A kiss without a moustache, as was said at the time, is like an egg without salt; I add: and like Good without Evil, like my life from 1905 to 1914. If one is defined only by opposition, I was the undefined in person. If love and hate are the obverse and reverse of the same coin, I loved nothing and nobody. That was as it should be: one cannot be asked both to hate and to please. Or to please and to love.
Am I therefore a Narcissus? Not even that. Too eager to charm, I forget myself. After all, it doesn't amuse me very much to make mud-pies, to scribble, to perform my natural functions: in order for these to have value in my eyes, at least one grown-up must go into raptures over my products. Happily, there is no lack of applause. Whether the adults listen to my babbling or to The Art of the Fugue, they have the same arch smile of enjoyment and complicity. That shows what I am essentially: a cultural asset. Culture permeates me, and I give it off to the family by radiation, just as ponds, in the evening, give off the heat of the day.
I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: amidst books...
—Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mots, p. 39