A fine book, and timely. It provokes much thought, about how we live our lives, how we can better see the world and our own place within it. Sarah Bakewell’sAt the Existential Cafe is a group biography, in a sense, about several individuals, a movement, a few key countries, and one city, especially: Paris. She gives us the philosophical background, places her main characters in proper context, shows how they lived and loved, together and apart.
William Barrett, in his Irrational Man, introduces us to Existentialism and summarizes the development of Western Thought in the process. The book came out in 1958, but can be read fruitfully and applied productively to the problems we face today.
In the section on Heidegger, whom I haven’t read in years but should return to, Barrett discusses Heidegger’s Field Theory of Being, and places it in historical context.
What has it? What brings it? What gives meaning to our existence in the here and now? The afterlife? Paradoxes aside, the search for meaning has meaning itself, above and beyond any cleverness in the equation. To express that meaning, however, has become problematic in our late date — our cynical, jaded, post-post-guileless world. Post-guileless in the sense that we no longer can stop self-referencing or self-consciousness enough to just be. Enough to let be be the finale of seem, to borrow a brilliant phrase from Wallace Stevens.
Context is everything and nothing. But mostly always everything when we think. Its importance is critical, when it comes to utilizing the past as prologue, or avoiding that entirely. Without examining context, in full, rationally, holistically, we will stumble about in the dark, without a view of anything. We will fail to see crossroads and convergences. We will fail to see crosscurrents and cross purposes. We will fail.
Finished Nada, by Carmen Laforet. A brilliant novel, especially for one so young. Set in Barcelona, it’s the story of Andrea’s 18th year, which she lives with her uncles, aunt, grandmother, and assorted other members of her extended family. A very eccentric, at times dangerous family.
The novel starts slowly, almost as if the author, like her main character Andrea, were feeling out the surroundings, taking tentative, uncertain steps. But it soon picks up steam, the prose becomes more assured and vibrant, and before long, the reader is thoroughly involved in the story, the setting, and hoping for the best, though the signs are often dark and more than sordid.… |To be Continued “Tremendismo Y Existentialism”