Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Happy 100th, Jean-Paul

"Christ!" he said out loud. "No one shall say we didn't hold out for fifteen minutes!"

He made his way to the parapet and stood there firing. This was revenge on a big scale. Each one of his shots avenged some ancient scruple. One for Lola whom I dared not rob; one for Marcelle whom I ought to have left in the lurch; one for Odette whom I didn't want to kiss. This for the books I never dared to write, this for the journeys I never made, this for everybody in general whom I wanted to hate and tried to understand. He fired, and the tables of the Law crashed about him -- Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself -- bang! in that bugger's face -- Thou Shalt Not Kill -- bang! at that scarecrow opposite. He was firing on his fellow men, on Virtue, on the whole world. Liberty is Terror. The Mairie was ablaze, his head was ablaze. Bullets were whining round him free as the air. The world is going up in smoke, and me with it. He fired: he looked at his watch: fourteen minutes and thirty seconds. Nothing more to ask of Fate now except one half-minute. Just time enough to fire at the flowers, at the gardens, at everything he had loved. Beauty dived downwards like some obscene bird. But Mathieu went on firing. He fired. He was cleansed. He was all-powerful. He was free.

Fifteen minutes.


Iron in the Soul
Jean-Paul Sartre (21 June 1905 - 15 April 1980)

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