Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

If you don’t want to be uncomfortably aware of your own existence–the heat of your breath, the presence of your tongue against your teeth, the weight of your hand resting on your thigh, the stickiness of your eyes, all of this, constant and inescapable–then possibly, avoid this book.

The story takes the form of a ‘found journal’ featuring the writings of an Antoine Roquentin, who one day is suddenly overcome with a vivid perception and hyper-awareness of his own existence, and the existence of everything around him. He is disgusted by this, and terms this feeling, when it comes over him, as ‘the nausea.’

It may seem bizarre, at first, to be sickened by existence. But, we hardly are conscious of the existence of anything at all, most the time. The chair you are sitting in is invisible, non-existent until just now when I mentioned it, and it popped into your reality. Your toes in your shoes, your left knee, your right earlobe–all are consciously non-existent 95% of the time.

There is a lot more to the story than that, and it is extremely well written, unsettling, and strange. It also got me a bit interested in reading about existentialism. I think those kind of ideas could have a positive effect on my writing.

A short and very powerful read. Recommended.


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