I Am Me, and You Are You
Existentialists view mankind as individuals whose unique past experiences establish personal characteristics that set all of us apart. This idea can be best expressed in an intuitive statement by a celebrated individualist, Tarzan. "Me Tarzan, you Jane" is at the nucleus of the beliefs of the existential atom. This seemingly simplistic statement relates to existentialism by leading us to the idea of man's individualism, guiding us to belief of existence before essence and ushering us to the notion of freedom of choice. These three beliefs can then be related to the characters in the existential writer Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit."
At first reading of this statement, one notices Tarzan's word choice. "Me Tarzan, you Jane" implies that Tarzan and Jane are not one and the same. Instead, they are two different people who lead very different lives. Tarzan, the Ape Man, is by nature different than his newfound lady friend.
Existentialists would further this train of thought to say that since people are always different, they can never be the same. They would then argue that every person is an individual, not a copy from a predetermined mold. Jean-Paul Sartre also portrays his characters as individuals, not carbon copies of each other. Garcin, a soldier who went AWOL, certainly lived a different life than the baby-killer Estelle.
These individualistic qualities lead to us by Tarzan's statement, now guide us to the existential belief of existence before essence. This idea consists of the belief that people are formed from their own unique past experiences. Tarzan, a lonely boy who was raised by a pack of gorillas, has not experienced the touch of mankind. His isolation from the world is completely opposite from that of Jane's past. Jane, a women raised in the...