Mathieu was truly condemned to be free. Freedom does not mean freedom from one government or another. Mathieu was living in an ultra-communist society. However, that did not change the nature of his freedom.
Mathieu is an example of why ‘freedom’ is not really sacrosanct as some make it out to be. Why some? Most make it out to be sacrosanct. It is the ultimate gift! It is worth dying for! Really? Think again. Sartre was most misunderstood as was his phrase – Man is condemned to be free. I imagine him saying it with a smirk, a chuckle and a cigarette dangling from his lips standing in a crowded subway, the crowd oblivious to his presence – he is thinking in his head and shakes his head and laughs – Man is condemned to be free.
While I was reading the book, I wondered why I was reading it. I heard something about a stream of consciousness and how that was Sartre’s style. I couldn’t buy it. I knew there was something treasured, like a pearl from the ocean, something tiny that would come out of the whole exercise of reading about one man’s futility. And then there it was, that sentence, that said it all. If Sartre were alive, I would go up to him and say, ye I get ya! And I am sure we would burst out laughing.
I laugh because there are very few people who can handle the weight of freedom. Very few who know what they really want. I realised this is the success formula for marriage I have been looking for. Being from India, I have seen loads of arranged marriages, and they all lack just one thing. Being together because the couple wants to, not just because they have to or because daddy said so and he/she never said no, because they had to. A couple mus want to be together and every moment spent together should be a conscious choice of wanting to be together.
The WEIGHT that freedom is. It weighs upon your shoulder, waiting for you to command, to say action, to give direction. Most people use their freedom to do what they feel like, at an impulse, but the real freedom is the making the difficult choice. Job, marriage, kids, career, hobby, wife, chilling, travelling. The list is endless, the choices limitless and man is in fact CONDEMNED to be free.
I have often wondered, why I who so violently protects my freedom is giving it away today. Is it for love? Is it for happiness? No, its because I want to and I know now that no other reason can come close.
I think its the same of people who are passionate about their jobs. Some say its just a job and others go all the way. Going all the way is the choice you make. You are free to go in at 9 and leave at 5, but what you make of it is your freedom. Do I work because my boss expects me to or do I work because I want to? Most times its the latter, sometimes its the former.
I know most people would tell me this is a warped connection. But I can see how Ayn Rand defined her characters. Her strongest characters were people who made conscious choices, exercised their freedom and lived by it. She distinguished her weaker characters as those who acted for no reason at all and she lets you choose. You become a powerful reader with Rand. You get the freedom to choose.