Monday, December 26, 2005

Sartre: Swinging and Nothingness

from via Arts&LettersDaily
Philosophers are supposed to see the world with clear eyes; with clear philosophical eyes, we can note that Sartre was a troll. He was five feet tall. Neither handsome nor dashing, nearly blind in one eye, and scornful of even the most basic conventions of bourgeois dental hygiene (mossy is a word that comes easily to mind). And yet he got girls like he was in the Beatles. As strange to the American mind as escargot is the French custom of beautiful young woman finding brilliant older men attractive merely for being brilliant—and then sleeping with them!

In October 1945 Sartre gave a lecture entitled "Is Existentialism a Humanism?" The answer was no, and the crowd went nuts. A Parisian newspaper described the scene: "A young woman with radiant blue eyes drinks in Sartre's every word. Another collapses in adoration before him: she has just fainted!" (Even after death, "the small man," as his friends called him, would make others fall at his feet. Twenty thousand mourners attended his funeral in 1980 and in the crush a cameraman fell... into the philosopher's grave.) Existentialism did not become a humanism, but it did become a way to get girls. If we are truly free and every moment is contingent, why not share your essence with my existence? Helping Sartre pull the strings of his desire was de Beauvoir. Rowley's book highlights various, and in some cases rather vile, machinations of the philosopher king and his philosopher queen with the young entourage at their feet. The tales of their amorous intrigues make disturbing and disappointing reading.
Leland de la Durantaye

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todd vodka said...

Here's the thing about that: French women, like French people, are relatively well and classically educated. They understand abstract idea and theory. So of course there is going to be a segment intensely attracted to great thinkers in their fields. Americans, of course, are attracted to basketball players and kittens, it's all just a reflection of intellectual development. Nothing personal.

Zionita Fisher said...



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David Eduarte said...

“Y yo – abúlico, lánguido, obsceno, entregado a la digestión, resobando tristes pensamientos -, Yo también estaba de más…Soñaba vagamente con quitarme de en medio… Pero hasta mi muerte hubiera estado de más… Estaba de más para siempre.” (Sartre, 1938)

Ça alors! ¡En español!