Rihanna, in a torrid, hungover state, once shouted into the Twitter abyss, “What is life? Is there any?” Her bewilderment mimicked a feeling many people around her age experience: the existential crisis. Currently, Justin Bieber seems to be going through it. He spends half of his new album, Purpose, sending into the void sing-song questions about life, its meaning, and whether it’s the right time to apologize. The purpose of Purpose, it would seem, is to find purpose. Yes, we know “Life Is Worth Living,” but why is it worth living, Justin? So, we decided to see if the good ol’ existentialists had the answers to Bieber’s burning questions. What do we mean? Read on to find out.
Song: “What Do You Mean?
Question: What do you mean?
Answer: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Question: Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?
Answer: “Time is too large, it can’t be filled up. Everything you plunge into it is stretched and disintegrates.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Song: “Love Yourself”
Question: Was I a fool to let you break down my walls?
Answer: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Question: Can we keep each other company?
Answer: “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Song: “No Pressure”
Question: Hear me?
Answer: “Take stock of those around you and you will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyze those ideas, and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his ‘ideas’ are not true; he uses them as trenches for the defense of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality.” –Ernest Becker
Song: “The Feeling”
Question: Am I in love with you or am I in love with the feeling?
Answer: “Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Question: Could it be I don’t know what’s good for me?
Answer: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” –Albert Camus
Song: “Life Is Worth Living”
Question: Do we have enough time to salvage this love?
Answer: “I know of only one duty, and that is to love.” –Albert Camus
Question: What I get from my reflection is a difference in perception?
Answer: “When I cannot see myself, even though I touch myself, I wonder if I really exist.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Song: “Where Are Ü Now?”
Question: Where are you now that I need ya?
Answer: “I want to leave, to go somewhere where I should be really in my place, where I would fit in…but my place is nowhere; I am unwanted.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Question: What about the children?
Answer: “Ah! How I hate the crimes of the new generation: they are dry and sterile as darnel.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Question: What about a vision?
Answer: “What the age needs is not a genius—it has had geniuses enough, but a martyr, who in order to teach men to obey would himself be obedient unto death. What the age needs is awakening.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Question: Who’s gonna be the one to fight for it?
Answer: “The task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Question: Do you believe enough to die for it?
Answer: “I am no longer sure of anything. If I satiate my desires, I sin but I deliver myself from them; if I refuse to satisfy them, they infect the whole soul.” –Jean-Paul Sartre
Question: Who’s got the heart? Whose heart is the biggest?
Answer: “Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.” –Albert Camus
Question: Ask you to forgive me for my sins, oh would you please?
Answer: “It is certain that we cannot escape anguish, for we are anguish.” –Jean-Paul Sartre