Lucid Dreams Logo

The Creative Adventure


My Works

Roquentin denies the existence of “adventures.” He has spent an extraordinary amount of time considering what an adventure is, and if having one is ever possible. His conclusions about adventures influenced numerous aspects of his life. The following will explore the nature of adventures and its relations to the life of Roquentin.


What Roquentin means by adventure is the same as we mean in everyday language: an event that is new, exciting, unexpected, and perhaps dangerous. An adventure is experience structured to have a beginning and an end (construction thesis). In regards to any content, to obtain this necessary structure the potential adventurer “must (and this is enough) begin to recount it” (p. 39) (“retrospective and omnipotence thesis”).


As stated, all adventures are structured with a beginning and an end.  Roquentin reasons that if adventures had ever existed, then their “beginnings would have had to be real beginnings” (p. 37).  However, there are no real beginnings.  Only arbitrary beginning exists, chosen and illusive landmarks lacking anything in themselves that have the quality of beginning.  Moreover, if a real beginning could occur, which it cannot, but if it could, the real beginning and subsequent events could only be understood after the adventure ends; the end gives what has lead up to it meaning (a real beginning contains its end; it is always a beginning of something).  However, there are no ends for the same reason as there are no real beginnings.  Since “There are no beginnings [... and] Neither is there any end” (p. 39), no structures can give an adventures existence.


“The true nature of the present revealed itself: it was what exists, and all that was not present did not exist.  The past did not exist.  Not at all.  Not in things, not even in my thoughts” (pgs. 95-96). This is important.  What is exists, and what is not does not exist and is called nothing.  The present is, and so exists.  The past and present, though they either were or will be, are not and so do not exist; in other words, everything in the past and present is nothing.  To have an adventure, it is necessary to organize the past, arrange that which is not, give structure to nothing.  Obviously, this is impossible, as so adventures are impossible.


Considering the above, it is important to note that Roquentin never claims to have had an adventure; rather he claims both that he has never had one and, after realizing this, that adventures happen to him.  See, another reason that he denies that there can be adventures is that if he could structure things in the past, even before he considered their non-existence he has never tried to do so.  He stated that “Each instant appears only as part of a sequence.  I cling to each instant with all my heart” (p. 37) and that he “grasped at each second, trying to suck it dry” (p. 38).  Roquentin is a man of existence, and as the present is all that exists, he is a man of the present whose focus is ever on the now.  Keeping this in mind, let us see what happened to  Roquentin on a Sunday in Bouville.


Roquentin considered and understood the nature of an adventure, and realized that having one is impossible.  Also, he still understood existence (the present) to have organic unity (there is no causal unity without past and future).  Though there is no time, there are situations in which Roquentin can see both the beginning and the end happening now–this organic unity of present things can  bring a feeling of adventure to him (note that this is not the same as recounting the non-existing things of the past). 


That is what happened to him on the Sunday in Bouville; its narrative is simply a description of the events of the present organic unity happening to him, the feeling he received, and the observance of the end in what is.  He knows the adventure is about to come.  He realized that it is the structure of the present to change constantly, applied this structure to things in the present, and experienced the feelings (of adventure) existence (the present) gave him.  This produces the adventurous feeling or  “mirage of adventures” (p. 162) and as Roquentin stated, “To tell the truth, I did not formulate my discoveries to myself” (p. 131) and so did not have adventures.



I remember in grade school there were a series of books known as “Choose Your Own Adventure.”  The reader was the main character, and the reader began on page one.  After reading a page or three, the reader was promoted with something like: if you would like to answer the front door, turn to page 58; if you would like to hide in the basement, turn to page 34.  The reader chooses to turn to page 34.  After reading another page or three, the reader is again prompted “if you would like to hide behind the furniture, turn to page 6; if you would like to unlock the cabinet and grab a weapon, turn to page 110... and so on.  Every book has one beginning and about twenty potential endings.  I know that it is an adventure story, that there are many potential plots, plot variations, and endings–and if I follow the prompted page-turning options,  I am guaranteed that regardless of which pages I chose to turn to, all of the material I have read thus far will have unity with all that I will read including the end.  Is this an adventure while the reader is reading it?  Roquentin would say no!

I agree.  I cannot have an adventure while I am reading a Choose Your Own Adventure or any other unread book.  As Roquentin would say, in order for the content to be structured as an adventure, the end must make one with the beginning.  The end is not one with the beginning until the end exists and happens, and so the adventure that I am choosing is not yet an adventure but has the potential to be one once it has ended.  However, reading such a book can give a feeling of adventure to the reader, but as clarified above, this is not the same as constructing and having an adventure.


Roquentin claims that to have an adventure, one “must (and this is enough) begin to recount it” (p 39).  I disagree–that is not enough.  He needs an addition: one must (and this is enough) begin to recount in detail.  I do not wish to go into great depth as to what qualifies here as being detailed and what does not; the point is that as long as content is structured for an adventure, that structure will be an adventure if it has a proper depth in detail.  I am not forgetting that there are no real beginnings or ends, nor that past things do not even exist to recount.  Neither am I contradicting myself–with my addition it is enough (that is, if one could do it, it would produce an adventure, yet  it is not possible).



Music is like the situations of the existing present when the organic unity gives a feeling of adventure, and hearing music is almost like having an adventure.  If real beginnings exist anywhere, they exist in music.  The first note seems to mark the beginning of the artwork clearly.  In a “good” piece of music, like the music in the café, every note, rest, bend, and slide needs to be there; any absence would make the work insufficient, and any addition would be too much.  It gives the pleasurable feelings it does just as it is because it is just as it is.  It is predictable and in harmony with itself.  Like an adventure, its content is given structure.



“History talks about what has existed” (p. 178). To write a history book, one must create something that exists (the book) which explains another existence (one that is not; one that is nothing).  Founded on hypotheticals, an author is given bits and scraps; the author cuts, pastes, fills, creates a work of art and gives it organic unity (like the organic unity that leads to the feelings of an adventure).   If he is going to create an existing artwork about that which does not exist, it is more honest to declare at the outset the intention of  writting a fiction about an adventure and do so than to state the intention of writting only about fact yet still write fiction about non-existing adventures.   In plain words, to create a history book is to recount the past and give it structure, which is the same way one creates an adventure.



It in interesting to compare Roquentin with Anny.  Roquentin states that, referring to the content of his experiences, “I had imagined that at certain times my life could take on a rare and precious quality [...] all I asked for was a little precision” (p. 37).  Anny states that privileged situations are “situations which had a rare and precious quality, style” (p. 147).


Anny’s privileged situations and perfect moments are like Roquentin’s past experiences  and adventures, respectively.  Her privileged situations was the content (like Roquentin’s past experiences) which could later be structured into a perfect moment (like adventures).  She realized that there can be no perfect moments, not in themselves, for she is the one who creates what is necessary for them to exist (just as Roquentin realized that there are no real beginning or ends in past things in themselves, but only what he assigns them to be).  The character of Anny is written to mirror the situation and realizations (especially everything related to adventures) of the character Roquentin.


The Chestnut Tree

The root of the chestnut tree is used to demonstrate our minds’ workings in relation to perception. When we perceive “things,” we really perceive bits and fragments of existence–bundles of perceptions–which we cannot explain precisely as we perceive them.  Our minds arrange our perceptions, group them, give them categories, and produce language so that one mind can relate in an incomplete way its perceptions to another.


The root of the chestnut tree is chosen both for its shape and for its symbolism–it is “below all explanation” (p. 129).  It is difficult, nay, impossible to describe the root accurately.  Its color in too variant, and its shape is beyond any word or comprehensible group of words; one could spend the rest of eternity describing it.  Describing phenomenal objects just as we perceive them requires artistic construction of content into structures (like adventures), and like adventures this cannot be done.


The previous has explored the nature of adventures as reasoned by Roquentin.  Undoubtedly, one could apply our findings of adventures to an overwhelming number of aspects in our daily lives. Our exploration of adventures is hardly an idle pastim– how we understand Sartre’s work may fundamentally change our entire world view.  

© Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy