Existentialism discussion

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Nausea - Week 1

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message 1: by Littlevision (last edited Jul 03, 2011 01:38PM) (new)

Littlevision | 38 comments Mod
Talk about Week 1 (Jul 1-7) - through pg. 40 in this thread.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I think it would be interesting to know whether people sympathize with or are repulsed by Roquentin on first being introduced to him?


message 3: by Ştefan (new)

Ştefan Bolea | 17 comments Mod
Seems like a good idea to me, especially because Roquentin inspires a sort of ambivalent repulsive attraction.


Rob the Obscure Neither for me. I do not find Roquentin repulsive at all. But I see no reason to sympathize. For me personally, I empathize with a few of the things that cause him to struggle. I'm not the least bit worried about objects that I encounter confronting me in a way that makes me doubt the value of my own life. However, I do relate to the feeling that, ultimately, it's of little lasting value, if any whatsoever. When confronted by the enormity of the universe, the place of human kind in it, to me, seems puny. So, my own individual place is completely insignificant for any outside my limited family and friends, and that only for an extremely short time...a wisp of smoke.

I look at R. primarily as an illustration of where one's thinking and experience can ultimately go if one allows oneself to follow the logical path of understanding in an unbiased way what confronts him or her.


Rob the Obscure Good question.

Another interesting point - does it have to be "triggered" by an event of sorts? Or can one simply wake up one day, get caught unawares by a moment of brutal honesty, and simply have a realization?


message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments Wow, Matt, that comparison to Toy Story was terrific. Nice going. I'm waiting for my copy from the library, and I will look for my response to your question.


Rob the Obscure I think in my own life there was no specific trigger. Rather, I came to a point where I decided to be radically honest with myself, and to examine every idea that I had ever been taught to see if it holds water intellectually and rationally. Repeatedly applied, this led me to essentially an existentialist position on the meaning of life.


message 8: by Littlevision (last edited Jul 16, 2011 05:29PM) (new)

Littlevision | 38 comments Mod
A couple of times during the first forty pages I've had this feeling like Roquentin is on a bad trip -- the way he describes the dark street and hanging out in the restaurant, particularly. "I have a broken spring: I can move my eyes but not my head. The head is all pliable and elastic, as though it had been simply set on my neck; if I turn it, it will fall off."
(I guess I'm not the only one: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3751087)

On the other hand, I giggled for a bit at "I felt a sharp disappointment in the sexual parts, a long, disagreeable tickling".

When the Self-Taught Man comes to visit Roquentin I have this feeling that there is a strange sort of sexual tension between them, especially when he blushes and asks if Roquentin has had many "adventures". Then at the library he's staring at a guy instead of his book. I can't figure out if I'm reading too much into it.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

The Self-Taught man is one of the most puzzling aspects of the novel to me; why is R. so nasty toward him? There is an interesting revelation about the STM at the end of the book--it will be interesting to discuss then. But I believe at one point R. imagines shoving a fork into the STM's eye (in another one of his strange "trips")--and again I wonder why he has such hostility toward him? What role does the man being "self-taught" play in this hostility?


message 10: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments I'm a little late getting started in this discussion. I just got a copy of the book, which I read once before working on a degree.

The first forty pages brought to mind an incident in my life when I went white water rafting on the Rouge River in Canada. It was springtime and the river was raging from melted snow. We reached a spot in the river known as the Drano. The river narrowed through high cliff walls. The leaders told the boats to pull to shore because it was too rough. My boat didn't make it, and all twelve of us tipped over into the water. The river tossed me through the rapids like a rag doll. I thought I was going to die. I realized later that was unlikely with my helmet and life jacket, but in the water I was sure I was going to die. I told myself not to scream but to face death with courage.

Then I made it through the Drano to a calm wider area of the river where kayakers were waiting to pick us up out of the water. I grabbed the rope on a kayak and the man rowed me to shore where I lay on the ground. While catching my breath, I stared at an ant crawling. I had never looked at an ant in such a way before. I studied it completely. I didn't want to get up. I told the rescuers I was just resting, but the truth was I was studying an ant. I can't explain clearly why I was studying that ant. It seemed like I had never quite appreciated such a simple thing as an ant before.

The next day, we all went up to the top of the cliffs to look down at the river. What an incredible sight. I saw the massive indifference of the universe on that day. That river raged before I was on it, and it would rage after I was gone, whether I died or not.

This may not be the same thing Roquentin feels when he holds the stone near the ocean. But perhaps it is similar.


message 11: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 85 comments On page 39, Roquentin says, "Nothing happens while you live." It has no beginnings or endings. "But everything changes when you tell about life." We try to tell "true stories. As if there could possibly be true stories." We try to tell these stories with beginnings and endings that do not exist. We try to capture time and order it, all of which is impossible.


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