(First published in Chicago Literati – December 9, 2016)
They’re called ‘existential threats’. Who’s more qualified to report on them but an existentialist? Here the seminal French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre translates the TV weatherman’s clichés that they might better be understood by the indeterminist in us all.
On TV: Weathermen are keeping an eye on a tropical depression.
“I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”
On TV: Now is the time to review your hurricane plans.
“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
On TV: Once becoming a hurricane, the storm churns at sea.
“To eat is to appropriate by destruction.”
On TV: As it barrels towards land, it strengthens.
“One is still what one is going to cease to be and already what one is going to become.”
On TV: In its path, people brace.
“Man is a useless passion.”
On TV: The hurricanes plows, on a track.
“Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
On TV: Landfall is a place it slams.
“Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.”
On TV: Once ashore, it dumps rain, its winds lash.
“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.”
On TV: One neighborhood is reduced to rubble…
“One always dies too soon — or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.”
On TV: …while another dodges a bullet.
“Don’t you feel the same way? When I cannot see myself, even though I touch myself, I wonder if I really exist.”
On TV: Finally, the hurricane decays, leaving remnants.
“Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.”
(Graphic by the Author)