‘That rug really tied the room together’: Knitting Dudeism and Camusian Philosophy into a Larger Tapestry

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University of Mumbai


Even though parallels between the philosophy of Albert Camus and The Big Lebowski have been drawn repeatedly, a sustained enquiry into several possible dimensions of the matter is yet to have been conducted.This dissertation makes an attempt to conduct the aforementioned enquiry in some detail. In doing this, the study will try to analytically compare Camusian philosophy and Dudeism and bring out the similarities between them. This does not imply that there are no differences between the two; but the focus of this study is the similarities and not the differences. Dudeism, for the purpose of this study, will not be restricted to The Dude and the literature written on The Dude and Dudeism. It will also be expanded to accommodate certain other parts of the larger discourse of Ethan and Joel Coen’s filmography as well as a few other parts of The Big Lebowski itself. It is crucial, however, to “draw a line in the sand” (Walter, The Big Lebowski) at the very outset. In embarking on a comparative analysis between Camusian philosophy and Dudeism, this study does not intend to propose that one of them is influenced by the other and “what-have-you” ("The Editorial Preface" 12). Instead, it simply attempts to point out some of the discursive elements that they share with each other as well as with several of the sub-discourses they comprise of. The analysis in the dissertation that follows is split into three major chapters:

  1. ‘Well, I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about’: An analytical frame of reference.
  2. ‘You can’t be worried about that shit, life goes on, man’: Life, Death and Absurdity in Camus and Dudeism.
  3. ‘Somebody this square community won’t give a shit about’: Camus’ Absurd Man and Dudeism The first chapter, “‘Well, I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about’: An analytical frame of reference”, provides an analytical framework for the discussions that follow in the rest of the dissertation. It is further divided into three sections. The first section lays out a basic understanding of a few fundamental ideas of Dudeism for the readers. The second section discusses a few important aspects of the philosophy of Albert Camus. The third section briefly establishes the connections between Dudeism and the philosophy of Camus which are examined in greater detail later in the study. The second chapter, “‘You can’t be worried about that shit, life goes on, man’: Life, Death and Absurdity in Camus and Dudeism” looks at Camus’ takes on Life, Death and Absurdity while also pointing out the parallels they seem to strike with Dudeism. The chapter is further divided into four sections. The first section examines strands of Camusian thought, especially the Absurd in the other films of Ethan and Joel Coen before establishing a connection to The Big Lebowski. The second section explores the attitudes towards Death in Camusian philosophy and Dudeism. The third section compares the ideologies of Life in the works of Camus and Dudeism. The fourth and final section explores parallels between Camus’ novel The Stranger and The Stranger: the cowboy narrator of The Big Lebowski. The third chapter picks up on the Camusian trope of the Absurd Man and its relation to Happiness in both: the works of Camus as well as the discourses of Dudeism. It comprises of three sections. The first section explores the notion of Alienation in Camusian philosophy and Dudeism and looks at how it eventually leads to the trope of the Absurd Man in Camus. The second section explores Camus’ creation of the Absurd Man through the Cycle of the Absurd and looks at how it fits into Dudeism. The third and final section delves into a comparison of the Absurd Man’s quest for Happiness in Camus and Dudeism.



Dudeism, Albert Camus, Camus, Absurdism