Paradigmatic Form

41. “Nausea”

The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the café, I am the one who is within it.

– Jean Paul Satre: ‘Nausea’, 1938

Kermode admires in Sartre’s “La Nausee” the tension between paradigmatic form and contingent reality; but it seems to me clear that the viscous “reality” of “La Nausee” is just as much a fiction as any lies constructed in “bad faith,” although the former may be a fictive version of the world derived from the less explicit, probably unconscious perceptions of “order.” Are our fictions ever checked or qualified by anything but other fictions?

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967

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