Sunshine Recorder

Link: "The Present Age" by Søren Kierkegaard (1846)

The present age is one of understanding, of reflection, devoid of passion, an age which flies into enthusiasm for a moment only to decline back into indolence.

Not even a suicide does away with himself out of desperation, he considers the act so long and so deliberately, that he kills himself with thinking — one could barely call it suicide since it is thinking which takes his life. He does not kill himself with deliberation but rather kills himself because of deliberation. Therefore, one can not really prosecute this generation, for its art, its understanding, its virtuosity and good sense lies in reaching a judgment or a decision, not in taking action.

Just as one might say about Revolutionary Ages that they run out of control, one can say about the Present Age that it doesn’t run at all. The individual and the generation come between and stop each other; and therefore the prosecuting attorney would find it impossible to admit any fact at all, because nothing happens in this generation. From a flood of indications one might think that either something extraordinary happened or something extraordinary was just about to happen. But one will have thought wrong, for indications are the only thing the present age achieves, and its skill and virtuosity entirely consist in building magical illusions; its momentary enthusiasms which use some projected change in the forms of things as an escape for actually changing the forms of things, are the highest in the scale of cleverness and the negative use of that strength which is the passionate and creating energy during Revolutionary Ages. Eventually, this present age tires of its chimerical attempts until it declines back into indolence. Its condition is like one who has just fallen asleep in the morning: first, great dreams, then laziness, and then a witty or clever reason for staying in bed.

The individual (no matter how well-meaning he might be, no matter how much strength he might have, if only he would use it) does not have the passion to rip himself away from either the coils of Reflection or the seductive ambiguities of Reflection; nor do the surroundings and times have any events or passions, but rather provide a negative setting of a habit of reflection, which plays with some illusory project only to betray him in the end with a way out: it shows him that the most clever thing to do is nothing at all. Vis inertiae is the foundation of the tergiversation of the times, and every passionless person congratulates himself for being the first to discover it — and becomes, therefore, more clever. Weapons were freely given out during Revolutionary Ages … but in the present age everyone is given clever rules and calculators in order to aid one’s thinking. If any generation had the diplomatic task of postponing action so that it might appear that something were about to happen, even though it would never happen, then one would have to say that our age has achieved as mightily as Revolutionary Ages. Someone should try an experiment with himself: he should forget everything he knows about the times and its relativity amplified by its familiarity, and then come into this age as if he were from another planet, and read some book, or some article in the newspaper: he will have this impression: “Something is going to happen tonight, or else something happened last night!”

A Revolutionary Age is an age of action; the present age is an age of advertisement, or an age of publicity: nothing happens, but there is instant publicity about it. A revolt in the present age is the most unthinkable act of all; such a display of strength would confuse the calculating cleverness of the times. Nevertheless, some political virtuoso might achieve something nearly as great. He would write some manifesto or other which calls for a General Assembly in order to decide on a revolution, and he would write it so carefully that even the Censor himself would pass on it; and at the General Assembly he would manage to bring it about that the audience believed that it had actually rebelled, and then everyone would placidly go home—after they had spent a very nice evening out. An enormous grounding in scholarship is alien to the youth of today, in fact, they would find it laughable. Nevertheless, some scientific virtuoso might achieve something even greater. He would draw up some prospectus outlining systematically some all-embracing, all-explaining system that he was about to write, and he would manage to achieve the feat of convincing the reader (of the prospectus) that he had in fact read the entire system. The Age of Encyclopedists is gone, when with great pains men wrote large Folios; now we have an age of intellectual tourists, small little encyclopedists, who, here and there, deal with all sciences and all existence. And a genuine religious rejection of the world, followed with constant self-denial, is equally unthinkable among the youth of our time: nevertheless, some bible college student has the virtuosity to achieve something even greater. He could design some projected group or Society which aims to save those who are lost. The age of great achievers is gone, the present age is an age of anticipators… . Like a youth who plans to diligently study from September 1 for an exam, and in order to solidify his resolve takes a holiday for the entire month of August, such is our generation which has decided resolutely that the next generation will work very hard, and in order not to interfere with or delay the next generation, this generation diligently — goes to parties. However, there is one difference in this comparison: the youth understands that he is light-hearted, the present age is on the contrary very serious—even at their parties.

Action and passion is as absent in the present age as peril is absent from swimming in shallow waters… .

If a precious jewel, which all desired, lay out on a frozen lake, where the ice was perilously thin, where death threatened one who went out too far while the ice near the shore was safe, in a passionate age the crowds would cheer the courage of the man who went out on the ice; they would fear for him and with him in his resolute action; they would sorrow over him if he went under; they would consider him divine if he returned with the jewel. In this passionless, reflective age, things would be different. People would think themselves very intelligent in figuring out the foolishness and worthlessness of going out on the ice, indeed, that it would be incomprehensible and laughable; and thereby they would transform passionate daring into a display of skill … . The people would go and watch from safety and the connoisseurs with their discerning tastes would carefully judge the skilled skater, who would go almost to the edge (that is, as far as the ice was safe, and would not go beyond this point) and then swing back. The most skilled skaters would go out the furthest and venture most dangerously, in order to make the crowds gasp and say: “Gods! He is insane, he will kill himself!” But you will see that his skill is so perfected that he will at the right moment swing around while the ice is still safe and his life is not endangered… .

Men, then, only desire money, and money is an abstraction, a form of reflection … Men do not envy the gifts of others, their skill, or the love of their women; they only envy each others’ money… . These men would die with nothing to repent of, believing that if only they had the money, they might have truly lived and truly achieved something.

The established order continues, but our reflection and passionlessness finds its satisfaction in ambiguity. No person wishes to destroy the power of the king, but if little by little it can be reduced to nothing but a fiction, then everyone would cheer the king. No person wishes to pull down the pre-eminent, but if at the same time pre-eminence could be demonstrated to be a fiction, then everyone would be happy. No person wishes to abandon Christian terminology, but they can secretly change it so that it doesn’t require decision or action. And so they are unrepentant, since they have not pulled down anything. People do not desire any more to have a strong king than they do a hero-liberator than they do religious authority, for they innocently wish the established order to continue, but in a reflective way they more or less know that the established order no longer continues… .

The reflective tension this creates constitutes itself into a new principle, and just as in an age of passion enthusiasm is the unifying principle, so in a passionless age of reflection envy is the negative-unifying principle. This must not be understood as a moral term, but rather, the idea of reflection, as it were, is envy, and envy is therefore twofold: it is selfish in the individual and in the society around him. The envy of reflection in the individual hinders any passionate decision he might make; and if he wishes to free himself from reflection, the reflection of society around him re-captures him… .

Envy constitutes the principle of characterlessness, which from its misery sneaks up until it arrives at some position, and it protects itself with the concession that it is nothing. The envy of characterlessness never understands that distinction is really a distinction, nor does it understand itself in recognizing distinction negatively, but rather reduces it so that it is no longer distinction; and envy defends itself not only from distinction, but against that distinction which is to come.

Envy which is establishing itself is a leveling, and while a passionate age pushes forward, establishing new things and destroying others, raising and tearing down, a reflective, passionless age does the opposite, it stifles and hinders, it levels. This leveling is a silent, mathematical, abstract process which avoids upheavals… . Leveling at its maximum is like the stillness of death, where one can hear one’s own heartbeat, a stillness like death, into which nothing can penetrate, in which everything sinks, powerless.

One person can head a rebellion, but one person cannot head this leveling process, for that would make him a leader and he would avoid being leveled. Each individual can in his little circle participate in this leveling, but it is an abstract process, and leveling is abstraction conquering individuality. The leveling in modern times is the reflective equivalent of fate in the ancient times. The dialectic of ancient times tended towards leadership (the great man over the masses and the free man over the slave); the dialectic of Christianity tends, at least until now, towards representation (the majority views itself in the representative, and is liberated in the knowledge that it is represented in that representative, in a kind of self-knowledge); the dialectic of the present age tends towards equality, and its most consequent but false result is leveling, as the negative unity of the negative relationship between individuals.

Everyone should see now that leveling has a fundamental meaning: the category of “generation” supersedes the category of the “individual.” During ancient times the mass of individuals had this value: that it made valuable the outstanding individual… . In ancient times, the single individual in the masses signified nothing; the outstanding individual signified them all. In the present age, the tendency is towards a mathematical equality …

In order for leveling really to occur, first it is necessary to bring a phantom into existence, a spirit of leveling, a huge abstraction, an all-embracing something that is nothing, an illusion—the phantom of the public… . The public is the real Leveling-Master, rather than the leveler itself, for leveling is done by something, and the public is a huge nothing.

The public is an idea, which would never have occurred to people in ancient times, for the people themselves en masse in corpora took steps in any active situation, and bore responsibility for each individual among them, and each individual had to personally, without fail, present himself and submit his decision immediately to approval or disapproval. When first a clever society makes concrete reality into nothing, then the Media creates that abstraction, “the public,” which is filled with unreal individuals, who are never united nor can they ever unite simultaneously in a single situation or organization, yet still stick together as a whole. The public is a body, more numerous than the people which compose it, but this body can never be shown, indeed it can never have only a single representation, because it is an abstraction. Yet this public becomes larger, the more the times become passionless and reflective and destroy concrete reality; this whole, the public, soon embraces everything… .

The public is not a people, it is not a generation, it is not a simultaneity, it is not a community, it is not a society, it is not an association, it is not those particular men over there, because all these exist because they are concrete and real; however, no single individual who belongs to the public has any real commitment; some times during the day he belongs to the public, namely, in those times in which he is nothing; in those times that he is a particular person, he does not belong to the public. Consisting of such individuals, who as individuals are nothing, the public becomes a huge something, a nothing, an abstract desert and emptiness, which is everything and nothing… .

The Media is an abstraction (because a newspaper is not concrete and only in an abstract sense can be considered an individual), which in association with the passionlessness and reflection of the times creates that abstract phantom, the public, which is the actual leveler… . More and more individuals will, because of their indolent bloodlessness, aspire to become nothing, in order to become the public, this abstract whole, which forms in this ridiculous manner: the public comes into existence because all its participants become third parties. This lazy mass, which understands nothing and does nothing, this public gallery seeks some distraction, and soon gives itself over to the idea that everything which someone does, or achieves, has been done to provide the public something to gossip about… . The public has a dog for its amusement. That dog is the Media. If there is someone better than the public, someone who distinguishes himself, the public sets the dog on him and all the amusement begins. This biting dog tears up his coat-tails, and takes all sort of vulgar liberties with his leg—until the public bores of it all and calls the dog off. That is how the public levels.

When, in a mountainous region, one hears the wind, day in and day out, steadfastly, unchangingly, play the same theme, one is perhaps tempted to abstract, for a moment, from the imperfection of the analogy, and take pleasure in this symbol of the consistency and security of human freedom. One does not think, perhaps, that there was a time when the wind that has now for many years resided in these mountains, came as a stranger to this place, cast itself about confusedly, meaninglessly, through the cliffs and caverns, produced first a howl with which it almost startled itself, then a roar from which it fled, then a moan whose origin was even to itself a mystery, then a sigh from anxiety’s abyss, a sigh so deep that it became frightened and doubted for a moment whether it dare take up residence in this place, then an exuberant, lyrical waltz; until, after it had come to know its instrument, it worked all these into the melody that it now, day in and day out, unvaryingly plays. Thus the individual becomes lost in his own possibility, discovering first one and then another possibility.
— Søren Kierkegaard, Repetition 
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!
— Soren Kierkegaard

(Source: reflectivexistence)

Deep within every human being there still lives the anxiety over the possibility of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the millions and millions in this enormous household. One keeps this anxiety at a distance by looking at the many round about who are related to him as kin and friends, but the anxiety is still there, nevertheless, and one hardly dares think of how he would feel if all this were taken away.
— Soren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Dread

(Source: oreille-mecanique, via becoming-vverevvolf)

It happened that a fire broke out backstage at a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was just a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning, they shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid general applause from all the wits, who believe that it is a joke.
— Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

(Source: sunrec)

Link: Kierkegaard's 'Antigone'

The Danish philosopher’s revisionist take on an ancient Greek tragedy grappled with the way acts of love, guilt and redemption are intertwined.

Perhaps the most central theme in Soren Kierkegaard’s religious thought is the doctrine of original sin: the idea that we share in some essential human guilt simply by being born. But guilt is an important concept also in Kierkegaard’s secular writings. He thought that the modern era was defined by its concept of guilt. Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday gives us an occasion to assess the modern relevance of his legacy and the viability of his own view of modernity.

Kierkegaard thought of Socrates as the person who first discovered human autonomy — the fact that we are free to determine our own actions and therefore responsible for those actions. This insight undermined the ancient worldview, which found its perfect representation in tragic drama, where characters bring about their own ruin because they are fated to do so. In his 1843 essay “Ancient Tragedy’s Reflection in the Modern,” Kierkegaard grappled with this question partly through an analysis of the work of Sophocles. In the play “Oedipus the King,” the gods have cursed the tragic hero with a fate to commit two terrible crimes.

The curse is visited upon his children, too, including his daughter who in the follow-up play “Antigone” commits a crime of her own. Sophocles thus invites us to think of this curse as something like a hereditary disease, passed on from parents to children. In Antigone’s crime and punishment we see the reverberation of her father’s misfortune, and if original sin is sometimes called “hereditary sin,” Antigone’s is a “hereditary guilt.” Such a concept is nonsensical to the Socratic mindset. We are responsible only for what we do—not for what happens to us, or for the actions of others.

Oedipus’s crimes are to kill his father and marry his mother; Antigone’s is to defy the state. She is sentenced to live burial for burying her brother, a traitor, against a state prohibition. But in the midst of this horrible destiny is a relief. Sophocles allows both the fictional character Antigone and the spectators to take comfort in the fact that her transgression against the state is done out of obedience to a divine mandate to honor one’s family and, moreover, that her own terrible fate is ultimately the work of the gods. She is then only partly responsible for the deed and for bringing the subsequent punishment upon herself. Fate and divine mandate are the heroine’s ruination, but they also absolve her of guilt and, by precluding any real choice, redeem her from anxiety and regret.

The same thing happened to me that, according to legend, happened to Parmeniscus, who in the Trophonean cave lost the ability to laugh but acquired it again on the island of Delos upon seeing a shapeless block that was said to be the image of the goddess Leto. When I was very young, I forgot in the Trophonean cave how to laugh; when I became an adult, when I opened my eyes and saw actuality, then I started to laugh and have never stopped laughing since that time. I saw that the meaning of life was to make a living, its goal to become a councilor, that the rich delight of love was to acquire a well-to-do girl, that the blessedness of friendship was to help each other in financial difficulties, that wisdom was whatever the majority assumed it to be, that enthusiasm was to give a speech, that courage was to risk being fined ten dollars, that cordiality was to say “May it do you good” after a meal, that piety was to go to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.
— Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Søren Kierkegaard: A Website Course
Dear Reader.
Around the world many arrangements are made in the name of Kierkegaard. But who was he, and what did he do ?
Here is for you the opportunity of a free course in the work of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55).
You can follow his life and thought by short day-to-day readings of a choice of Kierkegaard’s texts, set in the framework of his biography and his philosophical system.
The course is progressive in chronology and in the philosophical development of Kierkegaard. Still texts are sometimes inserted out of time sequence, in order to better illustrate his work.
There is great interest in Kierkegaard here and abroad. But many people are a bit afraid of approaching his work, because they find it very difficult. This I have tried to get around, and long teaching experience to different publics has shown that people can grasp Kierkegaard’s thoughts when these are presented plainly and properly.
If you are not a Quaker, then Kierkegaard was not either. If you are, you will find related thoughts in his work.
Kierkegaard was not only a deep and great philosopher, but also an artist with a keen observation and a wonderful command of language, its words and rythm. I have tried, in translating, to preserve that rythm. So sometimes you will find the language form a bit strange, until you get used to it. The lengthy, uninterrupted periods are his. He thought, and wrote, like that.
It is unwise to try to rush him, skim or jump. Kierkegaard wrote in a different age, with another, more leisurely tempo. He recommends that he be read aloud, or at least slowly.
You will tolerate that some names and words are given in Danish (with translation or in obvious context). So the name Copenhagen is rightly spelt København. Denmark is Danmark. All person names of course are Danish. They hopefully add to the atmosphere, along with the portraits inserted in appropriate places.
The course has been prepared by me, Hans Aaen, an M.A. of Nordic Literature and Philology, and a member of the Danish Quaker YM. The translation has been done for this Website course. I am sole responsible for any errors.

Søren Kierkegaard: A Website Course

Dear Reader.

Around the world many arrangements are made in the name of Kierkegaard. But who was he, and what did he do ?

Here is for you the opportunity of a free course in the work of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55).

You can follow his life and thought by short day-to-day readings of a choice of Kierkegaard’s texts, set in the framework of his biography and his philosophical system.

The course is progressive in chronology and in the philosophical development of Kierkegaard. Still texts are sometimes inserted out of time sequence, in order to better illustrate his work.

There is great interest in Kierkegaard here and abroad. But many people are a bit afraid of approaching his work, because they find it very difficult. This I have tried to get around, and long teaching experience to different publics has shown that people can grasp Kierkegaard’s thoughts when these are presented plainly and properly.

If you are not a Quaker, then Kierkegaard was not either. If you are, you will find related thoughts in his work.

Kierkegaard was not only a deep and great philosopher, but also an artist with a keen observation and a wonderful command of language, its words and rythm. I have tried, in translating, to preserve that rythm. So sometimes you will find the language form a bit strange, until you get used to it. The lengthy, uninterrupted periods are his. He thought, and wrote, like that.

It is unwise to try to rush him, skim or jump. Kierkegaard wrote in a different age, with another, more leisurely tempo. He recommends that he be read aloud, or at least slowly.

You will tolerate that some names and words are given in Danish (with translation or in obvious context). So the name Copenhagen is rightly spelt København. Denmark is Danmark. All person names of course are Danish. They hopefully add to the atmosphere, along with the portraits inserted in appropriate places.

The course has been prepared by me, Hans Aaen, an M.A. of Nordic Literature and Philology, and a member of the Danish Quaker YM. The translation has been done for this Website course. I am sole responsible for any errors.

Link: Kierkegaard's World

Part 1: What Does it Mean to Exist?
For Kierkegaard, the most pressing question for each person is the meaning of his or her own existence.

Part 2: Truth of Knowledge and Truth of Life
Kierkegaard understood that, when faced with a choice in real life, no amount of knowledge can resolve the dilemma.

Part 3: The Story of Abraham and Isaac
Abraham believes that the God who commands him to do what is most terrible and painful is also the God who loves him.

Part 4: The Essentially Human is Passion
The human being is above all an erotic creature: a being who, conscious that she lacks something, reaches out beyond herself.

Part 5: The Task of Becoming a Christian
Kierkegaard suggests that people who are Christians ‘as a matter of course’ are deceiving themselves.

Part 6: On Learning to Suffer
Kierkegaard suggests that by courageously confronting suffering, a person can find great joy in life.

Part 7: Spiritlessness
Not to recognise yourself as a spiritual being is the greatest danger and the greatest loss of all.

Part 8: God and Possibility
For Kierkegaard God is the fact of possibility: what makes us free – but also gives rise to anxiety.

Link: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky Versus the Enlightenment Mythos

In the course of what is now titled “Continental Philosophy,” three figures stand out as preeminent thinkers able to probe the innermost depths of the human psyche in a way previously unknown since perhaps Shakespeare: Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.   These three were more or less contemporaries, and all shared a similar fascinating interest—that of tearing down the ideological idols of their day, and in particular, the facade the individual post-Enlightenment “modern man” conceived himself to be.  While these men certainly had differing worldviews and would likely have debated such grand topics as the precise meaning of God and man’s relation to Him in the universe, they shared a similar distaste for hypocrisy, lies and falsehood, and made it partly their authorial iconoclastic goal to unmask such veils.

Francis Bacon had made it his goal as an early Enlightenment luminary to tear down what he perceived to be idols in his Novum Organon—idols of the tribe, cave, marketplace and theater.  Idols of the tribe meant the destruction of abstracted social ideals foisted upon reality; idols of the cave referred to  myopic interpretations of reality according to a particular fancy of some individual academic; idols of the marketplace refers to the misappropriation of word and thing, assigning an undue identification between the two, assuming that out talking an opponent has then caused the reality of the topic under discussion to actually exist as such; and idols of the theater, where ideas are erected on a false presupposition of theology or metaphysical speculation, becoming ensconced in the public discourse.1 This tractate encompasses the impetus of the Enlightenment and its obsession with what Rene Guenon called the “reign of quantity.” Everything is measured and classified according to some quantitative stricture of man’s reason.  Scientific knowledge, or more specifically, scientism, becomes the dominant paradigm by which all things are measured, be it religion, politics, economics and the marketplace, all things are in potentia capable of rational formalization and, like a big algorithm, all of humanity’s ills simply await the solution of the academy and its laboratory calculators. 

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky would take this same methodology and turn it in on itself.  Is it possible that Bacon and his Enlightement progeny were guilty of the very things he sought to destroy?  Did the philosophes erect idols of their own?  For Nietzsche, the influence of Soren Kierkegaard must first be mentioned.  Kierkegaard had struggled with the complacency and formalism of the Lutheran official church of his day, resulting in an introspective journey that would cause him to even question the nature of the self. Kierkegaard did not, however, analyze the self from some kind of privileged, abstracted “scientific” view as is found in someone like Descartes and his cogito, but rather in the dialectical relationship of the self with itself and the other.  In The Sickness Unto Death, the self must come to despair (the sickness), and reveling in its own finitude, find solace in a relationship with an infinite God.  For Kierkegaard, this is the only way to escape the continual dialectic fallen man is trapped in by virtue of being a son of Adam.

For these three secular masters of suspicion [Marx, Nietzsche and Freud] the illusion that must be unmasked are those of self-interest masquerading as duty and virtue, and egoism pretending to the world and to itself that it is altruism.  Nietzsche’s example of the spirit resentment giving rise to a demand for revenge but posing as love and justice is a kind of paradigm.  But sin is no more than selfishness via-a-vis my neighbor.  It is also the failure to love God with all my heart.  Human self-deception now includes the will to autonomy from God alongside the will to dominance over my neighbor. Inevitably its introduction into the story adds the whole new dimension to the art of suspicion.2

Herein enters Nietzsche’s departure from Kierkegaard, while retaining his “art of suspicion.”  Rather than succumb to a moral system that leads to inevitable failure and misery (the Christian scheme), fomenting in ressentement and hatred for others under the guise of “love,” while plunging further and further into sickness to find “salvation” from the self that is supposedly created good by God, Nietzsche turns Kierkegaard’s suspicion on Christian morality itself, as well as upon the Enlightenment.

For Nietzsche, the Enlightenment had given rise to critique, or the art of suspicion, and in so doing, had tossed aside God.  This is the meaning of the famous “God is dead” phrase.3 Rather than being a factual claim about what Nietzsche believed in regard to some ontological scheme (as its often misinterpreted to mean), it’s a descriptive statement about the current and future state of Western Civilization and its relation to the Judeo-Christian God.  The Enlightenment had successfully critiqued previous metaphysical and theological assumptions inherited from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy, Augustine and Aquinas, only to find itself still seeking a grand narrative that amounted to the exaltation of an idealized and abstracted view of “man” or “mankind” or “humanity.”  With Immanuel Kant, for example, extrapolating a categorical moral imperative should logically lead to a world government where humanity is guided by reason and harmony—a veritable scientistic utopia!  Yet with Kierkegaard and then Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky (as we shall see), we begin to see the problem with this abstraction.

Yet Descartes’ cogito was not something Kierkegaard, Nietzsche or Dostoyevsky could completely avoid.  The seeds of individualism had been laid. Descartes, himself somewhat of a rationalist, could not have foreseen the existential dilemma his cogito would create, but his turning of man’s gaze in on itself to deconstruct the psyche would result in the existentialists deconstructing the mythos of the Enlightenment.

The evil thing in our time is not the established order with its many errors. No, the evil thing in our time is precisely this wicked pleasure, this trifling about wanting to reform, this fakery of wishing to reform without being willing to suffer and make sacrifices…
— Soren Kierkegaard, Judge for Yourselves

(Source: sorensays, via bonefromthevoid)

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music….And men crowd about the poet and say to him, “Sing for us soon again”- which is as much to say, “May new sufferings torment your soul, but may your lips be fashioned as before; for the cries would only distress us, but the music, the music is delightful.”
— Søren Kierkegaard, The Victims of Phalaris

(Source: whowritestherules, via nerdscloset)

Our age demands more; it demands, if not lofty pathos then at least loud pathos, if not speculation then at least conclusions, if not truth then at least persuasion, if not integrity then at least protestations of integrity, if not feeling then at least verbosity of feelings. Therefore it also coins a totally different kind of privileged faces. It will not allow the mouth to be defiantly compressed or the upper lip to quiver mischievously; it demands that the mouth be open, for how, indeed, could one imagine a true and genuine patriot who is not delivering speeches; how could one visualize a profound thinker’s dogmatic face without a mouth able to swallow the whole world; how could one picture a virtuoso on the cornucopia of the living world without a gaping mouth? It does not permit one to stand still and to concentrate; to walk slowly is already suspicious; and how could one even put up with anything like that in the stirring period in which we live, in this momentous age, which all agree is pregnant with the extraordinary? It hates isolation; indeed, how could it tolerate a person’s having the daft idea of going through life alone-this age that hand in hand and arm in arm (just like itinerant journeymen and soldiers) lives for the idea of community.
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Irony

(Source: philosoccult, via doubtlr)

This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness; they outlive themselves, not in the sense that life’s content successively unfolds and is now possessed in the unfolding, but they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immortal souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die.
— Soren Kierkegaard

(via therefore-death-to-us-is-nothin)

Our age demands more; it demands, if not lofty pathos then at least loud pathos, if not speculation then at least conclusions, if not truth then at least persuasion, if not integrity then at least protestations of integrity, if not feeling then at least verbosity of feelings. Therefore it also coins a totally different kind of privileged faces. It will not allow the mouth to be defiantly compressed or the upper lip to quiver mischievously; it demands that the mouth be open, for how, indeed, could one imagine a true and genuine patriot who is not delivering speeches; how could one visualize a profound thinker’s dogmatic face without a mouth able to swallow the whole world; how could one picture a virtuoso on the cornucopia of the living world without a gaping mouth? It does not permit one to stand still and to concentrate; to walk slowly is already suspicious; and how could one even put up with anything like that in the stirring period in which we live, in this momentous age, which all agree is pregnant with the extraordinary? It hates isolation; indeed, how could it tolerate a person’s having the daft idea of going through life alone—this age that hand in hand and arm in arm (just like itinerant journeymen and soldiers) lives for the idea of community.
— Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Irony