I am perplexed by the word existential. I can’t fathom the word. I don’t know how to use it. When it appears in one of my sentences it glows neon and mocks me.When I hear somebody else use the word I always hold my breath, cup my hands around my ears and wait … for the can laugher. I remember a girl with very short hair, small breasts, petite frame used the word and I thought she was so intellectual and so I spouted off, boasting, ballooning, bullshitting and that night I spent the night alone reading with one hand until sleep. Maybe it is Existentialism. I have taken classes, I have read Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, I have toiled through many conversations, going deeper into the labyrinths of being and nothing, either/or, the killing of Arabs, the Devil and the inquisitor, I have sat alone and contemplated despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom, I have picked the brains (not literally) of some great minds, but it adds up to the same thing, I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s not Existentialism. It could be the source. It’s not a French-hating-thing. Queneau and the workshop of potential literature have knocked my socks off, Genet was my first love, Celine articulated the anger and bitterness when the acne ruled my life, François Rabelais and François Villon started the whole thing. I weep when I read Flaubert. I drool over Robert Pinget, Marguerite Duras, and all those others that made the novel new. Anyway, where was I. Yes. Existentialism and the source. I can’t help but agreeing with Robert Kaplan. I too reduce Mr. Sartre to a pipe lunting outside deux maggots.
Paul Kavanagh’s ‘The Killing of a Bank Manager‘ is out now, priced £7.99/$12.99.
Tags: celine, duras, existentialism, flaubert, francois villon, genet, kaplan, kierkegaard, nietzsche, paul kavanagh, pinget, pk, queneau, rabelais, sartre