Sunday, October 11, 2009


The Origin of Nothingness really got my mind going. When I read the part Sartre wrote about vertigo, it really hit me because that was a sensation that I have experienced countless times and never understood. Just like he said, when I’m on top of a tall building with a low railing, I’m reluctant to get too close to the edge, not because I’m afraid I will fall off, but I’m afraid my body might throw itself off somehow. It was as if I was scared my body would turn on me for some ridiculous reason. But as Sartre explains, it is anguish that we feel at these times because (aren’t we the self centered bunch) we see everything else as a subject to our life. If a bookcase somehow fell on me, I wouldn’t think “damn, if the bookcase had only fell the other way”, instead I would probably think “if only I had been standing a foot away this wouldn’t have hit me”. The possibilities of my life are my possibilities, as Sartre explains. They are singular as in my life. I believe what Sartre postulates, but I can’t help thinking that it makes us look egotistical and self-centered. The world revolves around each one of us in our own minds and we seem to think about everything in relation to us. In this new series I’ve been watching, Bored to Death, one of the characters explains to the other that they are each in their own movies and one sees the other merely as being featured in the life in which the one is the star. I find this analogy to be very true of human nature, we are consumed with ourselves and can’t help but one consider another person inasmuch as what we see of them. You don’t see a vast majority of the life of the people around you, but, for the most part, you only consider the parts that you see. They may go off and be completely different people away from you, and you would have no idea, and they would be one person in your life’s movie and a complete different person in someone else’s life movie. On top of that, that person sees you as just a character in their own movie. Anguish comes from inside and we mainly feel it in relation to ourselves. We feel anguish when we have to make an important decision, but we cannot feel anguish for someone else who is making an important decision, or at least that’s what I understand.

1 comment:

  1. I feel this phenomenon almost daily as well, to different degrees ofcourse. For example, when I visited New York this summer, I obviously went to the top of the Empire State Building. At the top, poking my head through the railing, I couldn't help but be frightened - NOT by the thought of the rail somehow failing (would that make it a fail rail?), but rather having the possibility to climb the railing and leap off of it. It's the simplicity of that possibility, a decision as easy as whether or not to tie my shoes, that scares the living ish out of me. Just thought I'd share.


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