ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

by Simone de Beauvoir

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:36 am

pg. 41 From a letter dated Thursday, 3 Julliet 1947:

"You see, it has never been very easy for me to live, though I am always very happy--maybe because I want so much to be happy. I like so much to live and I hate the idea of dying one day. And then I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life, I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, and to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish...You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger..."


Did Simone get what she wanted? Can anyone really "have it all"?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:35 am

I think what Simone describes in this passage is not possible - in real life you have to make choices. I think she got most of what she wanted when she made reasonable choices. I don't think anyone ever has it all.

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby fansmom » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:55 am

nebraska wrote:I think what Simone describes in this passage is not possible - in real life you have to make choices. I think she got most of what she wanted when she made reasonable choices. I don't think anyone ever has it all.
Yes, there would be no way could one reconcile those conflicts (to be a man and a woman?) and have any true sense of identity. Some choices are made for us, some we make ourselves. Some we can change, some we're stuck with.

No one can "have it all" unless we're talking about Parallel Worlds again!

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:18 pm

I am going to explore the opposite opinion of you ladies for a minute. Listing what she wants from life she had many of those things.

I want everything from life, I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, and to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish
I can’t be sure but by being a man I think she means sexual freedom and a career so she did accomplish much of that. She was successful and wealthy by midlife. She rebuffed anyone who tried to impose society standards on her. She certainly succeeded in writing, traveling, and enjoying herself. I’ve read enough to know she was very selfish but I am sure she had to learn to be unselfish living with Sartre. She had her and Sartre’s “ family” as friends, most of them for life. She also had the loneliness she mentions during the war and teaching positions away from Sartre. (Somehow I think she may have meant solitude to write more then loneliness.)
Did she have it all? I don’t think so but……She didn’t have one permanent love like Algren but she had several that lasted many years and if you count intellectual love she had Sartre for life. I think the way she always justifies everything in her life she thought she had succeeded in most of her goals.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:53 pm

Good arguments on both sides. :cool: Anyone else?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby fansmom » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:39 pm

I agree, gemini, that she grabbed more gusto and fulfilled DITHOT's signature more than most people. And maybe part of the reason I see her desires as contradictory is the language difficulty, that some gradations are lost when she writes, and she inadvertently phrases her desires as extremes.

But the part about not dying? Excepting the idea that her work will live beyond her, that desire is unobtainable.

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:58 pm

fansmom wrote:I agree, gemini, that she grabbed more gusto and fulfilled DITHOT's signature more than most people. And maybe part of the reason I see her desires as contradictory is the language difficulty, that some gradations are lost when she writes, and she inadvertently phrases her desires as extremes.

But the part about not dying? Excepting the idea that her work will live beyond her, that desire is unobtainable.

Yes, Dying is a bit inevitable. We must remember though that Simone and Sartre both considered writing as their immortality. And we are all sitting here discussing every aspect of their lives. I don’t think she believed it enough to cure her fear of aging and death because it was such an obsession with her.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:26 pm

"You see, it has never been very easy for me to live, though I am always very happy--maybe because I want so much to be happy. I like so much to live and I hate the idea of dying one day. And then I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life, I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, and to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish...You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger..."


Did Simone get what she wanted? Can anyone really "have it all"?

I took Simone's statement as an expression of her view on living. Her "I want it all" is something felt by many, sometimes expressed by people as a wish for a myriad of experiences. She is also talking about opposites: I want friends/loneliness -- to be a man/to be a woman, to be selfish/unselfish. By experiencing the extremes, the total opposites, it's saying I want to be whole (black and white, good and bad, etc)

If you are someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife, then you must squeeze everything possible, every sweet, bitter, beauty, or ugly thing out of your time in this place. This is all there is: LIVE.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby Liz » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:25 pm

Wow! Great responses.

In fact, you all make me understand Simone just a little better today. This wanting to experience everything there is to experience in life—even if it is unpleasant or strange—it makes sense, that someone who doesn’t believe in the afterlife might want that. Also, her disbelief in that might also free her up to make certain choices in her life that a God fearing woman might not have made due to her religious upbringing and beliefs. That's not to say that those who don't believe wouldn't make moral choices. It's just that it gave Simone yet one more excuse to do whatever the heck she wanted to.

Did she get what she wanted? Oh I think she very definitely did. She had a successful career in a male dominated world, was able to experience some of the pleasures and arrangements that were typically male dominated at that time, and she experienced women; but she also had feminine ways. And in the end she had what I'd call essential relationships with both a man and a woman. She was able to travel, she worked much & wrote good books. Oh and she was definitely selfish. I'm not sure she ever experienced unselfishness, though. :lol:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:45 pm

But the part about not dying? Excepting the idea that her work will live beyond her, that desire is unobtainable.


And here we are discussing her so yes, in a way, she did accomplish it. I agree with what you all have said in that she did obtain much of what she wanted. My problem with her is at what cost?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:29 pm

fireflydances wrote:
"You see, it has never been very easy for me to live, though I am always very happy--maybe because I want so much to be happy. I like so much to live and I hate the idea of dying one day. And then I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life, I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, and to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish...You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger..."


Did Simone get what she wanted? Can anyone really "have it all"?

I took Simone's statement as an expression of her view on living. Her "I want it all" is something felt by many, sometimes expressed by people as a wish for a myriad of experiences. She is also talking about opposites: I want friends/loneliness -- to be a man/to be a woman, to be selfish/unselfish. By experiencing the extremes, the total opposites, it's saying I want to be whole (black and white, good and bad, etc)

If you are someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife, then you must squeeze everything possible, every sweet, bitter, beauty, or ugly thing out of your time in this place. This is all there is: LIVE.

I think the rest of use are trying to interpret what she meant but you seem to have nailed it. :thumbsup: She wanted both ends of the spectrum, that's life.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:19 pm

Gemini: thank you for the compliment :blush: Everything said here is interesting, mind-fueling and gets me going on looking something up or expanding my perspective. It is a lovely thing for me to be able to participate in, for any of us to be part of, truly. But then of course I am the type that could sit up all night long debating anyone on anything.

(In fact in working on the contest I found myself jealous about all the old discussions going back years and years that I missed and never even knew existed. So now I pull my chair up as close as possible and wait for the next question.....) :hatsoff: to every one of you noodlemantras.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: ATLA Question #24 ~ Having It All

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:54 pm

fireflydances wrote:Gemini: thank you for the compliment :blush: Everything said here is interesting, mind-fueling and gets me going on looking something up or expanding my perspective. It is a lovely thing for me to be able to participate in, for any of us to be part of, truly. But then of course I am the type that could sit up all night long debating anyone on anything.

(In fact in working on the contest I found myself jealous about all the old discussions going back years and years that I missed and never even knew existed. So now I pull my chair up as close as possible and wait for the next question.....) :hatsoff: to every one of you noodlemantras.

You are welcome. It always helps to have another opinion to enlighten a subject. As we have said so many times before, every book is more enjoyable when read with a discussion group.
I am not surprised that you find ONBC so addicting. It happens. I started late too and after reading the archives added them all to my reading list. It took awhile but its nice to have them under your belt when something like the yearly contest comes along. ( Not that it always helps with Liz and Dithot being so inventive) Not to mention, it gives a better insight on Johnny.
I laughed about you sitting up all night to debate on anything. Back in my younger days, I had two friends that I used to do that with. When we beat a subject to death, we traded sides and started over. Sounds like you would have fit right in.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.


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