I can say I know the world inside out, as you may see -- that each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody's face and fasten the infection on him. What's natural is the microbe. All the rest -- health, integrity, purity (if you like) -- is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses. Yes, Rieux, it's a wearying business, being plague-stricken. But it's still more wearying to refuse to be it. That's why everybody in the world today looks so tired; everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us, those who want to get the plague out of their systems, feel such desperate weariness, a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death.
-- Albert Camus, The Plague (1947).
It says a lot, that quote.
I've been in bed sick the past three days. I wasn't reading The Plague, but in the odd hours I was awake I did finish reading Robison Crusoe.
Speaking of which, this article: Robinson Crusoe and the ethnic sidekick. The same archetype:
Men in Black, Independence Day, Jerry Maguire, Crimson Tide, 48 Hrs., Pulp Fiction, even Field of Dreams. ... battling an alien economic system in order to save the Protestant Work Ethic.
One of the crucial elements of that story that rewrote the world is how one acquires wealth. Until Crusoe, wealth was a dream peasants might have, but one they had little expectation of ever coming true. Most stories about acquiring wealth before Robinson Crusoe were stories like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, or some variant of the Purse That Never Empties, or the story of Aladdin, where wealth comes from rubbing a magic lamp.
Robinson Crusoe acquired his money the hard way. He earned it! Or at least that's how we perceive it. In truth, Crusoe got rich by entering a natural paradise and being the sole proprietor. He does not begin from scratch. The island is rich, has no owners, and needs improvement.
It goes from there. Gordon Gecko as Robinson Crusoe? Man Friday as apprentice white man, a new paradigm of racism? A cracking read.