BB Webb as BB Webb!

Exploring the Possibilities

Sartre…Satie and questions for the Universe February 27, 2010

I’m waxing a bit poetic this late evening. You may want to play Erik Satie’s music below while reading. And in that it’s probably morning time for you, you may consider reading and listening with a strong cup of espresso or hot ceylon or oolong tea, sweetened just so, snugged up in a comfy chair with the sun in your lap, perhaps a curled up kitty nearby.

I was reminded of Erik Satie’s music this night and hadn’t known that he was also a writer.

Recognized as a member of the avante guarde movement in France in the late 1800s and early 1900s, I imagine him sitting with the likes of Jean Paule Sartre, (I know, Sartre would have been an infant), and maybe a young Ionesco or Samuel Beckett, drinking strong coffee on the Champs de Elysses. I’d loved to have accompanied them and tossed ideas about while stoking on cheap, thin, handrolled cigars with our feet up on the empty chairs at the table, the bustle of people moving on the street and that special European taxi honk in the background. (Oh goodness, maybe not in the late 1800s….that honk came much later). Still, much bustling going on indeed!

Some background which I found:

Sartre was influenced by many aspects of Western philosophy, absorbing ideas from Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl and Heidegger, among others. In 1929 at the École Normale, he met Simone de Beauvoir, who studied at the Sorbonne and later went on to become a noted philosopher, writer, and feminist. The two became inseparable and lifelong companions, initiating a romantic relationship, though they were not monogamous. Sartre served as a conscript in the French Army from 1929 to 1931 and he later argued in 1959 that each French person was responsible for the collective crimes during the Algerian War of Independence.

Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyle and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually destructive conformity (mauvaise foi, literally, “bad faith”) and an “authentic” way of “being” became the dominant theme of Sartre’s early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work L’Être et le Néant (Being and Nothingness) (1943). Sartre’s introduction to his philosophy is his work Existentialism is a Humanism (1946), originally presented as a lecture.

And then I found the following, written by a favored playwright of mine, Eugene Ionesco. Frankly, these words might have easily been written by me, it’s nearly verbatim how I wonder the same thing.

From Ionesco’s play, ‘The Hermit’. 1973.

“I thought that it was strange to assume that it was abnormal for anyone to be forever asking questions about the nature of the universe, about what the human condition really was, my condition, what I was doing here, if there was really something to do. It seemed to me on the contrary that it was abnormal for people not to think about it, for them to allow themselves to live, as it were, unconsciously. Perhaps it’s because everyone, all the others, are convinced in some unformulated, irrational way that one day everything will be made clear. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for humanity. Perhaps there will be a morning of grace for me.”

These are the very thoughts that keep me up at night or howling, (in my way), at the moon. It’s why I dance every morning for at LEAST 10, sometimes 15 minutes in between putting on my make-up or fixing my unruly hair, working to tame it as I work to tame the parts of me which feel caged, roaring to move forward, lunge, leap, dive, splash or simply fly or twirl like a helicopter skyward.

And truly, are these not the things which fill your mind?

I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be an owl sitting on a limb under the moonlight questioning, ‘hooo hooooo?’

BB Webb

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