Monday, October 13, 2008

Good riddance ...

... How Sartre came to be sidelined. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sartre is one of two famous "thinkers" I disconnected with upon first encounter. The other is Freud. My working-class common sense simply found - and still finds - the idea of the Oedipal conflict ridiculous on its face. As for Sartre, we parted ways when Roquentin went on about the tree and its roots. I still remember being reminded at the time of the Thurber cartoon with the wife saying to her husband, "Well, I'm disenchanted, too. We're all disenchanted." Then there was Being and Nothingness, a compendium of gibberish if ever there was one. Only a self-styled intellectual could take that crap seriously.
Unlike A.N. Wilson, though, this Wilson doesn't think that Sartre's eclipse means that existentialism is dead. After all, Camus's L'Etranger is still immensely popular. Gabriel Marcel is well worth reading, and in combination with phenomenology, existentialism is still worth pondering.
I do like this observation, though: "As so often, when contemplating literary history, one is reminded of Pope's Dunciad, in its exposure of the human capacity to believe in fraudulence, of the adulation poured on the transitory and the second-rate, and on the fragility of all literary reputations."
I should re-read The Dunciad. It seems perfect for the times.

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