metamorphoses through veritable revolution

I read the following passage a long time ago and I must have been only twenty-one or twenty-two years old. I remember reading the book because I thought it was cool to read sartre. I guess it was probably also influenced by the following skit on monty python, but i know i was looking for philosophy at the time.

Regardless of whim and intent, the concept of metamorphoses building over time is pretty awesome. My life is very much exactly like this.  I would say there have been four or five “veritable revolutions” in my life.  take a read.  the key passage is in bold below and reads..

The thing is that I rarely think; a crowd of small metamorphoses accumulate in me without my noticing it, and then, one fine day, a veritable revolution takes place. This is what has given my life such a jerky, incoherent aspect.

so, i name my blog veritable revolution because this is life.

give it a read and then watch the python skit…  It is a classic.

— — —

From Jean-Paul Sartre, La Nausée, first published in 1938.

Monday, 29 January, 1932:

Something has happened to me, I can’t doubt it anymore. It came as an illness does, not like an ordinary certainty, not like anything evident. It came cunningly, little by little; I felt a little strange, a little put out, that’s all. Once established it never moved, it stayed quiet, and I was able to persuade myself that nothing was the matter with me, that it was a false alarm. And now, it’s blossoming.

I don’t think the historian’s trade is much given to psychological analysis. In our work we have to do only with sentiments in the whole to which we give generic titles such as Ambition and Interest. And yet if I had even a shadow of self-knowledge, I could put it to good use now.

For instance, there is something new about my hands, a certain way of picking up my pipe or fork. Or else it’s the fork which now has a certain way of having itself picked up, I don’t know. A little while ago, just as I was coming into my room, I stopped short because I felt in my hand a cold object which held my attention through a sort of personality. I opened my hand, looked: I was simply holding the door-knob. This morning in the library, when the Self-Taught Man came to say good morning to me, it took me ten seconds to recognize him. I saw an unknown face, barely a face. Then there was his hand like a fat white worm in my own hand. I dropped it almost immediately and the arm fell back flabbily.

There are a great number of suspicious noises in the streets, too. So a change has taken place during these last few weeks. But where? It is an abstract change without object. Am I the one who has changed? If not, then it is this room, this city and this nature; I must choose.

* * * * * * * * * *

I think I’m the one who has changed: that’s the simplest solution. Also the most unpleasant. But I must finally realize that I am subject to these sudden transformations. The thing is that I rarely think; a crowd of small metamorphoses accumulate in me without my noticing it, and then, one fine day, a veritable revolution takes place. This is what has given my life such a jerky, incoherent aspect. For instance, when I left France, there were a lot of people who said I left for a whim. And when I suddenly came back after six years of travelling, they still could call it a whim. I see myself with Mercier again in the office of that French functionary who resigned after the Petrou business last year. Mercieu was going to Bengal on an archeological mission. I always wanted to go to Bengal and he pressed me to go with him. Now I wonder why. I don’t think he was too sure of Portal and was counting on me to keep an eye on him. I saw no reason to refuse. And even if I had suspected that little deal with Portal, it would have been one more reason to accept with enthusiasm. Well, I was paralysed, I couldn’t say a word. I was staring at a little Khmer statuette on a green carpet, next to a telephone. I seemed to be full of lymph or warm milk. With angelic patience veiling a slight irritation, Mercier told me:

“Now look, I have to be fixed up. I know you’ll end up by saying yes, so you might as well accept right away.”

He had a reddish-black beard, heavily scented. I got a waft of perfume at each movement of his head. And then, suddenly, I woke from a six-year slumber.

The statue seemed to me unpleasant and stupid and I felt terribly, deeply bored. I couldn’t understand why I was in Indo-China. What was I doing there?

Why was I talking to these people? Why was I dressed so oddly? My passion was dead. For years it had rolled over and submerged me; now I felt empty. But that wasn’t the worst: before me, posed with a sort of indolence, was a voluminous, insipid idea. I did not see clearly what it was, but it sickened me so much I couldn’t look at it. All that was confused with the perfume of Mercier’s beard.

I pulled myself together, convulsed with anger, and answered dryly:
“Thank you, but I believe I’ve travelled enough, I must go back to France now.” Two days later I took the boat for Marseilles.

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