For those who either did not know it, or, if they knew it, did not understand it; understanding it now, not guaranteed.
Around the age of 12 (1948), in a Gujarati charitable school, millions of questions, ideas, curiosities, began to make their rounds through my mind. Today I am unable to fathom how it happened, when the school did not have a library with works of thinkers or scientists, nor a teaching staff which was educated enough to rouse the fire of hunger for knowledge. Among many names, from various mythologies, sciences and civilisations and history, which threw themselves at me for me to grapple with, were philosophers of the past two or three hundred years, mainly from the West, like Socrates, Schopenhauer, Voltaire, Kant, Heidegger, Hegel, Nietzsche, Camus, Bertrand Russell and, most relevant to my writing today's essay, Jean-Paul Sartre. I had no access, either to the English language or to a mentor for consultation or engagement. My familiarity, therefore, with these and countless others, forever would remain a mystery to me.
I am writing today specifically about how existentialism became a brand philosophy, and Sartre its ultimate spokesperson. I confess I was no less fascinated by it than was war-torn Europe, especially Eastern Europe, which, impoverished and forlorn, embraced existentialism in its variegated forms. It probably still continues to do so, even as, as far as I know, Sartre's relevance, if any, is fading elsewhere.
For four to five years (between the ages of 15 to 20), I began to feel that I had found my ultimate calling: existentialism was my philosophy and my religion. But then, I became another man, which is another story (Theory of Contingency and Inevitability of Inevitability). But I did not lose my verve as an explainer or spokesperson for Sartre and company, and began, in lighter moments, to claim that my frivolous interpretation of it was the real one. In other words, I re-shaped it in words and in my narratives, and in parables that I built to illustrate existentialism.
Today my wife, Nancy (@nancygandhi), came across the 3-minute video by Will Braden, Paw de Deux. The moment I saw it, by happenstance, I found in it the definition of my interpretation of the brand of existentialism which was perpetuated by Sartre and others, which the author of the video almost certainly did not intend.
I am delighted to present, through the courtesy of M. Will Braden, my brand of existentialism. I hope you exist as you enjoy, or vice versa. Bonjour. (Please watch both Henri Part I and Henri Part II - Paw de Deux, below.)
Note: Those who are interested in what I call the existential cat (in philosophical terms, connected with Camus, Sartre et al.) can go to this link, courtesy the creator, Will Braden.
If I did not understand your version of existentialism the cat, a twin of my Murphy, did a good job of explaining it.
The cats do lead a life of existentialism. I have seen it led, first hand.
While you do not like them as much I think Murphy will do a great job being an insignia for your version of the theory.
I never had a cat in my house. I used to not like dogs till we acquired a great dane. He was all of eight inches high when we got him as a two month old puppy. In three months thereafter he grew to thirty two inches and he was huge. He reminds me so much of the cat featured in the video. I was seeing my dog and not the cat in the video.
Dogs, too, lead a life of existentialism.
Unfortunately, my dog does not exist in our house as we had to give him away.
I do not know how I exist without my dog.
Thanks for the tour.
V T Narendra