The situation is this: I am writing a paper, at the last minute of course, for my class on existentialism. At the same time, I have been rowing almost every day for seven weeks or so in preparation for a regatta this weekend. As I write the paper, I am conscious of the fact that it’s far past my bedtime, and if I have any hope of being able to get up and go to crew practice at 5 am tomorrow, I need to wrap things up and go to bed. With about half the paper left to write, I’m starting to get desperate for material, so I turn back to the text and start reading:
The empirical image which may best symbolize Heidegger’s intuition is not that of a conflict but rather a crew… It is the mute existence in common of one member of the crew with his fellows, that existence which the rhythm of the oars or the regular movements of the coxswain will render sensible to the rowers and which will be made manifest to them by the common goal to be attained, the boat or yacht to be overtaken, and the entire world (spectators, performance, etc.) which is profiled on the horizon.
I swear, when I read this paragraph from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, I actually thought I was hallucinating.