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Posts Tagged ‘Sartre

“The rule of thumb is the more profound the experience, the longer you should wait before doing it again”*…

 

sartretrippinmane2

 

Beyond their visual qualities, mescaline’s hallucinations posed profound philosophical questions. During the mid-1930s three prominent writers and thinkers left records of their experiments with it. In 1934 and 1935 respectively, Walter Benjamin and Jean-Paul Sartre participated in the now-familiar modus operandi of private session between psychiatrist and artist, with the scientific gaze and the philosopher’s insights informing—or, more often, pitted against—one another…

Sartre wrote little directly about his experience, describing it briefly in notes that later found a place in L’imaginaire, his 1940 study of the phenomenology of the imagination. He found its effects elusive and sinister. “It could only exist by stealth,” he wrote; it distorted every sensation, yet whenever he attempted to perceive it directly it withdrew into the background or shifted shape. Its action on the mind “inconsistent and mysterious,” offering no solid vantage point from which to observe it. In contrast to previous descriptions of the “double consciousness” or état mixte, in which the normal self was able to observe its hallucinations dispassionately, Sartre found it impossible to be a spectator of his own experience. On the contrary, he felt submerged against his will in a miasma of sensations that assailed him viscerally at every turn, a world of grotesque extreme close-ups in which everything disgusted him.

The best-known detail of Sartre’s bad trip is Simone de Beauvoir’s anecdote of him being haunted for weeks after by lobster-like creatures scuttling just beyond his field of vision. Sartre, like Aldous Huxley, was partially sighted—a curious coincidence linking two of the most celebrated intellectuals to have taken the vision-producing drug—and his poor vision may have exacerbated his anxieties about shapes lurking just beyond its reach. Later in life he claimed that it had driven him to a nervous breakdown. “After I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time,” he recalled in 1971; “I mean they followed me into the street, into class.” Even though he knew they were imaginary he spoke to them, requesting them to be quiet during his lectures. Eventually he sought psychotherapeutic help from a young Jacques Lacan, which generated “nothing that he or I valued very much,” though “with the crabs, we sort of concluded that it was fear of becoming alone.”…

Caveat comedenti: “Sartre’s bad trip.”

* Dr. James Fadiman

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As we contemplate crustacea, we might spare a thought for Jerome Phillip Horwitz; he died on this date in 2012.  A chemist active in cancer research, Horowitz was the first to synthesized AZT (azidothymidine), in 1964, in the hope that it might retard the growth of malignant cells.  It failed at that task, and lay dormant for two decades… until Burroughs Wellcome tested– and patented– Horowitz’s development as a treatment for HIV-AIDS.  The drug company got FDA approval in 1986, and went on to reap enormous financial returns, of which Horowitz saw none.

After AZT, Horowitz went on to create many successful treatments for cancer and other diseases.

(While some believe that Horwitz was referenced in the Captain Underpants books, the Jerome Horwitz Elementary School in the children’s book series was in fact named after Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horowitz) of The Three Stooges.

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Written by LW

September 6, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose”*…

 

existentialism

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre in Paris, June 1977

 

Existentialism has a reputation for being angst-ridden and gloomy mostly because of its emphasis on pondering the meaninglessness of existence, but two of the best-known existentialists knew how to have fun in the face of absurdity. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre spent a lot of time partying: talking, drinking, dancing, laughing, loving and listening to music with friends, and this was an aspect of their philosophical stance on life. They weren’t just philosophers who happened to enjoy parties, either – the parties were an expression of their philosophy of seizing life, and for them there were authentic and inauthentic ways to do this…

Skye C. Cleary celebrates “Being and drunkenness: how to party like an existentialist.”

* Jean-Paul Sartre

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As we raise a glass, we might send provocative birthday greetings to Jean Baudrillard; he was born on this date in 1929.  A sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer, he is best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality.  He wrote widely– touching subjects including consumerism, gender relations, economics, social history, art, Western foreign policy, and popular culture– and is perhaps best known for Simulacra and Simulation (1981).  Part of a generation of French thinkers that included Roland, Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan, with all of whom Baudrillard shared an interest in semiotics, he is often seen as a central to the post-structuralist philosophical school… which offered a response to nihilism complementary to that offered by the existentialists.

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Once again, it’s that time of year when otherwise mature adults paint their faces in the palettes of their favorite book jacket designers, and all across Facebook college kids post pictures of themselves Nabokoving. Yes, we’re talking about book awards season.

We are excited this morning to announce the books, judges, brackets, and Zombie poll that will become The Morning News 2012 Tournament of Books…

Whether it’s your first time or your eighth time, here’s the deal. A ridiculously small and poorly informed group of TMN editors and contributors have chosen 16 of the most cherished, hyped, ignored, and/or enthusiastically praised books of the year to enter into a month-long tournament, NCAA-basketball-madness style, beginning March 7, 2012.

To create that list, we drew from a body of titles that we started building last January, and also consulted our TMN readers, where people like you, maybe even actually you, suggested their top reads of the year. Still, these are not the best 16 books of the year. You could produce another list of 16 books that would be every bit as deserving. Some books were dismissed for petty reasons. Some books were no doubt included for arbitrarily aesthetic ones. And there’s no getting around any of that, as far as we can tell…

More on “the other March Madness” here.  Download the brackets (PDF) here.

 

As we page Evelyn Wood, we might recall that it was on this date in 1943 that Existentialist philosopher, playwright (and first-cousin-once-removed of Albert Schweitzer) Jean-Paul Sartre published Being and Nothingness.  In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature…  but refused it in protest of “the bourgeois values of society.”

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Written by LW

January 20, 2012 at 1:01 am

Huis Clos, Edition Galactique– avec pop-corn!

Existentialist Star Wars (in French!)

Star Wars with a French Existentialist twist. Almost all the subtitles (except for little things like “Despair!” and “I die!” and a few others) are actually quotes from Jean-Paul Sartre. And obviously this will make no sense if you understand French. If you do know it, hit yourself in the head repeatedly before watching this. And then hit yourself repeatedly when you’re done watching.

More from creator OneMinuteGalactica here (Do be sure to check out “Luke Skywalker- Worst Scout Ever“)

As we steep in ennui, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that the Eiffel Tower opened to the public.  The spire, now iconic of Paris, was designed by Gustave Eiffel (who also created the armature for France’s largest gift to the U.S., the Statue of Liberty) and served as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.

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