Misc. notes of Kierkegaard reading

I won’t be able to write entire posts on my thoughts on each one of these. So here are some excerpts with a few notes on some of the more interesting passages I discovered reading the anthology The Essential Kierkegaard.

SK seems to be complete unaware of anything remotely like what concerns Girard. He talks a lot about personal freedom, the dignity of choosing and only ever mentions the “other” in passing as a possible distraction. But if Girard is right, even half right, the other is FAR more than that.

SK’s mopeyness about breaking off his engagement was hard to stomach.

The best stuff and the worst stuff is going to be autobiographical for most writers. Only a true master can capture someone else. It seems that this is behind some of SK’s motivation to write under pseudonyms, as invented characters.

SK dices exact language about being born again using some Greek ideas from Socrates. It kind of fits better with grace actually. It deemphasises our own striving. I like that.

SK says “the fullness of time” is a very important Christian concept. Outside of it, the atonement and judgment fall apart. This seems to factor largely into Robert Capon’s concept of redemption as well.

SK says that idealism is sin. Yikes!

Sin against God is much worse than sin by itself (not that there is such a thing!).

The opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith. He’s not the first person to say this of course, but he proves it the long way. This is incredibly important I think. The opposite of faith is not do-gooding but rather faith.

It seems to me that SK makes a good case that hell must be some sort of life. It is sin and despair perpetuated yet unable to die. But something has to keep it going. The would make it NOT annihilationism. It also makes our dark earth very close to hell already. Lewis gets this too.

On utilitarianism. We don’t build Cathedrals anymore because “what use are they?”. Instead we build skyscrapers full of people who hate their job.

I have had little to win or to lose in the association with the ordinary run of men, partly because what they did – so-called practical life – does not interest me much, partly because their coldness and indifference to the spiritual and deeper currents in man alienate me even more from them. (This “practical” life, which is fairly prevalent in the whole era, is manifest also in big things; whereas the past ages built works before which the observer must stand in silence, now they build a tunnel under the Thames (utility and advantage). Yes, almost before a child gets time to admire the beuty of a plant or some animal, it asks: Of what us is it?)

-Early Journal Entries, p.11

This is funny. This is likely how I would become a humor writer – accidentally.

One carelessly writes down one’s personal observations, has them printed, and in the various proofs one will eventually acquire a number of good ideas. Therefore, take courage, ou who have not yet dared to have something printed. Do not despise typographical errors, and to become witty by means of typograpical errors may be considered a legitimate way to become witty.

-Either/Or, p.38

This is similar to the idea that anyone can take a bullet for someone – that’s relatively easy. Real love is shown by sticking with them for years and years. Time, boredom, despair – these are the real enemies we must face in life.

Most people complain that the world is so prosaic that things do not go in life as in the novel, where opportunity is always so favorable. I complain that in life it is not as in the novel, where one has hardhearted fathers and nisses and trolls to battle, and enchanted princesses to free. What are all such adversaries together compared with the pale, blodless, tenacious-of-life nocturnal forms with which I battle and to which I myself give life and existence?

-Either/Or, p39

Wonderful stuff on the nature of youthful passion:

My soul has lost possibility. If I were to wish for something, I would wish not for wealth or power but for the passion of possibility, for the eye, eternally young, eternally ardent, that sees possiblity everywhere. Pleasere disappoints; possibility does not. And what wine is so sparkling, so fragrant, so intoxicating! …Then I call to mind my youth and my first love – when I was filled with longing; now I long only for my first longing. What is youth? A dream. What is love? The content of the dream.

-Either/Or, p.45

A nod to the common man. SK wrote a lot of stuff that was really hard to read. But at least he recognized that everything that was REALLY important must not be that hard.

What in the most profound sense is the meaning of life must be capable of being grasped even by a more simple person [than I].

-Either/Or p.78

Needing God is nothing to be ashamed of. I didn’t realize when I marked this passage that it is often quoted.

…the words “to be contented with the grace of God” will not only comfort a person, and then comfort him again every time earthly want and distress make him, to speak mundanely, needful of comfort, but when he really has become attentive to the words they will call him aside, where he no longer hears the secular mentality’s earthly mother tongue, the speech of human beings, the noise of shop keepers, but where the words explain themselves to him, confide to him the secret of perfection: that to need God is nothing to be ashamed of but is perfection itself, and that the saddest thing of all is if a human being goes through life without discovering that he needs God.

-To Need God is Man’s Highest Perfection, p.87

I think I’m done with SK for quite a while. Must read something else.