26 May 07
Two Tonys on the Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir
“Whattaya readin’?” Two Tonys asked.
“The Ethics of Ambiguity,” I said, “by Simone de Beauvoir.”
“She was an author and feminist existentialist philosopher. Her and Jean-Paul Sartre had an open relationship. When nihilists claimed life is meaningless, de Beauvoir responded that it is up to us to put meaning into our lives. I like that idea. It puts the meaning of my life in my hands. She also wrote The Second Sex.”
“Of course we hafta put meanin’ into our own fuckin’ lives, 'cause each and every one of us values different things. What is important to you isn’t important and meaningful to an ant. Findin’ a grasshopper’s leg and draggin’ it down a hole in the ground may be meaningful to an ant. Winnin’ an Academy Award may be meaningful to Dustin Hoffman. And I’m fuckin’ sure that developin’ the polio vaccine put meanin’ in Salk’s life."
“That’s exactly right. Just like talking to you and writing up blogs are ways I put meaning into my life. De Beauvoir had some other interesting ideas and quotes I’d like to run by you.”
“She wrote about women who mindlessly adopt the opinions and values of their husbands.”
“For thousands of years women were treated as fuckin’ prisoners. It’s thanks to women’s lib that durin’ the past two-hundred years women have been encouraged to think for themselves. All of the major religions – Christianity, Islam, and the Jews – claim God is a man, recruit men to be their top dogs, and have treated women as second-class citizens or worse for centuries.”
“Saint Ambrose claimed it was the feminine instability of Eve that caused Adam to sin,” I said. “And one of the Pope Leo's said the husband is the head of the wife who by nature is fitted for housework.”
“It’s been the same on all continents. The bottom line is: we’ve all gotta think for our fuckin’ selves. Look at how many dumb motherfuckin’ men there are in this world.”
“De Beavoir also claimed that ignorance and error are facts as inescapable as prison walls.”
“Ignorance and error are different from plain dumbness. The fucks who voted for Bush are plain dumb. But who hasn’t made mistakes? Have you ever been ignorant?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Has your dad at some point in his life been ignorant?”
“Exactly. My point is: we all get a little ignorant from time to time.”
“What do you think about de Beauvoir writing that life imprisonment is the most horrible of punishments because it preserves your existence while preventing you from doing what you’d most like to be doing?”
“De Beauvoir is fulla shit on that one. What about the motherfucker workin’ for Intel in his cubicle? How’s life imprisonment worse than bein’ a corporate fuckin’ slave? So what if he gets a lunch break. He’s gotta punch in again at 12:30. So what if he gets to check out the women in business suits kickin’ it at Starbucks drinkin’ their frappuccinos. He’s still just a fuckin’ slave like I am. Instead of whippin’ him, they dangle him stock options. He’s fuckin’ his life off for the benefit of corporate slave drivers. It boils down to different degrees of slavehood, and there’s motherfuckers on the outs whose minds put them through worse punishments than imprisonment – that’s inner slavery.”
“She wrote that if your future is blocked off you can revolt and reject it via suicide.”
“When you’ve been locked up for most of your life, you learn that you hafta adapt. Who do you think lasted the longest in concentration camps?”
“People who put meaning in their lives, like Viktor Frankl.”
“Exactly. The ones who survived had adapted. Didn’t you say that de Beauvior encouraged people to put meanin’ in their lives?”
“But now she’s sayin' if the shit hits the fan commit suicide?”
“Yes. Are you saying her theory is flawed?”
“I’m just wonderin’ where she’s comin’ from?”
“The way I read it, she meant that suicide is a choice that puts you back in control of the situation.”
“That makes sense.”
“The question of suicide seemed to weigh heavily on the minds of the French existentialists. Camus said the most import question was whether to commit suicide or not.”
“And the Schop said death is what makes most motherfuckers philosophise in the first place."
“Death is the true inspiring genius, or the muse of philosophy…. Indeed, without death man would scarcely philosophise.” – Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Idea: (1819)
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