Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55

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The Independent Online
One of the principal worries of the impoverished existentialists is where to live. Generally, poor existentialists use the following method to find a place to sleep: after having stayed a month in a hotel, the existentialist declares when the bill is given to him that he will not pay it; the manager replies that he will seize the luggage; the existentialist bounds up the stairs to his room and comes down again after dressing in as many layers of shirts and trousers as possible. After a few months - and hotels - the existentialist has only one pair of trousers left. So he doesn't sleep any more.

The existentialists who do not sleep any more meet from 10 to midnight at the Bar Vert in Rue Jacob, where they carve existentialist graffiti in the lavatories and the telephone box.

These graffiti are totally different from the type which generally adorns the walls of this sort of place. No obscenities or pierced

hearts but serious thoughts which all centre around the emptiness of life, the grave, suicide, and Bikini.

From an article in the newspaper Samedi soir, 3 May 1947, quoted in Boris Vian, manuel de saint germain des pres edited by Noel Arnaud (Chene).