Since a few more people have joined the list recently I thought I'd
try out some thoughts on you to get a discussion going in which everyone can
One of the criticisms that people often raise against Sartre is that
he ignores the way that language structures experience. For the Sartre of
Nausea, however, experience seems to fundamentally outstrip language. When
Roquentin is in the streetcar he says of the leather seat,
'I murmur: 'It's a seat,' rather like an exorcism. But the word remains on
my lips, it refuses to settle on the thing. It stays what it is [...]
Things have broken free from their names. They are there, grotesque,
stubborn, gigantic, and it seems ridiculous to call them seats or say
anything about them: I am in the midst of things which cannot be given names.
Alone, wordless, defenceless, they surround me, under me, behind me, above
Is this really a revelation of something beyond language, "wordless," or is
the experience implicitly immured in linguistic associations?