Thinking about Beauvoir

by Yvy Truong

First off, I just want to say that today’s lecture was absolutely wonderful. Now that we’re close to ending the year (10 essays completed, 2-3 more to go) we’re all starting to approach the last few lectures left of Arts One. Today’s lecture on Beauvoir combined so many different elements of what we have learned and captured the theme of Remaking and Remodelling very well. It was a pleasure being at lecture today.

As for Beauvoir, there is more to love. I think there is so much to unpack with what she is saying, who she is, and where her voice is coming from that I think it will be a bit of a struggle to write a blog post about her. Both because I don’t believe I fully understand her text but also because I think there is so many elements that were touched upon in Beauvoir that I don’t know how to fathom it all. So I’ll try my best.

The idea of the “feminine gaze” on men is something that really stood out to me. Women are the seen at the Other, the exception to the rule, the abnormal – as opposed to the man who is seen as “correct”, the standard of being, the normative. However, it is not truly because women are truly different (except in the anatomical sense), but it is because that if the man is seen at the normative, then the is naturally woman seen as the body which opposes it – that which deviates from the normative. And this is because woman sexuality, woman has a being,  is understood from a male perspective. Women have been and are compared. This reminds me of Judith Butler and how when thinking and talking about gender/sexuality, then we have to be cautious of the lens in which we view it.

But there is something else that I want to talk about that stood out to be as well! And that is Situated Freedom and  little about existentialism. Being and Nothingness. There is actually some sort of comfort I think that there is no real, essential meaning to ones life but that the meaning that we obtain is deliberately made by us. It is not something given to us, it is something that is created and for the purpose that it makes ones life worth living. In terms of situated freedom, it reminds me a bit about the Karl Marx quote (and I can’t remember it in full), that our fate, or the fate of humanity is not within conditions chosen, but rather under conditions transmitted by the past. But we do have the freedom to make choice presently, and then those choices will be again, in return, transmitted to the future. And it makes me hopeful, because it reminds me of Sisyphus. It reminds me that we must imagine Sisyphus happy.

I know this blog post is a bit… mashed together and doesn’t make coherent sense and I apologize.

But a little bit on a personal note…

I’m starting to reflect upon my first year of University here at UBC. And I remember in the beginning of the year, where all the first year students were in he Thunderbird Stadium chanting “I am UBC”. I still don’t think I can say that I am UBC. I think my career here is barely half fulfilled and I don’t think I am deserving to be apart of this. At least not yet.
I feel a bit like Sisyphus.
I am close to the end of my first year here at UBC. I am close the the top of the mountain, and I can start to feel the horizon and the setting of the sun. However, because I am so close to the top of the mountain, with all consciousness, I know that the rock will fall to the foot of the mountain. I can feel the anxiety of restarting and it scares me. But once the rock falls, I will go forth to it. I will go forth to my fate. And again, I will make my way to the top of the mountain. I must imagine Sisyphus happy. And when we looked at the Essay written by Camus, I don’t think I fully understood why we must imagine him happy. Right now, I think I must imagine him happy because… If I am to say that I am Sisyphus, or that my challenges are much like his, I have to acknowledge that I am not the only one carrying the rock on top of the hill. Sisyphus is happy. And I am too, because as I moved the rocked higher to the top of the mountain, I’ve met so many wonderful people.


Sorry to get so overly sentimental right now. But, oh well.


And so it goes.