OPERATOR: 911. What is your urgence?

CALLER: Operator, I need an ambulance. I think I just cut my finger off in the blender …

OPERATOR: (The sound of a cigarette being lit, then an exhale.)

CALLER: Do you hear me, man! I need an ambulance at 2304 Powell St. Now!

OPERATOR: Ceci s’intéresse. Yes, the predicament of Roquentin … yes … it is the indifference to existence of the inanimate. No matter how much he longs for something other or something different, he cannot get away from the plundering evidence of his engagement with the world. You know, le Monde. I think we must look at …

CALLER: What in the shit are you talking about? I was just making margaritas …

OPERATOR: Ah, oui. Vous pensez. A typical ignorance of the common folk. Perhaps this is why you sit with your extremity half-digested in the bowels of the blender. It seems you are … comment devoir je dis … a student of Kant? Freedom. I spit.

CALLER: I think I’m going to pass out …


OPERATOR: 911. What is your urgence?

CALLER: Oh, God. Oh, no. I think my husband is dying. He’s grabbing his chest. I think … I think he’s having a heart attack. Operator, he’s turning blue!

OPERATOR: (Chortles contemptuously.) Mort inévitable. Oui. Oui. Depriving life of meaning. You must know you cannot await his death. Vous devez savoir, because meaning can exist only insofar as there is a future toward which one can project oneself, death deprives such …

CALLER: It’s his heart, operator. Oh, please help him. Send an ambulance. I love you, Herbert! Operator, please! I love him so much …

OPERATOR: Do you have a second?

CALLER: Wha …?

OPERATOR: Look, madame. Take a deep breath. Etes-vous relâché? Good. Now, think of the heart as a rock, or a small pumpkin. A heart cannot be anything else than a heart, but if a man comes along, that man can use it as a weapon. And now, you see, the heart is back to its ideal state. You are safe. And what of this love? You play the part of grieving subject in a case where subjectivity is traded off between persons like a hot pomme de terre. Relax. Travel. Rocamadour is nice this time of year. Or La Rochelle.

CALLER: Operator, I need help, here. Herbert’s not moving. He’s everything to me … Help us …

OPERATOR: Je vous aide, madame. Trust me, this helps. Where was I? Oh, oui … an anticipation of the very meaning of consciousness and subjectivity. This illusory shared consciousness stands as a pointed reminder of our inability to achieve oneness with the other. So, we have a man whose heart is mort, black. That is all we have. How nau-se-ating. (Chuckles.) It is only by nature of your décision that this news should be important to me. Peux-je vous demander quelque

CALLER: Herbert!


OPERATOR: 911. What is your urgence?

CALLER: Hello? What? Hello?

OPERATOR: Que voulez-vous? What do you want?

CALLER: I think there’s an intruder in my house. Will you send the police? Please. Please hurry.

OPERATOR: Putain! I have said before, Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have. Hmm, I wonder how I feel about things he once had but now doesn’t, or won’t—I am referring to this intruder, bien sûr. Man is anguish. Doors open. Structures like poverty have the literal agency of the component, individual human being, but this class structure is a destine and we can speak cogently of social forces which bring to bear causality and turn us into esclaves —you know … slaves. This is a truism. A must for humanité. Or at least for frère breaking and entering, non?

CALLER: I swear to God, man. You’ve gotta do something. Are you speaking French or something? Are you even listening to me, man? I think this guy may be coming up the stairs. Oh, God, I’m scared. Please send somebody.

OPERATOR: Appropriating by destruction. Such horror. But, as they say in greeting cards, À coeur vaillant rien d’impossible. What a load! But I don’t mean to upset you, you know that, eh?

CALLER: He’s outside my fucking door! Who is this?

OPERATOR: (Long drag off a cigarette.) Jean-Paul.


OPERATOR: J’ai dit Jean-Paul. Look here, monsieur. Has it occurred to you that all which we abandon, all that we give, we enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that we give it away. Pour donner is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives. Sit back. Take a bath, peut-être.

CALLER: He’s banging on my fucking door, man!


OPERATOR: 911. Vat iss your emergency?

CALLER: There’s an intruder at my door. Right now he’s here. I’m so scared. Look, you’ve got to hurry up because … You’re not French, are you?

OPERATOR: Ach, mein Gott … Does “Wittgenstein” sound French to you?