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Being All Too Human: The Action and Culpability

Existentialist Chicken 1

Existentialist Chicken 2

By Tim Hazell

The sense that every struggle brings defeat

Because Fate holds no prize to crown success

—James Thomson’s City of Dreadful Night

 

Fatalism is evident in much of the native poetry of pre-Columbian cultures and is inextricably woven into the fabric of today’s multilayered Latino society. The philosophy of fatalism offers no assurances or guidelines about the hereafter, and a tragic view of reality is the daily experience for many in the streets. For some, life and fleeting existence can be an aimless pilgrimage. By contrast, there are those who say that the brief encounter we make before leaving this world behind is enough and there are no grounds for complaint.

 

“When I consider the short span of my life… I am dismayed to find myself here rather than there… Who has put me here? By whose order and direction has this place and time been allotted to me?”—Pascal, Pensées, No 205.

 

Musing about our moral incertitude, our tragic perplexity, our moments of blind faith and skepticism, Pascal sought deliverance from the doubt in one’s heart. We may turn to love as solace and a more subliminal response to questions without answers, at least ones that science cannot provide. The heart has its own rationale, and its quest demands the surrender of coherent proofs of emotion and flights of imagination. Against all reliance on theology, dogmatic or philosophical, we can recover our dignity as passion charges life with meaning.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s ontology (metaphysics concerned with the nature of being) is explained in his existentialist masterpiece Being and Nothingness. In it, he defines two types of reality that lie beyond our conscious experience: the nature of the forms we contemplate, and that of consciousness itself. The object of consciousness exists in ambient reality “of itself,” or completely “unto itself,” in an independent and non-relational way. However, consciousness is always consciousness “of something.” It is defined in relation to the thing present in our external space, creating a void that is never a vacuum but a tangible and powerful presence affecting everything around its borders, like an event horizon surrounding a black hole.

The young Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and the sociologist Raymond Aron met over apricot cocktails on the rue Montparnasse in Paris in 1933. Their get-together inspired Sartre to incorporate themes of authentic being and political activism into his own humanistic sensibility. Food was, and is, of central importance to physical and mental equilibrium. So toss a salad, leave your angst at the door, and enjoy these melt-in-your-mouth chicken breasts!

 

Existentialist Chicken (a meal unto itself)

 

Ingredients:

4 to 6 boneless chicken breast halves

1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

 

Directions:

Mix mayonnaise or yogurt, cheese, and seasonings. Coat both sides of each chicken breast half and place on a baking dish. Bake at 375̊F for 45 minutes.

 

 

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