La nausée…

…No book was ever more seminal in my development and as I return to it again over forty years later I realise what a profound effect Jean Paul Satre had on both my thinking and my unconscious mind. Like an individual archetype he stands colossal in my memory and in my mind’s eye. The English Penguin edition was my most prized possession and when I later learned French it became the livre poche I used to pose with on the rive gauche. Avec Gaulloises, naturellement! It so impressed the first love of my life, Josette, that she asked me to a party in London and I got my first bottle of Chanel Pour homme for Christmas, 1968. But all that was still to come. In 1963 I also got my first transistor radio, a Perdio Pall Mall on the never, never. My mother was the guarantor and so I had my initiation into the world of high finance and Real Music. In those days rock and pop was provided by Radio Luxembourg 208 metres on the medium wave, under the blankets after dark in my bedroom which was in the attic of our house. Looking back that little room was perfect. Satre and the Beatles and a Latin primer. My Latin master called me a dark horse. So it was. I was destined to become un participant inconnu, or perhaps a black sheep. Catching up from behind when nobody was looking. “Condemned to be free.” Being and nothingness has been the pivotal starting point of my thinking ever since. Like Roquentin as I perceive and act in the world, everywhere I look, I find situations imbued with meanings which bear the stamp of my existence. Is it just an illusion? The rapid march of time dissolves the solidity of experience and as I get older I turn to Plato to find a way out of my cave. Yet always I end up with reflections on the wall. Reflection, as Satre would say, is a form of anxiety. “Hell is other people.” Oh to be back under the sheets listening to the top ten and dreaming of the future that is now. Yet that is bad faith. We move on and live out our freedom. Yesterday saw the end to many of my pet acquired ideologies. Today I am free and have to accept that responsibility. Sapere aude

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About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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