Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sartre's war diaries

I've just begun reading Sartre's war diaries, and it has been a pleasant surprise.  There are a mixture of reflections---philosophical and personal.  I continue to be angry and sad to realize that he could work twelve hours free from interruptions.  I haven't enjoyed that sort of possibility since 2009--and even then, only during weekends or vacations/holidays.  (Of course, in Europe, people have more vacations and holidays than they do in the land of the free.)

Nonetheless, I just wanted to comment now about one thing.

Sartre remarks a couple of times that he tends to identify with the less powerful and privileged.  As is his wont, he subjects that tendency itself to reflection, however, my point lies elsewhere.

I want to contrast that attitude with the rather smug, self-satisfied emotions and cognitions I recently heard expressed by a midwestern originated employee of an investment firm........The man seemed to be in complete denial about the actual situation of most people in the world.  The Third World was for him nothing more than a joke---because the people there had so little money---and as for the poor in the USA, his thoughts were little more than cartoon-like stereotypes.

Yes, it would be better to have a knee-jerk tendency to identify with those who lack power and privilege. No matter how Sartre might represent himself as affected or inauthentic, that tendency represents some sort of consciousness about justice----a consciousness wholly lacking in my recent visitor

And, indeed, the critique here equally applies to myself, for my own reticence.  I regret that I evaded the real issue in my conversation with the fellow, allowing his smug world view to sit there largely unaffected by the multitude of facts of which he has neither awareness or interest.

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