Table for One at the Existentialist Café

Over the years, since around the age of nine, I’ve had imaginary conversations with a great number of historical figures and fictional characters. It all started with verbal chats with Tarzan, Spider-Man, and The Human Torch. Growing up on the road, with real life friendships few and far between, I had years of solitude to hone my imaginary social skills.

I spent a lot of time in libraries and bookstores, perusing my favorite subjects and also seeking out new things to read about. I became a literary dilettante with a bee-like habit of flitting from one book to another—gathering a bit of prose-pollen from each book.

When I was twelve I began writing about my encounters and placing them in specific environments. I was a time traveling voyeur of literary worlds and a fly on the wall of the peanut gallery—and I had no qualms about commenting.

At sixteen I was journaling and weaving into the conversations ideas and actual thoughts and dialogue from books I read. That was the year I first read The Outsider by Colin Wilson and learned that there was a name for what I was—an autodidact.

Reading The Outsider formally introduced me to philosophical worlds and those that created them. I learned about phenomenology and read about Jean-Paul Sarte’s book, La Nausée—though I would not actually read the book itself until I was twenty-one. I wasn’t the most sophisticated philosophical thinker but I was extremely earnest and driven to understand what I was reading.

For seven years, from the age of sixteen to twenty-three, I considered myself an existentialist—though I didn’t yet have a full understanding what that meant. At twenty-three I abandoned existentialism in favor of what I thought to be the less dogmatic shifting belief system of guerrilla ontology.

A few days ago I bought a book called “At The Existentialist Café” and I’m once again captivated by the architects of existentialism.

Like Dorothy returning to Oz.