by Albert Camus
The Fall Justice and Judgment Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Justin O'Brien's translation.
You were speaking of the Last Judgment. Allow me to laugh respectfully. I shall wait for it resolutely, for I have known what is worse, the judgment of men. For them, no extenuating circumstances; even the good intention is ascribed to crime (5.14).
Jean-Baptiste will later prove guilty of this assessment of mortal judges –even though he imagines himself to be god-like in his stature as a judge-penitent.
The keenest of human torments is to be judged without a law. Yet we are in that torment. Deprived of their natural curb, the judges, loosed at random, are racing through their job. Hence we have to try to go faster than they, don’t we? And it’s a real madhouse. Prophets and quacks multiply; they hasten to get there with a good law or a flawless organization before the world is deserted. Fortunately, I arrived! I am the end and the beginning; I announce the law. In short, I am a judge-penitent (5.22).
Jean-Baptiste doesn’t seem to value any particular system of law at all. His view is that it’s pointless to look for "the right system," if even that can’t bring justice anyway? As soon as we realize there can’t be justice, we can stop looking for a system of rules and order that will enforce it. Therefore, any system will do – and Jean-Baptiste is happy to use his own discerning powers.
I first advised our friend to hang it in a place of honor, and for a long time, while they were being looked for throughout the world, our devout judges sat enthroned at Mexico City above the drunks and pimps. Then the ape, at my request, put it in custody here. He balked a little at doing so, but he got a fright when I explained the matter to him. Since then, these estimable magistrates form my sole company. At Mexico City, above the bar, you saw what a void they left (6.9).
Well now, this makes an interesting metaphor: if the judges left a clear void at the bar, then we have to conclude that judgment – in any form – is necessary for all men.