Monday, June 13, 2011

Sartre's Fountain Pen

"[T]he pen which I possess is the same as all other pens.... But in addition I possess in it the possibility of writing, of tracing with it certain characteristic forms and color (for I combine the instrument itself and the ink which I use in it).  These characteristic forms and color with their meaning are condensed in the pen as well as the paper, its special resistance, its odor, etc. With all possession there is made [a] crystallizing synthesis.... Each possessed object which raises itself on the foundation of the world, manifests the entire world...."  - Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness.


Jesse said...

I don't understand what Sartre meant by saying that the pen manifests the entire world. I assume he is speaking of the pen as particular example, the general being things in the world. I think it is the word manifest, I don't like that word.

Damon Young said...

Jesse, for Sartre, the 'world' isn't simply the external stuff 'out there'. Like Heidegger, he sees 'world' as something I project as 'out there'. It's a general background, tied up with my general way of being. The pen is there for us against this background, but it also points back to it.

Put less clumsily, there's no 'world' for Sartre. It's really 'my world'. And my pen, however generic, is part of this.