It’s nothing: I am the Thing. Existence, liberated, detached, floods over me. I exist. I exist.
Above all, not move, not move… Ah
I could not prevent this movement of the shoulders…
The thing which was waiting was on the alert, it has pounced on me, it flows thorugh
me, I am filled with it. It’s nothing: I am the Thing. Existence, liberated, detached, floods over me. I exist.
I exist. It’s sweet, so sweet, so slow. And light; you’d think it floated all by itself. It stirs. It brushes by me, melts and vanishes. Gently, gently. There is bubbling water in my mouth. I swallow. It slides down my throat, it caresses me-and now it comes up again into my mouth. For ever I shall have a little pool of whitish water in my mouth- lying low -grazing my tongue. And this pool is still me. And the tongue. And the throat is me.
I see my hand spread out on the table. It lives- it is me. It opens, the fingers open and point. It is lying on its back. It shows me its fat belly. It looks like an animal turned upside down. The fingers are the paws. I amuse myself by moving them very rapidly, like the claws of a crab which has fallen on its back.
The crab is dead: the claws draw up and close over the belly of my hand. I see the nails – the only part of me that doesn’t live. And once more. My hand turns over, spreads out flat on its stomach, offers me the sight of its back. A silvery back, shining a little- like a fish except for the red hairs on the knuckles. I feel my hand. I am these two beats struggling at the end of my arms. My hand scratches one of its paws with the nail of the other paw; I feel its weight on the table which is not me. It’s long, long, this impression of weight, it doesn’t pass. There is no reason for it to pass. It becomes intolerable… I draw back my hand and put it in my pocket; but immediately I feel the warmth of my thigh through the stuff. I pull my hand out of my pocket and let it hang against the back of the chair. Now I feel a weight at the end of my arm. It pulls a little, softly, insinuatingly it exists. I don’t insist: no matter where I put it will go on existing; I can’t suppress it, nor can I suppress the rest of my body, the sweaty warmth which soils my shirt, nor all this warm obesity which turns lazily, as if someone were stirring it which a spoon, nor all the sensatios going on inside, going, coming, mounting from my side to my arpit or quietly vegetating from morning to night, in their usual corner.
I jump up: it would be much better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things. Duller than flesh. They stretch out and there’s no end to them and they leave a funny taste in the mouth. then there are words, inside the thoughts, unfinished words, a sketchy sentence which constantly returns: ” I have to fi… I ex… Dead… M. de Roll is dead… I am not… I ex…” It goes, it goes… and there’s no end to it. It’s worse than the rest because I feel responsible and have complicity in it. For example, this sort of painful rumination; I exist, I am the one who keeps it up. I. The body lives by itself once it has begun. But thought- I am the one who continues it, unrolls it. I exist. How serpentine is this feeling of existing- I unwind it, slowly… If I could keep myself from thinking! I try, and succeed: my head seems to fill with smoke… and then it starts again: ” smoke… not to think… don’t want to think… I think I don’t want to think. I mustn’t think that I don’t want to think. because that’s still a thought.”Will there never be an end to it?
My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop. I exist because I think… and I can’t stop myself from thinking. at this very moment- it’s frightful- if I exist, it is because I am horrified at existing. I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness tho which I aspire: the hatred, the disgust of existing, there are as many ways to make myself exist, to thrust myself into existence.
By Jean-Paul Sartre
Suzanne Shevchenko photography