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Deconstructing Sartre

Alfred Betschart

François Noudelmann, Un tout autre Sartre (Paris: Gallimard, 2020), 206 pp. ISBN 978-2-07-288710-9. €18/e-book €13.

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Editorial

John Gillespie and Katherine Morris

Imagination and the imaginary, both in life and in Sartre's treatment of these phenomena, seem so wide-ranging that it is hard to find your feet—what is in common between imagining the absent Pierre's face and imagining something never before seen? What role does imagination play in seeing someone in a portrait of them? What about in seeing Chevalier in Franconnay's imitation (or ‘performative simulation’) of him? Elad Magomedov's question is even trickier: how do we navigate the similarities and differences between Franconnay's Chevalier, Sartre's waiter's ‘playing at being a waiter’, and Jean-Claude Romand, ‘the “real” impostor who for fifteen years pretended to be a medical professional and ended up killing his entire family’?

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The Feel of the Past

Sartre on Memory and Imagination

Kathleen Lennon

Abstract

This article addresses the distinction which Sartre draws between memory and imagination. The article is in two parts. In the first part it is suggested that, in common with the distinction he draws between imagining and perceiving, the separation of memory and imagination is undermined by Sartre's own phenomenology. Memories are part of the family of imaginings to which Sartre directs us. Nonetheless, in the second part of the article, Sartre's distinction is revisited. The working of imagination in memory does not mean that we are making up our past. Utilising Barthes’ discussion, in Camera Lucida it is argued that memory provides a distinctive relation to our past, which makes evident to us what it is to live a life in time.

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Flânerie in the Time of Covid-19

French Journalistic References to Bookstore Strolling and Fashion Walking

Marylaura Papalas

Abstract

Flânerie, or the practice of urban strolling described in nineteenth-century French print and visual culture, has evolved throughout modernity, expanding its reach into more global literary traditions and becoming an important topic of research in numerous fields of academic study. Various phenomena have shaped the evolution of how we walk in the city and how artists, essayists, and journalists record it, none more so than the forced lockdowns associated with the global Covid-19 pandemic. Journalists in France invented expressions like flânerie inversée, impossible flânerie, and librairie flânerie to describe new city practices. They looked to figures like the fashion flâneuse on the catwalk as a means of sublimating the stillness and monotony of the coronavirus confinement. This article traces the emergence between March 2020 and April 2021of these variations in shopping and fashion contexts, which underscore the enduring legacy of the practice and its everlasting presence in French culture.

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France in the Times of COVID-19

The Public Humanities as a Vaccine for Coexistence

Araceli Hernández-Laroche

Abstract

This article examines the role of the public humanities in France during Covid-19 for self-preservation, coping with isolation, understanding an upended world, creating a sense of connection and belonging, and cultivating empathy for others. For instance, in dealing with the existential angst of confinement and economic woes, one of the novels that resonated the most in France and globally was Albert Camus's The Plague. At the very moment that France enforced measures to restrict access to places of culture, many French people turned to the humanities for comfort and perspective. The pandemic accelerated the need for libraries, galleries, bookstores, museums, concert halls, opera houses, theaters, cinemas, and nightclubs, as well as places of dialogue like cafés and bistros. Dialogue and the cocreation of physical and virtual communities were needed as the spread of false information relating to science, vaccines, and nation exacerbated pre-pandemic divisions in French culture.

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From Jean-Paul Sartre to Critical Existentialism

Notes for an Existentialist Ethical Theory

Maria Russo

Abstract

This article examines Sartre's works in which his attempt to find an existentialist ethics is evident. Most of the clues to this project are to be found in texts published posthumously since during his lifetime he never managed to fulfil the promise he made at the end of Being and Nothingness. It will be argued that this existentialist ethics owes a strong debt to Kantian philosophy, even if it confronts more directly the historical dynamics of violence and oppression. Despite the fact that this project is unfinished and only sketched out, it is possible to ask what Sartre's direction of development would have been, pointing to the outline of a normative theory, Critical Existentialism, that could have its place in contemporary ethical debate.

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Introduction

France in the Age of Covid-19

Éric Touya de Marenne

What does Covid-19 reveal about France today? What are its effects on culture, politics, and society? One of the contentions of this special issue is that measuring its impacts takes on full significance when approached in the context of other crises that have affected the nation in recent years. These include growing inequality and social and political division, and the rise of populism. This special issue examines how these existing predicaments shed light on the impact of Covid-19. It also seeks to explore ways through which we may give meaning to this tragic moment in French history through art and the public humanities.

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Les historiens et leurs ombres

le passé à la première personne du présent

Nathan Bracher

Résumé

L'historien, en tant que sujet, est lié non seulement à son passé familial mais aussi à ses connaissances. L'histoire méthodique prétendait, au début, proscrire toute subjectivité, mettant l'historien à l'écart des recherches et de l'écriture. Or les événements et l'évolution historiographiques ont rendu caduque cette posture scientiste. Ce vingt-et-unième siècle voit les historiens s'impliquer ostensiblement dans leurs ouvrages. C'est le cas notamment avec Quelle histoire: Un récit de filiation (1914–2014) de l'éminent historien de la Grande Guerre, Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. Nous verrons qu'un retour sur le choc de la guerre vécu par son grand-père paternel Robert Audoin permet de comprendre l'impact effroyable mais longtemps insoupçonné que celle-ci a eu sur le reste de sa vie ainsi que sur celle de Philippe Audoin, père de l'historien. La perspective ainsi découverte jette une lumière nouvelle sur le calvaire invisible vécu par d'innombrables véterans, mais aussi sur l'orientation des recherches de Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau.

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The Paris Opera Ballet Dancing Offstage

Work, Grace, and Race

Tessa Ashlin Nunn

Abstract

The spaces in which amateur and professional dancers practiced their art greatly changed during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closures of theaters and dance studios, yet dance continued to bring people together online. This article studies the media presence of the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) between March 2020 and May 2021 to analyze how the aesthetic and moral concept of grace has evolved. During this difficult year, dance took on a therapeutic role as POB dancers offered free online classes and performed in video work, in addition to taking on a political role as discussions about racism in ballet sparked public debates.

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Performative and Eidetic Simulations

Three Imaginary Regimes

Elad Magomedov

Abstract

Different kinds of fakery and imposture can be differentiated by means of the imaginary regimes within which a performative simulation unfolds. Engaging with Sartre's analysis of the imaginary, we will identify three such regimes, calling them the objective, the reflective, and the phantasmatic. Each of these regimes involves its own kind of image and accordingly a specific type of simulation. It is proper to the objective image to attain dissimulation of the self by replacing the real with fiction. In the reflective regime, the real is not substituted by the imaginary, but rather contaminated by it. Finally, whereas the objective and the reflective regimes operate within the sphere of intentional (dis)simulation, the phantasmatic image carries us beyond Sartre's findings, as it shapes the very structure of pre-reflective disclosedness which provides the background for our projects.