Running Local

This Train of Thought Makes All Stops

A Certain Failure to Connect

Posted by Bob Kohm on January 31, 2009

Have you ever had a moment where a connection is made that is screamingly obvious but has spent years in the making despite that clear linkage? Moreover, have you ever realized that you had made the linkage subconsciously but that it had eluded your conscious understanding?

As news of the CIA station chief under investigation for rape in Algeria broke earlier this week, Jeff Stein’s Spy Talk blog at CQPolitics described the situation as being reminiscent of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the existential novel in which the protagonist is driven to murder by indifference to humanity and the heat, the glare, the smells of Algiers.

This morning I woke up with a song by the Cure, “Killing an Arab”, stuck on autoplay in my head.

I woke up to it. I was whistling it subconsciously in the shower, singing it aloud on the way to the bagel store this morning.

Standing on the beach with a gun in my hand, staring at the sea, staring at the sand

Staring down the barrel at the Arab on the ground, I can see his open mouth but I hear no sound

I’m alive, I’m dead, and the stranger, killing an Arab.

How, in the name of God, did I never make that connection, between a song sung by one of my favorite bands as a teenager and a book I’ve probably read four or five times for different classes? It’s a failure to connect that Meursault himself would relate too.

What is really throwing me for a loop is that clearly at some level I did make this connection– read about a situation referenced to The Stranger, wake up whistling  a song referenced to The Stranger that I never consciously  linked to The Stranger.

It’s absurd. Existentialism, indeed.


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