Sartre’s Nausea: Past, Interior Space and the Body

by Christian Parreno

Soft glow: people are in their houses, they have undoubtedly turned on the lights too. They read, they watch the sky from the window. For them it means something different. Clocks, medallions, portraits, shells, paperweights, screens, shawls. They have closets full of bottles, stuffs, old clothes, newspapers; they have kept everything. The past is a landlord’s luxury.

Where shall I keep mine? You don’t put your past in your pocket; you have to have a house. I have only my body: a man entirely alone, with his lonely body, cannot indulge in memories; they pass through him. I shouldn’t complain: all I wanted was to be free.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1962) Nausea. Trans. by Lloyd Alexander, first published as La Nausée (1938). London – UK: Hamish Hamilton. 90-91