Kierkegaard Either Or Quotes

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I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.
Søren Kierkegaard
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or)
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!
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard
Idleness, we are accustomed to say, is the root of all evil. To prevent this evil, work is recommended.... Idleness as such is by no means a root of evil; on the contrary, it is truly a divine life, if one is not bored....
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Your own tactic is to train yourself in the art of becoming enigmatic to everybody. My young friend, suppose there was no one who troubld himself to guess your riddle--what joy, then, would you have in it?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is existence for but to be laughed at if men in their twenties have already attained the utmost?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream's content.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
آیا مضحک تر از این مردم یافت می شود، که هیچ وقت از آزادی ای که دارند استفاده نمی کنند، اما آزادی ای که ندارند را می طلبند؟ آن ها آزادی اندیشه دارند، و آزادی بیان می طلبند. آزادی بیان می طلبند تا جبرانی باشد برای آزادی اندیشه ای که تقریباً هیچ وقت به کارش نمی برند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My time I divide as follows: the one half I sleep; the other half I dream. I never dream when I sleep; that would be a shame, because to sleep is the height of genius.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
من زمانم را این گونه قسمت کرده ام: نیمش را می خوابم، و در نیمه دیگر رؤیا می بینم. حیف است که آدم در خواب رؤیا ببیند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
No one comes back from the dead, no one has entered the world without crying; no one is asked when he wishes to enter life, nor when he wishes to leave.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
You love the accidental. A smile from a pretty girl in an interesting situation, a stolen glance, that is what you are hunting for, that is a motif for your aimless fantasy. You who always pride yourself on being an observateur must, in return, put up with becoming an object of observation. Ah, you are a strange fellow, one moment a child, the next an old man; one moment you are thinking most earnestly about the most important scholarly problems, how you will devote your life to them, and the next you are a lovesick fool. But you are a long way from marriage.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight to avoid this?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Language has time as its element; all other media have space as their element.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
...even the richest personality is nothing before he has chosen himself, and on the other hand even what one might call the poorest personality is everything when he has chosen himself; for the great thing is not to be this or that but to be oneself, and this everyone can be if he wills it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh, and i haven't stopped since.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
...my soul always reverts to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. There at least one feels that it's human beings talking. There people hate, people love, people murder their enemy and curse his descendants through all generations, there people sin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I have the courage, I believe, to doubt everything; I have the courage, I believe, to fight with everything; but I have not the courage to know anything; not the courage to possess, to own anything. Most people complain that the world is so prosaic, that life is not like romance, where opportunities are always so favorable. I complain that life is not like romance, where one had hard-hearted parents and nixies and trolls to fight, and enchanted princesses to free. What are all such enemies taken together, compared with the pale, bloodless, tenacious, nocturnal shapes with which I fight, and to whom I give life and substance?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Aren't people absurd! They never use the freedoms they do have but demand those they don't have; they have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When I was very young and in the cave of Trophonius I forgot to laugh. Then, when I got older, when I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since. I saw that the meaning of life was to get a livelihood, that the goal of life was to be a High Court judge, that the bright joy of love was to marry a well-off girl, that the blessing of friendship was to help each other out of a financial tight spot, that wisdom was what the majority said it was, that passion was to give a speech, that courage was to risk being fined 10 rix-dollars, that cordiality was to say ‘You’re welcome’ after a meal, and that the fear of God was to go to communion once a year. That’s what I saw. And I laughed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Let other complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is paltry; for it lacks passion. Men's thoughts are thin and flimsy like lace, they are themselves pitiable like the lacemakers. The thoughts of their hearts are too paltry to be sinful. For a worm it might be regarded as a sin to harbor such thoughts, but not for a being made in the image of God. Their lusts are dull and sluggish, their passions sleepy...This is the reason my soul always turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. I feel that those who speak there are at least human beings: they hate, they love, they murder their enemies, and curse their descendants throughout all generations, they sin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both; Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it, weep over them, you will also regret that; laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both; whether you laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that; believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both; whether you believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both. Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
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 be- come a councilor, that the rich delight oflove 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: A Fragment of Life)
In a theater, it happened that a fire started offstage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they became still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed-amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Life has become a bitter drink to me, and yet it must be taken in drops, counted one by one.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When I get up in the morning, I go right back to bed again. I feel best in the evening the moment I put out the light and pull the feather-bed over my head. I sit up once more, look around the room with indescribable satisfaction, and then good night, down under the feather-bed.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Loving just one is too little; loving all is being superficial; knowing yourself and loving as many as possible, letting your soul hide all the powers of love in itself, so that each gets its particular nourishment while consciousness nevertheless embraces it all – that is enjoyment, that is living.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
... به همین خاطر است که جان من پیوسته به سوی عهد عتیق و شکسپیر باز می گردد: آن جا حداقل احساس می کنی که موجودی انسانی سخن می گوید؛ آن جا مردم نفرت می ورزند، عشق می ورزند، مردم دشمنانشان را به قتل می رسانند و فرزندانشان را نسل بعد از نسل نفرین می کنند؛ آن جا مردم گناه می کنند.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
شاعر کیست؟ انسانی اندوهگین که غم ژرفش را در قلب نهان می دارد، اما لب هایش چنان حالتی یافته اند که وقتی آه می کشد و ناله بر می آورد، از بین دو لب نغمه ای دلنشین به گوش می رسد. مردمی که در اطراف او جمع شده اند، می گویند: «باز هم بخوان،» که معنایش آن است که: «باشد که باز دردها روحت را شکنجه دهند، تا ما با نغمه ی ناله هایت به وجد آییم.»
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My life is absolutely meaningless. When I consider the different periods into which it falls, it seems like the word Schnur in the dictionary, which means in the first place a string, in the second, a daughter-in-law. The only thing lacking is that the word Schnur should mean in the third place a camel, in the fourth, a dust-brush.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My soul is like the dead sea, over which no bird can fly; when it gets halfway, it sinks down spent to its death and destruction.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I choose one thing: always to have the laughter on my side.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I am alone, as I have always been; abandoned not by men, that would not pain me, but by the happy spirits of joy who in countless hosts encircled me, who met everywhere with their kind, pointed everywhere to an opportunity.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When you are one of several, then you have lost your freedom; you cannot send for your traveling boots whenever you wish, you cannot move aimlessly about in the world. ~ Either/Or
Søren Kierkegaard
No one ever comes back from the dead., no one ever enters the world without weeping; no one is ever asked when he wishes to enter life, no one is ever asked when he wishes to leave.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout form the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authentically always and absolutely carries a a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you. Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of a bad infinity. Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others (that is the ultimate meaning of the bodhisattva vow). And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must. And this is truly a terrible burden, a horrible burden, because in any case there is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: You might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can.
Ken Wilber (One Taste)
He cannot become old, for he has never been young; he cannot become young, for he has already become old; in a way he cannot die, for he has never lived; in a way he cannot live, for he is already dead.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like riding the motion is too powerful; I don't feel like walking-it is too tiring; I don't feel like lying down, for either I would have to stay down, and I don't feel like doing that, or I would have to get up again, and I don't feel like doing that, either. Summa Summarum: I don't feel like doing anything.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The most ludicrous of all ludicrous things, it seems to me, is to be busy in the world, to be a man who is brisk at his meals and brisk at his work. Therefore, when I see a fly settle on the nose of one of those men of business in a decisive moment, or if he is splashed by a carriage that passes him in even greater haste… I laugh from the bottom of my heart. And who could keep from laughing? What, after all, do these busy bustlers achieve? Are they not just like the woman who, in a flurry because the house was on fire, rescued the fire tongs?
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What philosophers say about actuality [Virkelighed] is often just as disappointing as it is when one reads on a sign in a secondhand shop: Pressing Done Here. If a person were to bring his clothes to be pressed, he would be duped, for the sign is merely for sale.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
To be isolated is always to assert oneself numerically; when you assert yourself as one, that is isolation.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
It isn't at all difficult for philosophy to begin. Far from it: it begins with nothing and can accordingly always begin. What seems so difficult to philosophy and the philosophers is to stop.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
No one is any longer carried away by the desire for the good to perform great things, no one is precipitated by evil into atrocious sins, and so there is nothing for either the good or the bad to talk about, and yet for that very reason people gossip all the more, since ambiguity is tremendously stimulating and much more verbose than rejoicing over goodness or repentance over evil.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
I am poor—you are my riches; dark—you are my light; I own nothing, need nothing. And how could I own anything? After all, it is a contradiction that he can own something who does not own himself. I am happy as a child who is neither able to own anything nor allowed to. I own nothing, for I belong only to you; I am not, I have ceased to be, in order to be yours.” —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
I have never been joyful, and yet it has always seemed as if joy were my constant companion, as if the buoyant jinn of joy danced around me, invisible to others but not to me, whose eyes shone with delight. Then when I walk past people, happy-go-lucky as a god, and they envy me because of my good fortune, I laugh, for I despise people, and I take my revenge. I have never wished to do anyone an injustice, but I have always made it appear as if anyone who came close to me would be wronged and injured. Then when I hear others praised for their faithfulness, their integrity, I laugh, for I despise people, and I take my revenge. My heart has never been hardened toward anyone, but I have always made it appear, especially when I was touched most deeply, as if my heart were closed and alien to every feeling. Then when I hear others lauded for their good hearts, see them loved for their deep, rich feelings, then I laugh, for I despise people and take my revenge. When I see myself cursed, abhorred, hated for my coldness and heartlessness, then I laugh, then my rage is satisfied. The point is that if the good people could make me be actually in the wrong, make me actually do an injustice-well, then I would have lost.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
A man who cannot seduce men cannot save them either.
Søren Kierkegaard
What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream’s content.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I see it perfectly; there are two possible situations - once can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both.
Søren Kierkegaard
Our age reminds one of the dissolution of the Greek city-state: Everything goes on as usual and yet there is no longer anyone who believes in it. The invisible spiritual bond which gives it validity, no longer exists, and so the whole age is at once comic and tragic--tragic because it is perishing, comic because it goes on.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I think I have the courage to doubt everything; I think I have the courage to fight everything. But I do not have the courage to know anything, nor to possess, to own anything. Most people complain that the world is so prosaic, that life isn't like a romantic novel where opportunities are always so favourable. What I complain of is that life is not like a novel where there are hard-hearted fathers, and goblins and trolls to fight with, enchanted princesses to free. What are all such enemies taken together compared to the pallid, bloodless, glutinous nocturnal shapes with which I fight and to which I myself give life and being.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Were I to wish for anything I would not wish for wealth and power, but for the passion of the possible, that eye which everywhere, ever young, ever burning, sees possibility. Pleasure disappoints, not possibility.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When I get up in the morning I go straight back to bed again. I feel best in the evening, the moment I dowse the candle, pull the eiderdown over my head. I raise myself up once more, look about the room with an indescribable peace of mind, and then it's goodnight, down under the eiderdown.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Those who bore others are the plebians, the mass, the endless train of humanity in general. Those who bore themselves are the elect, the nobility; and how strange it is that those who don't bore themselves usually bore others, while those who do bore themselves amuse others. The people who do not bore themselves are generally those who are busy in the world in one way or another, but that is just why they are the most boring, the most insufferable, of all.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
an adventure that every human being has to live through, learning to be anxious so as not to be ruined either by never having been in anxiety or by sinking into it. Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin)
I would rather be a swineherd at Amagerbro and be understood by the swine than be a poet and be misunderstood by people.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
There are, as is known, insects that die in the moment of fertilization. So it is with all joy: life’s highest, most splendid moment of enjoyment is accompanied by death.
Søren Kierkegaard
Time stands still and I with it. All the plans I form fly straight back at me, when I want to spit in my own face.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The best proof adduced of the wretchedness of life is that derived from contemplating its glory.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
So it isn't I who am master of my life, I am just one of the threads to be woven into life's calico! Well then, even if I cannot spin, I can at least cut the thread in two.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
she does not suspect how much reason I have for deprecating all sympathy.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My grief is my castle, which like an eagle's nest is built high up on the mountain peaks among the clouds; nothing can storm it. From it I fly down into reality to seize my prey; but i do not remain down there, I bring it home with me, and this prey is a picture I weave into the tapestries of my palace. There I live as one dead. I immerse everything I have experienced in a baptism of forgetfulness unto an eternal remembrance. Everything finite and accidental is forgotten and erased. Then I sit like an old man, grey-haired and thoughtful, and explain the pictures in a voice as soft as a whisper; and at my side a child sits and listens, although he remembers everything before I tell it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Only after living through all eternity and assuring myself that you were mine every instant, only then would I return to you and live with you through all eternity, and no doubt not have patience enough to be separated from you for an instant without longing, but assurance enough to sit calmly at your side.
Søren Kierkegaard
My soul is so heavy that no longer can any thought sustain it, no wingbeat lift it up into the ether. If it moves, it only sweeps along the ground like the low flight of birds when a thunderstorm is brewing.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What I complain of is that life is not like a novel where there are hard-hearted fathers, and goblins and trolls to fight with, enchanted princesses to free. What are all such enemies taken together compared to the pallid, bloodless, glutinous nocturnal shapes with which I fight and to which I myself give life and being.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My love consumes me. Only my voice is left, a voice which has fallen in love with you whispers to you everywhere that I love you. Oh! Does it weary you to hear this voice? Everywhere it enfolds you; like an inexhaustible, shifting surround, I place my transparently reflected soul about your pure, deep being.” —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
Every individual, however original he may be, is still a child of God, of his age, of his nation, of his family and friends. Only thus is he truly himself. If in all this relativity he tries to be the absolute, then he becomes ridiculous.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
A young girl is excused for not being able to give reasons, they say she lives in her feelings. It is different with me. Generally, I have so many and usually mutually contradictory reasons that, for that reason, it is impossible for me to give reasons.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
That’s why my soul always reverts to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. There at least one feels that it’s human beings talking. There people hate, people love, people murder their enemy and curse his descendants through all generations, there people sin.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
As a genius St. Paul cannot be compared with either Plato or Shakespeare, as a coiner of beautiful similes he comes pretty low down in the scale, as a stylist his name is quite obscure--and as an upholsterer: well, I frankly admit I have no idea how to place him.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
Thus when the ambitious man, whose slogan was "Either Caesar or nothing", does not become Caesar, he is in despair over it. But this signifies something else, namely, that precisely because he did not become Caesar he now cannot bear to be himself. Consequently he is not in despair over the fact that he did not become Caesar, but he is in despair over himself for the fact that he did not become Caesar.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
What am I? The modest narrator who accompanies your triumphs; the dancer who supports you when you rise in your lovely grace; the branch upon which you rest a moment when you are tired of flying; the bass that interposes itself below the soprano’s fervour to let it climb even higher—what am I? I am the earthly gravity that keeps you on the ground. What am I, then? Body, mass, earth, dust and ashes.—You, my Cordelia, you are soul and spirit.” —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
A Christian is supposed to be in the world, and yet not of the world--a Both/And as perplexing and demanding as the Either/Or that precedes the life of faith. I'm at once a pure, beautiful, genderless soul, but at the same time a gendered body full of flaws, sins, and wanting. This contradiction, the Both/And, is the Cross.
Therese Doucet
My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
If a person does not become what he understands, then he does not understand it either.
Søren Kierkegaard
After all, it is the best time of one’s life, the first period of falling in love, when with every meeting, every glance, one brings home something new to rejoice over.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I raise myself up once more, look about the room with an indescribable peace of mind, and then it’s goodnight, down under the eiderdown.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
People say the good Lord fills the stomach before the eyes. I haven’t noticed; my eyes have had enough and I am weary of everything, and yet I hunger.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Learning to know anxiety is an adventure which every man has to affront if he would not go to perdition either by not having known anxiety or by sinking under it.
Søren Kierkegaard
I lack altogether patience to live. I cannot see the grass grow, but since I cannot I don’t feel at all inclined to. My views are the fleeting observations of a ‘travelling scholar’9 rushing through life in the greatest haste. People say the good Lord fills the stomach before the eyes. I haven’t noticed; my eyes have had enough and I am weary of everything, and yet I hunger.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
How dreadful boredom is — how dreadfully boring; I know no stronger expression, no truer one, for like is recognized only by like… I lie prostrate, inert; the only thing I see is emptiness, the only thing I live on is emptiness, the only thing I move in is emptiness. I do not even suffer pain… Pain itself has lost its refreshment for me. If I were offered all the glories of the world or all the torments of the world, one would move me no more than the other; I would not turn over to the other side either to attain or to avoid. I am dying death. And what could divert me? Well, if I managed to see a faithfulness that withstood every ordeal, an enthusiasm that endured everything, a faith that moved mountains; if I were to become aware of an idea that joined the finite and the infinite.
Søren Kierkegaard
Something wonderful has happened to me. I was carried up into the seventh heaven. There all the gods sat assembled. By special grace I was granted the favor of a wish. "Will you," said Mercury, "have youth, or beauty, or power, or a long life, or the most beautiful maiden, or any of the other glories we have in the chest? Choose, but only one thing." For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed myself to the gods as follows: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose this one thing, that I may always have the laugh on my side." Not one of the gods said a word, on the contrary, they all began to laugh. Hence, I concluded that my request was granted, and found that the gods knew how to express themselves with great taste; for it would hardly have been suitable for them to answer gravely: "It is granted thee.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is a poet ? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music… And people crowd around the poet and say to him, “Sing again soon”—in other words, may new sufferings torture your soul, and may your lips continue to be formed as before, because your screams would only alarm us, but the music is charming.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
My reflection on life altogether lacks meaning. I take it some evil spirit has put a pair of spectacles on my nose, one glass of which magnifies to an enormous degree, while the other reduces to the same degree.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
An individual in despair despairs over something. So it seems for a moment, but only for a moment; in the same moment the true despair or despair in its true form shows itself. In despairing over something, he really despaired over himself, and now he wants to get rid of himself. For example, when the ambitious man whose slogan is “Either Caesar or nothing” does not get to be Caesar, he despairs over it. But this also means something else: precisely because he did not get to be Caesar, he now cannot bear to be himself. Consequently he does not despair because he did not get to be Caesar but despairs over himself because he did not get to be Caesar.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when everyone has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight to avoid this?
Søren Kierkegaard
As the calm lake stems from the deep spring that no eye saw, so too a person's love has a still deeper ground, in God's love. If there were no gushing spring at the bottom, if Hod were not love, then neither would there be the little lake nor either a person's love. As the calm lake stems darkly from the deep spring, so a person's love originate mysteriously in God's. As the calm lake indeed invites you to contemplate it, yet with the darkness of the reflection prevents you from seeing through it, so does love's mysterious origin in God's love prevent you from seeing its ground. When you think you see it, it is a reflection that deceives you, as if what only hides the deeper ground were itself the ground.
Søren Kierkegaard (Works of Love)
Whatever can be the meaning of this life? If we divide mankind into two large classes, we can say that one works for a living, the other has no need to. But working for one’s living can’t be the meaning of life; to suppose that constantly procuring the conditions of life should be the answer to the question of the meaning of what they make possible is a contradiction. Usually the lives of the other class have no meaning either, beyond that of consuming the said conditions. To say that
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I have often discovered how profitable it is to give sorrow an ethical expression, not to erase the aesthetic factor in sorrow but to master it ethically. As long as sorrow is quiet and humble, I do not fear it; if it becomes vehement and passionate, sophistical so that it deludes me into despondency, I arise, I brook no rebellion, I will have nothing in the world cheat me of what I have from God’s hand as a gift of grace. I do not chase sorrow away, do not try to forget it, I repent.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
This life is back to front. It’s terrible, unendurable. . . . No one comes back from the dead, no one has come into the world without crying. No one asks when you want to enter the world, no one asks when you want to leave . . . How empty and meaningless life is. We bury a person; follow him to the grave, throw three shovels of dirt over him. We drive out in a coach and drive back in a coach, and console ourselves with the thought of our own long lives. But really, how long is three score and ten? Why not just get it over with straight away? Why not stay out there, hop down into the grave ourselves and draw lots to see who has the bad luck to be the last one alive, the one to throw the last three shovels of dirt over the last dead person? (Either/Or, 1843) In
Robert Ferguson (Life Lessons from Kierkegaard)
My views are the fleeting observations of a ‘travelling scholar’9 rushing through life in the greatest haste. People say the good Lord fills the stomach before the eyes. I haven’t noticed; my eyes have had enough and I am weary of everything, and yet I hunger.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Love is the unfathomable ground that is hidden in darkness, but the resolution is the triumphant victor who, like Orpheus, fetches the infatuation of falling in love to the light of day, for the resolution is the true form of love, the true explanation and transfiguration.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
... Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that; believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both; whether you believe a woman or believe her not, you will regret both. ... This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
And so when the generation, which itself desired to level and to be emancipated, to destroy authority and at the same time itself, has, through the scepticism of the principle association, started the hopeless forest fire of abstraction; when as a result of levelling with this scepticism, the generation has rid itself of the individual and of everything organic and concrete, and put in its place 'humanity' and the numerical equality of man and man: when the generation has, for a moment, delighted in this unlimited panorama of abstract infinity, unrelieved by even the smallest eminence, undisturbed by even the slightest interest, a sea of desert; then the time has come for work to begin, for every individual must work for himself, each for himself. No longer can the individual, as in former times, turn to the great for help when he grows confused. That is past; he is either lost in the dizziness of unending abstraction or saved for ever in the reality of religion. Perhaps very many will cry out in despair, but it will not help them--already it is too late...Nor shall any of the unrecognizable presume to help directly or to speak directly or to teach directly at the head of the masses, in order to direct their decisions, instead of giving his negative support and so helping the individual to make the decision which he himself has reached; any other course would be the end of him, because he would be indulging in the short-sighted compassion of man, instead of obeying the order of divinity, of an angry, yet so merciful, divinity. For the development is, in spite of everything, a progress because all the individuals who are saved will receive the specific weight of religion, its essence at first hand, from God himself. Then it will be said: 'behold, all is in readiness, see how the cruelty of abstraction makes the true form of worldliness only too evident, the abyss of eternity opens before you, the sharp scythe of the leveller makes it possible for every one individually to leap over the blade--and behold, it is God who waits. Leap, then, into the arms of God'. But the 'unrecognizable' neither can nor dares help man, not even his most faithful disciple, his mother, or the girl for whom he would gladly give his life: they must make the leap themselves, for God's love is not a second-hand gift. And yet the 'unrecognizable' neither can nor dares help man, not even his most faithful disciple, his mother, or the girl for whom he would gladly give his life: they must make the leap themselves, for God's love is not a second-hand gift. And yet the 'unrecognizable' (according to his degree) will have a double work compared with the 'outstanding' man (of the same degree), because he will not only have to work continuously, but at the same time labour to conceal his work.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it. They fare as did that dwarf who kept guard over a captured princess in his castle. One day he took midday nap. When he woke up an hour later, the princess was gone. Quickly he pulled on his seven-league boots; with one stride he was far beyond her.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Besides my other numerous circle of acquaintances I have one more intimate confidant – my melancholy. In the midst of my joy, in the midst of my work, he waves to me, calls me to one side, even though physically I stay put. My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return. […]
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Kierkegaard, in 'Either/Or,' makes fun of the 'busy man' for whom busyness is a way of avoiding an honest self-reckoning. You might wake up in the middle of the night and realize that you're lonely in your marriage, or that you need to think about what your level of consumption is doing to the planet, but the next day you have a million little things to do, and the day after that you have another million things. As long as there's no end of little things, you never have to stop and confront the bigger questions. Writing or reading an essay isn't the only way to stop and ask yourself who you really are and what your life might mean, but it is one good way. And if you consider how laughably unbusy Kierkegaard's Copenhagen was, compared with our own age, those subjective tweets and hasty blog posts don't seem so essayistic. They seem more like means of avoiding what a real essay might force on us. We spend our days reading, on screens, stuff we'd never bother reading in a printed book, and bitch about how busy we are.
Jonathan Franzen (The End of the End of the Earth: Essays)
My sorrow is my knight’s castle, which lies like an eagle’s eyrie high up upon the mountain peaks among the clouds. No one can take it by storm. From it I fly down into reality and seize my prey; but I do not remain down there, I bring my prey home; and this prey is a picture I weave into the tapestries in my palace. Then I live as one dead. In the baptism of forgetfulness I plunge everything experienced into the eternity of remembrance; everything finite and contingent is forgotten and erased. Then I sit thoughtful like an old man, grey-headed, and in a low voice, almost a whisper, explain the pictures; and by my side a child sits and listens, even though he remembers everything before I tell it.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like riding the motion is too powerful; I don't feel like walking-it is too tiring; I don't feel like lying down, for either I would have to stay down, and I don't feel like doing that, or I would have to get up again, and I don't feel like doing that, either. Summa Summarum: I don't feel like doing anything.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
For me, nothing is more dangerous than recollection. Once I have recalled some life-situation it ceases to exist. People say that separation helps to revive love. That is quite true, but it revives it purely in a poetic way. A life in recollection is the most perfect imaginable; memory gives you your fill more abundantly than all of reality and has a security which no reality possesses.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
When around one everything has become silent, solemn as a clear, starlit night, when the soul comes to be alone in the whole world, then before one there appears, not an extraordinary human being, but the eternal power itself, then the heavens open, and the I chooses itself or, more correctly, receives itself. Then the personality receives the accolade of knighthood that ennobles it for an eternity.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
What is to come? What does the future hold? I don’t know, I have no idea. When from a fixed point a spider plunges down as is its nature, it sees always before it an empty space in which it cannot find a footing however much it flounders. That is how it is with me: always an empty space before me, what drives me on is a result that lies behind me. This life is back-to-front and terrible, unendurable.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I am poor—you are my riches; dark—you are my light; I own nothing, need nothing. And how could I own anything? After all, it is a contradiction that he can own something who does not own himself. I am happy as a child who is neither able to own anything nor allowed to. I own nothing, for I belong only to you; I am not, I have ceased to be, in order to be yours.” —Johannes De Silentio, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
Socrates tried to soothe us, true enough. He said there were only two possibilities. Either the soul is immortal or, after death, things would be again as blank as they were before we were born. This is not absolutely comforting either. Anyway it was natural that theology and philosophy should take the deepest interest in this. They owe it to us not to be boring themselves. On this obligation they don’t always make good. However, Kierkegaard was not a bore. I planned to examine his contribution in my master essay. In his view the primacy of the ethical over the esthetic mode was necessary to restore the balance. But enough of that. In myself I could observe the following sources of tedium: 1) The lack of a personal connection with the external world. Earlier I noted that when I was riding through France in a train last spring I looked out of the window and thought that the veil of Maya was wearing thin. And why was this? I wasn’t seeing what was there but only what everyone sees under a common directive. By this is implied that our worldview has used up nature. The rule of this view is that I, a subject, see the phenomena, the world of objects. They, however, are not necessarily in themselves objects as modern rationality defines objects. For in spirit, says Steiner, a man can step out of himself and let things speak to him about themselves, to speak about what has meaning not for him alone but also for them. Thus the sun the moon the stars will speak to nonastronomers in spite of their ignorance of science. In fact it’s high time that this happened. Ignorance of science should not keep one imprisoned in the lowest and weariest sector of being, prohibited from entering into independent relations with the creation as a whole. The educated speak of the disenchanted (a boring) world. But it is not the world, it is my own head that is disenchanted. The world cannot be disenchanted. 2) For me the self-conscious ego is the seat of boredom. This increasing, swelling, domineering, painful self-consciousness is the only rival of the political and social powers that run my life (business, technological-bureaucratic powers, the state). You have a great organized movement of life, and you have the single self, independently conscious, proud of its detachment and its absolute immunity, its stability and its power to remain unaffected by anything whatsoever — by the sufferings of others or by society or by politics or by external chaos. In a way it doesn’t give a damn. It is asked to give a damn, and we often urge it to give a damn but the curse of noncaring lies upon this painfully free consciousness. It is free from attachment to beliefs and to other souls. Cosmologies, ethical systems? It can run through them by the dozens. For to be fully conscious of oneself as an individual is also to be separated from all else. This is Hamlet’s kingdom of infinite space in a nutshell, of “words, words, words,” of “Denmark’s a prison.
Saul Bellow (Humboldt's Gift)
And what nags me about this is that the source of my anxiety was exactly what Kierkegaard says the source of anxiety is, and what he praised in direct proportion to the volume any person possesses: possibility. The awareness that life is a series of choices any one of which could be either aggrandizing or disastrous. That this happens to be true I have no trouble signing on to. Any who has lived past the age of ten knows that even piddling actions can wind up having big consequences, and that even when you are super-conscious of your behaviors you can't know how things are going to turn out in the short- or the long-run. That's the drama of it all. On the one hand, your very existence means you can and will change things in your life and others. On the other hand, you aren't God, so everything is always going to be drenched in uncertainty and doubt.
Daniel B. Smith (Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety)
Marry, you’ll regret it; don’t marry, you’ll regret that too; marry or don’t marry, you’ll regret it either way; whether you marry or you don’t marry, either way, you’ll regret it. Laugh at the world’s follies, you’ll regret it; weep over them, you’ll regret that too; laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, you’ll regret it either way; whether you laugh at the world’s follies or weep over them, either way, you’ll regret it. Believe a girl, you’ll regret it; don’t believe her, you’ll regret that too; believe a girl or don’t believe her, you’ll regret it either way; whether you believe a girl or don’t believe her, either way, you’ll regret it. Hang yourself, you’ll regret it; don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or you don’t hang yourself, either way, you’ll regret it. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all life’s wisdom. (Either/Or, 1843) Bracing
Robert Ferguson (Life Lessons from Kierkegaard)
The sorcerer Virgil had himself chopped in pieces and placed in a cauldron to be cooked for eight days, thus to become rejuvenated.10 He had someone watch out that no intruder peeped into the cauldron. The watchman was unable, however, to resist the temptation. It was too soon. Virgil disappeared with a cry, like a little child. I, too, have probably looked too early into the cauldron, into the cauldron of life and its historical development, and no doubt will never manage to be more than a child. […]
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
For there he stands, the emissary from the kingdom of sighs, the elected favourite of suffering, the apostle of sorrow, the silent friend of pain, the unhappy lover of memory, confounded in his memory by the light of hope, deceived in his hope by the shadows of memory. His head is heavy, his knees are weak, yet he rests on none but himself. He is faint, yet how powerful! His eyes seem not to have shed, but to have drunk, many tears; yet a fire burns in them that could consume the entire world, though not one splinter of the sorrow within his breast. He is bent, yet his youth portends a long life; his lips smile at the world that misunderstands him. Rise, dear Symparanekromenoi, bow before him, sorrow’s witnesses, in this solemn hour! I salute you, great unknown, whose name I do not know; I salute you with your title of honour: The Unhappiest One! Receive a welcome here in your home from the community of the unhappy; welcome at the entrance to the humble and low dwelling which is yet prouder than all the world’s palaces!
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I do not have the courage to know anything, nor to possess, to own anything. Most people complain that the world is so prosaic, that life isn’t like a romantic novel where opportunities are always so favourable. What I complain of is that life is not like a novel where there are hard-hearted fathers, and goblins and trolls to fight with, enchanted princesses to free. What are all such enemies taken together compared to the pallid, bloodless, glutinous nocturnal shapes with which I fight and to which I myself give life and being.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Whatever can be the meaning of this life? If we divide mankind into two large classes, we can say that one works for a living, the other has no need to. But working for one’s living can’t be the meaning of life; to suppose that constantly procuring the conditions of life should be the answer to the question of the meaning of what they make possible is a contradiction. Usually the lives of the other class have no meaning either, beyond that of consuming the said conditions. To say that the meaning of life is to die seems again to be a contradiction.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
There is the type of man who has great contempt for "immediacy," who tries to cultivate his interiority, base his pride on something deeper and inner, create a distance between himself and the average man. Kierkegaard calls this type of man the "introvert." He is a little more concerned with what it means to be a person, with individuality and uniqueness. He enjoys solitude and withdraws periodically to reflect, perhaps to nurse ideas about his secret self, what it might be. This, after all is said and done, is the only real problem of life, the only worthwhile occupation preoccupation of man: What is one's true talent, his secret gift, his authentic vocation? In what way is one truly unique, and how can he express this uniqueness, give it form, dedicate it to something beyond himself? How can the person take his private inner being, the great mystery that he feels at the heart of himself, his emotions, his yearnings, and use them to live more distinctively, to enrich both himself and mankind with the peculiar quality of his talent? In adolescence, most of us throb with this dilemma, expressing it either with words and thoughts or with simple numb pain and longing. But usually life suck us up into standardized activities. The social hero-system into which we are born marks out paths for our heroism, paths to which we conform, to which we shape ourselves so that we can please others, become what they expect us to be. And instead of working our inner secret we gradually cover it over and forget it, while we become purely external men, playing successfully the standardized hero-game into which we happen to fall by accident, by family connection, by reflex patriotism, ro by the simple need to eat and the urge to procreate.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
The True-Blue American" Jeremiah Dickson was a true-blue American, For he was a little boy who understood America, for he felt that he must Think about everything; because that’s all there is to think about, Knowing immediately the intimacy of truth and comedy, Knowing intuitively how a sense of humor was a necessity For one and for all who live in America. Thus, natively, and Naturally when on an April Sunday in an ice cream parlor Jeremiah Was requested to choose between a chocolate sundae and a banana split He answered unhesitatingly, having no need to think of it Being a true-blue American, determined to continue as he began: Rejecting the either-or of Kierkegaard, and many another European; Refusing to accept alternatives, refusing to believe the choice of between; Rejecting selection; denying dilemma; electing absolute affirmation: knowing in his breast The infinite and the gold Of the endless frontier, the deathless West. “Both: I will have them both!” declared this true-blue American In Cambridge, Massachusetts, on an April Sunday, instructed By the great department stores, by the Five-and-Ten, Taught by Christmas, by the circus, by the vulgarity and grandeur of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, Tutored by the grandeur, vulgarity, and infinite appetite gratified and Shining in the darkness, of the light On Saturdays at the double bills of the moon pictures, The consummation of the advertisements of the imagination of the light Which is as it was—the infinite belief in infinite hope—of Columbus, Barnum, Edison, and Jeremiah Dickson.
Delmore Schwartz
Love is everything. So, for one who loves, everything has ceased to have meaning in itself and only means something through the interpretation love gives it. Thus if another betrothed became convinced there was some other girl he cared for, he would presumably stand there like a criminal and his fiancée be outraged. You, however, I know would see a tribute in such a confession; for me to be able to love another you know is an impossibility; it is my love for you casting its reflections over the whole of life. So when I care about someone else, it is not to convince myself that I do not love her but only you—that would be presumptuous; but since my whole soul is filled with you, life takes on another meaning for me: it becomes a myth about you." —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
Just as the weak, despairing person is unwilling to hear anything about any consolation eternity has for him, so a person in such despair does not want to hear anything about it, either, but for a different reason: this very consolation would be his undoing; as a denunciation of all existence. Figuratively speaking, it is as if an error slipped into an author's writing and the error became conscious of itself as an error; perhaps it actually was not a mistake but in a much higher sense an essential part of the whole production, and now this error wants to mutiny against the author, out of hatred toward him, forbidding him to correct it and in maniacal defiance saying to him: No! I refuse to be erased! I will stand as a witness against you; a witness that you are a second-rate author.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening)
In love with myself, that is what people say I am. It doesn’t surprise me, for how could they notice that I can love when I love only you; how could anyone else suspect it when I love only you? In love with myself. Why? Because I’m in love with you, because it is you I love, you alone, and all that truly belongs to you, and it is thus I love myself, because this, my self, belongs to you, so that if I ceased loving you I would cease loving myself. What then is, in the eyes of the profane world, an expression of the greatest egoism, is for your initiated eyes the expression of purest sympathy; what in the profane eyes of the world is an expression of the most prosaic self-preservation, is for your sacred sight the expression of the most enthusiastic self-annihilation.” ―Johannes de Silentio, from_Either/Or: A Fragment of Life_
Søren Kierkegaard
As Kierkegaard wrote: 'Repetition is a beloved wife of whom one never tires'. This sentence is misunderstood by almost everyone. On the basis of this misunderstanding, it is either confirmed (by those who are happily married) or criticised (by those who are happily divorced). When you read the expression, it is easy to interpret it as follows: 'The beloved wife/husband is a repetition of whom one never tires/ However, for Freud and Kierkegaard, the repetition is central, the repetition on the basis of which a partner is ascribed a particular place, and not vice versa. At the same time, repetition then had a different meaning. Nowadays, repetition has become almost synonymous with boredom. One only has to think of a children's game that is endlessly repeated and yet gives pleasure every time, in contrast with the blase adult who always wants something new, something different, something that might still rouse him from the lethargy of excess.
Paul Verheage
A person who speaks like a book is exceedingly boring to listen to; sometimes, however, it is not inappropriate to talk in that way. For a book has the remarkable property that it can be interpreted any way you wish. If one talks like a book one’s conversation acquires this property too. I kept quite soberly to the usual formulas. She was surprised, as I’d expected; that can’t be denied. To describe to myself how she looked is difficult. She seemed multifaceted; yes just about like the still to be published but announced commentary to my book, a commentary capable of any interpretation. One word and she would have laughed at me; another and she would have been moved; still another and she would have shunned me; but no such word came to my lips. I remained solemnly unemotional and kept to the ritual.― ‘She had known me for such a short time’, dear God, it’s only on the strait path of engagement one meets such difficulties, not the primrose path of love.” ―from_Either/Or: A Fragment of Life_. Abridged, Translated and with an Introduction and Notes by Alastair Hannay, p. 312
Søren Kierkegaard
Love has many positionings. Cordelia makes good progress. She is sitting on my lap, her arm twines, soft and warm, round my neck; she leans upon my breast, light, without gravity; the soft contours scarcely touch me; like a flower her lovely figure twines about me, freely as a ribbon. Her eyes are hidden beneath her lashes, her bosom is dazzling white like snow, so smooth that my eye cannot rest, it would glance off if her bosom were not moving. What does this movement mean? Is it love? Perhaps. It is a presentiment of it, its dream. It still lacks energy. Her embrace is comprehensive, as the cloud enfolding the transfigured one, detached as a breeze, soft as the fondling of a flower; she kisses me unspecifically, as the sky kisses the sea, gently and quietly, as the dew kisses a flower, solemnly as the sea kisses the image of the moon. I would call her passion at this moment a naive passion. When the change has been made and I begin to draw back in earnest, she will call on everything she has to captivate me. She has no other means for this purpose than the erotic itself, except that this will now appear on a quite different scale. It then becomes a weapon in her hand which she wields against me. I then have the reflected passion. She fights for her own sake because she knows I possess the erotic; she fights for her own sake so as to overcome me. She herself is in need of a higher form of the erotic. What I taught her to suspect by arousing her, my coldness now teaches her to understand but in such a way that she thinks it is she herself who discovers it. So she wants to take me by surprise; she wants to believe that she has outstripped me in audacity, and that makes me her prisoner. Her passion then becomes specific, energetic, conclusive, dialectical; her kiss total, her embrace without hesitation.—In me she seeks her freedom and finds it the better the more firmly I encompass her. The engagement bursts. When that has happened she needs a little rest, so that nothing unseemly will emerge from this wild tumult. Her passion then composes itself once more and she is mine.” —from_Either/Or: A Fragment of Life_, (as written by his pseudonym Johannes the Seducer)
Søren Kierkegaard
If I could forget you! Is my love then a work of memory? Even if time expunged everything from its tablets, expunged even memory itself, my relation to you would stay just as alive, you would still not be forgotten. If I could forget you! What then should I remember? For after all, I have forgotten myself in order to remember you: so if I forgot you I would come to remember myself; but the moment I remembered myself I would have to remember you again. If I could forget you! What would happen then? There is a picture from antiquity. It depicts Ariadne. She is leaping up from her couch and gazing anxiously after a ship that is hurrying away under full sail. By her side stands Cupid with unstrung bow and drying his eyes. Behind her stands a winged female figure in a helmet. It is usually assumed this is Nemesis. Imagine this picture, imagine it changed a little. Cupid is not weeping and his bow is not unstrung; or would you have become less beautiful, less victorious, if I had become mad? Cupid smiles and bends his bow. Nemesis does not stand inactive by your side; she too draws her bow. In that other picture we see a male figure on the ship, busily occupied. It is assumed it is Theseus. Not so in my picture. He stands on the stern, he looks back longingly, spreads his arms. He has repented, or rather, his madness has left him, but the ship carries him away. Cupid and Nemesis both aim at him, an arrow flies from each bow; their aim is true; one sees that, one understands, they have both hit the same place in his heart, a sign that his love was the Nemesis that wrought vengeance." ―Johannes de Silentio, from_Either/Or: A Fragment of Life_
Søren Kierkegaard
For clarity's sake, and before going further with this account, I shall identify true aesthetic sorrow a little more closely. Sorrow has the opposite movement to that of pain. So long as one doesn't spoil things out of a misplaced mania for consistency―something I shall prevent also in another way―one may say: the more innocence, the deeper the sorrow. If you press this too far, you destroy the tragic. There is always an element of guilt left over, but it is never properly reflected in the subject; which is why in Greek tragedy the sorrow is so deep. In order to prevent misplaced consistency, I shall merely remark that exaggeration only succeeds in carrying the matter over into another sphere. The synthesis of absolute innocence and absolute guilt is not an aesthetic feature but a metaphysical one. This is the real reason why people have always been ashamed to call the life of Christ a tragedy; one feels instinctively that aesthetic categories do not exhaust the matter. It is clear in another way, too that Christ's life amounts to more than can be exhausted in aesthetic terms, namely from the fact that these terms neutralize themselves in this phenomenon, and are rendered irrelevant. Tragic action always contains an element of suffering, and tragic suffering an element of action; the aesthetic lies in the relativity. The identity of an absolute action and an absolute suffering is beyond the powers of aesthetics and belongs to metaphysics. This identity is exemplified in the life of Christ, for His suffering is absolute because the action is absolutely free, and His action is absolute suffering because it is absolute obedience. The element of guilt that is always left over is, accordingly, not subjectively reflected and this makes the sorrow deep. Tragic guilt is more than just subjective guilt, it is inherited guilt. But inherited guilt, like original sin, is a substantial category, and it is just this substantiality that makes the sorrow deeper. Sophocles' celebrated tragic trilogy, *Oedipus at Colonus*, *Oedipus Rex*, and *Antigone*, turns essentially on this authentic tragic interest. But inherited guilt contains the self-contradiction of being guilt yet not being guilt. The bond that makes the individual guilty is precisely piety, but the guilt which he thereby incurs has all possible aesthetic ambiguity. One might well conclude that the people who developed profound tragedy were the Jews. Thus, when they say of Jehova that he is a jealous God who visits the sins of the fathers on the children unto the third and fourth generations, or one hears those terrible imprecations in the Old Testament, one might feel tempted to look here for the material of tragedy. But Judaism is too ethically developed for this. Jehova's curses, terrible as they are, are nevertheless also righteous punishment. Such was not the case in Greece, there the wrath of the gods has no ethical, but aesthetic ambiguity" (Either/Or).
Søren Kierkegaard
But it is just as useless for a man to want first of all to decide the externals and after that the fundamentals as it is for a cosmic body, thinking to form itself, first of all to decide the nature of its surface, to what bodies it should turn its light, to which its dark side, without first letting the harmony of centrifugal and centripetal forces realize [*realisere*] its existence [*Existents*] and letting the rest come of itself. One must learn first to know himself before knowing anything else (γνῶθι σε αυτόν). Not until a man has inwardly understood himself and then sees the course he is to take does his life gain peace and meaning; only then is he free of the irksome, sinister traveling companion―that irony of life which manifests itself in the sphere of knowledge and invites true knowing to begin with a not-knowing (Socrates), just as God created the world from nothing. But in the waters of morality it is especially at home to those who still have not entered the tradewinds of virtue. Here it tumbles a person about in a horrible way, for a time lets him feel happy and content in his resolve to go ahead along the right path, then hurls him into the abyss of despair. Often it lulls a man to sleep with the thought, "After all, things cannot be otherwise," only to awaken him suddenly to a rigorous interrogation. Frequently it seems to let a veil of forgetfulness fall over the past, only to make every single trifle appear in a strong light again. When he struggles along the right path, rejoicing in having overcome temptation's power, there may come at almost the same time, right on the heels of perfect victory, an apparently insignificant external circumstance which pushes him down, like Sisyphus, from the height of the crag. Often when a person has concentrated on something, a minor external circumstance arises which destroys everything. (As in the case of a man who, weary of life, is about to throw himself into the Thames and at the crucial moment is halted by the sting of a mosquito). Frequently a person feels his very best when the illness is the worst, as in tuberculosis. In vain he tries to resist it but he has not sufficient strength, and it is no help to him that he has gone through the same thing many times; the kind of practice acquired in this way does not apply here. Just as no one who has been taught a great deal about swimming is able to keep afloat in a storm, but only the man who is intensely convinced and has experiences that he is actually lighter than water, so a person who lacks this inward point of poise is unable to keep afloat in life's storms.―Only when a man has understood himself in this way is he able to maintain an independent existence and thus avoid surrendering his own I. How often we see (in a period when we extol that Greek historian because he knows how to appropriate an unfamiliar style so delusively like the original author's, instead of censuring him, since the first prize always goes to an author for having his own style―that is, a mode of expression and presentation qualified by his own individuality)―how often we see people who either out of mental-spiritual laziness live on the crumbs that fall from another's table or for more egotistical reasons seek to identify themselves with others, until eventually they believe it all, just like the liar through frequent repetition of his stories.
Søren Kierkegaard
The Attack is a funny book which the reader has the option of taking seriously. For when the laughter subsides we realize that SK has set before us a stark either-or proposition: either follow the gospel according to Christ and the apostles, or follow the gospel according to the clergy. There can be no dialectical synthesis between these contraries.
Søren Kierkegaard (Attack Upon Christendom)
If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, 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? —SØREN KIERKEGAARD, Either/Or
Rosamund Stone Zander (The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life)
I divide my time as follows: half the time I sleep, the other half I dream. I never dream when I sleep, for that would be a pity, for sleeping is the highest accomplishment of genius
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Something wonderful has happened to me. I was carried up into the seventh heaven. There all the gods sat assembled. By special grace I was granted the favor of a wish. "Will you," said Mercury, "have youth, or beauty, or power, or a long life, or the most beautiful maiden, or any of the other glories we have in the chest? Choose, but only one thing." For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed myself to the gods as follows: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose this one thing, that I may always have the laugh on my side." Not one of the gods said a word, on the contrary, they all began to laugh. Hence, I concluded that my request was granted, and found that the gods knew how to express themselves with taste; for it would hardly have been suitable for them to have answered gravely: "It is granted thee.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations—one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it—you will regret both.
Robert Pantano (Notes from the End of Everything)
A person in sorrow or distress knows why he sorrows or is distressed. If you ask a melancholic what reason he has for his condition, what it is that weighs him down, he will replay, 'I don't know, what it is, I cannot explain it.' (pp499)
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
It takes a talent to doubt, it requires no talent at all to despair (pp515)
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Love from the soul is a continuation in time, sensual love a disappearance in time (pp 101)
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The unhappy person is one who has his ideal, the content of his life, the fullness of his consciousness, the essence of his being, in some manner outside of himself. The unhappy man is always absent from himself, never present to himself. But one can be absent, obviously, either in the past or in the future. This adequately circumscribes the entire territory of the unhappy consciousness.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
…when the ambitious man whose slogan is “Either Caesar or nothing” does not get to be Caesar, he despairs over it. But this also means something else: precisely because he did not get to be Caesar, he now cannot bear to be himself.
Søren Kierkegaard
Livet forstås baglæns, men må leves forlæns.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
É proprio caratteristico di quelle che si chiamano individualità infelici di aggrapparsi tenacissimamente a se stesse, tanto che nonostante tutte le loro sofferenze, per nessuna ragione al mondo vorrebbero essere degli altri. Ciò ha il suo motivo nel fatto che queste individualità sono molto vicine alla verità e sentono I’eterno valore della personalità, non nella sua benedizione, ma nel suo tormento. Anche se devono rinunciare alla gioia, preferiscono tuttavia rimanere se stessi.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
The sovereign individual cannot escape to any degree the rules and practices of gardening.
Tom P.S. Angier (Either Kierkegaard / Or Nietzsche: Moral Philosophy in a New Key (Intersections: Continental and Analytic Philosophy))
God mocks the greatness of man by forging them into the law of occasion, so a person in turn mocks by making the occasion in to everything and the next moment into foolishness, whereby God then becomes superfluous, the concept of wise Governance becomes a piece of folly, the occasion becomes a wag who pokes fun at God just as much as at man, so that all existence ends in a jest, a joke, a charade.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or, Part I)
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy
Søren Kierkegaard
How far removed in time must an event be for us to remember it? How far for memory's longing to be no longer able to seize it? Most people have a limit in this respect: what lies too near them in time they cannot remember, nor what lies too remote. I know no limit. What was experienced yesterday, I push back a thousand years in time, and remember as if it were yesterday." ―Johannes de Silentio, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
Mine’: what does this word mean? Not what belongs to me, but what I belong to, what contains my whole being, which is mine only so far as I belong to it. My God is not the God that belongs to me, but the God to whom I belong; and so, too, when I say my native land, my home, my calling, my longing, my hope. If there had been no immortality before, this thought that I am yours would be a breach of the normal course of nature.” —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
What am I? The modest narrator who accompanies your triumphs; the dancer who supports you when you rise in your lovely grace; the branch upon which you rest a moment when you are tired of flying; the bass that interposes itself below the soprano’s fervour to let it climb even higher—what am I? I am the earthly gravity that keeps you on the ground. What am I, then? Body, mass, earth, dust and ashes.—You, my […], you are soul and spirit.” —Johannes the Seducer, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
I lie stretched out, inert; all I see is emptiness, all I live on is emptiness, all I move in is emptiness. I do not even suffer pain. At least the vulture kept on pecking at Prometheus’s liver, and Loki had the poison constantly dripping down on him; at least there was an interruption, however monotonous. But even pain has lost its power to refresh me. Were I offered all the world’s glories or all its torments, they would affect me indifferently,
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Something wonderful has happened to me. I was carried up into the seventh heaven. There all the gods sat assembled. By special grace I was granted the favor of a wish. "Will you," said Mercury, "have youth, or beauty, or power, or a long life, or the most beautiful maiden, or any of the other glories we have in the chest? Choose, but only one thing." For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed myself to the gods as follows: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose this one thing, that I may always have the laugh on my side." Not one of the gods said a word, on the contrary, they all began to laugh. Hence, I concluded that my request was granted, and found that the gods knew how to express themselves with great taste; for it would hardly have been suitable for them to answer gravely: "It is granted thee".
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I have only one expression for what I suffer – guilt; one expression for my pain – repentance; one hope before my eyes – forgiveness; and if I find this difficult, ah! I have but one prayer, I will throw myself to the ground and implore the eternal power that governs the world for one grace early and late, that I be allowed to repent. For I know only one sorrow which can bring me to despair and plunge everything down into it – the sorrow that repentance was a delusion, a delusion not in respect of the forgiveness it seeks, but in the accountability it presupposes.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
it is a sign of a magnanimous man of profound soul that he is disposed to repent, that he does not go to law with God but repents and loves God in his repentance. Without that his life is nothing, merely like foam on water.
Søren Kierkegaard
But you may be sure that for this faith in the victory of the beautiful I will engage in mortal combat, and nothing in the world can wrest it from me. Even if one wished to wrest if from me through prayer, to snatch it from me by force, not for anything in the world would I let myself be deprived f it, for if I lost that faith I would lose the whole world. Through this faith I see the beauty of life, and the beauty I see does not have the sadness and melancholy that are inseparable from all beauty in nature and art, inseparable even from the eternal youth of the Greek gods. The beauty I see is joyful and triumphant, and stronger than all the world. And this beauty I see everywhere, even where your eye sees nothing.
Søren Kierkegaard
I feel as a chessman must when the opponent says of it: that piece cannot be moved.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
Of all ridiculous things, it seems to me what is most ridiculous is to be busy in this world, to be a man who hastens to his food and hastens to his work. That is why, when at some critical moment I see a fly land on the nose of one of these businessmen, or he gets soaked by some carriage driving by in even greater haste than his own, or he has to wait while the river bridge goes up in front of him, or a tile falls from the roof and kills him, I laugh heartily. Who, after all, could fail to laugh? What is it, actually, that they achieve, these furiously busy people? Is there any difference between them and the woman who, in her confusion when a fire broke out in the house, salvaged the fire-tongs? Do they really salvage anything more from the great conflagration of life? (Either/Or, 1843) Kierkegaard
Robert Ferguson (Life Lessons from Kierkegaard)
Something wonderful happened to me. I was transported into the Seventh Heaven. All the gods sat there in assembly. By special grace I was granted the favour of a wish. Said Mercury: ‘Will you have Youth, or Beauty, or Power, or Longevity, or the most beautiful girl, or any of the other delights we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but you may only choose one thing.’ For a moment I was at a loss, and then I addressed the gods in this fashion: ‘My most honoured contemporaries, I choose one thing, and that is always to have laughter on my side.’ In reply not one of the gods said a single word. Instead they all began to laugh. From this I gathered that my wish had been granted. I learned, too, that the gods had style: it would, after all, have been inappropriate had they answered, in all solemnity: Your wish is hereby granted. (Either/Or, 1843)
Robert Ferguson (Life Lessons from Kierkegaard)
Ja savršeno nisam ni za šta. Ne mogu da jašem konja, on se suviše oštro kreće; ne mogu da hodam, to je prenaporno; ne mogu da legnem, jer bih morao ostati da ležim, a to ne mogu, ili bih morao opet ustati, a ni to ne mogu. Summa summarum: ja savršeno nisam ni za šta.
Søren Kierkegaard
The philosophical problem of Either/Or, as Kierkegaard referred to it, is therefore largely a factitious problem, in which philosophers attempt to synthesize or reconcile oppositions that are created primarily by their own categorizations. We are told that a thing is either A or not-A, and logically these categories are exclusive. But such division is not intrinsic in reality, in which elements flow into each other and possess similar properties.
Marilyn French
So despair, then, and your frivolity shall never more cause you to roam like an inconstant spirit, like a ghost among the ruins of a world which is yet lost to you; despair, and your spirit shall become beautiful and joyous to you once more, though you now look at it with different eyes, and your spirit, now liberated, shall vault up into the world of freedom.
Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)
I have a secret to confide to you, my confidante. Who should I confide it to? To Echo? She would betray it. To the stars? They are cold. People? They do not understand. Only to you can I confide it, for you know how to safeguard it. There is a girl, more beautiful than my soul’s dream, purer than the light of the sun, deeper than the source of the ocean, more proud than the flight of the eagle―there is a girl―oh! bend your head to my ear and my words, that my secret may steal into it―this girl I love more dearly than my life, for she is my life; more dearly than all my desires, for she is the only one; more dearly than all my thoughts, for she is the only one; more warmly than the sun loves the flower, more intensely than sorrow the privacy of the troubled mind; more longingly than the desert’s burning sand loves the rain―I cling to her more tenderly than the mother’s eye to the child, more confidingly than the pleading soul to God, more inseparably than the plant to its root.―Your head grows heavy and thoughtful, it sinks down on your breast, your bosom rises to its aid―my Cordelia! You have understood me, you have understood me exactly, to the letter, not one jot have you ignored. Shall I stretch the membrane of my ear and let your voice assure me of this? Should I doubt? Will you safeguard this secret? Can I depend on you? One hears of people who, in terrible crimes, dedicate themselves to mutual silence. I have confided to you a secret which is my life and my life’s content. Have you nothing to confide to me, nothing so beautiful, so significant…?” ―Johannes de Silentio, from_Either/Or_
Søren Kierkegaard
I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both.
Søren Kierkegaard
if it stands fast that Abraham is the representative of faith, and that faith is normally expressed in him whose life is not merely the most paradoxical that can be thought but so paradoxical that it cannot be thought at all. He acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely absurd that he as the particular is higher than the universal. This paradox cannot be mediated; for as soon as he begins to do this he has to admit that he was in temptation (Anfechtung), and if such was the case, he never gets to the point of sacrificing Isaac, or, if he has sacrificed Isaac, he must turn back repentantly to the universal. By virtue of the absurd he gets Isaac again. Abraham is therefore at no instant a tragic hero but something quite different, either a murderer or a believer. The middle term which saves the tragic hero, Abraham has not. Hence it is that I can understand the tragic hero but cannot understand Abraham, though in a certain crazy sense I admire him more than all other men.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)
I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.
Soren Kierkegaard
Either the individual becomes a knight of faith by assuming the burden of the paradox, or he never becomes one.
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling)