Sam Keen:”The first questions we must ask ourselves are “What’s my life about?”

London: In Hymns to an Unknown God, you ask: “Is it possible in this chaotic day and age to have a sense of the sacred in everyday life, or do we have to check our spirits and our god at the workplace door?” Much of what we call spirituality today takes place on Sundays, after work, when the kids are in bed, or when we’re off meditating on our own. Is it possible to make it an integral part of everyday life?


Keen: I think there is a deep yearning today to figure out how to make a real connection with the sacred. I hear many men say, “I have a good job and make a living, but it doesn’t mean anything to me; I want something with meaning, something I have a reason for doing.” But our society has been eaten up by the economic view of things, which routinely forces us to work at jobs that don’t mean anything. I think we’re inevitably going to be depressed when we focus the major part of our energy and attention on something that doesn’t give us meaning, only material things.

We have to return, I think, to the difficult idea of right livelihood, which Buddhists talk about, or the Christian idea of vocation. The first questions we must ask ourselves are “What’s my life about?” and “What gives me meaning?” Only after that should we ask “How do I make a living?” and “How do I provide for myself?”

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Simone de beauvoir and the problem of time


In The Blood of Others and All Men Are Mortal you deal with the problem of time. Were you influenced, in this respect, by Joyce or Faulkner?


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No, it was a personal preoccupation. I’ve always been keenly aware of the passing of time. I’ve always thought that I was old. Even when I was twelve, I thought it was awful to be thirty. I felt that something was lost. At the same time, I was aware of what I could gain, and certain periods of my life have taught me a great deal. But, in spite of everything, I’ve always been haunted by the passing of time and by the fact that death keeps closing in on us. For me, the problem of time is linked up with that of death, with the thought that we inevitably draw closer and closer to it, with the horror of decay. It’s that, rather than the fact that things disintegrate, that love peters out. That’s horrible too, though I personally have never been troubled by it. There’s always been great continuity in my life. I’ve always lived in Paris, more or less in the same neighborhoods. My relationship with Sartre has lasted a very long time. I have very old friends whom I continue to see. So it’s not that I’ve felt that time breaks things up, but rather the fact that I always take my bearings. I mean the fact that I have so many years behind me, so many ahead of me. I count them.

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Sartre: Secrets spoil relationships

Q: Does it bother you when I ask you about yourself?


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Sartre: No. Why? I believe that everyone should be able to speak of his innermost being to an interviewer. I think that what spoils relations among people is that each keeps something hidden from the other, something secret, not necessarily from everyone, but from whomever he is speaking to at the moment.

I think transparency should always be substituted for what is secret, and I can quite well imagine the day when two men will no longer have secrets from each other, because no one will have any more secrets from anyone, because subjective life, as well as objective life, will be completely offered up, given. It is impossible to accept the fact that we would yield our bodies as we do and keep our thoughts hidden, since for me there is no basic difference between the body and the consciousness.

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Camus : A stranger life-1

Interviewer: The opening line of this novel (the stranger) has become one of the most widely known quotes in literature. What is your response to this and what were your original intents for the line?


Camus: When I was writing this novel, I did not intend for this line to become so well known. I did not even intend for this line to be spectacular or even important. But after the readers have read this novel, they believe that this line is very important to the novel. After sixty-something years, I have begun to agree with my readers. I think this is a very important line, and I have even begun to consider it worthy of its fame. I am a strong proponent of the Theory of the Absurd, and this line sums up the Theory very well. The Theory discusses the lack of coherence in a brief and painful human existence. In the first line of The Stranger, the reader gets their first glimpse of the Absurd in the character Meursault and the telegraph he just received. Meursault is essentially saying that the loss of his mother means nothing to him. Most people would argue that their mother’s death is a big deal, but Meursault, an indirect proponent of the Absurd, dismisses his mother’s death as a trivial event. Given the basis behind the line, I am glad that it has become so popular and widely known. I feel very strongly about the Theory of the Absurd, and I am glad I can spread my wisdom to others. After seeing the success of this single line, I feel very positive about what has happened to it and my novel.