“I’m a little maxed out on existentialism.” So said a young, balding gentleman to a woman who appeared to be his date on a clear summer weekend afternoon in 2005. They were on line waiting to buy tickets at Cobble Hill Cinema in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. I was merely passing by within ear-shot.
Why do I remember this event nearly fifteen years later? To start, I remember when it happened because I know when I told the story at school. But why did I tell the story at school in the first place? I think it was the impossibly haughty affect with which the gentleman informed his companion that he was just a little bit maxed out on the subject of existentialism. In so few words, it was clear that existentialism was not causing him to have an existential crisis. Rather, he was simply over the whole thing. Existentialism was a has-been in his life. It was nothing to him. Out were the days when a man impressed his date with his knowledge of the abstruse; in were the days when he impressed upon his date that he was already over it.
Years later, I would earn a philosophy degree just like I assume that gentleman already had. To my good fortune, I did not have to study enough existentialism in my program to approach the stage of being maxed out on the subject. Had I had the misfortune of becoming maxed out on existentialism, I would have still been unlikely to express the sense of being maxed out in quite the remarkable way that gentleman did in 2005. I would, however, been more able to fill this article with existentialism puns. Thus, my not having become maxed out on existentialism should come as a relief to all of us.