Mallarmé, or the Unhappy Consciousness. In his person, a confrontation will take place for the sake of all humanity between Singular and Universal, Means and Ends, Idea and Matter, Determinism and Autonomy, Time and Eternity, Is and Ought. From two seemingly incompatible selves, a new, “ambiguous Self” will emerge: the schoolteacher heckled by his pupils becomes the new Prometheus, the hero of an ontological drama; the humiliated functionary, never daunted by the certainty of failure, proposes to replace God; the man of resentment, who bravely and modestly accepts the solemn consecration which centuries of human History have ordained, “the only one in whose name social change and revolution came to pass so he might rise to freely give his life and understanding”; the impotent man who lends his eyes and mind to Poetry and to Humanity so they might unite with open eyes at last, and who helps them stake everything in one last throw of the dice; the dreamer, always in a fog and forever absent, who is unafraid to write: “I am a capacity which the spiritual universe possesses for seeing and developing itself out of what I once was.” And if you should ask this frail dandy, so like a woman, for his credentials, he will first apologize for his roundabout way of reaching his conclusion: “All this was not discovered through the normal development of my faculties but through the sinful, hurried, satanic and above all facile path of the Abolition of my Self, which produced not strength but a sensibility inevitably leading me to my destination. Personally, I am without any merit whatso ever.” As for credentials, yours are just as good as mine: “Anybody can be the Chosen One—You or I.

Mallarmé, or the Poet of Nothingness

Jean-Paul Sartre

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