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intro to existentialism

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  • star
    Two-part question: 1. What caused you to read your first existential author? 2. What do you think is the most important thing someone can take away from
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 5, 2007
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      Two-part question: 1. What caused you to read your first "existential"
      author? 2. What do you think is the most important thing someone can
      take away from existential thought? To elaborate, if you were
      teaching a class on existentialism, what would be the one thing you
      would want your students to understand?
    • Trinidad Cruz
      ... 1. What caused you to read your first existential author? It was 1966. A combination of factors. Someone recommended Camus. I tried a few of his books.
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 6, 2007
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        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "star" <libbyawilliams@...> wrote:

        "1. What caused you to read your first "existential" author?"

        It was 1966. A combination of factors. Someone recommended Camus. I
        tried a few of his books. Though I actually like Thoreau better I took
        interest in "The Rebel" because I had read Rimbaud and Lautremont and
        none of my High School teachers had. The kids were all reading
        Nietzche and Burrows' "Naked Lunch" and Kerouac's "On The Road" and
        Southern and Hoffenberg's "Candy".It was the Viet Nam war. A lot of
        them didn't read well, just carried the books around for effect on the
        teachers. That hasn't changed much. Kids still like to say they read
        things that they only skim or get Cliff Notes for. What sent me
        inevitably to Sartre and DeBeauvoir was friends getting killed in the
        war, making love in a cemetary to a beautiful young woman, getting
        arrested and beaten, running away from home, sleeping outside on
        ventilator grates or the back rooms of service stations to keep warm,
        hitch hiking with long hair, writing bad poetry and knowing it,
        respecting myself enough to work one way or another through the whole
        thing and take care of other people, and never getting involved with
        drugs. In 1968 a possible human world ended, it's lingering last sad
        sigh is upon us. Something less or more than what we were will be
        what's new. It somehow seems paler, diminished, to me. tc

        "2. What do you think is the most important thing someone can take
        away from existential thought?"

        Humanism and the freedom to act on it. tc

        "To elaborate, if you were teaching a class on existentialism, what
        would be the one thing you would want your students to understand?"

        ANY systematic ethics, morality, or law is nothing but a poorly
        derived cultural phenomenology of convenience; and you must call at
        WHOSE convenience into question. There are no rules for grown-ups. You
        MUST make your own. Only an individual can be responsible for ethical
        behavior, and he/she is only responsible to him/herself. You are
        responsible to and for your desires. tc
      • Exist List Moderator
        ... Seriously, I was looking for something short after reading Grapes of Wrath and came across Kafka. Camus and Sartre were assigned reading in high school; I
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 6, 2007
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          > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "star" <libbyawilliams@...> wrote:
          >
          > "1. What caused you to read your first "existential" author?"

          Seriously, I was looking for something short after reading Grapes of
          Wrath and came across Kafka. Camus and Sartre were assigned reading
          in high school; I also had to reread Kafka, which was much less fun
          as an assignment.

          My M.A. in English included a literary critique of Kafka's
          contributions to existential dilemmas in fiction. That long work was
          condensed and parts appear on The Existential Primer. For me, Kafka
          is still the most fascinating of the writers, with Camus a close
          second. Critics don't often like The Plague or The Stranger in terms
          of the writing craft, but I think they are precursors of current
          short novels.

          > "2. What do you think is the most important thing someone can take
          > away from existential thought?"

          You are responsible for your choices -- stop blaming other people,
          other circumstances, and take control. Sartre said, "By choosing, you
          choose to live." I like that notion. Camus added that men are
          responsible for not choosing, as well. They both developed that
          concept of responsibility, in slightly different ways, and I wish we
          could live by that.

          Do or don't do... you are still defining yourself.


          - C. S. Wyatt
          I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
          that I shall be.
          http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
          http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
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