Jan 12, 2013

Chestnut Trees

Queluz Palace gardens, Portugal

Are you old enough (and saw enough Woody Allen movies) to have read Sartre’s existentialist novel, ‘Nausea’? Sitting on a park bench, Antoine Roquentin, the main character, stares at the dark roots of a chestnut tree and is confronted with Existence itself. Now, those trees in the distance are not chestnut trees; they are white poplar trees. Roquentin suddenly becomes aware of the essence of things beyond their names and physical appearance; he distinguishes between Being and Nothingness, which is always a good thing when you’re driving in heavy traffic. I don’t think the gracious pastoral figure in the picture ever felt such a degree of detachment as to doubt her own existence. No wonder. After all, those trees in the distance are not chestnut trees.

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