Remembering Sartre

BY BELISARIO RIGHI


Ritratto di Jean-Paul Sartre


I have seen Antoine Roquentin. Or maybe not. But the face glimpsed between the vertical lines of a Kupka painting seemed to be his. A moment and he disappeared, like years ago, walking in the corridor of a hospital, through the crack of a door ajar, Ferdinand Bardamu appeared to me. To each his place! Some people never stop affirming their existence. The awareness of their existence makes them alive. Sometimes you find them, for some reason, in unusual corridors and neither time nor space has anything to do with them. They are just there. They do not speak, they do not even breathe, they are little more than ectoplasms, but they are there and their presence conditions you. When it rains and it's cold, and the puffed smoke of your cigarette tinges the black of the evening white, you know it's time to stay warm in your coat, sitting in a tavern drinking a glass of Chianti. It is the only thing to do in those moments. Without making your presence felt, you feel the need to be among other people, as silent as you, with their thoughts spinning in your head. There is no contact, but there is communion. It is a strange, particular partnership, from which you cannot exempt yourself, because in your solitude you feel close, even if the answer you are looking for is not always at the bottom of the glass. The smell of cabbage soup spreads through the streets of the silent village and adds to the scent of lime that sprinkles the air, which has become a conductor of electricity and odors due to the rain. The dog that passes by with its head down is afraid of you, but not too much, because it wags its tail. He is just shy and would like a caress that you could give him, but you don't. You have no more strokes to give and in the meantime the cigarette makes your fingertips yellow, and when you use the handkerchief to clean your dripping nose, the acrid smell of nicotine adds to the other smells. Is it so important what you thought about that friend of yours, not so beautiful, but available with whom you spent a few hours? Certainly not, but the mere fact of remembering it realizes its presence and you are no longer alone. Loneliness when there are two can be stronger than alone, but two can bear better.

Those last pages of the last book you read were ugly and suddenly took away the pleasure of reading that the previous ones had given you, but maybe they were bad just for you. The writer, who has spent so long on pleasant descriptions, cannot have fallen into the trap of ruining his book in the end. Surely it is you who did not understand or deliberately wanted to cancel what was good that was written. Ruining, breaking, destroying is a good exercise to feel alive. When the time comes that everything goes smoothly, it will mean that you are dying. There is no life without controversy. Struggle is essential for living. But the struggle necessarily brings death. Someone has to win. There are no draws. It's just a matter of points of view. What difference does it make when you walk along the street, if the houses come to meet you, or are you the one who goes to meet them? No difference! In the end, in one way or another, it is always you who move, get upset, break down, while everything else is still, immobile and immutable. In a few years those houses will always be there, planted in their place, aged, the walls yellowed by time, but will they still be there, instead you? It rained a little, just enough to fill the holes in the road with water. In them, slight flashes and reflections of light alternate and inside those small mirrors of water your imagination drowns and your mind runs who knows where. Tomorrow, when the rain has stopped and you retrace that road, the water from the puddles will have evaporated and with it your musings will have dissolved. Thoughts are perhaps related to fleeting and evanescent things.

Arguments that lead to think in a definite and univocal way do not exist. Reality is different, it constantly changes aspect and leads you to ever new reflections, so that you will never know what is right and what is wrong. From a window comes a popular, crude and catchy piece of music. Your soul is predisposed to listening to those simple notes which, in their sequence, immerse you in a genuine reality, enunciated without baroque trappings and, even if you don't like it, your memories run back to your childhood years where everything was simple and genuine, and things were what they appeared to be. You feel happy. Continuing the walk, on the street you come across a church. You come in, partly out of curiosity and partly to rest. There is a requiem mass. Someone has gone. The lights are low. Everyone is silent, someone is crying. An air of sadness fills the nave. An organ sings a Haydn mass. This time the music is beautiful. Your memories now go to the years of your maturity, your thoughts become heavy. Your heart tightens and you sadden. Your sadness is different from that of the participants at the last farewell of the deceased, but you are still sad. So you can't help but wonder why before, a little music, artistically not beautiful, made with four meager notes, gave you joy and with this Haydn masterpiece, on the contrary, you plunged into unhappiness? It cannot be that joy corresponds to the not beautiful, just as sadness is suitable for beauty. It can not be! So what are these humors that slide over your body and end up thickening in your mind in miasmas of a different nature? You don't know and you don't even want to think about it, you just know you have to get out of that church. You were looking for a relaxing bed and instead you have found a hard and uncomfortable mattress on which you cannot lie down and your mind generates only bad thoughts. Enough!

Get out and resume your way. Wrapped up in your coat, you light another cigarette. Resume the journey. The cool of the evening erased that unpleasant sensation. Now you are ready again to immerse yourself in your soul, solicited by the shadows, by the noises, by the scents you encounter. It is said that when a cat meows with a certain cadence, repeatedly, it is looking for love. That black and white kitten that you don't see, but hate its meowing, is looking for her beautiful kitty. She is in estrus and wants a boy. How nice it would be if we men did this too, without many maneuvers which in turn anticipate other preliminaries. Aren't we running out of time? Do we have so much of it to waste on actions that, most of the time, they don't make us land on anything? Take a look at the clock. It's late. You have to go home. It's over for today. Tomorrow everything will start all over again.




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