Last week we discussed The Human Stain by Roth. In it, Coleman and the janitor discuss the existence of God. To the janitor, meaning in her life is characterized by not wanting to be someone else somewhere else. In the case of a husband and wife having sex, it could be that one or the other imagines that he or she is with another person to whom they are attracted. This is an example of wanting to be someone else, somewhere else. Rather, we need to live in the "this," or the present moment, in order to place meaning in our lives. I immediately related this back to earlier this semester when we discussed thought as proof of human freedom. We can also think back to the idea of living the "eternal life" and avoiding living in the "this" would cause one great anxiety about his life.
The idea of "eternal life" certainly relates to this reading. We can never fully experience our lives if we constantly wish we could do something else. A potentially lame example of this is a young adult who chooses their career according that what his family expects, instead of following his desires. He would would be in a perpetual state of the "someone else, somewhere else," which would cause him depression and anxiety. To imagine that life over and over would only cause more tragedy. The characters relate the idea of a man and wife having sex (particularly one wanting to be with another during the act of sex) to the existence of God. We discussed in class how this relates to God, in that humans always try to re-invent themselves despite the way they were created. This, to me, is a weak explanation of God's existence. Rather, it applies more to the focal points of existentialism. While it is inconvenient to constantly wish to be someone else somewhere else, it in a way proves us as free beings. When I take my math final on the 16th, I will desperately wish to be another student, one who is travelling home. My capability to imagine myself as another person supports existentialist philosophers' ideas that we are free beings to think what we wish. This contrasts the text, in that our desires to be elsewhere cannot necessarily relate to God. That suggests essence before existence, in that we were created to be a certain way yet we cannot help but to "want what we can't have." To say that we refute our "creation" rids the idea of existentialism entirely.