Monday, February 11, 2013

Reflection for the Week - February 11

From my forthcoming book: Living Imagination. J-P. Sartre’s Nausea captures and exposes crucial issues concerning the real and the empty seduction of the unreal. Antoine, the book’s narrator, is left with a severe and devastating case of nausea – and nausea – and more nausea. Life is like that, but in his eyes at least it’s real. This bleak and haunting novel should cause us to reflect seriously on reality, the status of image, the notion of the real and unreal, and who we are in relation to both. The radical division, in Sartre’s view, between the real as perception and the unreal as imagination forces imagination to become more and more isolated and wholly beyond the real. As Antoine, who was left with the choice between living or telling, so also Sartre leaves us with the choice between real or imaginary nothing. According to Sartre, to enter into the imaginary is to de-realize oneself, while to enter the real is to realize oneself. Yet, we may question whether human experience, one of Sartre’s major interests, is ever so pristinely distinct, without at some point also being related. Perhaps, a more adequate view would be to see imagination and perception as related and distinct, with neither having, nor offering exclusive claims to the real, which is dependent on far more than what we imagine or perceive.