Friday, September 04, 2009
Jean Paul Sartre 1905-1980
By Richard E. Noble
In reading Jean-Paul Sartre, I don't think that any intelligent reader doesn't at one point or another feel that he is actually reading the late, and great Professor Irwin Cory. Professor Irwin Cory was a comedic caricature of a double talking, nonsensical absent minded Professor – The World’s Foremost Authority. Jean-Paul unfortunately isn't that funny. But even his picture on the back of some of his books shows a very suspicious deceptiveness, and he very much has the look of a guy who is putting the whole world on. Whenever I start reading Jean-Paul, I wonder why I'm not reading Bertrand Russell instead.
Jean Paul's father died when he was born or very shortly thereafter. Jean-Paul's mother really wanted to have a little girl. At age seven when his mother was off grocery shopping or something, Jean's grandfather, cut off his long, curly locks, and probably put a pair of pants on him too. Mama was not happy.
Jean's mom remarried when he was eleven, and Jean went berserk. The little devil began stealing everything out of the house and selling it. Later on in his twenties he flipped out again. He began seeing things. He had always heard things ... voices. 'Mommy, some one is always talking to me in my head' Whoa! He felt, himself, that he had gone psychotic.
Understandably Jean liked woman better than men - but not ugly woman. Ugly woman made him nauseous. He obviously had no problem with ugly men, or he would have been unable to shave every morning.
He wrote a book entitled 'St. Genet'. This was the intellectual exploration of a contemporary playwright, poet, thief, convict, and pervert named St. Genet. I have the feeling that St. Genet, himself, didn't know that he was really that interesting, at least a thousand pages worth. (I may have been the only person to have ever completed that book. I'm a very stubborn person.) He also wrote 'Being and Nothingness', a very confusing book about Nothing.
His philosophy was really very simple. He said that Existence preceded Essence. In other words, something had to be before it could be. He really wasn't the first to say this, but he may have been the first to say this in the most possible words, and also the first to say this without being burnt at the stake as a heretic, or tortured to death by religious fanatics, or exiled to a deserted island until he would recant. You probably don't understand why. And if this is the case, I probably can't explain it to you. But, take my word for it; this is a very serious philosophical statement. They have been arguing over this since the first man ever jumped out from behind a tree and said ... BOO! So this goes way, way back, let me tell you.
On his death bed, at age seventy, blind and no longer capable of writing, Jean was asked if he thought that life was good. He said that his life had been good, but if “Life” really wasn't good, what the hell could he do about it, and laughed. So there you go … the final statement of a real Philosopher.