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We can’t stop here, this is lobster country!

November 22, 2009

This is a strange one folks and I can’t help but wonder what Jean- Paul Sartre would have thought of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The full story appears over at The Times Online but you can read the bones of it below:

“As one of the great European thinkers of the 20th century, Jean-Paul Sartre popularised existentialism, became a working-class hero — and was chased down the Champs Elysées by a pack of imaginary lobsters.

A previously unpublished account of the late French philosopher’s improbable drug-induced crustacean visions has surfaced in New York, where a new book of conversations between Sartre and an old family friend will be published later this month.

John Gerassi, a New York professor of political science whose parents were close friends of Sartre, talked at length to the philosopher in the 1970s about his experiments with mescaline, a powerful hallucinogenic drug derived from a Mexican cactus.

Although it has long been known that Sartre experienced visions of lobsters — which he sometimes referred to as crabs — Gerassi’s account offers startling new details of the philosopher’s descent into near-madness as he battled to make sense of what he had come to regard as the intellectual absurdity of his life.

“Yeah, after I took mescaline I started seeing crabs around me all the time,” he says in Gerassi’s new book, Talking With Sartre. “They followed me in the streets, into class … I would wake up in the morning and say, ‘Good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?’ I would say, ‘Okay guys, we’re going into class now . . . ’ and they would be there, around my desk, absolutely still, until the bell rang.”

Like numerous other free-thinking writers from Aldous Huxley to Hunter S Thompson, Sartre was intrigued by the mind-expanding properties of the peyote cactus. His mescaline experiments started in 1935 and affected his thinking for more than a year.

They proved a big influence in the writing of his 1938 novel, Nausea — now regarded as a manifesto of existentialism. Shellfish visions also featured in his 1959 play, The Condemned of Altona, in which a race of crabs sits in judgment on humanity.

In between, Sartre told Gerassi, “I began to think I was going crazy.”

He consulted a young psychiatrist named Jacques Lacan — who later became another of France’s foremost intellectuals — and they attributed Sartre’s crab-infested depression to his fear that he was being pigeon-holed as a teacher.

“That was the worst part, to have to be serious about life,” said Sartre. “The crabs stayed with me until the day I simply decided that they bored me and I wouldn’t pay attention to them.” By then it was the 1940s, France was occupied and Sartre had other things to worry about.”

Read the entire article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6926971.ece

 

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2009 9:47 pm

    Slash used to see pixies and goblins in the height of his usage. Also, he, whilst naked, chased a maid around his room as he thought she was trying to kill him. She sued him too apparently.

    • November 23, 2009 9:05 pm

      I do remember reading about Slash seeing mini-predator aliens all the time. Maybe that is why Axl is starting to resemble a ginger predator these days, to keep Slash at bay lol

  2. November 23, 2009 1:37 pm

    Jesus… Wow.

    • November 23, 2009 9:07 pm

      Yeah that was pretty much my first reaction too. I must pick up this book and see what else Sartre has to say. My philosophy lecturer interviewed Sartre back in the 60’s, I must ask him if he ever mentioned lobsters!

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