11 March 2009

No Exit

Apparently we weren't responsible for it until next week, but I got Sartre's play No Exit read this afternoon anyway. The full text is available online if you don't mind giving scribd some basic information (fyi: I haven't had any junk mail from them; just one, solitary, registration confirmation message).

It's...strange. If you've ever heard the phrase, "Hell is other people," well, it comes from this play. These three people find themselves in a place which they know is hell, yet it's nothing like the sort of hell people usually imagine. It's a room, furnished in what the characters all agree is hideous fashion. These three people are to spend eternity stuck in this unchanging room with only each other for comfort. There's a door leading to the outer corridor, but, as soon as it opens, they all feel a strong dread of actually leaving the room, even though in the moment before they were all desperate to get away from one another.

It's...interesting, in a macabre sort of way. I don't think I'd say that I liked it, but I found it fascinating and worth reading, so I can't say that I disliked it, either.

Levenson has an interesting idea about Sartre, and all of the 20th century existentialists, actually. He said that they were all wounded, in such a way that they could never completely appreciate what he calls "the Good", yet the wound was such that they were better able to perceive the path to "the Good". I'm still pondering this, but I think there may be some truth to it (though I would use different terminology; "the Good" is how Plato's ideal is usually translated).

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