HOME     Library     CONTENTS: Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard
I   -   II  -   III  -   IV  -   V  -   VI  -   VII  -   VIII  -   IX  -   X  -   XI    


VI A   -   VI B   -   VI C



I have returned a little book Reitzel sent me but am jotting down the title:

Über die Aesthetik der Hegelschen Philosophie,
by Wilhelm Danzel. Hamburg, 1844.


When Father died, Sibbern said to me, "Now you will never get your theological degree," and then I did get it. If Father had lived, I would never have gotten it. — When I broke the engagement, Peter said to me, "Now you are lost." And yet it is clear that if I have indeed amounted to something, I did it through that step.


The same doubts which, in the contemplation of the world, nature, one's self, the course of events, line themselves up against belief in God — the same doubts may find a place in regard to Christianity. In respect to Christianity I cannot ask for a greater and different certainty than that which I have with respect to assurance about the existence [Tilværelse] of God. — It would be worthwhile, perhaps, to pursue this parallel sometimes.


The Police Agent

Should be treated dramatically.

A demonic figure, who could just as well have become a carouser, yes, even a murderer, etc., but is now a servant of justice. (A frustrated childhood and youth have made him hostile toward the human race.)

The conception of police-justice as only a defense against poverty, just like the Spartans' relation to the Helots. (Contradiction of the idea.)

The contradiction that a character like this serves justice and yet does it so well that he is the most prominent.


In margin of previous:

There should be something shifty in his demeanor which would have its roots in his inner instability but which he himself, lying to himself and to others, would explain as craftiness. His instability was not a lie; the lie was that he later explained it as subtlety. It is true that he sometimes said what he did not wish to say, but afterwards he lied and explained that the purpose of it had been to discover something about others.


Under the title "Private Tutorials" and keeping it as delicate as possible, I would like to depict a feminine character whose greatness would lie precisely in her shy, loving, unassuming resignation (for example, a somewhat idealized Cornelia Olsen, the most admirable woman I have known, and the only one who has compelled my admiration). She would go through the experience of her sister's marrying the one she herself loved. This is a collision for resignation.


A counterpart to the parable about the sower and the seed.
It would deal with preachers.
The owner of a wheat farm gave each of his servants an equal share of equally good wheat seed.
But one stored the seed in a damp place where it sprouted too soon and was spoiled.
And one mixed it with ordinary seed.
And one thought: the seed now belongs to me, why should I sow it, and he sold it for money.
And one did sow it but scattered it so carelessly that it was worthless.
One sowed it but put too high a price on it.

This is poorly worked out, for the unity of the idea is not preserved, but it may be used; the notion is a good one and lends itself especially well as a conclusion to a discourse or as an opening in order to exclude malpractices.


A frivolous, vain individual always has an extraordinary conception of an apostle's high honor — i.e., the good fortune, the glory of being an apostle; a humble, profound individual always has an extraordinary conception of an apostle's sufferings.



That heavy breathing in the organ's breast.


The contradiction: the driver of the modest hearse who had only half-covered the single horse with the horse-blanket so as to whip it better.....the profundity in death.....the prosaicness in this.


A New Book
God's Judgment[*
A Story of Suffering
A Psychological Experiment
.....de profundis

Here the categories of sin are used. His inclosing reserve is due to his not daring to let anyone know that it is a punishment he is suffering.

[* In margin: A married man.


In margin of previous:
It would be easy enough for him to find release if he would initiate her into his suffering, but he fears to do this for the very reason that the frightfulness of it will completely destroy her or make her sympathetic in such a way that she will follow him like Cain's wife, and this is precisely what he does not want. — On the other hand, he thinks he owes it to God to be silent erotically this way about his sufferings.

See p. 185, bottom [i.e., VI A 47].

See p. 194 [i.e., VI A 55 - 59].


It is ridiculous to hear pastors in our time warn against medieval asceticism (monks and nuns and the like, flagellations, etc.). Münter is particularly zealous in this — alas, in the Nineteenth Century to warn against such things (this is madness)! — And people judge asceticism so stupidly! There was something childish about it; they had a conception then of how terrible it is to bear responsibility and guilt all through life — this eternal continuation, mounting day by day. Thus asceticism was an expression of a life-view something like that of a child, who suffers its punishment on a particular day and then forgetting it all becomes a good child again. It was almost an erotic expression. If a girl in an erotic relationship wrongs the beloved, I wonder if she will not immediately rejoice in his unchanged love and say to him: O, scold me a little! — I wonder, finally, whether everyone in our time, that is, all of the single individuals who in our time have a little religious sensitivity, would not do the same, but in another way, by denying themselves some enjoyment because they are not happy or pleased with themselves and going to church.

— The pastors we now have are the most stupid of all — and yet Bishop Mynster is neglected, the only one who knows what the question is all about.


Now is the moment, now is the time, to write a dialectical guide to pseudonymous books by all the pseudonymous authors.


The Relation between Either/Or and the Stages

In Either/Or the competing components were the esthetic and the ethical, and the ethical was the choice. For this reason there were only two components, and the Judge was unconditionally the winner, even though the book ended with a sermon and with the observation that only the truth that builds up is the truth for me (inwardness — the point of departure for my upbuilding discourses).

In the Stages there are three components and the situation is different.

  1. the esthetic-sensate is thrust into the background as something past (therefore "a memory," for after all it cannot become utterly nothing).
    The young man (thought—melancholy); Constantin Constantius (hardening of the understanding). Victor Eremita, who can no longer be the editor (sympathetic irony); the fashion designer (demonic despair); Johannes the seducer (damnation, a "marked" individual). He concludes by saying that woman is merely a moment. At that very point the Judge begins: Woman's beauty increases with the years, her reality [Realitet] is precisely in time.
  2. The ethical component is polemical: the Judge is not giving a friendly lecture but is grappling in existence, because he cannot end here, even though with pathos he can triumph again over every esthetic stage but not measure up to the esthetes in wittiness.
  3. The religious comes in a demonic approximation (Quidam of the experiment) with humor as its presupposition and its incognito (Frater Taciturnus).


May 14, 1845
On arriving in Berlin

The only utilizing character on board the ship was a young fellow (a jaunty student) wearing a velvet cap fastened with a handkerchief, a striped tunic over a coat, a cane hanging by a looped string from one of the buttons. Guileless, open, much traveled, alert to everything, naive, bashful, and yet cheerful. By combining him with a gloomy traveler (like Mr. Hagen) a mournful effect could be produced.


Two new books ought to be written:

A Poet's Confessions

His suffering is that he continually wants to be a religious individual and continually goes about it wrongly and becomes a poet — consequently an unhappy love affair with God (dialectical passion in the direction of there being something deceptive, as it were, about God).


The Secrets of a Heart
See p. 163 in this book [i.e., VI A 12].
(Private Tutorials)
Close to unhappiness and yet the unhappiest

In life there are many such situations in which the one who stands alongside, and consequently on the outside, nevertheless suffers the most.

In margin by the title: Sophie Beaumarchais


A Character

An old man sitting in the Royal Gardens or Cherry Lane or Philosopher's Way (Contrast: the warm summer air, the bracing freshness of the greenery — and the old man). He is an old widower, has no children, dines occasionally with a relative who is better off. He sits there regularly on certain days.


For p. 171 bottom [i.e., 32]:

The dialectical contradiction must be maintained in such a way that it is uncertain whether he is closed up solely because of an erotic love affair with God, or out of pride toward men.

Even in David's psalms there are examples of the kind of self-encapsulation or closedupness which seeks to avoid every human relationship in order to remain Du und Du with God.


Some place in Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner aus arabischere Quellere, by Dr. G. Weil, Frankfurt/M., 1845, it says of one of the characters that God himself personally accompanied him to the grave and walked in front of the coffin, and the four angels walked behind. — The out-and-out humor in this.


The same book tells of the many times the saintly personages ask God to put them to a severe test to prove their devotion to him — and then they fail.


It perhaps would be appropriate to carry out a psychological experiment at another point: a prospective clergyman, for example, who has fears about becoming a clergyman (due to a guilt situation he goes to a remote place, because he does not dare do even this at home for fear of being surprised, and reads law to see which sins are forbidden by the church — de occultis non judicat ecclesia). And yet his only wish is to become a clergyman, because it seems to him to be the only way possible to make some compensation for his sin. — The dialectical contradiction: whether he is benefiting others by being silent about his sin and seeking to be effective in a more quiet manner, or whether it would be better to divulge everything.

In margin: de occultis non judicat ecclesia could be the title.


Addition to previous:

A situation where in a rustic setting he hears the merry sounds of children playing in a creek running into a little freshwater lake, later sees them come laughing and marching along the road, all of which makes him urgently feel the incongruity between being a child that way and living as he does with this enormous responsibility, whereas the mature periods of animals and of plants and of everything else correspond to what childhood is.


In margin of 55:

And one of his lines would be: Would that it were not the case that the Church does not judge what is hidden — would that it did. That which consoles many is for me a prolongation of my suffering. Should I inform on myself? Then my work would be hindered. Do I dare not do it?


In margin of 55:

Lines: What I miss most is my pulpit: This is the situation where one has sufferings and the deathbed and the sickbed.


In margin of 55:

I have bought a new copy of canon law to study it again to see whether I dare to be a pastor — but just buying the copy makes me shudder, because it is as if the book dealer might notice in me what a painful study I am making of it.


This must now be done: A person closed up within himself is pictured in a third stage, where he himself discovers that his guilt is nothing more than that he has been closed up within himself. — The dialectic: whether, demonically understood, he is not greater at this moment than if he had talked right away; the closedupness therefore returns, and although he has made this discovery, he again keeps it to himself in his self-incapsulation.


The little band of enthusiasts that is formed in Pastor Grundtvig's Ale-Norse taproom.


Today I wanted to visit Father's grave, felt an unusual compulsion to do so, was more than usually withdrawn within myself — and what happens — when I arrived at the entrance near the turn, a woman came running, with hat and shawl and parasol, a really silly sort of woman. The sweat poured down her face, and she addresses an old woman walking a few feet away from me, a basket on her arm: What can be keeping you, we have been waiting for half an hour now (the talk flowed on, but in her flurry she ran back and forth like a dog) — we have waited for half an hour, my sister is ready to cry, the hearse has already arrived, and the whole funeral party, and the trumpet players — and so it went on and on. Therefore the sister who was about to cry was on the verge of tears because the trumpet players had come but the lady with the basket had not. — I walked down another path, and fortunately they were not to be in the vicinity of Father's grave. But it is strange how the comic insinuates itself, particularly into the most momentous moods.

June 10, 1845


Vertically in margin of previous:

This could be worked up with a touch of irony under the title: Tears at a Grave.


New Zealanders kiss each other with their noses. Engel in his Mimik quotes a passage from a travel account which he reports.


William Afman's part (in the Stages) is so deceptively contrived that it is praise and high distinction to have stupid fuss-budgets pass trivial judgment on it and say that it is the same old thing. Yes, that is just the trick. I never forget the anxiety I myself felt about not being able to achieve what I had once accomplished, and yet it would have been so very easy to choose other names. This is also the reason Afham states that Constantius said that never again would he arrange a banquet, and Victor Eremita, that he would never again speak admiringly of Don Juan. But the Judge declares that he will keep on repeating.* As the author himself suggested, wherever it is possible and wherever it is not possible.

* "That only thieves and gypsies say that one must never return where he has once been."


The Stages will not have as many readers as Either/Or, will barely make a ripple. That is fine; in a way it rids me of the gawking public who want to be wherever they think there is a disturbance. I prophesied this myself in the epilogue to "Guilty? / Not Guilty?"


There is something that grates on me in being a teacher — it would be best if a pastor were to read another pastor's sermon aloud so that he himself could really become a listener to the exhortation.


They think it is so easy; they attack my presentation as mistaken in maintaining a doubleness — they should try it themselves. The vociferous, assertive direct method is much easier.


The review of my Fragments in the German journal is essentially wrong in making the content appear didactic, expository, instead of being experimental by virtue of its polar form, which is the very basis of the elasticity of irony. To make Christianity seem to be an invention of Johannes Climacus is a biting satire on philosophy's indolent attitude toward it. And then, too, to bring out the orthodox forms in the experiment "so that our age, which only mediates etc., is scarcely able to recognise them"* and believes it is something new — that is irony. But right there is the earnestness, to want Christianity to be given its due in this way — before one mediates.

* In margin: (these are the reviewer's words.)


A Possible Concluding Word
to All the Pseudonymous Writings

Nicolaus Notabene

I will tell the esteemed public how it happened that I became an author. The story is quite simple, for I can by no means attribute it to my having had a vision, a dream, a stroke of genius, or some such thing. In a sense I had more or less loafed away some of my student years, reading and thinking, it is true, but my indolence had been thoroughly dominant. Then one Sunday afternoon four years ago I was sitting in the cafe in Fredericksberg Gardens, smoking my cigar and watching the waitresses, and suddenly the thought overwhelmed me: You are wasting your time and doing no good; all around you one first-rate genius after the other pops up and makes life and existence and world-historical traffic and communication with eternal happiness easier and easier — What are you doing? Should you not also hit on some way of helping the age? Then it occurred to me — what if I were to settle down to making everything difficult. Thus one may seek to serve in all kinds of ways. Even if the age did not need a little ballast, I would still be loved by all those who make everything easy, for if there is no one willing to make it hard, it becomes all too easy — to make it easy. From that moment on I found my entertainment in this work, that is, the work has been entertaining, but it certainly has not been maintaining, for I have put money into it. After all, one cannot insist that people must pay to have everything made hard — that in fact would make it still more difficult. But those who make it easy really should support me, for they are the gainers. They have definitely made use of me and simply assumed that I did it for their sakes, just so they could have something to make easy.


It might be an appropriate dramatic contrast to present a sooth-sayer who lived at the same as Socrates and prophesied about a hero who would come. The hero was Socrates and he did in fact exist, but the soothsayer was aware of this and Socrates was the one who least of all seemed designated thereby. What merit would the prophecy of such a soothsayer have — and yet he was right.


It could be a very funny plot for a vaudeville play to have a Swedish family, having read in the papers about the matchless Danish hospitality (that barbers give shaves gratis, that prostitutes operate gratis (see Either/Or) etc.) take off for Copenhagen for a fortnight in the firm conviction that this is the way it always is in Copenhagen — and then develop it in situations. To compensate for the misunderstanding, the play could end with a happy love affair, germinating from sympathy with the situation of misunderstanding.


..... as fervent as the dying prodigal's last yearning for the salvation of his soul — as painful as the drunkard's first dim consciousness as he awakens.



With modification it could [have] be[en] used in the psychological experiment "'Guilty?' / 'Not Guilty?' ": Quidam of the experiment, for example, was a theological candidate who became a pastor, lived in the country, came to the capital, at the request of one of his friends, preaches at the morning service, delivers a good sermon, takes out a piece of paper which is a list of those for whom wedding banns are to be read from the pulpit — and reads [the banns]: followed by the name of the girl to whom he had been engaged — and now another name.


If I am totally occupied with something and I want to talk about it to people who regard it as foolishness, what then? Well, if I am a* genius who feels called to remake the world, then I will rant and shout in the conviction that I will surely get people to see that this is terribly important. But if I have any sense and reflection, I will not make such assumptions about myself and will express the discrepancy by placing the comic between us and talk about it in the form of the comic. Thus, simply by comprehending the comic myself, I will avoid what the ranting genius always ends up with — becoming comical.

In margin: *roaring


Fundamentally everyone is born to rule. This is best seen in children. Today I saw a little girl in her nurse's arms. They met some acquaintances of the child's family. The nurse held a flower in her hand, and now everybody, each and all, very submissively had to smell the flower and say, "Achoo!" This was repeated several times. If the nurse wanted to skip someone, the little girl noticed it at once and gave her to understand that she had to do everything exactly right. And then the little female sovereign bestowed with a smile her highest favor upon the one who sneezed exactly right.

Then the nurse wanted her to walk, but she leaned out a bit from the nurse's arms, dropped her head coyly, and rewarded the nurse with a kiss from beneath — affectedly, and yet with a childlikeness.


The well-dressed lady who Sunday afternoon sailed around in the canal in one of Eskildsen's boats all alone by herself.


Lines for a Humorous Individual

"Just as it is most pleasant to trudge through the world without being known by His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Majesty the Crown Princess, His Royal Majesty the Crown Prince — so, too, it seems to make life immensely troublesome to be known by God. Wherever he is, each and every half-hour becomes infinitely important. It is not possible to endure living like this for sixty years, any more than one could endure preparing for the comprehensive final examination [for sixty years], which, after all, one endures for only three years and is not nearly so strenuous. Everything disintegrates into contradiction. You are promptly lectured not to go on dozing but to live with the highest passion of infinity. So you shape up, turn up all spick-and-span for the parade*, as we say — yes, you must learn to shorten the sails.

In margin:

*They come running with a passion such as no one had during the bombardment.

What does it mean — in the end everyone gets just as far, and it all is not worth much. Here things go as they go with my physician. I complain about feeling indisposed. He answers, "You drink too much coffee and walk too little." Three weeks later I talk with him again and say: I really do not feel well at all, but now it cannot be because of drinking coffee for I do not drink coffee at all, or lack of movement, for I walk all day long. He answers, "Yes, that must be the reason; you do not drink coffee and you walk too much." Consequently my indisposition continues to be the same, but when I drink coffee, my indisposition comes from drinking coffee, and when I do not drink coffee, then my indisposition comes from not drinking coffee. So it is with us men. All earthly existence is a kind of indisposition; for some it is because of too much effort, for others because of too little, and if anyone asks the cause, the first question put to him is: Are you exerting yourself too much? If one answers "yes," then he is told: You are exerting yourself too much. If one answers "no," he gets the opposite answer, sticks his tail between his legs and slinks away. Even if I were paid ten dollars I would not presume to explain the riddle of life. Why should I? If life is a riddle, then the outcome will be that the one who has posed it will himself explain it when he perceives that there is no great traffic in solutions.

I did not invent the riddle, but in the Frisindede, Freischütz, and other papers where riddles are run, the explanation follows in the next issue. The distinction of being named in the paper as the one who solved the riddle on the same day as we all get to know the solution does not interest me.

An old maid or pensioner who solves riddles.


If God can do everything effortlessly, then his presence prevents men from slowing their pace.


Who thinks of hitching Pegasus and an old nag together to one carriage for a ride? And yet this is what it is to exist [existere] for one compounded of finitude and infinitude!



Just as the sick man longs to cast off the bandages, so also my healthy spirit longs to throw off this physical exhaustion.*

* this fusty, perspiring mush-envelope which is the body and the body's exhaustion.

Just as the conquering general shouts as his horse is shot from under him: A new horse — O that the victorious healthiness of my spirit might shout: A new horse, a new body.+

+ for only the body is worn out.

Just as someone in peril at sea violently pushes away another drowning man who tries to grab his legs, so my body hangs like a heavy weight on my spirit, until it is destroyed in death. Like a steamship in which the machinery is too large for the construction of the ship, so do I suffer.


Something about Cows Stampeding
A Study
An especially detailed description of the appearance of individual cows in their performances of genius, a description of how they flourish their tails, of their oblique canter, of the expression in their eyes — of the one that was embarrassed when I stared at it and promptly put its tail between its legs again.

In margin: "All of nature makes happy gestures" — cows, too, even if there is a question about the extent to which a little irony forms the basis of that statement.


A Proof of the Truth of Christianity

This proof is that many times its most zealous enemies have become its most zealous defenders. With philosophers and others like them the opposite often happens, that the closest adherent becomes an enemy and falls away. The double relationship in Christianity is the very thing that demonstrates its absolute truth, the fact that it goads just as intensely as it attracts. Generally an adherent's first relationship is immediately defined as that of a friend, not of an enemy; he becomes charmed (he is repulsed by Christianity), and then he becomes bored. It is just the opposite with Christianity. It is so full of meaning that it first repels and then attracts, and the repulsion of the contrast is the dynamometer of the inwardness.



Problem for a Drama

An actor in his personal existence [Existents] is perhaps in our time the only usable figure who is not used. The contradiction of existence and the special difficulty of the actor are dramatically effective. A piece such as Kean points this up well, and the old prompter is, at the end, perhaps the best figure in it.


When Erasmus proves that Nille is a stone, we are comically made to see the weakness of the syllogism; when Madame Nielsen (in the Made from Lyon), with all the faithful trust of a simple mother, says of her son, who has married an extraordinary lady, that it wasn't so strange after all — For if my son is not a prince, he ought to be a prince, and that is almost just as good — she demonstrates the power of pathos. The very same words spoken in another voice would produce a comic effect because to the understanding that which is spoken is gibberish; but in the pious delusion of humble maternal love the words have enormous pathos.


Fortunately I am not one of fortune's favourites, nor am I one of the much admired ones, for my willingness to rejoice with them and to offer them my tribute is matched by the meagerness of my desire to be such a one myself, because a life like that is contentious in relation to the universal, devoid of consolation in relation to the unhappy.

There is a bird called a "rain-warner", and such am I — when a storm is brewing in a generation, then individualities like me show up.


I had a strange experience leaving Vesterport tonight. It was dark; I passed a couple of boys in one of the narrow sidestreets. I scarcely noticed them and had passed them when I heard one of them, telling the other a story, say: "And then they came to the old fortune-teller." The same thing happened to me once this summer at twilight out at Peblingesø. There were two little girls, and the one said: "And then a long way off he saw an old castle." I believe that the greatest poet could scarcely produce such an effect as these stirring reminders of the fairy story: "the old castle far away," "and then," or "they walked a long way until," etc.


Grimur Thomsen must be a very learned man; this is apparent in the many books he quotes in his dissertation, and yet the dissertation indicates that he has read still more books, for example, Fear and Trembling, The Concept of Anxiety, Either/Or, which he does not quote. —

In margin:

He seems to divide the literature into two unequal parts: the books he uses, and those he uses for quotation — therefore it cannot be denied that he has used the literature. — He cannot be blamed for putting his light under a bushel, but on the other hand it can also be misleading to place a light on a mountain when at best it is suitable only for lighting the lower places.



An old falcon, one of those whose ancestors were used for hunting, sits in a solitary tree and tells himself stories about how it was in those proud days (developed with an element of fanaticism). In a swamp below, concealed by rushes, sit two frogs in deepest amazement at what the falcon is telling; they were just about to tell their own life-stories to each other when they became aware of the falcon and now are too embarrassed to begin.


It could be amusing to run, without context or explanation, this question in one of the papers: Why does everyone, at least at certain times, have such an indescribable longing to be a bird? Not a word more. This could be used in a novel as a pre-arranged message among thieves or as a wager.

The novel would begin by saying: One day the citizens of the city of M— were amazed to read in Speideren, their local newspaper, the following lines under the heading "A Question."


Peter Rørdam is a very sanguine and childlike person (he says: I am angry, and then is no longer angry, and then is angry again; he wants to do something and intellectually is in the phase when, like children, one does it all in one's pants). But it is too bad that seventy years is the maximum age; if it were customary to live on the average to be 250 years, R. would be normal, since he is now in his fortieth year.


The theme remains continually the same, but every time he wearily shouts: What time is it? — the answer is: Eternity.

(There is an Italian folk-tale of a poor wretch who woke up in hell and shouted: What time is it? — and got the answer: Eternity.) Used somewhere in Either/Or.


Somewhere in the book Concluding Postscript I quoted some words of Luther (on the Babylonian captivity). It reads: "in diesen Sacramenten," and without a doubt Luther meant thereby the five Catholic [sacraments]. Now someone rushes forward and protests, etc. Well, go ahead. That is just what I wanted. I did not wish to begin a scholarly investigation in the book or use my best weapons. Now I am tempted to write a little foreword, a eulogy, and then I can quote the far more significant lines in the same book which I have noted in my copy (Gerlach's edition).


Three Moral Tales
for children, adults, but especially for childlike souls
sent out into the world
Hilarius Bookbinder
by order
  1. Once does not count.
    The one who fell from the mast — did it again, and so it was said: It is nothing at all.
  2. The fairy tale about the Big Tease.
    Maybe you do not know what a Big Tease is; he is not really a human being, he has a big head, thin legs, carries his head askew on his shoulders.
  3. The hunter.
  4. Gossipmonger-Mary. A ghost story.


Addition to previous:

These Big Teasers are not really human beings; this is noticed especially by their contemporaries, for they are more mentally-spiritually qualified; therefore they make out best after death.






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