Holden Battles the Summer Doldrums: Radically Free Conclusion (Perhaps?)

This is the last post of Holden Battles the Summer Doldrums.


I made very little progress in Being and Nothingness this week. In part this was due to several family functions. Yet, much of my reading lethargy arose from the looming “what will blog about.” This question was interesting to think about for a week, but if it gnaws at me then it takes me away from enjoying the “philosophy process.” Reading an entire 230+ page chunk of Sartre in a week is neither enjoyable nor very educational. I made it only 70-ish pages into Part Three because I was reading it to understand, not to complete it. Nonetheless, I felt very frustrated about what I would write about given that I'm still quite behind on my proposed schedule. Furthermore, I felt like I couldn't get as much out of Being and Nothingness because I was distracted by my frustrations.


In this sense, I was experiencing the inevitable frustration that comes with the inability to fully control my being, and by continuing to write the blog and keep my summer reading scheduled I would strive for this delusion. In Sartrean terms, I would attempt to realize myself as being-in-itself: a self-contained, unquestioned and unquestionable being of an object, as if I were an inkwell or a mug. But I am not an inkwell or a mug. I am unable to be a being-in-itself. I am not "blog writer" or "reading-to-write-a-blog," I am a human consciousness that sometimes functions as those things. I am not being-in-itself; I oscillate between being-for-itself and being-for-others, or put more plainly and clearly (I think): I oscillate between acting according to my consciousness while being conscious of other people's' freedom and well-being. Pretending that I am a being-in-itself, like "blog writer and only blog writer," would be to live in bad faith; it would deny my freedom of consciousness and only frustrate me.


Blogging helped me read and develop habits for reading when I am more preoccupied in the future. In this regard, bloggin allowed me to realize my freedom by aiding in my project. But now the blog itself is taking precedence over the reading and learning. I argue that ending the blog now may constitute an act of radical freedom that will cause two beneficial "metamorphoses" (a word that Sartre likes, but I don't really care for).


First, it will propel to a future where I am reading two books at a time, but at my own pace. I drop the act of "blog writer" and affirm my ability to freely change trajectory.


Second, reading allows one to see a situation or problem from different angles, which will aid one in acting in such a way that they do not stagnate, but instead realize and subsequently interrogate their perpetually ambiguous existence as it defined their actions; thus by ending the blog when it leads me to live in bad faith, I hope I’m modelling this power of the written word. I value reading above blogging, and ending the blog affirms, even brings into being, this value. Books can change your direction, so reorient when it’s time.

Maybe ending the blog qualifies as an act of radical freedom, or maybe that's saying too much. Nonetheless, Sartre and existentialism have often been critiqued, and these critiques constituted my unfortunate second-hand introduction to the writer and movement. I'm so glad I acted to learn what they were all about for myself; this experience is the manifestation of a certain freedom of consciousness on my part, I think.


Now, just for kicks, here’s a list of books I planned on potentially reading but never got to. I’ll get to them in the future though. Follow the hyperlinks to learn about each. One might catch your fancy.



Master and Margarita

History of Violence

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Beware of Pity


A Separate Peace

The Member of the Wedding

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Golden Notebook



Being and Time

Silent Spring

Gift of Death & Literature in Secret

Illumination and Night Glare

Incontinence of the Void

Dig If You Will the Picture


On Human Nature


Where the Water Goes

So with that, Auf Wiedersehen and happy reading!