Most mornings after I’ve taken my bath I return to my room to moisturize my body with cream. I am naked while I do this. As most windows are, my window is divided in two parts. One part is covered with discarded sheets of paper, from an old news journal. The other half of the window is not fully covered with paper. I do not have a curtain. The room is not protected from intense sunlight, or intense peering.
Often, while moisturizing my body, I look out of the uncovered window, and imagine my naked body is being watched by a stranger in the opposite apartment building. I worry about this, but not always.
I read The Stranger by Albert Camus right after I had read Emmanuel Carrère’s The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception, published almost 60 years apart. Both books are in conversation. The final sentence of Carrère’s book, “I thought that writing this story could only be either a crime or a prayer,” reminds me of what Camus termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.”
What is this nakedness, and what is this absurdity that is equally a crime as it is a prayer? A stranger? An intimate adversary?
The reduction of things to the absurd interests me. “Absurd”—out of tune, out of harmony with reason or propriety—is, in a sense, the story of a man who kills his entire family to protect them from his eighteen-year lie. It is the story of another man who kills without premeditation; when asked he says he did it because of the scorching heat of the sun.