Nausea Essay by SLL

The Angst of Existence: The Restrictions on Freedom and Authenticity

            Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea reflects the individual’s obsession with attempting to escape time through distractions in order to disregard the reality of his existence. Throughout Nausea, Antoine struggles with a pestering feeling of anxiety, which he describes as nausea, caused by a sudden change in his life. He thus embarks on a journey to find the root of his anxiety, in which he is faced with many realizations. As he observes people, he remarks their inauthentic relationships and comes to a conclusion that society pointlessly follows formalities in order to distract themselves from their own existence. Martin Heidegger would call Antoine’s feeling of nausea Angst, and would consequentially relate it to Antoine’s root of existentialist struggle. Because Antoine does not know how to deal with his Angst, he dedicates his life to research on a historical figure, Rollebon, who’s life has many uncertainties. By doing this, Antoine escapes the present, which according to Arthur Schopenhauer, is somethings that humans innately do, because, after all, it is impossible to truly live in the present. In a way, both Antoine’s freedom and self worth are restricted by this research as he struggles to come to terms with the present. It is only once Antoine abandons his research on Rollebon that he accepts his nausea, which stemmed from his existence. Through Heidegger and Schopenhauer’s philosophy, Sartre proves that as a result of life’s contingency, man fears the implications of his own existence and it is only once man accepts life’s contingency and assumes total freedom that he is living life authentically. [Read more…]

The Stranger Essay by RC

The Hour of Consciousness: Understanding God’s Judicial System

Albert Camus’ The Stranger juxtaposes the importance of God’s morality and the impact it has in the judicial system of an absurd reality, in which social code is rigid and behavior that strays from protocol is subject to scrutiny. In presenting this environment, Camus emphasizes a universal morality, swayed by God and superimposed over an individual’s unique perception of the world, such as Meursault, the protagonist. Others condemn this tragic hero to an unfortunate fate, validated by the belief that because an atheist is subordinate in the eyes of God, he must gradually come to understand the ubiquity of this singular morality. Much like Meursault, in Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, Sisyphus is condemned to a fate he cannot control due to the social constructs of an absurd reality. Only when Sisyphus has reached the top of the hill with his boulder does he amount to what Camus calls, “the hour of consciousness”: essentially, the understanding of the absurdity of life. Camus’ placement of biased judicial figures gradually strengthens Meursault’s understanding of absurdity, illuminating the importance of the “hour of consciousness” in both articulating and refuting God’s ubiquitous morality. [Read more…]

The Stranger Essay by JK

Meaningless Joy: Finding Happiness Through Albert Camus’ Message in The Stranger

            In Albert Camus’, The Myth Of Sisyphus, Gods condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain. If the rock rolled back down the mountain, Sisyphus pushed it up again. While Sisyphus’ punishment sounds both pointless and tragic, Camus does not believe so. He believes that, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” (The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus 123). Camus articulates that Sisyphus’ finds happiness through his ability to accept and rise above his hopeless and frivolous fate. He argues, “If this myth is tragic, that is only because its hero is conscious… Sisyphus, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition. (The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus 121). While Sisyphus’ consciousness makes his story tragic, it also provides him with joy: “The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory… All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him” (The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus 121-3). The Gods wanted to punish Sisyphus with a fate worse then death, eternal and meaningless labor. However, Sisyphus found happiness in accepting his fate. In The Myth Of Sisyphus, Camus depicts a man who transcends his absurd condition to find happiness in an otherwise futile and hopeless life. Camus, The Stranger, provides readers with a similar message. In The Stranger, Meursault, like Sisyphus, is forced to bear a hopeless fate, death. Just as Sisyphus transcends his meaningless fate, so Meursault transcends his. Camus argues, using Meursault as a parallel to Sisyphus, that one can still find happiness in futility, by rejecting God and hope, accepting ones temporal existence, and embracing the present. [Read more…]

Nausea Essay by GG

Metropolitan Escapism, Natural Liberation

Before the dawn of civilization, humans, living among wild and free beasts, were searching for meaning in life, seeking explanations for their seemingly purposeless existence. These difficult quandaries perplexed humans, but thankfully the Neolithic Revolution, which birthed the dense center of human activity known as cities, freed humans from senselessness and let them exist merely as worker bees in a hive. Yet this escape from perplexion into metropolis has proved detrimental to human life; an alternative is necessary. As humans find new forms of classification and work to continually flee from absurdity, the eternally monolithic routine within cities becomes the perfect escape from existence, but in the process thought and individuality are destroyed. Thus humans must embrace the beautiful absurdity within both nature and themselves to live authentically as individuals. [Read more…]

Steppenwolf PBA Essay by GG

In the modern era, the functional capacity of individuals within larger organizations has risen to unparalleled importance and the development of functionality has violently relegated the individual’s spiritual development. Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf illustrates the psychological damage modern organization inflicts upon complex beings and follows one man’s journey to heal his shattered soul. Along with Hesse, Søren Kierkegaard and Carl Jung also resist modern paradigms by illuminating the ways individuals can preserve and develop the many souls that exist within them, despite modern dehumanization. Kierkegaard discusses how defining oneself within the context of a larger organization fragments individuality, and argues that a subjective relationship to the self and one’s spirituality creates a truthful individual. Jung’s discussion of our shared unconscious shows the true depth of our inner beings and brings to light the severe dehumanization modern views of individuality produce. [Read more…]