July 5th, 2002

Haaretz (and The Slot)

In several posts in this journal, I have quoted from and linked to my favorite Israeli newspaper, and the only one that's truly worth reading in Israel, in my opinion, Haaretz. The ever-vigilant ygurvitz sent me a Washington Post columnist's praise of Haaretz.

Incidentally, I admire a copy editor named Bill Walsh. He runs a great site for copy editors, called The Slot (what's a Slot, you ask? Bill explains), and has published a book of style and grammar punditry which is much to my taste. His writing is vivid, clear, and bold, and his attitude to language rubs me the right way.

Reading the aforementioned WP article, I encountered one of those despicable it's instead of its mistakes, and felt a pang of disappointment -- "ol' Bill screwed up", I sighed to myself. But then I recalled that his resume mentioned that he is copy chief of the Business Desk, and is thus not responsible for this mistake. Ah, the relief...
  • Current Music
    Jethro Tull - Wind-Up

No Exit

Today's Random Morning Read was Sartre's play No Exit. The play is a single long scene, and depicts hell.
Garcin: Hell is -- other people.
Three humans die and find themselves in a room, slowly realizing that they are each other's tormentors. They discuss their situation, try to resist it, foil each other's efforts, and finally acquiesce.

At some point, Garcin frets over whether he had acted cowardly before he died. Specifically, he questions whether standing by one's ideals is necessarily decent, and whether it is not possible that alongside his idealistic motives, he was also motivated by shameful fear. "Is it right to judge a life by a single action?", he pleads.

All three main characters are villainous, but Garcin is the one who receives our empathy, because he is concerned with redemption, and with introspection aimed at self-salvation. Estelle is only bent on finding solace and forgetfulness in being seen and desired by a man, whereas Inez is wholly unrepentant, and simply seeks to continue her parasitic existence by preying on Garcin.

All three are locked in a vicious circle of oppressive need -- Garcin needs validation from Inez, who needs Estelle's validation, who in turn needs Garcin to feel validated. And so Sartre demonstrates that L'enfer is, indeed, les autres.
  • Current Music
    Frank Zappa -- You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here