Friday, September 2, 2011
46/365 The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre
I know I've read this before, but I can't think why or when I would have done so.
I wanted to put off writing about this story, because I feel like, in the right mood, I could get up enough steam to write something really thoughtful and good about it. Right now I am not in that mood.
I have a difficult time thinking seriously about a story like this because I honestly have no idea how I would behave if I knew I was going before a firing squad in the morning. I have a feeling that I'm a bit of a physical coward; I'm pretty sure I could never chop one of my own limbs off a la 127 Hours, for instance. I (obviously) don't know how my body would react to the prospect of death either. For all I know I might pee my pants without knowing it, the way Tom does. But apart from all the physical stuff, I honestly don't think I'd be too horrifically scared to die. I don't mind death - but pain, yes.
I suppose the main reason I don't think that dying - apart from pain - scares me is because I think life has meaning; and I don't have to "create" it, or "find my own". I think it's a sort of black and white thing. You accept it or not.
I also believe in life after death - and I believed in it in a shadowy way even before I became a Christian. I remember thinking that there couldn't be any other explanation for the longing I felt for "more time", because you can't have a desire for something that can't be fulfilled.
I really wonder how the other kids my age feel about dying. I remember talking to a kid in my British Lit class about it, and she said - with really awful feeling in her face and voice - that she was terrified of dying, just terrified. It still makes something behind my sternum hurt.
So... I don't know what else to say. I would not want to face death the way the main character did - and I don't mean the prospect of going by firing squad. Existentialism seems very depressing to me. I can see how the absurdity in the world leads people to that way of thinking. But I can't see how the whole world turning existentialist could possibly be good. I know I don't have the whole picture - the very little I know about existentialism I learned in Intro to Philosophy - but isn't the whole, you have to make up your own meaning for life thing a part of it? Because that sounds terrible to me. It's like that line, "living for today" - it sounds nice, but I don't think it could possibly work. But I'm also coming from a man-is-essentially-bad POV, so "living for today" gives me visions of chaos.
CONCLUSION: Jeez! I finally understand why they have Death and Dying lit classes!