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 Post subject: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:06 pm 
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Pg. 360 (letter of May 23, 1950): "To tell the truth, I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth. I never sincerely thought you were my equal; I just said that to try and be polite. Yet, in away it seems to me all this summer long when I'll be with you, you'll be with me; when you'll feel happy, so shall I; whenever you'll sleep with me, I'll sleep with you. Is not that equality? Or will one of us sleep with the other more often than the other will do?"

Were you surprised by what she said here regarding equality? What do you think she really meant by this?



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:48 pm 
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I think she was being coy with the remark about “To tell the truth , I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth. I never sincerely thought you were my equal”. She was giving him a little of the reverse treatment to let him know how it feels.

She was an independent women and thought herself equal to men, in her intelligence, her career, and writing . And she lived that way, travelling alone, making speeches, book tours, sleeping with any one she choose. Algren certainly knew this about her, look how they met, she called him sight unseen and went to meet him, just as any two men in the same business might do. I think she is poking fun and ends with we sleep together and there we are equal.


Then again she could have been insinuating that she was a better writer and professionally they were not equal. :rolleyes:



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:02 pm 
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“To tell the truth , I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth. I never sincerely thought you were my equal”

This is the stuff from which myths are made. What a great bumper sticker! It is when deBeauvoir comes out with soul-annihilating lines like this that I can see why people adored her.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:44 pm 
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Buster wrote:
Quote:
“To tell the truth , I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth. I never sincerely thought you were my equal”

This is the stuff from which myths are made. What a great bumper sticker! It is when deBeauvoir comes out with soul-annihilating lines like this that I can see why people adored her.

I am not sure what you mean, Buster. :dunce: A "soul-annihilating line" makes her worthy of adoration? In the same way Robin Williams or Jim Carey might be admired? That is, as an amusing come back line.........? Sarcasm? Or something else?


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:02 pm 
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I got out my book and read the letter again. In this letter Simone is writing about her upcoming visit and asking about the cottage where they will stay and who will take care of some of the mundane daily chores, and then she asks about bringing evening gowns and jewels. Just before she writes the passage DITHOT quoted she called Algren a "hateful male brute." And then, before the end of the letter she quotes Orwell's line about all animals being equal but some are more equal than others, and she tells Algren that she is more equal than he is.

It would be helpful to have more context for this letter. Once again, where are Algren's letters to Simone? :banghead: What did he say to her that brought this reaction? My guess is she was angry with Algren because he wanted to stay home and work while they are together; she wanted to do some traveling and have more social time. It almost seems as if he has put his foot down and made a decision saying "I am the man here!" and she is telling him it makes no difference, she should be the boss.

It seems like she was having a tantrum.

Otherwise, maybe she was just being unkind to see how far she could go and get away with it.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:20 pm 
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nebraska, I was speaking of my own fondness for those who go for the jugular. I'd far rather know where you stand, and go from there, than otherwise. It is one of the most compelling aspects of ONBC's contributors, and part of what keeps me coming back.

Thanks for researching the context, Your insights keep sending me back to the original sources, many of which lie buried, so any direct quotes are greatly appreciated.

Now I'm going to ask a truly heretical question. We have been assuming, rightly I believe, that Sartre and Simone both intended to have all of their writings published. How odd is that? Think about it....writing a journal with the intent that others read it? How peculiar is it to always view your personal life as an outside viewer?


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:40 pm 
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Buster wrote:
nebraska, I was speaking of my own fondness for those who go for the jugular. I'd far rather know where you stand, and go from there, than otherwise. It is one of the most compelling aspects of ONBC's contributors, and part of what keeps me coming back.

Thanks for researching the context, Your insights keep sending me back to the original sources, many of which lie buried, so any direct quotes are greatly appreciated.

Now I'm going to ask a truly heretical question. We have been assuming, rightly I believe, that Sartre and Simone both intended to have all of their writings published. How odd is that? Think about it....writing a journal with the intent that others read it? How peculiar is it to always view your personal life as an outside viewer?


Thanks for responding to my question. I will have to think about that some more. What seems strange about this equality quote is that she claimed to love this man and was planning to come live with him as his lover for a period of time. Her words do not seem at all loving.

Actually, I do write journal entries to be shared with a group I belong to. On one or two occasions I have simply told them that day's entry will be kept private. But for the most part what I write seems to strike a chord with them. However, that is a small group with a common interest, not a public journal. :freaked:

By and large just about everything concerning these people strikes me as peculiar.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:58 pm 
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Quote:
Her words do not seem at all loving.

I believe that telling your honest opinion is very loving. I'd like to know more, nebraska, about journalling for an audience.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:28 pm 
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Quote:
To tell the truth, I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth. I never sincerely thought you were my equal; I just said that to try and be polite. Yet, in away it seems to me all this summer long when I'll be with you, you'll be with me; when you'll feel happy, so shall I; whenever you'll sleep with me, I'll sleep with you. Is not that equality? Or will one of us sleep with the other more often than the other will do?"


This is like reading tea leaves. I start at the end and move forwards because her examples seem to illuminate something.

"...all this summer long when I'll be with you, you'll be with me; when you'll feel happy, so shall I; whenever you'll sleep with me, I'll sleep with you. Is not that equality?" I think she is saying that equality is more an action or state of being rather than a matter of establishing status: we are in the same place with the same emotion doing the same thing and that makes us equal. To frame it further she says "Or will one of us sleep with the other more often than the other will do?" As I read it: neither of us can be more than 'equal' in this relationship because we are engaged in something that is reciprocal.

The real question: why is she so hard at work constructing logical syllogisms? Simone rarely displays her philosopher side. Why this tight little defense?

The first sentence is also interesting. “I thoroughly admit equality is only a myth.” There has obviously been a rather interesting conversation about the concept of equality and it seems that Nelson has drawn a wee box about some of her statements and pointedly asked: are we equals or not?

Simone is squirming. She is peddling fast to relieve him of the impression that she doesn't think he is her equal, and she has done her best to throw together an argument to demonstrate that she, of course, believes wholeheartedly they are equals -- what else could they be? But it’s the stilted nature of the argument that makes me believe she is threading a tiny line for herself – being true to her private opinion and yet responsive to Nelson’s concerns.

They must have been fun in bed.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Buster said
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"Now I'm going to ask a truly heretical question. We have been assuming, rightly I believe, that Sartre and Simone both intended to have all of their writings published. How odd is that? Think about it....writing a journal with the intent that others read it? How peculiar is it to always view your personal life as an outside viewer?"


I believe most public figures assume that their journals and personal letters will be published and teased apart line by line, word by word. The nature of celebrity (even this kind of "philosophical" celebrity) means that nothing written is private unless it is immediately destroyed. Once you are in the position where others have decided that you are worth attending to in some way (listening to, reading about, following in the papers etc) I believe you realize you've lost the wall of privacy. Once Simone mailed her letters to Nelson she basically lost control of them, and they entered the public arena. See Sylvie Le Bon's preface "Self-proclaimed "authorized" biographers, journalists, researchers, and academics, relentlessly ferreting out any unpublished material both in the United States and France have indulged in literary piracy and unauthorized use, perpetuating an endless stream of inaccuracy and distortion."

In addition, to writers like this pair, a letter or journal page is an occasion to be 'true' to your image, whatever that is, and the historical value of your opinions, comments etc. It's a plain Jane reality.

What is unique about Simone (and perhaps Satre, haven't read his letters) is the willingness to show all sides of herself: including things that are open to condemnation and ridicule. I don't think she did much unconsciously.

Frankly, I enjoy the gift to peer into her life and the the lives of her family, as bizarre as they may occasionally seem to the reader.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:31 pm 
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Buster wrote:
Now I'm going to ask a truly heretical question. We have been assuming, rightly I believe, that Sartre and Simone both intended to have all of their writings published. How odd is that? Think about it....writing a journal with the intent that others read it? How peculiar is it to always view your personal life as an outside viewer?

Can someone remind me how we know that? I have read so much that I can't remember where that comes from. I don't believe it was in either intros or prefaces to ATLA or to Letters to Sartre.

Nebraska, thanks for giving us more context to that quote. My opinion is that she is irritated with Algren while writing this (as I've noticed in other letters) and is "jokingly" getting back at him.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:53 pm 
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Quote:
Can someone remind me how we know that?

Yes, this was a big assumption on my part.
Even scarier, actually, is to have the possibility of your journals being published looming over your personal reflections. It makes deBeauvoir's intense sense of self even more impressive.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Buster wrote:
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Can someone remind me how we know that?

Yes, this was a big assumption on my part.

It may not be an assumption. This came up in another thread, but I can't remember which thread, who made the point or the context.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:59 am 
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Here is the article by Hazel Rowley who wrote Tete a Tete where she covers it. It's probably in her book but I'll never find it without rereading it. I know I read it but I have read so many books and articles it too hard to keep track. Here is the paragraph and I'll include the link for anyone who wants to read the whole article.

Quote:
Sartre and Beauvoir were vehemently opposed to censorship in any form. On several occasions, by speaking out and engaging in militant action, they risked arrest. In the early 1960s, at the end of the Algerian War, their militancy placed their lives in danger. As we also know, their belief in truthtelling extended to their own lives. To them (brought up at the tail end of the Victorian epoch), the notion of privacy was a relic of bourgeois hypocrisy. They both said they would like the public to know the truth about their personal lives. In addition to their autobiographical writing and numerous revealing interviews, neither of them destroyed any of their private correspondence and journals, even when it did not make them look good. “So much the better if this means I will be…transparent to posterity,” Sartre said.




Oh, In case you don’t want to read the whole article( rather long) the last paragraph I thought worth mentioning for those of us trying to find something positive to say about Simone. Hazel Rowley wrote this after doing all her research and knew her well.
Quote:
This is the 50-year-old author smiling at her youthful dreams, but in fact she never lost them, and she was right not to. It’s impossible to read about Beauvoir’s life without thinking about your own. You find yourself wanting to live more courageously, with more commitment and passion. She makes you want to read more books, travel across the world, fall in love again, take stronger political stands, write more, work harder, play more intensely, and look more tenderly at the beauty of the natural world. That is indeed a beautiful gift.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #14 ~ Equal or Not
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:33 pm 
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In reading last night on this issue in the preface to Letters to Sartre by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, I discovered that Simone had claimed in her later years that most of her letters to Sartre were lost because they were in his possession. And since there was a bomb attack at his place, a lot of his papers were lost. I wonder if she didn't want them published later, if she had changed her mind and lied about their existence.



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