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Friday, May 10, 2013

10 May 2013

How endowed we are, Daily Quoters, to have such literary warriors as contributors!
Today's edition of Filosophy Fridays is brought to you by the very capable, very linguistic Madeleine.

Some of you may recall her contribution last week; she's back this week to share with us one of her favourite works - Sartre's Nausea.
This text is akin to the Bible for Existentialists, and a must-read for anyone seeking a more post-modern form of enlightenment. Luckily, we have midwives such as Madeleine to assist us in our journey:

For my second foray into the realm that is The Daily Quota I have chosen to share with you something that is incredibly close to my heart: an excerpt from Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical novel Nausea (1938). This is the first novel that Sartre wrote and it is the perfect example of French existentialism during the twentieth century. It was pretty smart of him to write a novel instead of a philosophical treatise because, most of the time, we’re totally absorbed by the atmosphere that we don’t realise the journey we’re being taken on. Though, at times, the prose shifts from fiction to very clear sections of a philosophical essay. 
The excerpt below is from the latter half of the novel is one of the most beautiful and well-developed passages of existentialist writing. 

You might think that this isn’t really your kind of thing. However, I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is; mostly because Nausea perfectly articulates the very essence of human existence and answers our most desired questions. At some stage, all of us have felt confused about life: whether that be our career choice, our individuality or our relationships. These feelings are the catalyst for existentialist thought. Cleverly, because it is a novel after all, Sartre uses his protagonist’s own personal crisis to make us think about what precisely our purpose is. If life is pointless then what do we find meaning in? If everything is pointless then are all actions random? If life is pointless can we ever be free; if freedom exists? 
This passage answers a whole novel’s worth of seasickness and confusion. It is an extraordinarily liberating revelation which Sartre is sharing with us. This world and this life are superfluous and random: existence is without memory. Recognising our transience is the key to personal freedom. It means that we have the absolute responsibility to give our lives meaning and to commit to it. We are free to do so and exist outside of the realms of religion, politics and society. 

The excerpt mentioned above can be found below. 
Print it off, save it to your favourites, do whatever you have to do. Read it alone, preferably late at night, and make sure you allow time to wallow in your own fragile mortality.

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