When Albert Camus met a wandering star: The Stranger by fashion blogger Michelle Lara Lin

Let’s face it: sometimes you wander around online, looking for some refreshing inspirations. Sometimes you’re sort of fed up, because everyone sometimes looks the same. So it was one of these bizarre days that I’ve discovered a piece of poetry. A phenomenon which appeals to your soul and to your brain. It’s the story of a girl who fell in love with Albert Camus. It’s the story of Michelle Lara Lin, who daily confesses her rhymes as a love-story on a blog called The Stranger. Voyez-vous ça…

© Demi Chen

So who are you? You seem to travel a lot, and you seem to be in quest of a dead man soul: Camus

I run a fake fashion blog called The Stranger. It’s a fake fashion blog because I enjoy throwing in some writing once in a while, and infusing elements of literature and art into my style. I do love to travel because I get very grumpy when I have to stay in the same place for too long. Travel is brilliant inspiration. It breaks you out of your comfort zone. We all have these silly little passions that keep us alive, and for me, travel is one of them.

I can’t say I’m on a quest for Camus’ soul… I’m not a spiritual person at all. But I am certainly on a mission to hunt down all the traces of Camus this world has left to offer. His words aren’t enough for me. I want to revisit his birthplace, retrace his footsteps and travels, and I want to do everything I can to nurture his philosophical legacy (even though I don’t consider Camus a philosopher). I want to learn French just so I can absorb his words in their untainted glory. I’ve heard he wrote in a style of French that was rather archaic and unique to areas that had been colonized by the French. No matter how brilliant the translator, you simply can’t pick up these linguistic nuances without reading the book in its original language.

Yes, I’m absolutely obsessed with Camus. He gave me the strength for my internal revolution. It’s one of those romances that I won’t even bother justifying… Quite the contrary, I don’t understand how anyone could not love him. He was the voice of reason in his age. Once you start to understand Camus beyond The Stranger (L’étranger) and The Plague (La Peste), you will never understand why people put Sartre and de Beauvoir on a pedestal. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but their personalities may be a bit too arrogant and bigoted for my liking. Camus was full of self-doubt, yet he would fight aggressively and confidently for worthy causes. I see so much of myself in him– a misanthropic humanist, extreme in misery yet excessive in happiness. We both initially had high hopes for politics (I went into college as a political science major), but ended up abandoning the field from disgust with politicians and the type of bigotry that tends to be correlated with party association. I find it hard not to agree with everything Camus writes and not because of some pathetic intellectual sanctimony. My attachment to Camus flourishes on all levels, but for the most part, it’s a fiercely intuitive bond. He’s also rather handsome, and has the worn-out, sleepy eyes that I adore.

Tt’s really original to mix fashion, stories and literature: what made you start this artistic way?

Thank you for your kind words! It wasn’t really planned, it just happened. I’m aware of the lazy pleasure we get from flipping through a blog full of pretty outfits, but it’s tough for me to blog that way. My mind is constantly jumping all over the place. I would be betraying a part of myself if I only blogged about my personal style. One second I want to read a book and the next second I’ll be painting my nails in mint green… Some days I feel like writing, some days I am elevated by a painting, and some days I feel like coding in PHP. In college, they call this Undecided. Psychotherapists made me feel like I was a freak of nature. I was sick of being told to focus on one thing, and to limit myself to a single passion. I don’t need adderall or ritalin, this blog is a consummation of everything that matters to me.

Do you have any source of inspiration?

Everything inspires me. Most recently, Notting Hill. I’m falling in love with London.

What can we wish you?

Not all of us are Caravaggios (he got away with murder because he could paint like a boss). Not every guilty artist can be vindicated through art. I don’t think I could die happily without owning a few Friedrich and Goya paintings… So I’m thinking of taking up some brilliant martial art and learning how to handle a gigantic gun. At the moment, my pen is my only weapon, and I don’t think I’m talented enough to write my way out of an art gallery robbery. Wish me luck!

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