Existentialist thinkers were also interested in Sade and Sadean topics. For example, Albert Camus writes on Sade from a political standpoint in The Rebel8; and Jean-Paul Sartre deals with sadism from a phenomenological-ontological perspective in Being and Nothingness. The latter is interpreted in two different ways. This analysis leads to the perspective that Sade would not have written anything had he not been imprisoned. The second objective of this paper is to clarify this trichotomy. Moreover, these three different approaches provide an insight into the various forms of sadistic enjoyment.

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Existentialist thinkers were also interested in Sade and Sadean topics. For example, Albert Camus writes on Sade from a political standpoint in The Rebel8; and Jean-Paul Sartre deals with sadism from a phenomenological-ontological perspective in Being and Nothingness.

The latter is interpreted in two different ways. This analysis leads to the perspective that Sade would not have written anything had he not been imprisoned. The second objective of this paper is to clarify this trichotomy. Moreover, these three different approaches provide an insight into the various forms of sadistic enjoyment. The paper is divided into four parts. In particular, she advances the thesis that passivity is imposed on women by a patriarchal society. Second, it will be clarified how this is related to the experience of enjoyment.

For most of his life — Beauvoir emphasises — Sade was a law-abiding person who generally followed the customs of his society. Beauvoir argues that despite following the rules and regulations of his society, Sade dreams of an unbridled freedom that ignores the other and reduces the other to nothing. In the closed space of the brothel his dream of an absolute freedom was realized in the figure of the tyrant.

According to Beauvoir, Sade falls back upon his family history. Indeed, Sade was the scion of an aristocratic and powerful family whose prestige and position was waning.

Indeed, Sade is characterized by both a desire for the other and a lack of involvement with others. This remarkable statement requires further clarification. She claims that during the intense sensation of pain the human body transforms into flesh. A clarification of two aspects can help us to understand this distinction. First, in The Second Sex Beauvoir suggests that the human body is not a dead thing but alive, which means that the body is an expression of our personal desires, attitudes, and expectations TSS Consequently, people respond with a personal and involved attitude: one reads in the body of the other specific desires and acts in accordance with the interpretation of an expressive body.

Second, we have all experienced the phenomenon of forgetting hunger while watching a fascinating movie. Too much preoccupation with the body is a hindrance to our normal actions and is reserved for well- defined places and moments. In summary, having a body implies both that it expresses a soul i. During the experience of extreme physical pain, however, both these aspects of embodiment are missing.

The hurting person cries, groans and screams. The face retracts into a spastic cramp, an animal spasm that communicates nothing and where the recognizable image is obliterated.

Moreover, it is impossible not to focus on a wounded body. The distance, which in everyday life keeps the body in the background, fades away and makes the body come to the forefront as a haunting instance.

Thus, pain means the destruction of the body and the breakthrough of the flesh as the impersonal, anonymous dimension of existence in which one is passively delivered and which one cannot escape. Beauvoir points to the fact that Sade himself never committed murder but rather stops his deeds at the moment his victim collapses.

The fact that the victim as a person is almost disappearing, but is nonetheless still alive, makes possible a relationship with the other. If Sade had killed his victims then he would have only faced mute objects without freedom or the possibility of reaction. According to Beauvoir, this is exactly what Sade wants. Whereas death is the 5 radical destruction of freedom, the cries at the moment the victim is reduced to flesh express a residue of freedom.

But what then is the reason for this interest? Why does Sade, although he reduces the other to an anonymous thing, want to perceive a glimpse of freedom in the other?

Through this awareness Sade recognizes that his life is embedded in an impersonal dimension of existence — the flesh — which precedes his freedom. Here, she describes his enjoyment in terms of rage and fury.

Flames seemed to dart from his eyes. He frothed at the mouth…he whinnied… and he even strangled his partner. The ultimate trauma must, rather, guarantee by its obviousness the success of an undertaking, whose stake exceeds it infinitely. Sade is condemned to death but manages to escape and in the following years succeeds in a sustained effort to mislead his pursuers.

Five years later, he is imprisoned in Vincennes and then moved to the Bastille. He is liberated during the French Revolution when the Bastille is attacked by the rebels. She directly links his literary activity to this fact. One expects violence and sex but no theoretical reflections. The radical philosophy and apology for murder which are exposed in this pamphlet are heavily influenced by the materialistic philosophy of the eighteenth century.

For instance, Beauvoir points out that Sade attacks eighteenth-century civil society, holding that the values and laws of society affirm and maintain established and unjust power relations. For Sade, the altruistic virtues of brotherhood and charity are mere inventions of the bourgeoisie in order to oppress the masses. The source of his attack lies elsewhere; Beauvoir stresses that his aversion is grounded in his philosophy of nature.

One and indivisible, it is an absolute, outside of which there is no reality. For Sade, Nature is a machine producing new life continuously. Nature needs matter in order to continue her creative activity but since matter is not inexhaustibly available Nature must destroy the products she first created. Destroyed life and freed matter enables Nature to continue her activity endlessly. Death is a metabolic process which enables dissolved matter to live in another form of existence.

This eternal movement is regulated by creation and destruction as the two main laws of Nature. The reason why Sade wants to destroy virtues such as compassion and parental love is that they maintain social life.

Indeed, what Nature wants is creation and destruction, the endless movement of matter which is hindered by inert, stable structures and civil virtues. The way the virtuous and morally good Justine dies, Beauvoir argues, should be understood from this perspective.

By letting her 9 die by lightning, Sade wants to indicate that life must be in conformity with Nature and that Nature will inevitably take revenge when this requirement is neglected. Destruction of life frees new material which enables nature to continue its productive activity. When Sade is imprisoned he comes to recognise that his actions — which he believes to be innocent — do not conform to the social order.

He realises that if he wants to be included in society he will need to ignore his individual pleasures. However, given the existential importance of his sexual peculiarities with regard to his relations with others, he will not give up his actions. Specifically, by writing his theoretical dissertations Sade tries to justify his strange and cruel deeds by understanding them as part of a larger metaphysical project.

This metaphysical anchoring, Sade hopes, will convince society to accept his bizarre conduct. Thus, while Sade realises that his actions are incompatible with the moral mores, his materialist philosophy is aimed at the perpetuation of bizarre pleasures without danger of being imprisoned by the authorities. A human being is in the hands of Nature and Nature continues in the cycle of her own creations.

This means that cruelty does not have to be understood as a conscious choice to live in conformity with Nature. According to Beauvoir, this amounts to an appeal to the reader to help Sade free himself of guilty feelings. He begged to be allowed to see his wife, accusing himself of having grievously offended her. He begged to confess and open his heart to her. In short, when Sade develops his metaphysical system, this is not only an expression of his desire for the recognition of his autonomy as detached from society but also an expression of solidarity with and attachment to society and its values.

At first sight, the turmoil caused by his prose seems to 11 be an unintended effect. Sade wants to avenge himself against the Old Regime which excluded him by putting him in jail. Consequently, the development of an immense philosophical system channels his resentment. Sade consciously develops an atheistic philosophy and apology for murder which defies moral boundaries because by this transgression he can take revenge on society.

Although Beauvoir points out that Sade wants to live in conformity with truth, she also stresses that he enjoys the fact that this truth defies society.

Sade, as this interpretation implies, would not have written if society had not imprisoned him. His imprisonment 12 accelerated his decision to write, but the real cause lies elsewhere, and therefore in fact the link between his life and work is not contingent. What is the origin of this insensitivity? Before answering these questions, the apathy of the sadist will be discussed.

Normally, human beings live in mutual involvement with each other, which implies that a person cares about whether her or his acts will be harmful to others or not.

This personal involvement is associated with an emotional, reactive attitude: one is responsive to the emotions and expectations of others. For example, a person spontaneously shows compassion when her or his actions hurt someone else. However, everyday life requires not only focusing on the other but also self- involvement. This is the case not only for our emotions but also for our behaviour.

First, actions express personal interests and preferences, and thus involvement. However, according to Beauvoir, the libertine does not merely destroy involvement with others. This means that they also destroy their self-involvement, i. While Justine is suffering Juliette herself is not taken by the sensation of pain, and even ignores it. This apathetic, insensitive attitude also implies that the sadist lacks the two aspects of self-involvement noted above.

First, the libertine eliminates his personal preferences and interests. Sade is situated beyond personal selfishness. In particular, Beauvoir argues that sadistic negation should not be understood as a complacent affirmation of superiority. In claiming that in the sadistic universe apathy is central Beauvoir reminds us that the sadist radically breaks with conventional attitudes.

In ordinary life, one who assumes such a detached, apathetic attitude is inevitably viewed as cruel and inhuman.

However, Beauvoir pays no attention to the specific methods the sadist uses to assume the unnatural, apathetic attitude. Thus, the rapid succession and repetition of crimes entails that the sadist will not be involved in the suffering of his victim.


The Marquis de Sade: An Essay by Simone de Beauvoir

Beauvoir But just as Beauvoir asks about Sade: What is his place? Why does he merit our interest? Of Burning Books Beauvoir has more in common with Sade than may be supposed. These ideas are not foreign to The Second Sex, a radical critique of patriarchal politics in the neoliberal age: heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and their founding principle, the reproductive imperative. In the Myths section, Beauvoir turns to mythological thought itself and the role of representations of Woman in literature in the construction of Woman as M-Other.



Fenris For the latter, attend classes, preferably in Ireland! On the other hand there were those who defended De Sade, those who admired his unique view on society. His philosophy however, could still be very useful. Therefore, my recommendations tend towards the materials that will help the independent learner of the Irish language; many of these have been reviewed in more detail by me at their specific entries on Amazon.


Must We Burn Beauvoir?


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