What A Dizzy Dance
Hello again. My apologies for that extended hiatus. It has been all too easy to avoid the internet these days. The weather is getting warmer, vaccinations are happening, and my TBR list is dwindling. Summer is almost here.
Recently I decided to reread Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre because I figured it would be a great way to confront my dizzy existence through the eyes of another. While reading I found a Caprice:
One’s Caprice Invokes Another’s Shame
In this passage, the Self-taught man and Antoine Roquentin have met for dinner and conversation. Roquentin does little to make the Self-taught man feel appreciated or even wanted, and the Self-taught man flounders in his attempts to connect with Roquentin. It appears that Roquentin would rather appear indifferent than allow the Self-taught man to glean any success from his own thoughtful meanderings. So, having read aloud his noted ideas and finding no audience, the Self-taught man concedes and puts his notebook away.
The Self-taught man “thought to endow [his] idea with the quality of a caprice” which ultimately is a poised question. If people “no longer . . . believe what the eighteenth century held to be true . . . why . . . take pleasure in works because they thought them beautiful?” Here, the Self-taught man elucidates the dismissal of 18th century ideas but also the simultaneous appreciation of 18th century objects, like books, deemed beautiful. Ultimately asking, how can both a dismissal and an appreciation exist at the same time, and perchance within one mind.
Although it is the Self-taught man who wishes to illustrate the contradictory pleasure we find in eighteenth century objects while also finding the ideas of the eighteenth century outdated, it is Roquentin’s own capricious shift in attitude that sparks a sense of shame in the Self-taught man. Having realized his audience is unwilling to entertain this whimsy, his notebook gets hidden away again, and the sudden impulse he feels to write down his own thoughts is crushed in real time. In this example, the sentiment of the Self-taught man finds its echo in this moment, each man feels differently about the same sentiment. Thus exemplifying how disastrous it can be to divulge ones thoughts to a stranger, but by the same token, the same sentiment to another stranger may evoke a different response.
It is here that we understand the notion of caprice, a whim, a threshold, a flickering light, a continuous change of heart which is complex and complicated and oftentimes explanations only assist in keeping all aspects true. We are unable to rule out one in place of the other, they stand together opposed. This is simply caprice, a shameless admittance that a change of heart may only attack a facet and not the whole.
With caprice in mind, it is not complicated to understand that multiple opinions or thoughts or nuances can overlap and ring true in one moment and be pushed aside in the next. In books, and in life, there exists more than one plane of understanding, so it is not a surprise that we all sense that whirl of chaos, the Nausea, as we explore and try to make sense of all that surrounds us, engulfs us. Therefore it is not shocking that my head is in a dizzy dance daily.
Overall, the Nausea experienced by Antoine Roquentin is akin to my own unsteady meanderings. Adrift in the world, there is a loss of balance that one seeks to steady. Afloat between misguided moorings and shocking shores, one aches for truth, knowledge, information and stoic silence simultaneously. We coast and hope the waves will not overtake us. Do we swim to the horizon or close our eyes and wait for the backwash? With closed eyes I swim in darkness.
Thanks again for reading along. Stay well.