Thursday, February 05, 2004
Philosophy Now: "Existence is problematic and disturbing. In one weekend strip, Schulz succinctly describes the horror of discovering one�s own existence in the world:
Linus: I�m aware of my tongue ... It's an awful feeling! Every now and then I become aware that I have a tongue inside my mouth, and then it starts to feel lumped up ... I can't help it ... I can't put it out of my mind. ... I keep thinking about where my tongue would be if I weren't thinking about it, and then I can feel it sort of pressing against my teeth ...
Sartre devoted an entire book to this experience - his 1938 novel Nausea in which his character Roquentin is alarmed to discover his own actuality. But Linus sums the point up very well in a few frames.
Existentialism has been accused of being defeatist and depressing (and Sartre didn�t help his cause with terms like 'abandonment', 'despair', and 'nausea'). But Peanuts also demonstrates the optimism of the philosophy. Why does Charlie Brown continue to go out to the pitcher's mound, despite his 50 year losing streak? Why try to kick the football, when Lucy has always pulled it away at the last second? Because there is an infinite gap between the past and the present. Regardless of what has come before, there is always the possibility of change. Monstrous freedom is a double edged sword. We exist, and are responsible. This is both liberating and terrifying."
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