Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Philosphy of Choice.

Freshman year, I had an amazing English teacher named George Moore (Whom you all should take).
The next year, I demanded that I take another one of is classes, and I found myself in his French Existentialism class. At the time of signing up, I knew little about this philosphy, save for it's connection to Camus (Whose writing I adore).

Upon taking the class, I was immersed in the most comprehensively correct philosphy I have come across so far. Now, let me make this clear, no single philosophy contains all the answers to lifes tribulations and termoil. No. BUT. Existentializm offers the most concise and useful toolkit for coping with guilt, suffering, and the monotony of life.

Albert Camus, Handsome Devil.

In a nutshell, the philosophy can be described as "Everything that happend to you, today, is ultimately your fault because you woke up and chose not to kill your self today."

This may seem like an incredibly grim and even morbid phrase. But in the eyes of Jean Paul Sartre's Existentialism, it's the most profoundly terrifying, yet empowering, reality.

The cornerstone of Existentialism is choice. You personally choose everything except your facticity (where you were born, your race, age, ect) but outside of that, how you react to anything is always your choice.

The weight of these choices is called Existential Angst. It manifests, theoretically, as the feeling you get when you are standing at the edge of a tall building or ledge and you feel as though your body wants to throw itself off the edge. Some call this Vertigo, Sartre calls it Existential Angst. Death represents a releif from these constant choices, BUT, it is the human strength and the human spirit that we choose to contine on, day by day, year by year.

Personally coming from a Judeo-Christian backround, I found Existentialism to be incredibly empowering. No longer was my life bound by some heavenly "plan" or by the will of some invisible god or bearded hippie. It was governed by me and me alone, every damn second of it was mine. And I found that refreshing.

Another aspect of Existentialism is the Pre-refelective conciousness. This is, in short terms, pure focus and pure envolvement with the world. Reflective conciousness is to watch oneself while doing something, instead of actually participating. Have you ever tried to hit a baseball but been so worried that you would miss that you overthough the process of hitting the ball to the point where you could not? That is reflective conciousness at work.

I found this profoundly relevant for my artistic work. When I consciously decided to stop worrying about the end result, weather or not it would be good, weather or not this particular line would be of quality, and started focusing simply on my subject matter, my framing, or just capturing the ephermal moment on film, my work improved.

Here are some links for those who wish to explore further;

Jean Paul Sartre, author of Being and Nothingness

Albert Camus, author of The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus, and The Plague.

Lastly, here are some quotes, I know how y'all love quotes:

Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.
-Jean-Paul Sartre

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
-Albert Camus
 Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
-Jean-Paul Sartre

Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
-Albert Camus 

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