way out of [behaving like the pathological character Mersault in The Outsider] is to think about particular people, proximate causes , and obtainable objectives -- not an easy thing to do in any circumstance and nearly inpossible in the face of those ideologies, left and right, for which, Camus writes "fear is a method".
--from Adam Gopnik's comment in The New Yorker (28 August) on George W. Bush's summer reading list.

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