I remember, about six years back, I visited my friend Nate at Penn State. I met him during my first year of college, we had both gone to Wittenberg, but only stayed for a year. He went on to Penn State, and I went on to all over the place... but he and I still remained very close.
I went to a class with him and dropped in. It was some type of beginning philosophy class, which I have never really explored before, and I just happened to be there the day they started existentialism. Of course the first piece the prof mentioned was "No Exit". Also, the most famous line was thrown around... "Hell is other people."
I remember hearing that line before, and oddly enough I was able to place it right away. Like many kids of the 80's, I never missed an episode of Family Ties. I remembered that Alex P. Keaton once said it, and it stuck with me. I was probably 8 years old, and it stuck with me that long, though I did not understand it.
Anyway, I accidentally came across Sartre's, "No Exit" on Google reader. I started reading a bit, and then I found myself finishing the short, one act play. It was not until reading it again, that I really think I have found the true meaning of that one line.
Hell is not other people in the sense that you should not be around people, or other people cause all the problems... But... more like you are trapped, bound by another persons thoughts and judgments of you... and if we have a relationship with a person that is not how we pictured it, or flawed, or negative or even just... well, fucked up, then we worry and get upset and obsess... until we are in our own hell, that we view as caused by the other people.
It isn't that other people themselves are hell, it is we are in hell because we actually care about what those are people think and feel about us, and no matter how hard we try to ignore, forget, etc, it is still there.
The ironic thing is, we depend on those other people... to give us that judgment, feedback, etc. It is a sad catch-22 and somewhere in here, I think taking responsibility for your own actions fits...
Can you tell I am not sleeping, again?