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Emerson eyeballs Sartre

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  • P.B.Whiston
    hiya, everyone, Yes, what little I know of Emerson, I think Don s right. E s transparency of consciousness is a very romantic at-one-with-nature sort of
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 21, 1999
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      hiya, everyone,

      Yes, what little I know of Emerson, I think Don's right. E's
      transparency of consciousness is a very romantic at-one-with-nature
      sort of trip. Sartre's 'negative revelation' of a similar empty
      state seems much more conflictual and alienating. For me, this makes
      Sartre's trancedence of the ego much more interesting in that it's
      much more problematic than Emerson's.

      Although, saying this, I think there are interesting links between
      Emerson and Sartre. For example, Emerson's natural mysticism meets
      Sartre's 'anguished' modernism in Henry Miller's masterpiece 'The
      Tropic of Cancer (1939). 'Cancer' is opened with this quote:

      "These novels will give way, by and by, to dairies or autobiographies-
      captivating books, if only a man knew how to choose among what he
      calls his experiences and how to recored them" Ralph Waldo Emerson.

      Okay, on one level Cancer is an obscene 'mysoginistic' tale of
      Miller's adventures with the prostitutes and pimps of undergound
      Paris. But more subtlely, it is a book of sexual liberation via
      mystical transcendence. Greatly influenced by Emerson but more so,
      (considering what Donald has said about Sartre) by Sartrian 'Negative
      revelation'. Miller encourages creativity through a Nietszcheian
      destruction through which, 'all that is seen with empty sockets
      bursts like flowering grass. Out of nothingness arises the sign of
      inifinty' (Miller, 1939 p253)

      To go back to the Emerson quote about autobiographies I think this
      links in well with Nausea in that it is Roquentin's dairy which
      structures the novel. But I think the reason why Miller put this Emerson
      quote in is that it is the author themselves that the dairy relates to.
      This is a very Beat Generation way of writing fiction. real people, real places etc.
      With psychoananytic case studies, too, there is a challenge to this
      boundary between literature and reality or literature and theory.
      Maybe some of this might tie in with Rob's PhD idea of questioning
      'What is literature?' There seems no better example of this than
      Nausea. A 'Philosophical novel' seems the appropriate phrase here.

      Cheers,

      Cabs
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