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Memory, Imagination, and Consciousness in Funes the Memorious and Meursault

Memory, Imagination, and Consciousness in Funes the Memorious and Meursault

Consciousness separates humans from sense perceiving “garbage heaps.” Jorge Luis Borges, in “Funes the Memorious,” and Albert Camus, in “The Stranger,” explore the causes of consciousness. They are philosophers who write fiction to answer the question, “What makes us aware?” An imperfect memory and imagination define our reality. Funes can be aware of other realities because has a perfect memory. Meursault reveals that the missing element for Funes to possess consciousness is imagination. I will define consciousness, assess memory and imagination as essential, discuss metaphor as a manifestation of consciousness, and isolate the affect of the awareness of other consciousness’.

Without memory, we could not compare a past object or idea with a present one. Memory allows us to enhance past objective observations with present sensory perceptions. Because we have an imperfect memory, that is, we cannot remember every detail, we embellish. We give a past idea or object an identity independent from the external world because we perceive and imagine it differently than our initial sensory reaction. We change our original reaction with our imagination. Thus, creative people experience life more vividly. In the process of consciousness, we first remember something imperfectly, and then qualify it with other embellished thoughts. The act of thought, then, is not consciousness. Thought is the comparison of one object to another. We are not conscious because we notice a difference between two things. Once, we embellish the relationship however, we create an internal reality that is an imperfect copy of our true sensory reaction. We possess consciousness…

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…. Together, Camus and Borges show us that through our imperfect memories and our distorting, lying imaginations, we obtain an individual identity.

Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: “Funes the Memorious”. New York: New Directions Publishing Co., 1964.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Random House, 1988.

Christ, Ronald. The Narrow Act: Borges’ Art of Fiction. New York: Lumen Books, 1995.

Hart, Thomas R. Jr. “Borges’ Literary Criticism.” Modern Critical Views: Jorge Luis Borges. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 5-20.

Jaynes, Julian. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton, 1976.

Müller, Max. The Science of Thought. London: Longmans Green, 1887. 78-9.

Sarte, Jean-Paul. “An Explication of “The Stranger.” Camus. Ed. Germaine Brée. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1962.

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Reader Response Criticism

Reader Response Criticism to Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)

In The Stranger (The Outsider), Albert Camus anticipates an active reader that will react to his text. He wants the reader to form a changing, dynamic opinion of Meursault. The reader can create a consciousness for Meursault from the facts that Meursault reports. By using vague and ambiguous language, Camus stimulates the reader to explore all possibilities of meaning. Camus also intends to shock the reader into rereading passages. Through discussion of narrative structure, the opening lines, the role of pity, resentment toward Meursault’s judges, and the relationship between murder and innocence, I will prove that Camus’ purpose is to bring the reader to introspect on their own relationship with society.

Through narrative structure, Camus invites the reader to create and become the consciousness of Meursault. Utah Sate University Professor David Anderson notices that “Meursault takes the stance of simply reporting these impressions, without attempting to create a coherent story from them.” Indeed, in Part One, what Meursault reports are exclusively facts. Micheline Tisson-Braun comments that Meursault “registers facts, but not their meanings; … is purely instantaneous; he lacks the principle of unity and continuity that characterizes man” (49). Through generalization, the reader links the details of Meursault’s life. The reader thereby creates their own meaning for Meursault’s actions. Meursault, without a memory or an imagination, refuses to spend time connecting events and contemplating essences. The reader does this for Meursault. Thus, the reader creates a consciousness for Meursault that is uniquely the reader’s. It exactly represents Meursau…

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…der to experience the trial in the place of Meursault. Perhaps Camus wrote all of Part One to set up the reader in a situation where they must reassess their relationship with society. Whatever the reader’s emotional response, Camus places the reader in position to experience the trial, l’absurde. Through anticipation of a responsive reader, Camus communicates the essence of l’absurde.

Works Cited

Camus, Albert. L’étranger. France: Éditions Gallimond, 1942.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger, trans. Mathew Ward. New York: Random House, Inc., 1988.

Girard, René. “Camus’ Stranger Retried.” “to double business bound” Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1978.

Tisson-Braun, Micheline. “Silence and the Desert: The Flickering Vision.” Critical Essays on Albert Camus, ed. Bettina L. Knapp. Boston: G. K. Hall

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