ETC

Cover illustration for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing. The menu is not the meal. The pronoun is not the person.

Shout out to Dom Heffer @domheffer and Thom Gencarelli for the chance to see this drawing featured.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre makes the shift from self to other.

Greg Artus writes in issue 145 of Philosophy Now: “Sartre’s famous illustration of the Look is his example of the jealous lover. Suppose I am a lover who, for whatever reason, is consumed with jealousy about my lover’s activities, and so I’m spying on her through a keyhole. I am completely immersed in what I’m doing. My attention is focussed entirely outside of myself on the task in hand, and I’m not thinking about me but about the object of my attention. I am entirely unreflective; I’m just doing. In this mode, I am what Sartre calls a body-for-itself – a physically embodied doer, immersed totally in its active engagement with the concrete world of activity, focussed only on the purposes to hand.

But then I notice that someone – some Other – is watching me as I spy on my lover. This Look of the Other snaps me out of my immersion and forces to me to see myself from the outside, so to speak. Under this withering Look of the Other, I am brought face to face with the fact of what I’m doing and how it must look to Others. Now I am no longer focussed outwardly on my task, but am focussed inwardly, on myself, viewing myself and my actions as another might view me. I am no longer focussed on my lover, but reflecting upon what I am doing and how it looks. Thus I become what Sartre calls a body-for-Others; an engaged body that is an object of scrutiny and evaluation by another body-for-itself-an Other who is engrossed in watching me as I watch my lover.” 

The ever-present past

What to do with The Past? That’s always a good question. Whether it’s good stuff or bad stuff, it’s always right there at your fingertips, accumulating day on day. Maybe you’re pleased with this bit here and that little bit there. Or maybe you look back and shudder. I know I do. Either way, where you are right now is the only thing that really matters.

Joan Didion says it especially well: “I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

I thought William Shatner would be a good way to illustrate all this. The actor who can never get away from his most famous role. So here stands Bill, pretending he’s not at home, Captain Kirk forever banging on the door.

Jokerman

I drink to the truth, and the things we said. I drink to the man that shares your bed.

I love Bob Dylan. I don’t love everything he does—some of it really makes my ears hurt—but the way he can do words. They stick to me like sand and glue.

Mark had a very wonderful dream

Another one featuring Prime Minister Rutte. This one sees him dreaming a dream in those sweet moments before awaking to begin another day running the Netherlands. The man driving the shoe is his deputy and Minister of Health and Welfare, Hugo de Jonge.

Hugo seems like a nice man, but as a buitenlander, it’s hard for me to tell what’s what when it comes to Dutch politics. I do know that he’s rich and wears funny shoes. So, who knows, maybe a millionaire with a shoe fetish is exactly what the good people of the Netherlands need when it comes to someone making life-affecting decisions on national health and welfare.