Existential Hammer Blow

A couple of weeks past I indulged in a “parlour game” of naming 15 books that somehow influenced my life. I thought it might be fun to explore what impact these texts made. It seems logical to begin with the book that had most influence.

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938). At 17, a phase of dabbling with religion left me unconvinced. I was vaguely aware of existentialism. Nausea was the book that erased four years of mysticism and occultism. After reading the book twice in succession I came to the conclusion of my search for meaning.

Two years of disquietude followed as the discovery reshaped how I was to live in life. During that period I  read Sartre, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. I attempted Heidegger. Indirectly Nausea lead to Kafka and Dostoyevsky, both whom became important influences. Twenty-five years on I still strive to define myself and to live an authentic existence. I frequently fail, taking little reassurance from the knowledge that Sartre was frequently lead to inauthenticity. Each year I examine my personal commitment to bring meaning to my existence.

My recent reading of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge brought strong memories of Nausea. It is said that The Notebooks were a source of Sartre’s inspiration.

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