Friday, September 5, 2008

Unrestful Existentialist

I often tell people that I’m sure to read any book of less than 100 pages in one sitting, & so I ‘ve just read J-P Sartre’s EXISTENTIALISM and Human Emotions (Philosophical Library, 1957, 96pp) a collection comprised of the essay “Existentialism:” & 5 chapters from BEING & NOTHINGNESS: "Freedom & Responsibility", "The Desire to Be God", "Existentialist Psychoanalysis", "The Hole", and "Ethical Implications."

In "Existentialism", Sartre warns us of Existentialism that: “Actually, it is the least scandalous, the most austere of doctrines. It is intended strictly for specialists and philosophers. (p12) ” deftly demolishing the popular image of the black-clad & beretted Beatnik as an Existentialist (not that some didn't think they were.)

Actual Existentialism burdens any individual with total responsibility for themselves, their actions, and resulting effects on others: “The one who realizes in anguish his condition as being thrown into a responsibility which extends to his very abandonment has no longer either remorse or regret or excuse…” (p59)

At 66, I’ve consciously lived this for 50+ years. Recently, my Jungian therapist realized something dire about me: “You really hate yourself!” To which I thoughtfully replied: “No...I don’t like myself.” Existentially put: “I don’t absolve myself of any of my choices, deeds, or their effects on myself & others.”

Then how have I lived? Often impulsively, then as often regretfully, in an endlessly uneasy ‘condition’ (Sartre) of constant self-analysis & -criticism. I get no rest as an Existentialist.

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