Monday, March 26, 2012

"I will walk on"

TLS March 16 2012

from Emilie Bickerton's Commentary piece on Simone de Beauvoir:

Beauvoir always called herself a literary writer rather than a philosopher. "I am not", she said, "the creator of systems." It is worth remembering this before falling into the familiar description of her as a philosopher first and novelist on the side. She herself felt the pressure of the distinction between lived reality that serves as inspiration for fiction, and the cooler process of elaborating a philosophical system.  In her earlier diaries we read of her early squabbles with her fellow philosophy student Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who accused her of excessive emotionalism and questioned the virtue of putting as much value as she did on lived experience, when she was in the business of exploring ideas, and believed in the universal human subject. But the young Beauvoir, who did feel emotions passionately, from murderous jealousy to desperate adoration, sticks to her guns:

Drama of my affections, pathos of life... Indeed, I have a more complicated, more nuanced sensibility than his and a more exhausting power of love. Those problems that he lives in his mind, I live them with my arms and my legs. Has he ever known months when all the days were only tears? I do not want to lose all that.... Only I must make myself stronger in order to walk on despite my burden. Two cowardly attitudes: keep the burden and sit down--(this is very cowardly)--throw off the burden and walk on. One good one: keep the burden and walk on. I will walk on.

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