November 14, 2004
Return of The Darkness.
With how unhappy many people seem to me to be becoming in post November 2nd America, I hereby predict a return to Sartrian Existentialism in the near future. I was talking to two old friends of mine from my first grad school at our philosophy conference this weekend, and P. says that Sartre is not really in fashion anymore. To be sure, he just might be right. I had a hell of a time finding Sartre's book on Baudelaire, and there's still only one English translation of Being and Nothingness that I know about. But I suspect that some people are going to become so...discouraged with the outcome of the election that they will start to "question" things, as the cliche' goes. "Mr. Bush was elected seemingly fairly. What does that say about our country? The Constitution is meaningless. The soul of our country is dead. It's all meaningless. I need to buy some black turtle-necks and thick glasses, and I need to learn French."* Or something like that. I don't mean to imply that I will be going over to the dark side or that I necessarily espouse a gloomy world view, however. I only own a few black peaces of clothing. I don't speak any French. And the Christian Right scares me a hell of a lot more than Bush does, really. Nonetheless, I predict a spike in the sales of Sartre's books and that the chromatic tide among the philosophically-inclined segment of the population will become darker and more be-spectacled. Personally, I love Sartre. It's not perfect, by any means, but his account of our encounter with "the other" is superior to any other such account with which I am familiar, from Husserl to Levinas to Hobbes. I'll write about that one day on this here bloggy. Wanna read some good stuff? Come to Carbondale, and I'll let you borrow some good books. This is going to be the future, anyway. Don't you want to be prepared? If, on the other hand, my prediction is incorrect, well, then, it's just....uh....a joke that you didn't get. Yeah. That's. It. *[Not my views, honest.] --------------------------------------------------------------------- It seems that I may have implied that I thought Existentialism was itself The Darkness, per a thoughtful comment. To be sure, Sartre categorically denies charges of pessimism in "Existentialism Is a Humanism" also contained in this book, both of which are excellent and very accessible introductions to Sartre's philosophy. Sartre's philosophy is not The Darkness itself but is, rather, a response to or way of dealing with The Darkness. Sartre's philosophy could not have achieved the popularity and attention that it did were it not for the pre-existing Darkness. Sartre seems to me to pick up where the "existence is meaningless" claim leaves of, since he largely pre-supposes such a metaphysical position, in addition to the assumption of the absense of God. Implying that Sartre's philosophy is itself The Darkness was clearly my mistake, and I apologize accordingly.