In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.
One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, and compassion
Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise. (p. 248)
I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.
I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.
Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.
In particular those who are condemned to stagnation are often pronounced happy on the pretext that happiness consists in being at rest. This notion we reject, for our perspective is that of existentialist ethics. Every subject plays his part as such specifically through exploits or projects that serve as a mode of transcendence; he achieves liberty only through a continual reaching out towards other liberties. There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future. Every time transcendence falls back into immanence, stagnation, there is a degradation of existence into the ‘en-sois’ – the brutish life of subjection to given conditions – and of liberty into constraint and contingence. This downfall represents a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if it is inflicted upon him, it spells frustration and oppression. In both cases it is an absolute evil. Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself, to engage in freely chosen projects.
The misfortune is that although everyone must come to [death], each experiences the adventure in solitude. We never left Maman during those last days... and yet we were profoundly separated from her.
One night I summoned God, if He really existed, to show Himself to me. He didn't, and I never addressed another word to Him. In my heart of hearts I was very glad He didn't exist. I should have hated it if what was going on here below had had to end up in eternity.
Alone: for the first time I understood the terrible significance of that word. Alone without a witness, without anyone to speak to, without refuge. The breath in my body, the blood in my veins, all this hurly-burly in my head existed for nobody.
I was too much of an extremist to be able to live under the eye of God and at the same time say both yes and no to life
It was easier for me to think of a world without a creator than of a creator burdened with all the contradictions in the world.
In a way, literature is true than life,' he said to himself. 'On paper, you say exactly and completely what you feel. How easy it is to break things off on paper! You hate, you shout, you kill, you commit suicide; you carry things to the very end. And that's why it's false. But it's damned satisfying. In life, you're constantly denying yourself, and others are always contradicting you. On paper, I make time stand still and I impose my convictions on the whole world; they become the only reality.
He reflected. 'I know a lot of different kids of people what I want is to show each of them how the others really are. You hear so many lies!
Yet I loathe the thought of annihilating myself quite as much now as I ever did. I think with sadness of all the books I’ve read, all the places I’ve seen, all the knowledge I’ve amassed and that will be no more. All the music, all the paintings, all the culture, so many places: and suddenly nothing. ... If it had at least enriched the earth; if it had given birth to… what? A hill? A rocket? But no. Nothing will have taken place. I can still see the hedge of hazel trees flurried by the wind and the promises with which I fed my beating heart while I stood gazing at the gold-mine at my feet: a whole life to live. The promises have all been kept. And yet, turning an incredulous gaze towards that young and credulous girl, I realise with stupor how much I was gypped.
If I were to share Jaques' existence I would find it hard to hold my own against him, for already I found his nihilism contagious.
Jaques was only what he was; but from a distance he became something more, became everything to me, everything I did not possess. It was to him I owed pains and pleasures whose violence alone saved me from the deserts of boredom in which I found myself bogged down.
Every war, every revolution, demands the sacrifice of a generation, of a collectivity, by those who undertake it.
Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom: that of the creator; to foster such an aim, one must first unequivocally posit oneself as a freedom. The restrictions that education and custom impose on a woman limit her grasp of the universe...Indeed, for one to become a creator, it is not enough to be cultivated, that is, to make going to shows and meeting people part of one's life; culture must be apprehended through the free movement of a transcendence; the spirit with all its riches must project itself in an empty sky that is its to fill; but if a thousand fine bonds tie it to the earth, its surge is broken. The girl today can certainly go out alone, stroll in the Tuileries; but I have already said how hostile the street is: eyes everywhere, hands waiting: if she wanders absentmindedly, her thoughts elsewhere, if she lights a cigarette in a cafe, if she goes to the cinema alone, an unpleasant incident can quickly occur; she must inspire respect by the way she dresses and behaves: this concern rivets her to the ground and self. Her wings are clipped. At eighteen, T.E. Lawrence went on a grand tour through France by bicycle; a young girl would never be permitted to take on such an adventure...Yet such experiences have an inestimable impact: this is how an individual in the headiness of freedom and discovery learns to look at the entire world as his fief...[The girl] may feel alone within the world: she never stands up in front of it, unique and sovereign.
Therefore the misfortune which comes to man as a result of the fact that he was a child is that his freedom was first concealed from him and that all his life he will be nostalgic for the time when he did not know it's exigencies.
(…) symbolism did not fall out of heaven or rise out of subterranean depths: it was elaborated like language, by the human reality…
I didn't know the first thing about the people around me, but that didn't matter: I was in a new world; and I had the feelings that at last I had put my finger on the secret of freedom.
We have to respect freedom only when it is intended for freedom, not when it strays, flees itself, and resigns itself. A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom must be denied. And it is not true that the recognition of the freedom of others limits my own freedom: to be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future; the existence of others as a freedom defines my situation and is even the condition of my own freedom. I am oppressed if I am thrown into prison, but not if I am kept from throwing my neighbor into prison.
But I was brought up on convent morals and paternal nationalism, I was getting bogged down in contradictions.
Why one man rather than another? It was odd. You find yourself involved with a fellow for life just because he was the one that you met when you were nineteen.
The younger and healthier a woman is and the more her new and glossy body seems destined for eternal freshness, the less useful is artifice; but the carnal weakness of this prey that man takes and its ominous deterioration always have to be hidden from him...In any case, the more traits and proportions of a woman seem contrived, the more she delighted the heart of man because she seemed to escape the metamorphosis of natural things. The result is this strange paradox that by desiring to grasp nature, but transfigured, in woman, man destines her to artifice.
I’ve done everything I wanted to do, writing books, learning about things, but I’ve been swindled all the same because it’s never anything more.
All those minds that are interested in finding out the truth communicate with each other across the distances of space and time. I, too, was taking part in the effort which humanity makes to know.
Being on the fringes of the world is not the best place for someone who intends to re-create it: here again, to go beyond the given, one must be deeply rooted in it. Personal accomplishments are almost impossible in human categories collectively kept in an inferior situation.