Monday, August 26, 2019

August 2019: Trade Like an Existentialist

From Aeon:

Being and Drunkeness
Existentialism has a reputation for being angst-ridden and gloomy mostly because of its emphasis on pondering the meaninglessness of existence, but two of the best-known existentialists knew how to have fun in the face of absurdity. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre spent a lot of time partying: talking, drinking, dancing, laughing, loving and listening to music with friends, and this was an aspect of their philosophical stance on life. They weren’t just philosophers who happened to enjoy parties, either – the parties were an expression of their philosophy of seizing life, and for them there were authentic and inauthentic ways to do this.

For de Beauvoir in particular, philosophy was to be lived vivaciously, and partying was bound up with her urge to live fully and freely, not to hold herself back from all that life had to offer. She wrote that sometimes she does ‘everything a little too crazily … But that is my way. I have rather not to do the things at all as doing them mildly.’

Sartre loved the imaginative playfulness that alcohol facilitated: ‘I liked having confused, vaguely questioning ideas that then fell apart.’ Too much seriousness hardens the world, pinning it down with rules, they felt, suffocating freedom and creativity. Taking parties too seriously dissipates their effervescence. Seriousness flattens them into institutions, hollow shams of gratuitously flaunted wealth and materialism, pathetic pleas for acknowledgement through the gazes of others, or hedonistic indulgences in sordid ephemeral pleasures that serve only to distract participants from their stagnating lives. A serious party neglects the underlying virtues of playfulness and generosity that make a party authentic. De Beauvoir tried smoking joints but, no matter how hard she inhaled, she remained firmly planted to the ground. She and Sartre self-medicated with amphetamines to remedy hangovers, heartbreaks and writers’ blocks. Sartre tripped on psychedelics for academic purposes: he took mescaline to inform his research on hallucinations. But alcohol would always be their drug of choice for partying....

The essay mentions the Sartre line "Hell is other people" which we noted en passant in 2017's
David Byrne Has a Theory of An Overarching Agenda In Technology (and Sartre does a driveby)
Yes, that David Byrne.
Yes that Sartre.

Here goes, first up J-P Sartre:
"So that’s hell. … I never thought You remember: the sulphur, the stake, the grill. Oh, What a joke. No need to grill: hell is other people
But no, ol' J.P. says hisL’enfer, c’est les autres” doesn't mean what I think it means.
So screw him, sometimes hell is other philosophes.
(damn fool hasn't done anything worthwhile since the cookbook anyway)*
*October 3 -- Spoke with Camus today about my cookbook. Though he has never actually eaten, he gave me much encouragement. I rushed home immediately to begin work. How excited I am! I have begun my formula for a Denver omelet.
October 4 -- Still working on the omelet. There have been stumbling blocks. I keep creating omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese. I look at them on the plate, but they do not look back. Tried eating them with the lights off. It did not help. Malraux suggested paprika.

October 6 -- I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones. I fed it to Malraux, who puked....MORE