Friday, January 26, 2007

Tete a Tete

I've just finished reading this book, written by Hazel Rowley, about the "Lives and loves" of Simone de Beauvoir & Jean Paul Sartre.
Pretty much all of it is known already, and her writing style leaves me cold - she is forever putting in bits which are unconnected. " Then Sartre slept with X . His play was the sensation of the year, and Beauvoir wrote a letter to Y." Eh?
Anyway, the thing that struck me forcibly was that - although both of them wrote beautifully ( read Beauvoir's diaries) Sartre was the most appalling person. He is continually lauded for being amusing and fun ( despite being mostly drunk and drugged from what I can see) and enormously generous, but his idea of humanity was non-existent. I suppose as an "Existentialist" that was what he intended. He clearly derived some thrill from being a complete control freak, although Beauvoir chose to believe he was " faithful intellectually" to her always.
Beauvoir emerges with much more credit that Sartre, but she was clearly complicit in his subterfuges.
Maybe there is not such thing as an honest man. Maybe being brilliant leads one to have a different kind of morality to the rest of us. Tony Bliar clearly operates on this principle, and I can think of one or two others who do as well.
Spelled slightly differently ( Tete a Tate) there was an Edinburgh radio show of the same name by a guy called Tate. I only ever came across it once, when I took Stephen Donaldson, author of The Illearth Trilogy ( then sextuplet, nonuplet etc etc) to be interviewed a la Desert Island Discs. Tate was a terribly nice man who liked a drink. His questions tended to be short and interesting, Donaldson's answer long and boring. After about 2o minutes, I noticed Tate had dropped off. Donaldson didn't. After about 10 more minutes Tate woke up with a start and said, very loudly, " Bugger me". The entire control room dissolved in laughter.The recording was stopped and a whisky was passed in to the recording studio. It got going again a few minutes later, but didn't last very long.
As the protagonists came out, Tate muttered to the director " Did I miss anything?"
" No" came the reply" Nothing we're going to broadcast anyway."

1 comment:

ShakespeareinthePark said...

I went to see Frost Nixon last night, and it was very much making the point that both david Frost and Richard Nixon believed themselves above the fray of lesser men, and whereas that was Frost's success, it was Nixon's downfall. Also very prevalent in the last king of scotland (truly excellent film).