Re-reading the Greats: Jean Paul Sartre, Pepe Escobar, et. al.

For our bi-polar world....

Open book.

I’ve been reading Pepe Escobar’s articles for over 30 years–since the time I would read re-prints of his “Asia Times” articles in The Japan Times–my daily reading when I lived in Japan. These days, I mostly catch his work at a number of excellent global websites.

Pepe (if I may call him that, respectfully) was first-rate decades ago; his light is undiminished now. There are, however, 2 items in this article on Jean Paul Sartre that I’d like to consider here:

1) “His last great passion was for the creative anarchy of 1968, the half-centenary of which will be celebrated in the coming year. At the time, he remarked: ‘If one rereads all my books, one will realize that I have not changed profoundly, and that I have always remained an anarchist.’ and–

2) “Critique of Dialectical Reason remains a stinging tour de force, and even with its many flaws (for which its ambition is a mitigating factor) is a must read for all of us who still (naively) believe — against all evidence offered by the intractability of geopolitics — that reason may be a force for good in the world.”

Surely there’s a basic contradiction here. How does one reconcile “anarchy” with “reason”? Reason is orderly, logical, analytical. Anarchy may be “fun” (for some), “creative” (for some), but it is essentially anti-rationalist. Neither Sartre nor Pepe E. seem able to reconcile these 2 very different energies.

And, perhaps that is one of the greatest problems we face now as a species! Just how do we reconcile opposites?

Another great writer/thinker (from the 19th Century) was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He defined “poetry” as “the reconcilement of opposites.”

Re-reading, re-examining the greats may help us through the labyrinth of our confused and confusing Zeitgeist.

In an age of Hollow Men and existential angst, re-read Sartre –
by Pepe Escobar

Sartre (left) and Jean-Luc Godard, one of the leaders of French “nouvelle vague” cinema movement, address journalists in February 1971, in Paris. Photo: AFP