It is 11:46 on April 15th,
Joseph decides to take the late shift on Saturday night; in need to be consolidate with his thoughts. He is almost done writing his sorrowful letter to his parents in Monaco explaining his great dissatisfaction with his life and how he has been unsuccessful in narrowing the exact source of it but has discovered the answer to it. In that letter, Joseph Roquentin expressed his disposition as how he had come to question whether any of the choices he makes were truly his. How he had grown tired of the constant delusion that society had placed him and everyone else. Joseph wishes to break away from the doctrines he has been forcefully placed to abide to and explains how he has come to a solution - a rather radical solution but a solution nonetheless.
He has decided to conclusively resolve his torment.
He clicks the send button enthusiastically but recalls that his parents aren’t too fond of modern technology and will learn of his act some time after it has occurred. He also seems to take very little care or consideration for his parents standpoint in his decision. He slides away from his desk, stands tall and forces a grin upon his face as he remembers.
“Tonight is a night of awakening and realization” he says to himself.
He walks calmly yet ebulliently up the stairs of the I&M bank tower - a dungeon that he was exiled to 3 years back by his overseers in Monaco although he’d be lying if he said there were no positives in coming here. He reaches the top of the building, slowly walks towards the edge and stops as he begins to recollect his thoughts.
After months of questioning his freedom and whether the choices he has made are truly his, he strongly believes this is the time to act on his own intuition and escape the confines of society.
He is at the age of 39 and is aware he is at the last year of his youth. He begins to reflect on a very miserable life, one that endured far too many difficulties and few triumphs. A very cold gush of Kenyan air blows across his pale white face and the sound of the Nairobi nightlife roars in every corner of the city. For a moment he ponders on the overall benefit to move away from the pomposity and vanity of the French he was born with. He breathes in, shuts his eyes and steadily moves his right foot forward.
Suddenly Roquentin pulls away in shock and fear and lunges backward to the floor! His eyes dilate, his heart begins to thump thunderously almost as if it is about to burst straight out of his chest, he draws his breath rather aggressively. He gathers himself from the floor and is in a state of bewilderment, he goes to check if it were the height that scared him, but unfortunately it wasn’t.
Roquentin had just experienced the angst of death a factor he neglected till now. In light of this unpleasant finding Roquentin refuses to leave the resolution he’d discovered due to consternation over the possibility he will return to the shackles of modern life. He musters himself up, exits the building into his car and goes on a search for answers that will encourage his decision and suppress his emotions until what is needed to be done is done.
Roquentin goes to a club near Unga house. A very neglected shanty and dingy part of Nairobi .The flickering neo luminous light emitted by the signpost creates an obscure shade on Roquentin’s glasses, one that makes it near impossible to see his eyes. For if they were to see Roquentin clearly they would see a man in indescribable and excruciating discomfort. He hauls himself to the countertop of the bar in weary fashion, slouches on the cold varnished wood, lost in the search for answers.
He gazes straight through the balcony door. The cold wind blows through his balding scalp and the stubble on his cheek. He turns to the right and sees the doltish youth, indulging in extravagant poisons, sharing small bush fires of lust. Having a closer look Roquentin is able to see the same discomfort in him conveyed in these young adults, they simply decide to suppress it. Roquentin thinks to himself.
I struggle comes to understand why they insist on portraying false happiness!
Roquentin decides to ease his confusion with alcohol and after downing his first two pints of beer, he realizes something as the third pint is presented to him this alcoholic beverage, made from malted cereal grain, flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation was nothing but a delusion something that simply numbed the pain he felt. He realises that alcohol gives a sense of untruthful satisfaction, which makes people like him, forget how terrible life currently is and he hates this.
The answer is not here. Roquentin returns to his car. He feels the urge to let go has never been stronger and the deceitful show of human emotions has never been clearer to him.
One more place to visit for answers. one more… Nairobi chapel, he thinks.
He parks his car on the gravel road, pulls out and stands before the architectural beauty. It seems to him that religion could bring the best out of anyone. He wishes it could do the same for him. Walking through the colossal doors and seeing before him an arrangement of 2 by 12 pews side by side organized to perfection, he notices the carpets unscathed and untouched from even the smallest particle of dust, complete purity. The smell of scented candles and incense wafts around the room almost as if to give people the idea that this is a place clear from all filth and impurities and in the middle of this Roquentin sees himself as a greasy stain on this white cloth.
The last time he’d been to a church was when he was 12 and his parents had dragged him into the Saint Nicholas cathedral for Sunday prayers. His father would always scold and urge to him that “a man who neglects religion is one destined for the hell fire and one who embraces it is destined for eternal paradise.”
The lie was so painful it brought Roquentin to tears. Roquentin hated the deceitful pretence that religion dressed people in. It was the ontological fallacy of expecting a light at the end of the tunnel, it's what the preacher sells, the preacher, he encourages our capacity for illusion. He tells you it's a fucking virtue. Always a buck to be had doing that, and it's such a desperate sense of entitlement, isn't it? Transference of fear and self-loathing to an authoritarian vessel. It's catharsis. He absorbs our dread with his narrative. Because of this, he's effective in proportion to the amount of certainty he can project. Religion, it was merely hidden behind; masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or "better" lives that we can all experience. A way to better our lives in every aspect. It was no better than alcohol and to Roquentin it simply gave false meaning to human behavior. Being weak was seen to be goodness, submission to someone you abhorred was seen as obedience, sexlessness as purity and not being able to take revenge as forgiveness. Roquentin detests the euphemistic and false character religion plays in our everyday lives.
A gush of cold wind brings him back to reality.
Roquentin stands in the middle of this cathedral infuriated yet again by the falsehood humanity has created again. Across the room the preacher gives Roquentin a delightful look as he takes up the assumption he is a holy soul who comes to this hour to repent his sins and continue his everlasting worship to “God”.
How little he knows.
Roquentin gives out a sharp cry.
” If your God is so eager to judge me by the actions I have committed and pledge my soul to an eternal punishment of fire, pain and anguish then so be it! I refuse to believe in the ideology of a higher entity whose desire is our never ending worship of him all because he created us, did he not once stop to think whether we wanted to endure these harrowing lives, it’s a sanctimonious act I tell you. This god is no omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent individual, he is a sadistic arrogant fraud and one I want no involvement with. My final hour has arrived and your God has failed me. Yet again No answers and the absence of his guidance is felt yet again!”
The priest stands transfixed in his sacred robes. He is at a loss. Before he can compose himself, the newcomer turns abruptly and makes for the exit. As Roquentin strolls calmly to the exit, the meaningless in all of this comes to light in his thoughts…Religion,poverty, celebrities, viral trends, drama, politics, love, hate, family, the search for the meaning of life. It really doesn’t matter these are just preoccupations in this life. Thoughts and ideas that shield us, that blind us, that lie to us of the ultimate truth. We will cease to exist in the plains of this world.
As Roquentin heads to his car to leave the compound, he knows his destination. Uhuru Park.
His arrival is a somber one and fits the prefect view of his final hour as he strolls ever so unenthusiastically through the gates and reflects one last time. All this drivel fed to him…what for? He is still as ever lost and ever angered. He has finally come to see the very structure of society he was adopted within was not for him as maybe the human being created civilization not because of willingness but of a need to be assimilated into higher orders of structure and meaning and maybe God was the ideal form of good government. He the individual Roqentin desires judgment like all and without that desire, the cohesion of groups is impossible, and so is his acceptance of civilization.
It is time.