Formality in Existentialism

In the speech Wislawa Szymborska gave for her Nobel Prize, she mentions that she is a big believer in the words “I don’t know.” I think that point perfectly describes her point of view. She refuses to know, because she believes that she cannot know. It is an impossible task for an existentialist to know why the things happen in their lives. They believe that things just happen because they do. I believe the “I don’t know” theme applies when she writes of events that happened in her life, because it continues to provide her with the confusion of not knowing. For example, when you start to think only from an existentialist point of view all the time, you start viewing the world from a biased point of view. The chaos of existentialism can be viewed as an unknown knowing. You know that you don’t know.

By writing about the things that have happened in her life, it is her way of trying to figure things out in an unknowing (existentialist) world. It is a way to balance and counter balance the thoughts in her head. One side of thought is thinking that the world is in chaos and things just happen because they just do. The world and the people that inhabit it are free to think and do, as they like. The other side of thought is dissecting and writing about the events of her life in a way that allows her to come to terms with what may have happened. It gives her the closure that her mind needs with certain events, while still being able to hold on to her existentialist values (I don’t know). She is in essence creating chaos with formality, so that she may never know exactly why things happen, but can always rely on both points of view to fall back on if her mind requests her to do so.

About Matthew Schroder

There is no shortage of science fiction reading here. No lack of appreciation for beards, love of coffee or obsession over blueberries.