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Nausea, Melancholy and the Internal Negation of the Past

Cam Clayton

In this paper, I argue that temporality, as described in Being and Nothingness, is a central theme in Nausea. In the first section I make the point that one of Sartre's guiding concerns at the time of publishing Nausea is temporality and the temporal nature of freedom. In the second section, the theme of melancholy and its relationship to temporality is explored. The third section explores Sartre's use of this image of being taken 'from behind'. I use this temporal imagery as a guide for interpreting Roquentin's reaction to the rape and murder of Lucienne. By interpreting this scene by way of the temporality of Being and Nothingness, we can duly recognize the early Sartre's concern with temporality, understand the melancholia that arises because of the 'internal' negation of the past, and give a more satisfying account of a scene which is often ignored in the secondary literature.

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The Psychical Analogon in Sartre's Theory of the Imagination

Cam Clayton

Sartre's theory of the imagination is important both as an alternative to the idea that the imagination consists of images contained somehow in the mind - the "illusion of immanence" — and as an early formulation of Sartre's conception of consciousness. In this paper I defend Sartre's theory of imaginative consciousness against some of its critics. I show how difficulties with his theory parallel a perennial problem in Sartre-interpretation, that of understanding how consciousness can negate its past and posit possibilities beyond the facticity of its situation. In this short essay I will not provide a detailed exposition of Sartre's theory of the imagination. Rather, I provide the basis of an interpretation of this theory that emphasizes the role that the past plays in imaginative consciousness.