The New Existentialism

“Fundamentally the ‘heroic urge’ is only the desire of life to find a broader field for its powers. Nietzsche asked “What is happiness?” and answered: “The feeling that power is growing, that resistance has been overcome.””


“Ultimately, the hero is the man who lives constantly out of a sense of his own freedom; his ‘commitment’ to the world is nourished by his ‘inwardness’, and his inwardness is constantly strengthened through being reflected back from society. Such a man would recognise all life as sacred, as all is involved in the same struggle towards expression of its freedom.”


“This existentialism must make the fullest use of the invaluable work of thinkers like Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus, but its chief task is to break beyond their limitations.”


“I envisage the new existentialism as a mystical revolt, based upon recognition of the irrational urge that underlies man’s conscious reason. The writer’s task is to try to make the ‘noise of the power house’ audible. For this reason, I regard Blake and Shaw as seminal figures, in that both were permanently aware of the ‘power house.’ Their rationalisations of it are less important (Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’, Shaw’s ‘vortex of pure intellect’, superman, etc.). What matters is that they recognised the need to give life an additional dimension of purpose.”


“How far can critical analysis hope to create a new existentialism? Its value is obviously limited to clearing the ground. The actual edifice must be the work of poets and novelists.”


“The aim of the ‘new existentialism’ is identical with that of ‘the hero’ and the ‘inner-directed man’—to be re-connected with the vital impulses and the sense of purpose.”


“This points to one of the main causes of the failure of French existentialism. It has failed to place sufficient emphasis on the creative drives. It deifies the ordinary at the expense of the extraordinary. One might adapt Shaw’s comment on Shakespeare, and say that it understands human weakness without understanding human strength.”


“The problem, then, will be to create a new positive existentialism. It would not be accurate to say that this would have to begin where Sartre and Camus left off, for both have been committed for some time to the direction that appears to have led to an impasse; a new existentialism would have to begin further back, utilising only their psychological method.”