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在一切都要通过计算来衡量意义的当下,与朋友们的相聚享乐看似是一种对时间与精力的浪费。但在存在主义的标尺下,在一遍遍将石头推上山,石头又注定会滑下来的荒谬性面前,人生本来就没有意义,又何来浪费?既然生活本就充满恶意,同伴间彼此给予的温暖反而是一种抵抗。Although life can be menacing, it can and should be enjoyable. 重拾选择快乐的权力吧。




作者:SkyeC Cleary

译者:黄倩霞 &张松



Being and drunkenness: how to party like an existentialist


Existentialism has a reputation for being angst-ridden and gloomy mostly because of its emphasis on pondering the meaninglessness of existence, but two of the best-known existentialists knew how to have fun in the face of absurdity. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre spent a lot of time partying: talking, drinking, dancing, laughing, loving and listening to music with friends, and this was an aspect of their philosophical stance on life. They weren’t just philosophers who happened to enjoy parties, either – the parties were an expression of their philosophy of seizing life, and for them there were authentic and inauthentic ways to do this.
存在主义有着这样的名声:焦虑又悲观,主要是因为它强调思考存在的无意义。但两位最著名的存在主义者却清楚如何在荒谬中取乐。 西蒙娜·德·波伏娃和让-保罗·萨特把很多时间都用来派对:与朋友聊天、喝酒、跳舞,开怀大笑,放肆地爱,再听听音乐,这是他们生活哲学立场的一面。这几个哲学家也不只是碰巧享受聚会 – 派对是他们表达 “把握生命” 的哲学想法的一种方式,对他们来说,有真实和不真实的方式来做这件事。
For de Beauvoir in particular, philosophy was to be lived vivaciously, and partying was bound up with her urge to live fully and freely, not to hold herself back from all that life had to offer. She wrote that sometimes she does ‘everything a little too crazily … But that is my way. I have rather not to do the things at all as doing them mildly.’
Sartre loved the imaginative playfulness that alcohol facilitated: ‘I liked having confused, vaguely questioning ideas that then fell apart.’ Too much seriousness hardens the world, pinning it down with rules, they felt, suffocating freedom and creativity. Taking parties too seriously dissipates their effervescence. Seriousness flattens them into institutions, hollow shams of gratuitously flaunted wealth and materialism, pathetic pleas for acknowledgement through the gazes of others, or hedonistic indulgences in sordid ephemeral pleasures that serve only to distract participants from their stagnating lives. A serious party neglects the underlying virtues of playfulness and generosity that make a party authentic. De Beauvoir tried smoking joints but, no matter how hard she inhaled, she remained firmly planted to the ground. She and Sartre self-medicated with amphetamines to remedy hangovers, heartbreaks and writers’ blocks. Sartre tripped on psychedelics for academic purposes: he took mescaline to inform his research on hallucinations. But alcohol would always be their drug of choice for partying.
A party isn’t a party without others, of course, and, although Sartre is renowned for his line ‘Hell is – other people!’ in No Exit (1944), that was far from the whole story for him: both he and de Beauvoir discovered themselves in their relations with other people. ‘In songs, laughter, dances, eroticism, and drunkenness,’ de Beauvoir writes in The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947), ‘one seeks both an exaltation of the moment and a complicity with other men.’ For her, complicity and reciprocity are the foundation of ethical relationships because other people provide the context of our lives. And because our world is infused with the meanings that other people are giving it, our existence can be revealed only in communication with them.
当然,没有了其他人,派对就不是派对了。虽然萨特在1944年的作品《间隔》中以“他人即地狱”这句话而闻名,但他的故事远不止此:他和德·波伏娃都在与他人的关系中发现了自己。 “在歌曲,笑声,舞蹈,色情和酗酒中” ,波伏娃在她1947年的作品《模棱两可的伦理学》中写道, “人们寻求这一时刻自己的欢愉,也寻求与他人的共谋。” 对她来说,同谋和互惠是道德关系的基础,因为其他人构成了我们生活的背景。因为我们的世界注入了其他人赋予它的意义,所以我们的存在只有在与他们交流时才被揭示出来。
Parties can cultivate our connections to others, bring meaning to one another’s lives, and reveal the world with them. They can also confirm one another’s existences, serving as a reminder to friends that they matter, and that one matters to one’s friends. Moreover, the warmth and laughter that authentic partying sparks can help people cope with the chaos of life. De Beauvoir wrote of her wartime parties in occupied Paris: they saved up food stamps and then binged on food, fun and alcohol. They danced, sang, played music and improvised. The artist Dora Maar mimed bullfights, Sartre mimed orchestra-conducting in a cupboard, and Albert Camus banged on saucepan lids as if in a marching band. De Beauvoir wrote that: ‘We merely wanted to snatch a few nuggets of sheer joy from this confusion and intoxicate ourselves with their brightness, in defiance of the disenchantments that lay ahead.’ These were small acts of rebellion in the face of real fears for the future.
Critics of de Beauvoir and Sartre would try to discredit them with accusations of inspiring orgies, encouraging hedonism, and being what the philosopher Julia Kristeva in 2016 called ‘libertarian terrorists’ who formed a ‘shock commando unit’ to seduce their sexual victims. Nevertheless, they weren’t encouraging all-out hedonism, because they didn’t value personal pleasure over responsibility. For de Beauvoir, there’s nothing philosophically wrong with having orgies, it’s the same as with any other aspect of life: it matters how you approach the situation. If a person, she wrote, ‘brings his entire self to every situation, there can be no such thing as a “base occasion”’. And it’s true that de Beauvoir and Sartre had many lovers, but casual sex wasn’t part of their repertoire. They thought that promiscuity was a trivial use of freedom and, instead, wanted intense love affairs and friendships. (Nevertheless, people were hurt in these relationships, and although de Beauvoir acknowledged responsibility for this, neither she nor Sartre were ever held morally accountable by others in any meaningful way.)
反对德·波伏娃和萨特的人会用很多罪名来抹黑他们:鼓励放纵、鼓励享乐主义,还在2016年被哲学家朱莉娅·克里斯托娃(Julia Kristeva) 称为”自由意志主义恐怖分子”,说他们组建了一个”突击队”来引诱性受害者。然而,他们并没有鼓励全面的享乐主义,因为他们并没有把个人欢愉放在责任之上。对德波伏娃来说,纵酒狂欢并没有什么哲学上的错误,它和生活中的其他方面一样,重要的是你如何处理这种情况。她写道,如果一个人”在任何情况下都会全身心投入,那么就不可能有‘卑鄙的场合’这样的事情。” 的确,德·波伏娃和萨特有很多情人,但随意的性爱并不是常态。他们认为滥交是对自由的一种微不足道的利用,相反,他们想要强烈的爱情和友谊。 (然而,在这些关系中,人们受到了伤害,尽管德波伏娃承认自己对此负有责任,但她和萨特从未被他人以任何有意义的方式追究过道德责任。
Rejecting social norms is a process of destruction: refusing to be defined primarily by what others think you should be, how you are supposed to act, and the choices you are supposed to make. Partying can involve a similar act of destroying such expectations, as well as expending time, money, food, drink and brain cells. Some might call this a waste, but what are we saving ourselves for? A good life isn’t always a long one, and a long life isn’t necessarily a happy or fulfilled one. Rather, what’s important is to embrace life passionately. Existence is a process of spending ourselves, and sometimes requires leaving our former selves behind to create ourselves anew, thrusting forward into the future, disclosing our being into new realms. We do this by opening ourselves to, and playing with, possibilities.
Yet partying like an existentialist also calls for caution. While it can be a reprieve from a world full of despair and distractions, it’s bad faith to use it as a means to escape one’s situation. Running away from life or succumbing to peer pressure reduces oneself to what de Beauvoir called an absurd ‘palpitation’. For partying to be authentic, it must be freely and actively chosen, done purposefully, and in a way that reflects one’s values. Furthermore, too much partying can become exhausting and monotonous when it siphons off the zest from life and becomes a repetitive and meaningless series of encounters, which is why existentialist parties tended to be only occasional events. Camus would ask de Beauvoir if it’s possible to party as hard as they did and still work. De Beauvoir replied no. To avoid stagnation, she thought that existence ‘must be immediately engaged in a new undertaking, it must dash off toward the future’.
Authentic existential partying, then, requires a kind of self-mastery: to hold oneself in the tension between freedom and responsibility, playfulness and seriousness, and to nurture our connections without denying our situations. It encourages us to create our own links with the world, on our own terms, vigilantly detaching ourselves from internal chains, including habits or dependencies such as alcoholism. Such partying also incites us to challenge external chains, such as institutional restrictions, and so the stubborn insistence on living life as one chooses and in ways that strengthen our bonds to one another can be an act of revolt. An existential approach to partying recognises that although life can be menacing, it can and should be enjoyable, and being with others in the playful mode of partying can help us bear the darkness through a shared sense of euphoria, harmony and hope.
Both De Beauvoir and Sartre spent their rich lives embracing new undertakings, but took their whiskey and vodka bottles with them. This led to serious health problems, including cirrhosis, but they never regretted their partying or drinking, and by their own philosophy, there is no reason they should have done. They chose it freely, did it on their own terms, and took responsibility for the consequences. That’s what partying like an existentialist is all about.



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