Tag Archives: existentialism

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img_0162All lawyers are educated, expensive mercenaries of fortune with a high chance of variable expediency in allegiance to whoever employs their burst of legal pep, or “intelligent drudgery,” so to speak. Lawyers know no fear but lots of hubris that can move heaven and earth because of their Napoleonic credo of “There’s no word for impossibility in my dictionary.” To Sally, it’s a real case of Sartre’s existentialism which dictates that “Experience precedes essence.” And yet, the images of gentlemanly lawyers in the characters of Atticus in To kill a mockingbird played by Gregory Peck and Kavanagh QC portrayed by John Thaw are hard to be disembarrassed from Sally’s abstract ideas of fine lawyers.

img_0164Sally’s position of legal assistant wears many hats: secretary, paralegal, accountant, receptionist, calendar person, and whipping girl paid to do a one-man show at a high price. You may yoke the concept of the position into that of a pricey maid, sort of an upgraded modern version of educated head maid you may see in TV period dramas, such as Upstairs and Downstairs, Berkeley Squares, and The Duchess of Duke Street. Accordingly, like a dutiful head maid in a manor house, docile Sally exerts all her efforts to fulfill incredibly hectic demands imposed upon her daily tasks with graceful patience and her very pretty smile.

img_0163“It’s all a mind game, a sort of mental Tetris in which I have to find out a way to accomplish my tasks without being jammed with constantly generating tile blocks to be upgraded to the next level. And I want to win in this game.” Surely, as consciousness is the foundation of the universe, marshaling self-discipline and courage to perform her tasks to the fullest extent possible is the sine qua non of her happy metier. After all, the nature of lawyering turns its practitioner into a professional inquisitor of wickedness of mankind as observed by Arthur Schopenhauer.

 

Jay’s Angels – fiction

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Move over Charlies Angeles. Here come Jay’s Angeles. (from l to r: Stephanie, Gwen and Monica): Illustration by Gwen B.

Director/Writer/Producer: Stephanie S.

Illustrator: Gwen B.

Ambiance Coordinator : Monica K.

Stars: Stephanie S. (Legal Assistant), Gwen B. (Accountant), and Monica K. (Legal Assistant)

Synopsis: Three ladies who are recently hired at a downtown LA law firm by a top notch  lawyer Jay C. sometimes get together during lunch hour to share their flattering hopes for their futures, remote but not that far-fetched anticipations of meeting white knights on steads, picky valuations of Mr. Rights, and other simple vignettes of their romantic adventures in Love El Dorado, all under the pretext of helping Stephanie to morph into a seductive la femme fatale, so to speak, to elevate her status to that of Irresistible Aphrodite in Pantheon of Love.

The Ladies get kick out of their funny raillery about all and sundry, ranging from a best face washer to their erstwhile significant others or would-have-been, from the pros and cons of their de facto bosses to their next best wishes and wishful thoughts about their better tomorrows. But who can deride their maiden dreams as pettifogging idleness indigenous to womanhood when they are hard-working women fulfilling everyday demands placed upon their daily tasks from within and without?

Mind you that due to their innately highly whimsical and capricious nature laced with covert extraordinary spiritual prowess, they sometimes change themselves into the Witches of the Biltmore. So it’s a league of their own, and it’s members exclusive, and it’s highly selective. But don’t you let them scare you away, my dear reader, for they are also mortals whose blood is red and hot and heart is warm and pumping. They are Jay’s Angels.

 

Author’s Note: Working in office requires lots of social skills: diplomacy, adaptability, modus vivendi, persona, euphemism… It requires a sense of humor, a handmaid to productivity imbued with can-do attitudes and stoicism to accept misfortunes and fortunes as they are – but with lovely smile all for the love of yourself – . Be it ever so naive or gullible, but one thing is certain that although my life at present is attuned for the office life as my primary reality for livelihood, which is why I lag behind my list of to-read books, this new kind of reality has called my attention to its adventurous digression from my textual existence rooted in reading the worlds of others. No, that does not mean that I trade myself for recklessly rash frolics, but it might help me to widen a social horizon to encounter a panoply of unknown characters, as piped up by  Shakespeare thus: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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‘Essays in Aesthetics’, by Jean Paul Sartre – review

Essays in AestheticsEssays in Aesthetics by Jean-Paul Sartre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jean Paul Sartre was something of a celebrity in the European Intelligentsia in the Swinging Sixties; despite his rather homely exterior equipped with a pair of thick horn-rimmed spectacles covering the squint eyes, Sartre was brought into celebratory limelight with a panoply of illustrious epithets- L’Enfant Terrible of the European intelligentsia, a precursor of modern existentialism, and husband of Simone de Beauvoir, a trailblazer of modern feminism – The truth of the matter is that Sartre loved the attentions bestowed upon him. In fact, he thrived on it. On a question of fame relating to his celebratory statue as an intellectual, Sartre answered with forthrightness: “Fame is good, even at forty or fifty is desirable; there is happiness, an intense enjoyment, in pushing one’s way into the spotlight like this.” It is this unusual, feisty frankness in conjunction with his audacious existentialism vis-a-vis Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotheraphy that inspired me to find out more about the man’s school of thought in this book written by Sartre himself.

This light volume of essay collection draws on Sartre’s exceptional knowledge of the arts and the creators and yokes it to the tenets of existentialism, which means that the reader should have at least rudimentary knowledge about existentialism. The substratum of existentialism is the experience, the action taken by himself, which constitutes a man’s identity in the world. This might sound materialistic and even bathetic at first blush. However, do we not tend to judge our own self or other people based upon the manifested achievements or deeds, regardless of the character, personality, and/or other planes of circumstances pushing the doer into such actions? With every one of our actions, we particularize our self, thus creating a ‘self’. It is this realization of the abstract self existing as an abstract essence that results in the following dictum: Experience precedes our essence, establishing our own self identity in society.

In terms of existential analysis of a meaning of life or a sense of purpose in life, our actions becoming our experience make us responsible for our own lives, including our missteps and achievements. In other words, this explication of existence shows us how we look and what we are like as the touchstone of our existential selves in everyday life, as the Russian writer Anton Chekhov once said: “”Man will become better when you show him what he is like.” In this regard, existentialism coincides with Logotheraphy, which identifies a meaning of life, freedom of will, and will to meaning with fulfilling demands placed upon our daily tasks, to achieve ego qua meaningfulness.

In sum, Sartre’s existentialism strikes the zeitgeist of our time convoluted with reality shows, fake news, selfies, social media approbation, and grand collapsed narratives in which we often find ourselves uprooted in the midst of inflated self-aggrandization, however overtly and incorrectly exalted. Sartre tells us: “Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself in the midst of his infinite possibilities without help.” That is, the purpose of our life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost by actualizing our purposes amid our daily lives, for we are what we do and create our own reality of the world by acting out our ideation. This book will be a good primer on more in-depth world of Sartre’s existentialism with his no-nonsense perspectives on the nature of humanity and proverbial touchy-feely approaches to the real world and a man’s place as a human being therein, all marked in his literary craftsmanship that is all the more enjoyable to the reader.

Catch-22!

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. – W. Shakespeare

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Cafe terrace at night by vincent van gogh

We all have our best registers, our natural octaves, and Judy’s was a flow of unsteady streams of flotsam and jetsam of peripatetic life that cut her adrift from the safe mooring in the orderliness of life. The detritus of contemporary life seemed to be piled up in her own Aegean stable, and she felt like Hercules to clear it all away just as he had been assigned to wash away the ancient filth of his Aegean stable. And she was at the moment of decision to figure out how to start it off. And it was at that moment when she was also befuddled with yet another indecision. Would she do it, or did she really want to do it? Or could she do it?

Judy was preparing for her initiation to the rite of conjuring up a fairy that was to serve her wishes and aspirations which she believed to be forfeited by her divisory lot. Whatever it was, whoever the perpetrator of such turpitude, Julie wanted to get things sorted out by encountering it face to face, even if that meant a risky business. She did not feel like a weird nor a devious satanist to get into the esoteric world of magic on the grounds of her knowledge about the history of religion and magic during the medieval and Elizabethan periods of England as well as the story of Dr Faust. That those who were caught up in the existential vertigo of livelihood, literate or illiterate, rich or poor, man or woman, Christian or pagan, had often turned to the Other Side was a legitimate tendency, a sort of catch -22 attempt to grasp at a straw adrift on a life sea.

In fact, there was a veritable historical account of a Cambridge medical student in Elizabethan England who made a pact with the devil to procure money to repay his student loans. Whether or not he was dragged into hell upon his death was clandestine, but that was a fact of the matter. So why not? That was Julie’s self-rationalization. That was her proximate cause of her premeditated action. That was her own defense against the sordid fact of life that pushed her into where she was.

But here was Judy’s dilemma: what would a spirit be like? Would it be a female or male? What would it look like? Would I face an abominably hideous creature? Enveloped in a cloud of morbid speculations, Julie began to hesitate nervously, her spirit suddenly trapped in the intricate labyrinth of Anomie. Yes, the labyrinth, the one prodigiously built by the legendary architect Daedaius at the behest of King Minos of Crete named Knossos to lock up Minotaur, the half-bull and half-man creature born out of an unholy consummation between the Cretan Bull and Pasiphae, Minos’s beautiful wife, because Poseidon, the god of the Waters and the formidable brother of Mighty Zeus into the bargain made her madly in love with the Bull, which her husband had dared rescind the sacrifice of it to Poseidon and kept it to himself because of its magnificent beauty.

To tell you the truth, Judy felt sorry for the deformed hybrid of the bewitched union despite its bestial ferociousness calling for human sacrifice. The brutality in behavior was often a manifest result of violent upbringing in conjunction with a denial of love and absence of trust at an infant stage. The security net woven by a loving and caring relationship between a mother and a child was sine qua non of a well-being in both soma and psyche. That was the reason Julie had a sneaking, sympathetic opinion on the Ancient Monster. But she kept her sentiment toward the mythological beast to herself, lest she should be lampooned by others whose idea of justice was a draconian, Jacobean execution of justice that would take no prisoners. Or those whose minds were desiccated by a drought of humanities would declaim against Judy’s altruism. Nevertheless, Judy had no wish to simulate such sternness or gruffness to join the melee.

The whirlwind of thoughts was spinning like a potter’s wheel in her, and Julie was entranced into it rapturously. She let her mind dwell in it however long it would be. She loved the sensation of being drifted away into the world of fantasy, the world of dream, and fiction, as it was her a sanctuary amid the demands of everyday life. Was this the same kind of feeling E. B. White was feeling while he was looking at the beautiful young circus woman rider on a horse running around a grand circle during her performance? The Circle of Youth, the Circle of Beauty, that was. It was what enchanted White to follow her into the World of Magic, and it was what he felt the ecstasy of sensuousness of Beauty.

It was synchronicity, a mental realignment to the mind of another sharing the same or similar intellectual or psychical formations by which Judy could connect with others readily and efficiently. As a matter of fact, it was one of her gifts of mind she possessed, but which was unrecognized. No, it was suppressed by the possessor. To acknowledge her uncanny ability would upend the course of her life. It would be a radical reconstruction of everything she had been grasping at, knowing that it would be a seismic turnaround of her insecure but sedentary life. And it was giving her hard time all the time all the more. And she knew it, but she resisted it, and that was her problem – a classic case of circulus in probondo

 

trumpet volunary – beginning

This is a beginning of my novella about a woman striving against the limitations imposed on her by reality with her fierce individuality and queasiness in her belief in destiny or fate. Her investment of spiritual discernment is her congenital gift, but that which makes her special defenestrates her to the perimeter of society like a cunning woman or herbalist in the Elizabethan England. Is she then a middling between an angel and a demon? Her search for meaning of her so-called life, the secret of her existence is the linchpin of this daringly attempted story I have decided to conjure up in the peculiar alchemy of fiction. 

 

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“Bedroom in Arles” by Vincent van Gogh

It was a cool, bright mid Monday morning, but Julie was still in bed, in bed with her still tenebrous somber spirit returning to possess her once again because she – yes, that is Julie Fustine, a single, plain woman nearing to the acquisition of stoicism in life – fell into a reverie of perfidious rebelliousness. But let the description of Julie not complacently settle on your a priori premature postulation that she was one of those feckless, mediocre, and nondescript women deprived of what the world could offer to being a woman. Nary a one bit. Her inner world was always in a perpetual restive tempest propelling her to sail adrift on her sea of life fraught with existential strains of life, which stunned her venturesome spirit and moored it in the stony stasis of inertia that was killing her softly. She was a hostage to fortune confined in existentialism that did not allow her all the privileges and rights of womanhood and femininity due to a covenant arbitrarily made and entered into by and among her ancestors and an ancient entity prior to her birth.

All this, all this preposterous truth was nothing but a real, physical one that was intractably lodged in Julie’s mind, and it was killing her softly. Nothing would be changed on my own, except the sure case of death, which would be a total force majeur situation. Christopher Malowe’s Dr. Faust was in league with me. And if I physically – and metaphysically – disappear from this earthly place, nothing would change. With such monologue in mind, Julie’s wish was to find herself in netherworld when she woke up in every new morning. No, it’s not pessimism or fatalism, but realism, whether you would agree or not with a sneer. W.H. Auden confirmed it in his poem, “Museum of Beautiful Arts.” Just as all the world’s great and terrible events, such as martyrdoms and nativities, took place amid everyday life, other people continued to do what they had been doing for their own interests. Whether or not you existed would not matter to the continuation of the world.

But as luck would have it, Julie woke up in this world yet again this morning, in this dysphoria of her failed and failing dreams, dwindled and dwindling aspirations, disappointed and disappointing facts, and frustrated and frustrating desires. How shall I die? It’s got be without inscrutable pains and gory details. The painless suicide will be the most cherished and coveted solution to expunge  all my baggage. Thus contemplated Julie in her usual serious self. Then came the phantasmal display of the last day of Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler. When Eva and Hitler knew that their ends were impending as the Reich was soon to fall, they hastened to kill their lives together. Hitler chose a pistol, but Eva – being nothing but a woman herself with a reason none other than being a woman – mulled over which method she would employ to murder herself in the least painful but the most feminine fashion. Out of the musing came a method of poisoning herself because it would preserve her pretty face even after death in order that anyone, the Allied or her German volks, finding her corpse would still think she was a pretty being.

This story and image of Eva Braun still imprinted in Julie’s mind and imbued her with the selfsame way of beautifully saying adieu to her pitiful life. Nevertheless, this was never realized or did not seem to be realized in any time soon for some clandestine reasons made by the Fate, or the Fury, or the beautiful goddess Fortuna. And where would God be placed among these pagan elements? He would eventually come and vanquish all in the name of one Omnipotent, Transcendent, and Infallible of All in no time.

So much so that in Julie’s religiously conditioned mannerism of reconciling herself to the limits imposed by the Reality of This World,  the image of God existed as a Bureaucrat aged somewhere between fifties and seventies with a Victorian-style mustache and gravitas that would sting you to fumble with awkwardness, making you feel like a nincompoop. Julie was not a forceful character, and she would turn herself away from this humiliated embarrassment and would figure things out for herself, even though it meant a series of trials and errors through a long period of time all alone. That was her daring independent spirit. That was her most treasured possession. That was what kept her going against her senses and sensibilities. That was her lifeline and only one.

So it was another morning, and a very first morning of a new week into the bargain. Intentionally waking up late in the morning, Julie forced herself to breakfast against her prior determination of foregoing food until she would find an employment that would make her earn the bare necessities however little it would pay her. Would this be my home forever? Would I become visible in this new land? Would I start anew in this place? Then Julie’s innermost secret and hidden questions came to surface at last: Could I chance to love? Could a man love me despite my plainness? My paroxysm of moodiness? My humdrum presence? CUT THE CRAP, concluded Julie, for all these supplementary wishes and vain hopes were verbose and verbatim Without A Job. Surely, not all pretty women with jobs – good jobs like professional ones held by the writers of all those popular memoirs bestriding NYT bestseller list for weeks – promenaded with their beaus, but Julie, always angst-ridden and precariously sentient – moped around the whirls of her mental pagoda of melancholy. She could not help making parallels with her life, comparing herself with the illustrious careers of her peers.

The third week of unemployment was hard to bear, and it was daunting to bear even with her renowned stoicism, but her real passionate self defied it, cursed it, and bitched it. Still worse, radio silence following so-called officious interviews was the worst bitch. “Don’t take it personally,” was a bromide, a humbug, a hokum out of human kindness, only to be cruel. Of course, it’s PERSONAL, when the parties engaged in the formal occasions were all humans made of blood and flesh, not robotics of steel and wire. That’s an infallible truth, n’est-pas? That’s a res ipsa loquitur case of negligence of truth, no?

All of this in her mind pushed her into the brink of a life’s cliff, leaving her one choice, and the only choice she could resort to: a Mephistophelean pact, it was. Yes, that’s darn right. She resolved to make a pact with the devil, and she was going to do it no matter what, either out of sheer spite against her fate or pure supernatural adventure or innocent curiosity. She’s up for it, and when she was in for the kill, she sure meant it. And it was today she would do it when the frivolous west sun was set, and the shadow of dark began to cover the horizon in the way the sky god Oruanos covered the earth goddess Gaia to make love to her furtively in the dark.