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Re: Existential Lobster

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  • DJRNews@xxx.xxx
    Okay perhaps this is getting a bit silly, but I ve just read a passage in Sartre s biography, The Words (1964), which might shed some light on the
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 25, 1999
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      Okay perhaps this is getting a bit silly, but I've just read a passage in
      Sartre's biography, The Words (1964), which might shed some light on the
      crustacean-man of Nausea,

      "[One day, aged approx. eight,] I came across a hair-raising illustration: a
      moonlight quay, a long rugged claw emerged from the water, grabbed a
      drunkard, and dragged him down to the bottom of the dock. The picture
      illustrated a text which I read avidly and which ended -approximately- with
      these words: 'Was it a drunkard's hallucination? Had Hell gaped?' I was
      afraid of water, of crabs [...]. Above all, I was afraid of books: I cursed
      the tormentors who peopled their stories with these loathsome shapes. Yet I
      imitated them.
      Of course, it had to be the right moment. For instance, at dusk:
      shadows would be filling the dining-room. I would push my little desk over
      to the window, my anguish would return, and the docility of my heroes,
      unfailingly sublime, misunderstood and vindicated, would betray their lack of
      substance; then it would come: an invisible, bewildering creature would
      hypnotize me; in order to see it you had to describe it. [...] What then
      issued from my pen -an octopus with fiery eyes, a twenty-ton crustacean, or a
      giant talking-spider -was myself, a childish monster; it was my boredom with
      life, my fear of death, my mawkishness and my perversity. I did not
      recognize myself: as soon as it was engendered, the loathsome creature would
      turn on me and my courageous potholers; I would fear for their lives, my
      heart would give a leap [...]" (pp. 96-97)

      From this it would seem that the lobster/crab is meant to be something
      definitely monstrous, perhaps "evil" (cf. the discussion of evil in Saint
      Genet), a metaphor for the monstrous otherness of our own freedom, our
      constant possibility of choosing to become evil monsters instead of heroes.
      Sartre several times refers to the anguished consciousness perceiving its own
      freedom as 'monstrous'. The notion of the monster ,or of evil, seems to
      refer to the nihilating quality of freedom, its ability to choose precisely
      what is not human, not normal, not moral.

      Yours lobsterly,

      Don.
    • P.B.Whiston
      Just a quick thought from the pimordial lobster swamps. Sartre s notion of evil being a realisation of his own monsterous being not a other wordly evil
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 26, 1999
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        Just a quick thought from the pimordial lobster swamps. Sartre's
        notion of evil being a realisation of his own monsterous being not a
        other wordly 'evil' reminds me of Bosch's paintings. Ya know, all
        those strange forms(reptiles, frogs, humanoid hydrids etc)
        arising out of the swamp. With Bosch's 'Last Judgement' these sea
        monsters often fuse with human forms suggesting that the evil in this
        'religious' battle is man-made not other worldy.

        Cabs
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