Nausea of Jean-Paul Sartre

I have been reading this book, nausea, for quite a long time. No matter how short this book is, don’t fall for the less number of pages, it is a lot of content that exhausts an average mind. When I began this book, I read 85 pages in a single go. But then, I didn’t dare touch it for two months. It is not that I didn’t want to open the book; there was never a moment that I didn’t think about it.

Everything I look reminds of “nausea”. The way Jean-Paul Satre wrote the book, he takes time to explain everything around the character. The character hits an existential crisis and begins to observe everything around him keenly. He begins to explain everything to us in a detailed manner. We are reading his journal, the pages left from his diary. His name is Antoine Roquentin, and his dairy explains all his thoughts and feelings about everything.

There is a page where Antoine explains how he felt anxious when he thought about his existence. He keeps reminding himself that he exists. And he keeps repeating “I think therefore I exist” in his mind numerous times and at the end, says, “I think therefore I am moustache” and loses it! He begins to question everything since he picks up a rock to skip it in a river; begins to question the essence of stone, and since then, he asks the nature of everything.

He begins to contemplate people, their actions, lifestyles; doesn’t see meaning in doing whatever it is. And he questions everything in a rather radical manner by drowning in absurd imaginations. Jean-Paul Sartre has carefully written the thoughts of Antoin in a way that while reading the pages that consist of anxious thoughts, we feel nervous too. I found myself observing everything in a more detailed manner and started describing things around me after reading 85 pages in a single go. I’m like Antoin too, and this book acted like the rock for him in his story.

Ever since I have read those pages, I became sensitive to smell. I began keen on observing the smells of everything. I even had a vomiting sensation, literal Nausea after sniffing certain smells. All the world is smells, visuals, audio, touch and taste. And there is nothing more to it; I feared reading this book any more. I needed time to continue reading this gem. And I have overloaded myself with it. After this overdose, something continued its journey with me—the meaning of this particular book.

Even though I have more 80 pages to read, I somehow knew where he was leading with the rest of the book. The effect that the 85 pages have done to my mind, I had the thoughts of Antoin for next 80 pages. I understood Antoin, and I suffered from similar views. I knew where Jean-Paul would lead me next. And I had existential crisis myself at the age of 19, and it was four years ago on 21st September that I first this ‘nausea’ that Sartre calls.

This Nausea bothered me, and I had cried multiple nights because I didn’t know anything anymore. Everything seemed false because nothing had any meaning. I don’t know if this is how it feels for everyone, but the way Sartre had written it down, I could relate to it. I resumed reading the remaining pages to see if I was right and yes, I was. And I predicted right, and it went over like I thought it would. But it was more beautiful than the first half of the book. He did not just raise multiple existential questions; he tried to resolve it.

Even though the resolution is not correctly baked, even Sartre knows that. He didn’t claim to have answers for the problems. Instead, he ended with a note of temporary patches that Antoin would do to avoid Nausea. It is a significant literary work as its style is new, post-modern and unique. Not only for its academic brilliance, but it is also philosophically sound. Unlike other books which claim to be resolutions of your life and offer fake solutions through influence, Nausea is pretty much straight forward and asks you questions. It is up to you to resolve those questions, or you can choose to embrace them.

I Exist in a dog’s mouth

I was sitting in a cafe, sipping a cold drink. The drink passed in my throat, I can feel it going down my throat and falling into my belly. Right when it hit the bottom of my stomach, I couldn’t feel it anymore. This thought struck my mind, and it made e forget that I’m sitting in a cafe. I was lost in my thoughts. This drink, when mixed with all the half-digested junk in my tummy, becomes something else. It isn’t the soda that I drank anymore. It’s some dude’s half-digested stomach acid. So, the soda doesn’t exist now. It existed a while ago till it was in the throat. But now, it doesn’t, and you can’t turn me upside down and get it back. If you try that, you might get that semi-digested white puke that is not the soda anymore.

So, is this what happens to me? What A I? I’m a skeletal structure, and above that, a muscular one fit with all the organs in a way that I have consciousness. I’m me, till I am conscious. So, if I’m not conscious, aware and awake, am I non-existent? I lost in dreaming about ‘nothing’. I could see something black everywhere. But I know that ‘nothing’ would not be black, because black is something, for it to be nothing, I have to imagine a blank space. I realised that it is humanly impossible to imagine nothingness as we have something or the other to always think about. We can not really think nothing like those meditation fantasisers claim. The close one to nothing that I could think was everything!

I imagined everything instead of nothing but excluded me out of the picture; I imagined the world as it is, full of splendour and horror. And I imaged the dog sniffing in garbage and perverts sniffing thrown panties. The world is the same, the mixture of every opinion it contains. Just one difference; I don’t exist anymore. This thought struck me from the back like an ice pick with full of snow on it. I felt breathless like, Jean-Paul Sartre; nausea. Nothing mattered anymore. I can see my reflection in the empty bottle on the table in front of me. It exists, it is a plastic bottle designed to contain a liquid that people consume; It has a purpose that’s solved, and I trash it.  And it goes into the dump and from there it recycles. It’s molten and becomes some other product, or ironically the same bottle again.

But this one, this new transformation is different from the older bottle. Even though it is the same bottle, it is different. It is not the old bottle now, it changed. As per our understanding, its existence has not ceased but transformed into something else or the same thing again. But it is not exact, it is different. Maybe there was an imperfection in the bottle somewhere, perhaps it had an extra plastic layer on it, but it has some new flaws now. It is not the same bottle even if it looks like it. This made me realised how objectified are religious people. Maybe they don’t voluntarily do that, but they compare themselves with objects. They think like this bottle even they are made by some external being, filled with some purpose, and after the fulfilment of that purpose they believe they are re-used.

I think I know how they came to this conclusion. The religious people are just like me, just like how I felt about this soda bottle, they thought about it too, looking at the mirror. They compare themselves with the things that they see because these things are what immediate to our sense and intellect. We can see them, think them. But we can’t think about what is not there. We can’t think about the things that happened before us that connect to us. We don’t know what our parents were thinking about before conceiving us. Or we don’t know what happens in the baby-making factory of God. We don’t even know if God is a dude or an animal. What we speak about or think about God or anything that we haven’t seen by comparing it with things that we have seen and try to make it sense.

But we haven’t seen them, we are not capable of thinking about something before or after our existence. But I have successfully done that. I have thought about the world where I don’t exist. I ceased to exist. I’m lying in the ground, six feet under. Years have passed, and my descendants don’t even know that it is me that brought them into existence. The graveyard has been destroyed, and now the land is a real-estate venture. The tractors moved the soil. My fragile bones broke because of the pressure, and now they got jumbled; My favourite face, the beautiful face that I apply moisturiser every day is now a skull with no features half-cracked inside the ground. And my flesh in the tummies of maggots long back now. My energy drained in the soil went into the roots of a plant. It sucked me with its rots from the humus. And my jaw, my beautiful jaw broken because of the soil-digging, has now surfaced. My jawless skeleton lay underground.

This spectacular jaw attracted the skinny stray dog. It found a play toy in this calcium deposit that I once wielded a majestic beard; It held the jaw in its mouth and ran all over the venture. And It played with my jaw, and the tooth that was stuck on it fell on the ground. My sharp-canine got into a car tyre, made it flat. This angry driver threw my tooth out of this tyre on the filth beside the road. I exist! I exist in the plant’s body, I exist in the maggots that have eaten me, I exist in the dog’s mouth and car’s tyre. But it is not me, it was me, but not me now. Now it is a mere veil that had held me like the empty bottle with no soda. My muscles, my organs, my brain and my functions and my user-interface, the mind, they don’t exist. I transform into a plant, my cells live.

I existed even before I was born, like the stardust. We all don’t cease to exist, we transform. And we change from a being sitting in a cafe sipping a cold drink to dog’s play-bone and a maggot’s midday meal. We are eternal. It is just our consciousness that is not. It is a limited offer which is a result of evolution by natural selection. The cell in evolution had thought it’s best if this ape gets consciousness. Thus, the mind, and existence of consciousness. And here I exist. As a memory in the mind of myself writing this in the future after my cafe episode. Then the regular diversion have started. I have crossed all these thoughts off my brain; I wanted to close my eyes for a while and when I open it, I don’t want to picture my death anymore. And I want to delude myself into believing that I have a purpose like that plastic bottle.

I have lot of things to do, it is time to work, I thought. I stood-up walked away and looked all these people in the cafe, not knowing what happens to them after dying. They think they will transport to heaven or some think they stop existing. No, they exist, in a different form. A form that we don’t want to imagine. We turn in to the half-digested juice of this world’s other beings. But no, why should we think about it, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just look at that toe massager, dream of buying it. Let’s chase a paper print called money. Because I think any diversion is better than thinking about this. Or maybe we can embrace it, by calling it a random event that we had no say.

Our purpose, or to be precise, the purpose for us to have consciousness is to make these cells replicate and live long. Thus our purpose ends as other beings in the world use our energy, cells and etc. Hence our purpose solves. We transform! We exist, not same, but different!