on The Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre

Baflr23_walls_johnson_630Seth Colter Walls at The Baffler:

Jean-Paul Sartre’s chief political fidelity was not pledged to Communism, or Marxism, or even the amorphous spirit of May ’68 (with which he was sometimes associated)—but rather to a program of constant self-revision. In a 1969 interview, Sartre provided a cheerful example of his propensity for containing disputatious multitudes. Taking stock of some of his earlier outbursts on behalf of revolutionary purism, the philosopher-novelist-playwright exclaimed: “When I read this, I said to myself: ‘It’s incredible, I actually believed that!’” In other words, Sartre demanded the freedom to be crazily wrong, and then to notice this reality according to his own timetable. Ronald Aronson, the coeditor of We Have Only This Life to Live, a new collection of Sartre’s nonfiction, writes in his introduction that Sartre was fond of “over-the-top analyses” and was continually at pains to remind the world that “situations and people can change.” They do, and one can, of course—but even fans of Sartre must grapple with the obvious flights from accuracy that crop up in his writing.

more here.