3/27/06

Sartre and De Beauvoir: How the mighty have fallen...

Ah the power of simple conversations ! Overwhelmed by a week of
collecting and organizing seemingly random data from my labwork,I
finally finished a draft of my article for submission and was looking
forward to completely clearing science out of my mind at least for the
week-end. Unfortunately (or fortunately as it turned out) we had a
social gathering at my boss's place to celebrate a labmate 's wedding.
I was dreading more talk about science but to my surprise, the evening
went into a totally different direction and we conversed well into
midnight about political activism, arts and existentialism. Enjoyable
night overall if you add the fact that the red wine was excellent (
probably one of the reason why the conversation was flowing freely :-) ).
Scientists venting about politics, arts or philosophy are quite
humourous akin to women's take on football: refreshing and sometimes
very insightful :-) ( that was a harmess jab at all the feminists reading ).
8 hours after hearing my boss explaining how arts would always define
human existence better than any political achievement, my mother phones me at home
and drops casually that she is finishing a book on Simone de Beauvoir.
Not a surprise, because gender equality is at the center of her work and she
had the chance to meet the author of the book in person. However,
I am surprised
because my week-end was suddenly invaded by French Existentialism when
I was expecting College Basketball ! ( Go Purdue University !) I had to
expand my very little knowledge of the legendary Sartre/Beauvoir
couple that shaped the mind of the 60's and google away.
What I found would not please the fan in my mother. There is plenty of
critics or followers of course but this article about their
relationship desacralizes a bit of the aura that Sartre and Beauvoir

carried. To summarize, De Beauvoir and Sartre engaged more often than
not into a menage a trois with a young female apprentice. There were 2 problems
however.
First, although De Beauvoir was open about her bisexuality, it seems
that she was surrendering more than embracing in the affairs that
Sartre were engaging their relation into.Although she had affair of her
own, it seemed that she was yearning more than anything to have Sarte
all for her own. This is a bit of a dissappointment for the absolute
icon of modern feminism. Second, they openly despised the 3rd wheel in their adult games.
Granted, not many could attain their intellectual prowess, but their
superior intellect should have directed them away from comtempt for other human beings
and their use of as pawns. ( What is it that is so difficult about the
proper use of superior powers anyway? see US foreign policy,
Sartre mind games and every other bully in junior high school)
This article may contain inaccuracy and if so,
please let me know.
However, the "New Yorker" is usually quite thorough

about fact findings. I just hope someone can give it a proper rebuttal so
that my mother won't hate me :).

9 comments:

  1. Lova,
    I love your blog because I can never be sure what to expect when I come here. You are a very well-rounded individual with a great variety of subjects you can write about.
    Unfortunately, I do not think I can give a rebuttal so you better be prepared to face your mother's ire ! I read this review of a book depicting their relationship in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/13/AR2005101301640.html a while ago.
    It seems Beauvoir was only human after all.
    By the way, by the sheer number of biographies dedicated to her, it seems Beauvoir is a far more fascinating subject for biographers than Sartre.

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  2. sipakv, I figure you might be interested in the article and I was kind of hoping you would be providing the rebuttal :). This is all just a ploy to finally find out which school you went to...just kidding. I agree that De Beauvoir seems to be a more appealing character than Sartre. It might be that I am just too thivk for Sartre. Thanks for the link and the not-so-accurate compliment :)

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  3. Anonymous2:38 PM

    i would not more than agree with Sipakv on Simone de Beauvoir: after all she is an human being..

    let me quote the auteure of "les Soeurs beauvoir" I met recently in Paris; "Desormais,Simoe et Sartre pouvaient se voir reguliierement...une jeune eleve de Simone,Olga, se joignit a leur cercle.Sous le charme,Simone songeait qu'elle avait peut-etre trove celle qui,dans son coeur ,pourrait remplacer sa regrettee Zaza,"...( sa soeur Helen)...Sartre subissait aussi la grace indefinissable d'Olgaet assistait intrigue a la naissance de cet amour hors norme.Un soir,il demanda a sortir seul en compagnie d'Olga.Fidele aux prinipesqu'ils avaient etablis,Simone accepta.Ainsi debuta le trio amoureux qui devaient inspirer les deux ecrivains par la suite.Cette preuve de liberte absolue qu'ils se donnaint ne resista pas au quotidien.La passion se teinta de jalousie.La souffrance,prix de l'independance,etait devenue intolerable et ruina leur entente..."

    L'essentiel etait la liberte,qui presiderait a leur relaton car "entre eux,il s'agit d'un amour necessaire;il convient que nous connaissions des amours contingentes" ( Sartre,cite par Simone de beauvoir dans "la force de l'age"...
    Is it a ref">5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
    6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
    7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shad

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  4. Anonymous2:51 PM

    i tried my best to prepare a rebuttal or jsut a comment on Sartre and Simone menage a trois, with Olga who used to be Simone student..and I was quoting the auteure of "les Souers Beauvoir" whom I met sometimes in Paris..but your blog did not want to take it (ah la technique...) so I give up for today..too late; all in all .Sipakv is right,afterall Simone is an human being and she suffered the relationship, being to passionate..since Sartre decided that this love would be "un amour necessaire;il convient que nous ayons des amours contingentes" (Sartre cited by Simone dans la Force de l'age...)and that Liberty would be the only driving force,she gave up and decided that her liberty ,much more manageable that anything else in their relationship would be the writing...that's it!

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  5. anonymous > I think that comment made its way here but it is somehow mixed with other "quotes" :) I think Sartre the "atheist" would find the irony quite striking: Holy scriptures mingled with his "amours contingentes". :)

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  6. Lova,
    My dark side cannot help but find all these menages a trois titillating and all the sordid revelations about Sartre and Beauvoir's life on the oreiller have rendered them even more fascinating to me.
    Your mom sounds like a very interesting person too : wanting to learn hindi, having met Simone, wearing sari, etc...
    Now regarding the compliment you do not think you deserve : I am not circumspect when granting compliments. It can turn against me though : I complimented somebody's blog and what do I know? I had an angry troll the next day on my blog. Hilarious !

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  7. I am so with you on the irresistible appeal of the dark or more human side of people we hold in high regards. It makes them even more intriguing, IMO. Anoter example that stroke the tennis fan in me is the fate of Bjorn Borg, iceman and undisputed king of 70's tennis who is riddled with debt and has to sell all 5 of his wimbledon trophies. Compelling.
    If trolls could post nice things like you do, I would subscribe to troll-R-us :) My mom is an intriguing person but she , just like me, is very much a computer novice as seen from the comments :)

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  8. follow up on the De Beauvoir chat:
    Simone's sister is monitoring a forum on De Beauvoir's work: http://simonedebeauvoir.free.fr/index_fr.htm

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  9. I sure would hate to be a famous somebody's sister.

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