Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?’ “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?
The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity, is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it’s, a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as, a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, it’s like your life is yours to create. I’ve read the post modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented of marginalised, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete, it’s you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless -what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off or see each other as a victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.
Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. This is where, I think, language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. It had to be easy when it was just simple survival. “Water.” We came up with a sound for that. “Sabre-tooth tiger behind you!” We came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting, I think is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we’re experiencing. What is “frustration”? Or what is “anger” or “love”? When I say “love” the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person’s ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain through their memories of love or lack of love. And they register what I’m saying and they say yes they understand, but how do I know? Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead. You know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It’s unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another and we feel that we have connected and we think we’re understood I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling may be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.
—Kim Krizan (via captiver)