An angry crow mocked me this morning. I couldn’t finish my croissant, and fled the café in despair.
The crow descended on the croissant, squawking fiercely. Perhaps this was its plan.
Perhaps there is no plan.
Thursday, 16 July, 1959: 7:45 P.M.
When S. returned this afternoon I asked her where she had been, and she said she had been in the street.
“Perhaps,” I said, “that explains why you look ‘rue’-ful.”
Her blank stare only reinforced for me the futility of existence.
Friday, 17 July, 1959: 12:20 P.M.
When S. came through my study just now I asked her to wait a moment.
“Rueful,” I told her. “Because ‘rue’ is the French word for street.”
“What?” she said.
“From yesterday,” I said.
“Oh,” she said. “Yeah. Right.”
“And you said you had been in the street.”
“I got it,” she said.
“It was a pun,” I said.
“Got it,” she said. “Puns aren’t your thing, are they?”
“They fill me with dread,” I admitted, for it is true.
“I gotta go,” S. said. “Hey, from now on? Maybe not so much for you with the jokes. It’ll be like an hour for lunch, I gotta thaw the poulet.”
Existence is a vessel that can never be filled.
Sunday, 19 July, 1959: 8:15 A.M.
Let others have their so-called “day of rest”! I shall continue to strive, to think, for in work alone is Man’s purpose. This is what the bourgeoisie seem never to grasp. Especially that lout M. Picard from No. 11. Every day is a “day of rest” for that tête de mouton. How I wish he did not have his Citroën up on blocks in the front yard! Appearances are without meaning, but still, it does not look nice.
Wednesday, 22 July, 1959: 10:50 A.M.
This morning over breakfast S. asked me why I looked so glum.
“Because,” I said, “everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident.”
“Jesus,” S. said. “Aren’t you ever off the clock?”
Monday, 27 July, 1959: 4:10 A.M.
Lunch with Merleau-Ponty this afternoon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I was disturbed to hear that he has started a photoblog, and skeptical when he told me that although all its images are identical—a lonely kitten staring bleakly into space as rain falls pitilessly from an empty sky—he averages sixteen thousand page views per day. When I asked to see his referrer logs, he muttered evasively about having an appointment with an S.E.O. specialist and scurried away.
So this is hell.
Monday, 3 August, 1959: 11:10 A.M.
I was awakened this morning by the sound of an insistent knocking at my door. It was a man in a brown suit. He seemed to be in a hurry, as if Death itself were pursuing him.
“One always dies too soon—or too late,” I told him. “And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are—your life, and nothing else.”
“Okay,” he said. “But I’m just the UPS guy.”
“Oh,” I said. “I— Oh.”
“Sign here,” he said.
“I thought you were a harbinger of Death,” I told him.
“I get that a lot,” he said, peering down at the place on the clipboard where I had signed. “Spell your last name?”
“S-A-R-T-R-E,” I said.
“Have a nice day,” he said.
A nice day. How utterly banal.
Tuesday, 4 August, 1959: 3: 30 P.M.
A year ago, in a moment of weakness, I allowed my American literary representative to sell one of my books to a cinema producer for what was described as “a bold exploration of contemporary issues.” Yesterday I received a packet of publicity materials for a film titled “Johnny Sart: PD Squad.” The subtitle, or “tag line,” was “No badge. No gun. No exit.” A series of transatlantic telephone calls followed. Apparently I am unable to have my name removed from this abomination, but I will receive what is called a “co-producer” credit.
Existence is an imperfection.
Thursday, 20 August, 1959: 2:10 P.M.
If Man exists, God cannot exist, because God’s omniscience would reduce Man to an object. And if Man is merely an object, why then must I pay the onerous fees levied on overdue balances by M. Pelletier at the patisserie? At least this was the argument I raised this morning with M. Pelletier. He seemed unconvinced and produced his huge loutish son Gilles from the back, ominously brandishing a large pastry roller. The pastry roller existed, I can tell you that.
Friday, 2 October, 1959: 5:55 A.M.
My sleep continues to be troubled by odd dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was a beetle, clinging to the slick surface of a water-soaked log as it careened down a rain-swollen stream toward a waterfall. A figure appeared on the horizon, and as the log drew closer I could see that it was Camus. He held out a hand and I desperately reached for it with my tiny feeler. Just as the log drew abreast of Camus he suddenly withdrew his hand, swooped it through his hair, and sneered “Too slow,” adding superfluously, “Psych.”
It is my belief that the log symbolizes the precariousness of Existence, while the tiny feeler represents Man’s essential powerlessness. And Camus represents Camus, that fatuous ninny.
Tuesday, 10 November, 1959: 12:05 A.M.
It has been over a month since I have updated my blog. I am seized with an urge to apologize. But to whom, and to what end? If one truly creates for one’s self, why then am I so disturbed to find that my unique visitors have dwindled away practically to nothing, with a bounce rate approaching ninety-five per cent? These twin impulses—toward reckless self-regard and the approbation of others—neatly negate one another. This is the essential paradox of our time.