I have never read existentialism. But I have read about it. I can say with some humility that I am a Camus fan. I have read two books – The Stranger and the Rebel. But I am not sure if these two books count as core existentialist thought process.
The thing that interests me is the question – what is beyond this absurdity? Given that the world is absurd, and one conquers (for want of a better word) this absurdity, then where does it lead you. I was discussing this with a friend, who talked about nihilism. He said that the problem with existentialism and men especially, is the fact that they reach a point where there is nothingness and many men (not few) once they have reached that last step willingly let themselves get sucked into nihilism.
This is quite interesting. He also said that there comes a stage when thought gets turned to itself and life itself is self destructive. But thought turning to itself, for e.g. ‘prove proof’ is of no consequence. However, it has made me think and led me to believe that there is in fact an answer to the question – “if a tree falls in the middle of a forest and there is no one around, did the falling tree make any sound”. Now the tree itself being inanimate may not have realized it. However, a human being is a totally different ball game.
For instance, a human being while reading is not simply reading; if he concentrates hard enough he will be able to see that he is reading. He will be able to perceive that he is reading. Therefore, the concentration through observation of the happenings instead of leading the existentialist path to nihilism, takes one to complete consciousness. Instead of nothingness, there is ‘everythingness’. But this can be achieved only through conscious thought process and observation of oneself as a third person. What happens therefore is that A is writing and is therefore a conscious being. But if A is conscious of the fact that A is writing one has turned consciousness to itself. I think existentialism went the other way.