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Existentialism
Jean Paul Sartre(1905 - 1980)
Psychoanalytic dialogue


Nous sommes un condamné à mort qui se prépare bravement au dernier supplice, qui met tous ses soins à faire belle figure sur l'échafaud et qui, entre temps, est enlevé par une grippe espagnole.
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jean paul sartre existentialism, nausee, sartre page at thecry.comA: I want something to come to a definite conclusion. Up till now I've followed all your orders; now you should try to. . . anyway, I don't see why. . .

DR X: Now if you please. . . we are agreed; there, we'll stop here. You'll regret this.

A: Are you frightened on this tape-recorder then?

DR X: I don't want it near me. I'm not going along with this.

A: but why not?At least explain to me why not. Are you afraid of the tape-recorder?

DR X: Cut it out!

A: You are cutting me off?Now this is interesting, you are bringing up the question of "cutting"again. A moment ago you were talking about my penis being cut off - and now you're the one who's doing the cutting.

DR X: Listen!I've had enough of this tape recorder!

A: How do you mean?

DR X: Either you take it out of the room, or the interview is over.
Agreed?I would certainly like to explain to you what I was going to explain - but as things stand, either you take this tape recorder outside, or I'll refuse to say another word. I'm sorry but that's how it it.

A: I think you are frightened!I think you're frightened and that's silly because what I've just done is in your interests; without making a fuss about it I'm taking a big risk and I'm doing it for you and for lots of other people. But I want to get to the bottom of this whole mystification and intend to go on.

Dr X: Fine, well then. . .

A: No!stay where you are, Doctor!You're going to stay there and you're not going to pick up that phone; you're going to stay where you are an above all don't start threatening me with the straight -jacket.

Dr X: I won't threaten you so long you leave this room

A: I will not leave this room!I'm calling you to account. I mean it - you'd better be able to account for yourself. And I'm not doing do purely on my behalf, but on behalf of. . . Come on now - sit down; don't let's get angry. You'll see. . . you won't be hurt. I'm not out to get you. Come on, calm down. Sit down. . . you don't want to?Very well then, let's stay standing. Right then, let's get back to my "penis being cut off"- wasn't that the expression?My father wanted to cut off my. . . Wasn't that it?

Dr X: Listen!At the moment you're not in state for a discussion.

A: Of course I am!You're the one who doesn't want to talk. You're the one who's not in a state for discussion.

Dr X: I've asked you to put away your tape-recorder.

A: But my tape recorder isn't a tai, you know. It's a listening device that keeps a benevolent check on us.

Dr X: I was trying to explain something to you. . .

A: Right, Carry on.

Dr X: And then suddenly, instead of trying to understand. . .

A: Because you were about to drop a capital remark, the sort of thing you've been stuffing my head with for years, and I don't want you now to try and get out of it by dodging the issue - or should I say, by avoiding your responsibility for the hundredth= time.

Dr X: Your responsibility, you mean.

A: What?

Dr X: At the moment you want to make me responsible for thins that are your own responsibility.

A: Not at all!I'm making a study at the moment, a scientific study

Dr X: Perhaps you are.

A: Good, then, let's continue. No doubt you know that things run far more efficiently when you can use a tape- recorder for there studies. You're freer; you don; t have to take notes. We're getting somewhere.

Dr X: This is not the place to carry out scientific studies!

A: But it is! I thought I was the guest of a man of science, and now I 'd like to know just what the science it is he practices, for I have m doubts about this 'science' - it may be nothing but charlatanism.

Dr X: Well, I have the right to refuse to talk in from of a tape-recorder.

A: Of course you have the right, and you're not backward in exercising it; many thanks. . . You feel you're being accused; you're talking like an American who won't make a statement unless he has his lawyer with him. . . Sit down!

Dr X: I'm ready to talk to you and explain things to you.

A: Fine, let's carry on then!

Dr X: But I'm not ready to talk in front of a tape-recorder.

A: But why were you just about to telephone?

Dr X: Because I had told you that if you insisted on using a tape-recorder, you had to get out.

A: But why?Why were you going to telephone?

Dr X: Because I had told you that if you insisted on using a tape-recorder you had to get out.

A: But why did you. . . You can't have me put away, you know!If anyone deserves to be put away, it's you - that's if we are trying to find out who's unbalanced.

Dr X: I. . . I. . . This really is. . .

A: Listen, I've got nothing against you. I don; t want to harm you; on the contrary. .

Dr X: Right then, we're agreed. Turn off your tape-recorder.

A: This is fun, isn't it; except that I wish you stopped being frightened. . .

Dr X: I don't think this is fun

A: But you're frightened. And your libido, what are you doing about that?Do you think that I want to cut off your little willie?Of course I don't!I'm here to give you a real. . . But this is fantastic!You've had this little occasion coming to you for a long time. Listen, admit that you're getting out of it very nicely. Doctor!!!Doctor, I've got nothing against you, but you obviously have. . . you've got something against yourself.

Dr X: At this moment you are. . .

A: I've got nothing against you , but I feel you abuse your position. Yes'that's it, You have abused me. I would even go so far to say that you have defrauded me, if we're going to use legal jargon: you haven't met your obligations. You don't know how to cure people - you only know how to make them worse. That's a fact - all we need is ask your other patients, your 'patients', or people you call your patients, people who come to you for help and get nothing, who get nothing but one long wait. . . Vome on, sit down!Let's be reasonable. Let's be reasonable!There. Are you a man or a mouse?Are you a man?

Dr X: For the last time, you've got a tape recorder there and I won't put up with it.

A: I'm sorry, I have to repeat that I pulled this tape recorder out - to use your words - because I didn't like the way you suddenly demanded that we drop the question of castration.

Dr X: Well I'd certainly be willing to discuss the question of castration, if that is in fact your real problem, but I won; t say anything in front of a tape-recorder.

A: Fine, well we won; t talk about it; we'll wait until you change your mind. You; re trapped.

Dr X: What do you ope to get out of trapping me?

A: I have nothing to loose!

Dr X: Maybe.

A: You're frightened!Come on now, Johnny. Buck up, eh?You don; t want to?

Dr X: You don; t regard this as a serious situation?

A: It; s terribly serious. Tht's why it could be much better if you'd put up a different face on it than the one you are. . . I'd have to have a nerve to let myself in for such a thing!Yet even so I need to be absolutely sure. . .

Dr X: No, you don; t have to be sure, If you were sure you wouldn't be acting like that!Now let me go; this is a highly dangerous situation.

A: Dangerous?

Dr X: Yes, you're dangerous.

A: I'm not dangerous at all; you're only saying that. You never stop trying to make me believe I'm dangerous, but I 'm not in the least bit dangerous.

Dr X: You're dangerous because you don't have a grasp on reality!

A: That's not true.

Dr X: You don't have a grasp on reality!

A: I'm a little lamb. I've always been as gentle as a lamb.

Dr X: You don't have a grasp on reality!

A: You're the one who's dangerous. It's he who says it who is it!

Dr X: You don't have a grasp on reality!

A: What is this "reality"?

Dr X: At the moment you're dangerous, because you don't have a grasp on reality.

A: But what is "reality"? We have to agree on our definitions first. I know one thing, from the point of view of your reality, and that is that you are very angry, you're having difficulty controlling yourself - you're going to explode any minute. You're going to snap; you're under pressure, you're getting yourself into a state that helps no one. I've got nothing against you; you've got no reason to be angry. I'm not your father!

Dr X: You've got your tape-recorder there!

A: So?

Dr X: Switch it off!

A: Come on, it's not so bad as all that. Does it frighten you?It's not a gun.

Dr X: Switch it off!

A: Are you frightened?

Dr X: Switch it off!

A: What do you mean witch it off?

Dr X: I don't like this sort of interview.

A: Now listen, do you want a spanking?

Dr X: There, you see, you're dangerous.

A: No I'm not, I'm simply asking you this question: would you mind stop acting like a child?

Dr X: I tell you you're dangerous.

A: And I'm telling you you're acting like a child.

Dr X: And you're going to show me what for, I can see.

A: No, I'm not going to show you what for.

Dr X: Switch it off!

A: But what do you mean - "Switch it off!"?

Dr X: I've got nothing more to say to you, you're dangerous.

A: What do you mean, you've got nothing more to say?You've got to square account with me.

Dr X: I've asked you to go.

A: I'm sorry!I've no intention of going!

Dr X: See how dangerous you are!

A: I'm not dangerous. All I'm doing is raise my voice and you can't take it. If someone starts shouting, you get frightened, don't you?When you hear shouting you loose your cool. You're terrified - it's your daddy shouting at you (the two men are now standing within inches of each other), but all I'm doing here, Johnny, is shouting to show you that it's not serious this time. Now you see, you've got over your fear already. There!You've overcome your fear. That's better, isn't it?You're all right now. That's better. You see it's not all that serious: I'm not your father. And I could shout some more, but I won't. There, that's enough.

Dr X: Are you mimicking your father at the moment?

A: No, come on, I'm mimicking yours!The one I can see in your eyes.

Dr X: You're trying to play the part of. . .

A: I don't want to play any part with you; all I want is to be free of the pain you put me through!Now it's you who's shitting in your pants!Of course!Look at you - what ar you folding your arms like that for?You're protecting yourself. Do you really think I want to hit you?Where did you get that idea from?I'm far off too reasonable for that!I've got myself under control; I don't want to do what you'd like me to do. Things would be much simpler then, wouldn't they?I'd hit you; I'd be in the wrong; I'd have started it; I would have done something which would give you the power to. . . who knows?. . . to play the doctor, yes, to play the psychiatrist.

If I'm threatening anyone, it's not little Johnny, but the sadistic doctor. . . Not little Johnny. He's suffered enough already. I have no wish to hit him - but the doctor, the psychiatrist, the one who took the place of my father, he deserves a good kick in the pants. Now let me explain. Sit down. No?You don't want to?

Dr X: You can speak. I won't. I've told you that I. . .

A: All right then, I'll speak. So, there you are!I wanted to say this the moment I pulled out the tape-recorder - I only pulled it out to speak, because I had something to say. Obviously you can be recorded too, if you like - I'll send you a transcription. You should find it very interesting.

Well I hope you will, anyway. . . Well, here we go!You can't get better lying on that thing! ( pointing his finger at the psychoanalyst couch ); it's impossible!You can't get better yourself because you have spent too many years on it. You're scared of looking people in the face. A moment ago you started to tell me how I had to 'face up to my fantasies". I could never have faced up to anything!You made me turn my back on you. You can't cure people like that. It would never work, because in fact living with other people means knowing how to look at them in the face. What did you think I'd learn on that couch?THe way things are, you've robbed even of my wish to live with others or to face up to anything, and that's your problem!That's why you make people lie down like that!Because you can't look them in the face. You can't cure them; all you can do is palm off on them your own father-figure problems the ones you've never been able to come to terms with. From one session o another you drag your victims along like this with your father-problem, don't you?Do you see what I'm trying to say?And I've had a terrible time trying to understand this and get out of it. You've certainly made me perform some mental gymnastics. A few at any rate - and you have to agree, it cost me quite a lot, if that's all it was!But there is worse: you've robbed me of my ability to face up things by promising me. . . I put myself in your hands, but because I couldn't see you I had no idea when you were finally going to give me what I had come here to get. I was waiting for your authorization. That's what I was doing!You would have been stupid to give it to me wouldn't you?, to get me out of it, since I was keeping you; you lived off me, you sucked me dry - I was the patient, and you were the doctor, and in the end you'd turned your own childhood problem over to me - I was the child and you were the father. . . You had all the rights, didn't you?You had the right to have me put away at some time, well not perhaps me, but other people anyway. . .

Dr X: I was dialing 999 to have you taken out of here -999, the police, to get rid of you.

A: The police?Daddy?So that's it!Your daddy was a policeman. And you were ringing daddy to come and get me.

Dr X: Because in my opinion. . .

A: But listen, this is interesting. Why did you want to ring for the police?You would have missed all this. You have to admit. . .

Dr X: You're a qualified lawyer. . .

A: . . . that I was right to stop you.

Dr X: When someone refuses to leave your home you call the police.

A: You're right. That's a fact. You brought me here, you drew me into your little sanctum, your little cave. . .

Dr X: I asked you to go.

A: Listen!If you take the floor to say things like that, then you might as well let me go on because if you don't we're going to get fed up, we're going to waste time, agreed?

If you've really got something important to say, you should say it, all right?Of course you should come out with it. It's a fact - you're a mass of inhibitions. But if you can say is you're calling the police or you wanted to call them, then that's something we really should analyse.

All right then, is that better? (speaking in a very calm and gentle voice)All right now?

Dr X: No (he gets up), you're going to go and listen to that tape-recorder you've got.

A: No, no, no, no, that's not the important thing now. Just a look at how you reacted - what a fuss!You've got yourself all worked up just going on here. It doesn't make sense. Besides you haven't really explained why - you don't want to be recorded. Wouldn't you like to tell me why you're so angry?I'll tell you why - because suddenly there I was, in control if something!That's why. Up to now you were accustomed to having total control over the situation, and then suddenly a new element is introduced, and upsets things.

Dr X: I'm not used to physical violence.

A: What do you mean - "physical violence"?

Dr X: Pulling down that tape-recorder was a violent act.

A: An act of physical violence?(Utter astonishment)

Dr X: Besides, you're perfectly well aware it was - all you have to do is look where my telephone is to see there has been physical violence. (The telephone ended up on the floor after the previous episode: "You're not going to pick up that phone")

A: Now listen, are you serious?Did you enjoy saying what you just said?Are you happy now?I want to be sure you're all right. Are you feeling OK?Everything is working?Ooh, ooh. . . (using baby language)Doctor!(speaking every softly and gently)Coo-coo. . . Come on, you've got to say something; don't you want to tell me?Well!Just look at this situation!It's ridiculous!Let's try to rise to the occasion, will we?

Dr X: Look - all this you've just been saying - what you were just explaining to me. . .

A: Yes?What?

Dr X: you would do well to listen to it over again.

A: Of course - and you as well- to listen to your silence. . . You're the one who is repressed, since you can't speak. I pull out a tape-recorder and all of a sudden you cut off!That was the image you used - you said: 'Cut it out. 'well you've cut out your own game, haven't you, the way a murderer cuts out when he gives himself up. I'm not cutting out; on the contrary, I want to carry on, I want us to get closer to the truth. . .

Dr X: Your time is up; you'll have to go.

A: No!time doesn't exist!

Dr X: Yes it does!

A: No it doesn't. . . We'll have a good time from now on, believe me.

Dr X: You have now explained me something - well, all you have to do is draw the right conclusions from it. But you have explained something. . .

A: Yes?

Dr X: . . . that you should have understood a long time ago.

A: What?

Dr X: Your attitude.

A: What do you mean my attitude?

Dr X: Your attitude, what you've just explained. . .

A: My attitude?What about yours? - (buzz at the door)you think you can just cut me off

Dr X: What you have just explained is your attitude. Did you hear that?Someone else is waiting to see me.

A: What do I care?The next victim's in no hurry.

Dr X: Well, I do care.

A: (speaking stiffly and authoritatively): We will not leave this room until matters have been cleared up concerning what has taken place and the problem of your responsibilities and your failure to meet them. Don't talk to me about physical violence; it was you who began the physical violence by forcing me to lie down on that couch; it was you who twisted me, who turned my head upside down. It was you who distorted things, don't you realize that?don't you realize that all of a sudden you look ridiculous?There's something beyond this moment here now!There's something shameful about your present, infantile behaviour!

Dr X: You see how dangerous you are; I told you that you were dangerous.

A: Doctor X, you're a clown!. . . and an ominous clown at that!You are dodging the issue. . . I've come two or three times a week to you for I don't know ow many years, and what have you given me?If I'm mad and dangerous as you say I am at the moment, all you're doing is reaping what you've sown, what you've invested with your erroneous theory. Take note of that. And after all, this little scare should do you a lot of good - all I'm asking you to do is think a bit about what you're doing: it's sort of a little assignment I'm setting you - it's not at all that serious!It's not going to hurt you!


Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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