Spotted: What Everybody Thinks About San Francisco


Our little Baghdad by the Bay has long been accused of being an epicenter of all things immoral and hedonistic.  Some have even prophesied that we will be punished a la Sodom and Gomorrah.   

So it is only perhaps surprising that I haven’t seen “The Immoralist” before.  It sounds like a “How-To” book for San Franciscans, right?  I bet they hand this to everyone who moves here as soon as they get off the bus.

 

Although the author is French (equally infamous for their shameless pursuit of joie de vivre) and gay (and friend of Oscar Wilde), this is not a tourist’s guide to San Francisco.  From all appearances the nobel prize-winning André Gide actually produced a serious piece of literature in 1902.   The book is about the protagonist’s struggle, induced by a brush with tuberculosis, with a newly found awareness of, and distaste for, his hitherto whole-heartedly accepted sense of social propriety.   A nice quote from the book posits that “[k]nowing how to free oneself is nothing; the difficult thing is knowing how to live with that freedom.” 

Is that true?  From a quick glance around, it seems like my fellow SFers are pretty good at living with that freedom.  Or at least having a good time trying. 

 

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