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To Live Existentially

November 9, 2016

orchids

orchids

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

From the post war philosophers and artists who created the existential movement to Woody Allen who made movies designed to parody the literary and philosophical culture, existentialism flourished.  Jean-Paul Sartre coined the title.  He was a French writer who is known for philosophical as well as fictional books. He and his contemporaries were concerned with the individual’s freedom and responsibility  rather than social or political issues.  They concluded that to understand the human nature science and morals were insufficient.  They were obsessed with how to live life by taking responsibility for creating reality.  They believed that every individual action taken changes the world to some degree.  Each act must therefore be done in full awareness and with precision.  Our acts, not particularly our thoughts, make the atmosphere we inhabit what it is.  The personal power and responsibility to act wisely belongs to each individual.  The sum of all these individual actions creates the entire world.

Existential therapy deals with the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation, and finally meaninglessness. This remedy aims to answer the big questions such as “What is the meaning of life?” in each individual life.  This is an extension of the philosophy focuses on helping clients make good choices and thorough evaluations of all the options available.  I always liked this way of thinking.  Now is a perfect time to take stock and evaluate how we are creating the world around us.  This life is a limited time offer.  We never know how limited until it ends…and then there will be nothing else.

“You are — your life, and nothing else.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

Sartre

Sartre

Bob Dylan Follows Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Lead

October 21, 2016 3 Comments

Sartre

Sartre

The French writer Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature on 22 October, 1964. He refused to accept the honor, as he had done with all honors in the past.  He wrote a detailed letter to the jury in Stockholm that arrived after they had confirmed his prize.  He listed personal reasons as well as objective reasons. He basically thought writers should write without any undue influence from any institution.  In his own words:

“The writer who accepts an honour of this kind involves as well as himself the association or institution which has honoured him,” he said at the time. “The writer must therefore refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honourable circumstances, as in the present case.”

This existential Frenchman was the only literature laureate to refuse the honor until now. It appress that Bob Dylan has not returned the calls of the esteemed Swedish Academy since he was awarded the same prize.  Today he erased a mention of the prestigious prize from his website.  It appears that our famous existential poet is declining and going one step beyond his predecessor by making no comment on the matter. I think this is a perfect response from this rebel recluse who does exactly as he pleases.  He can well afford, like Mr Sartre before him, to rest on his hefty laurels.

This refreshing point of view on celebrity is blowin’ in the wind when the celebration of celebrities has become a full blown obsession.  Reality television and I don’t know what else, has brought us to worship fame for itself in the weirdest ways.  I have been listening to Bob’s music almost non stop this week, rediscovering the genius of his impressive timeless lyrics.  I have seen him perform three times, and am mighty glad I got that opportunity.  He is our troubadour, and he don’t need no stinking prizes.  I am highly amused at his attitude.  What do you think, gentle reader? He may still decide to show up at the ceremony.

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