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ckosarek's picture

Trauma and Camus

 I'm wondering if the repetitive quality of the rats appearing could be construed not only as a metaphor for agency, but also as a metaphor for for the ways that humans gravitate toward the familiar. In an essay I read by Bessel A. van der Kolk, a psychiatrist and trauma specialist, the idea that in the face of tragedy humans may cling to what is predictable and comfortable is explored. Though the predictable may not be the most logical or, in some cases, may worsen a situation, people will hang on to what they know because what they don't know - further traumas, more unpredictability - is too difficult to confront. 

In Camus' novel, we see the people carrying on as normally as possible with the appearance of the rats. Could it be that the trauma/presence of the rats takes away people's agency to break out of their norm and adjust their routines to ones that could be safer? If humans act in certain ways in the presence of past-known stressors, then what does that do to agency? Is agency anything but an illusion, and (in the case that it is), does that prove the existence of Babel?


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