Quotes about Death 3: Jean-Paul Sartre

From the short story The Wall:

At that moment I felt that I had my whole life in front of me and Ithought, “It’s a damned lie.” It was worth nothing because it was finished. I wondered how I’d been able to walk, to laugh with the girls: I wouldn’t have moved so much as my little finger if I had only imagined I would die like this. My life was in front of me,shut, closed, like a bag and yet everything inside of it was unfinished. For an instant I tried to judge it. I wanted to tell myself, this is a beautiful life. But I couldn’t pass judgment on it; it was only a sketch; I had spent my time counterfeiting eternity, I had understood nothing. I missed nothing: there were so many things I could have missed,the taste of manzanilla or the baths I took in summerin a little creek near Cadiz; but death had disenchanted everything. ....

Tom was alone too but not in the same way. Sitting cross‐legged, he had begun to stare at the bench with a sort of smile, he looked amazed. He put out his hand and touched the wood cautiously asif he were afraid of breaking something,then drew back his hand quickly and shuddered. If I had been Tom I wouldn’t have amused myself by touching the bench; this was some more Irish nonsense, but I too found that objects had a funny look; they were more obliterated, less dense than usual. It was enough for me to look at the bench, the lamp, the pile of coal dust to feel that I was going to die. Naturally I couldn’t think clearly about my death but I saw in the way things fell back and kept their distance, discreetly, as people who speak quietly at the bedside of a dying man. It was his death which Tom has just touched on the bench.

In the state I wasin, ifsomeone had come and toldme I could go home quietly, that they would leave my life whole, it would have left me cold: several hours or several years of waiting is all the same when you have lost the illusion of being eternal. I clung to nothing, in a way I was calm. But it was a horrible calm - because of my; my body, I saw with its eyes, I heard with its ears, but it was no longer me; it sweated and trembled by itself and I didn’t recognize it anymore. I had to touch it and look at it to find out what was happening, as if it were the body of someone else. At times I could still feel it, I felt sinkings, and fallings, as when you’re in a plane taking a nose dive, or I felt my heart beating. But that didn’t reassure me. Everything that came from my body was all cockeyed. Most of the time it was quiet and I felt no more than a sort of weight, a filthy presence against me; I had the impression of being tied to an enormous ermin.Once I felt my pants and I felt they were damp; I didn’t know whether it was sweat or urine, but I went to piss on the coal pile as a precaution.

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