If he could have been prevailed upon to conclude his life with the confession to Christianity that what he has represented actually was not Christianity but an appeasement, it would have been exceedingly desirable, for he carried a whole age.
That is why the possibility of this confession had to be kept open to the end, yes, to the very end, in case he should make it on his death bed. That is why he must never be attacked; that is why I had to submit to everything, even when he did such a desperate thing as that matter with Goldschmidt, for, after all, no one could know whether this might not be the thing that perhaps could influence him so that, touched by what he had done, he would still come forth with that confession.
Now that he has died without making that confession, everything is changed; now all that remains is that he has preached Christianity firmly and fixedly into illusion.
The relationship is altered also with respect to my melancholy devotion to my dead father's pastor, for it would indeed be too much if even after his death I were unable to speak candidly of him, although I know very well that there will always be something prepossessing for me in my old devotion and my aesthetic admiration.
My original desire was to turn everything of mine into a triumph for Mynster. As I came to a clearer understanding later, my desire remained the same, but I was obliged to request this little confession, something I did not covet for my own sake and therefore, as I thought, could very well be done in such a way that it would become a triumph for Bishop M.
After our secret misunderstanding, I hoped that I at least could avoid attacking him during his lifetime; I also considered it possible that I myself might die.
And yet I came very close to thinking that I would have to attack him. I have heard all his sermons except the last, but it was not sickness that prevented me, for I was in church where Kolthoff preached. I took this to mean: now it must come, you must break the tradition received from Father. It was the last time M. preached. God be praised, is it not like guidance.
If Bishop Mynster could have yielded (something that could, after all, have been concealed from the public, for whom it could have become his triumph), my external situation would also have been much more free from care than it was; for Bishop Mynster, who secretly did indeed make concession enough to me in the intellectual sphere, in his secular shrewdness counted on it ending with my yielding to him in one way or another because financially I would be unable to keep on opposing him. Something he frequently said in our conversations, although not directed at me, was very significant: It does not depend on who has the most power but on who can stick it out the longest.
The Wretchedness of My Age
It is an old story that whatever in one way or another is outstanding, a little exceptional, is likely to have a hard time of it in this world, above all that which in some way is related to truth.
But there is a difference. One age is not quite as wretched as another. For example, it is not so bad when the age cannot understand the contemporary and therefore bona fide persecutes him. However, the mistreatment is infamous in direct proportion to the age's awareness that the person concerned is superior.
But even when this is the case, it is always better if there is a little authentic passion involved, as in antiquity when it was plainly stated: Aristides is just, the only one who is just — this is exactly what we will not tolerate. But my age is characterised by the most measly wretchedness. In a public way I am mistreated and everything is done to demolish me if possible — and at the same time everyone privately is friendly toward me, and privately I am acknowledged and respected more than usual — but geniuses, they say (and I no doubt am classified among such), must walk a thorny path — — and that is why (what nonsense!) they must do their best to embitter my life. This situation is just about as mean as it can be; in fact, it is possible only in a country which, summa summarum, is a market town.
"I find no guilt in this man; therefore I will chastise him." What a curious therefore!
"Pilate said three times: I find no guilt in this man, THEREFORE I will chastise him."
"And a sword will pierce through your own soul also."
Luke 2:34, 35. These parenthetical words, which were spoken in the context of the statement about Christ's being a sign which shall reveal the thoughts of many hearts, should certainly not be interpreted simply as pain at the sight of her [Mary's] son's death — no, it must be interpreted to mean that the moment, the moment of pain, the moment of agony, will come to her when, at the vision of her son's suffering, she will doubt — was not the whole thing a dream, a delusion, the whole affair of Gabriel being sent by God proclaiming her to be the chosen one, etc.
Just as Christ cries out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me — so Mary must suffer through something similar on the human level.
A sword will pierce through your soul — and reveal the thoughts of your heart, yours also, if you still dare believe, — are still humble enough to believe, that you truly are the chosen among women, the one who has found grace before God.
About Myself — My Brother
My manner of living is such that the greatest possible effort is made to make me out to be insane, and for a whole class of people I actually exist as a kind of half-mad person — and then I have a brother who adroitly manages to contrive the opinion that I represent ecstasy (generally this term means the same to the public as insane and in medical books is used as referring to a kind of insanity) — whereas Martensen is level-headedness itself.
A Misprint in Stages on Life's Way
No doubt there are many and various misprints in my books, and I actually have never been very concerned about them. But curiously enough, there is one in Stages on Life's Way which I have not forgotten over the years and which I would like to eradicate.
It is in "The Banquet", in one of the lines spoken by the fashion designer. There it reads: Pro dii immortales, what, then is a woman when she is not in fashion; per deos obsecro, what is she when she is not in fashion! Obviously there should be no "not" in the second clause; it should read: what is she when she is in fashion.
Oddly enough, indifferent as I am about such things, this misprint has plagued me year after year, and it has always bothered me not to have it corrected. The lines become so very trivial when the "not" is used twice, which certainly was not the case in the manuscript, and on the other hand it is so characteristic if the latter "not" is not there.
In that very phrase is implied the demonic sarcasm as well as the proof that the fashion designer is not a fool who too solemnly believes in the reality of his craft, as if he solemnly believed that woman amounted to something when she is in fashion. No, "what is she when she is not in fashion" is ironic sarcasm; now comes the far more profound "per deos obsecro, what is she when she is in fashion."
Two Things I Have Had to Watch Out For
Just as the age wants everything up to a point, so it would not have been disinclined to go along (up to a point) with my cause, if only I had conformed to every other endeavour in the age.
But the point is that simply by conforming to the age I would not have benefited the age but instead would have promoted the sickness of the age; it was plainly my task to remain heterogeneous.
The basic evil of the age is that, for one thing, it secularises and finitises every higher endeavour — that is, it denies that a higher endeavour truly exists. — This is why it is so important that I maintain my nonconformity, do not form a party, get followers, perhaps even become a sensate power, so that it practically becomes just as advantageous to line up with me as with the established. No, no, no, thank you. Keep on your own side the profit and the decorations and the velvet etc. — I have to watch out so that there is not the least profit in lining up with me; I have to watch out that I do not spiritually weaken my cause by secularly strengthening it.
The other basic evil of the age is that it is demoralised by intellectuality and has become devoid of character. That is why I have to take care lest my cause become, for God's sake — serious! — a scholarly-scientific discussion, in which a random lot of professors and assistant professors et al. could enjoy participating. No, either indirect communication — or in earnest, a matter of life or death if so be it. But above all — not a scientific-scholarly discussion.
A Modern Clergyman
When I think of what, for example in my father's childhood, was understood by a store clerk, a clumsy, uncouth Jutlander — and what is understood by a store clerk today: an adroit, active lad, a gentleman, etc. — this is indeed a kind of progress.
A modern clergyman is just about the same. He is an active, adroit, quick person who knows how to introduce a little Christianity very mildly, attractively, and in beautiful language, etc. — but as mildly as possible. In the New Testament Christianity is the deepest wound that can be dealt to a man, designed to collide with everything on the most appalling scale — and now the clergyman is perfectly trained to introduce Christianity in such a way that it means nothing; and when he can do it perfectly, he is a paragon like Mynster. How disgusting! It would be fine if a barber could become so perfect he could shave off beards so lightly one would not notice it — but with respect to what is explicitly designed to heal a wound, to become so skilled in introducing it that it is as far as possible unnoticeable — this is nauseating.
In a volume of German obituaries in the Athenæum, perhaps from the year 1854, but more likely for 1851-1852, I find in the obituary of a ducal Saxon minister von Gersdorff the following lines by a poet whom I do not know:
Wer nur die Wahrheit sieht, hat ausgelebt."Who sees only the truth, has enacted.
Das Leben gleicht der Bühne; dort wie hier
Muss, wenn die Taüschung weicht, der Vorhang fallen.
Life is like the stage where, as here,
If the deception differs, the curtain falls."
— Ludwig Uhland Hubert Burda
The True Situation
If a man honestly and in all earnestness and with his whole soul prays God that it might be granted him to find it blessed to suffer, to be sacrificed for the truth, God will grant it to him.
But the fact is that from time immemorial there has not been one person living among us who has willed to venture on that scale. Indeed all of us, every single one of us, prefers to be exempt — when it comes right down to it in earnest.
That this is so is all too clearly indicated by the situation in Christendom. We have not dared to venture that way but on the contrary have served Christianity with substitutes and thereby fostered the most enormous confusion.
My proposal is surely the mildest of all — ah, how faint and feeble it is! — My proposal is that we at least disclose the true situation.
When you think of it, how nauseating it all is, these millions who play the game of Christianity, celebrate Pentecost — and now we are going to have a bishop ordained on Second Pentecost Day, and you can be sure that there will be a lot of rhetoric about "the Spirit" — how nauseating, how revolting, when the true situation is that there is not a single one of us who dares pray for the Holy Spirit in earnest.
What a frightful satire! We believe that it is the Spirit that has helped Christianity to spread, so that now we are all Christians — God in heaven! The true situation is that it happened because the Spirit has departed — and thus the phenomenon of diffusion is easily explained, for diffusion and lack of Spirit go together. And the fact of the matter is that the very minute the Spirit comes again the whole thing will collapse, or it will be demonstrated that there is not one single Christian.
If Protestantism is supposed to be something other than a necessary corrective at a given moment, is it not actually, then, humanity's revolt against Christianity?
If Christianity is to proclaimed as it essentially is in the gospels, proclaimed as and being: imitation, sheer suffering, misery and wailing, sharpened by a background of judgment where every word must be accounted for — then it is fearful suffering, anxiety, quaking, and trembling. Quite right. But where in the gospels does it actually say that God intends this earthly life to be anything else?
What human nature constantly seeks, however, is — tranquillity — nil beatum nisi quietum — tranquillity, tranquillity in order to be occupied with this finite life, to enjoy life here and now.
Is not Protestantism actually man's revolt against Christianity? We want, we must have tranquillity — we want Christianity to leave us in peace. So we turn Christianity around and get an insipid optimism out of the dreadful pessimism which Christianity is in the New Testament. We insist on tranquillity — then be at peace, because with the help of baptism, infant baptism, and grace, a person is saved by grace alone, yes, it is even presumptuous to want to do the least thing to help — with this we shove Christianity out completely and now things are beginning to hum with all the jobs, begetting children, and finite busyness and enjoyment of life, etc., etc.
Bishop Mynster's Earnestness
Just as when children play, the parents or some other older person is present to see to it that for God's sake nothing serious happens, so Mynster sat with his great sagacity at the head of things, carefully seeing to it — it must really have been strenuous for him — that for God in heaven's sake Christianity was not taken in earnest. And when he felt assured that things all around the country were just as desired, he felt disposed and ready to play along himself, and he tacitly realised (it was, in fact, true) that he was the one who knew how to play the game most artistically: he attired himself in velvet, he made the appearance with admirable dignity, he had great descriptive powers, he was the consummate orator — he wept, he beat his breast, his very look seemed to be of heavenly origin, etc., etc.
Bishop Mynster — Stephen
In the sermon on Stephen, among Mynster's sermons during his tenure as Bishop, he makes this point: Let us in this hour strive to repeat after Stephen: I see the heavens open.
To repeat after him! Well, the rest of it does not even remotely resemble Stephen: a man in velvet, rewarded with every earthly good, a connoisseur in enjoying it — and a martyr. But the man in velvet repeats it after him.
Is this not theatrical, and is not this kind of discourse directly related to — theater criticism.
One would think that soon we could be all through with this nonsense: "After all, it is nothing but nonsense."
True enough, but nonsense knows how to mystify it: it dresses up in a hundred thousand, a million different forms, and yet it is the same old nonsense.
You stand there, having talked with a man. He was of medium stature, blonde, wearing a brown coat — he was a muddlehead, but you are close to hoping to get rid of him. The minute he leaves along comes another: a tall, heavy, swarthy man in a blue dress coat — but is this not the same man? Certainly not — alas, but it is the same old nonsense.
And so on ad infinitum. No animal is as prolific as nonsense, except that nonsense brings forth a hundred thousand, million of brats — who all look different but still are the same old nonsense.
In a given time so and so many millions live in a country — essentially they all say one and the same thing. What is deceptive is that visually they look different.
And then again there is the added danger that nonsense is indeed a sensate power.
"Nonsense" is an illusion. Only that which relates to idea and lives primitively is living. All the rest is optical illusion. At death it disappears completely, just as when the comedy is over.
It is this cherished assumption of being saved — just like all the others.
The Collision in My Public Life
The collision which is my public life is perhaps rarely experienced; and I dare not expect to be understood by my contemporaries — my life is pitched too high for that.* Yes, much too high. This reminds me of the late-departed Bishop Mynster. It is abhorrent that all his life he assumed the posture of profound Christian earnestness — and his honest objection to me was that my cause was too lofty — and thereupon he even took part personally in the scurrilous meanness toward me.
* In margin: Note. And that posterity will give the appearance of understanding me is, of course, nonsense, for in contemporaneity posterity would act just the same as the contemporary age.
My collision is this. In a little country, in a limited context, there lives a man of extraordinary talent, favored with independence, with a rare gift to attract individuals to himself.
Then he begins to work. His first piece of work is really sufficient, all the hurdles are surmounted, everything opens up to him or must bow before him.
But now comes the collision: this person is both too depressed and too religious to want to be a success in this world. Furthermore, he has too much love for the ideals and the truly glorious ones who once lived for him to want to allow the idolisation of a market town.
So he alienates — always after the calmest and most dedicated reflection, and now the market town becomes more and more enraged over — his pride, arrogance, etc.
The few who have the prerequisites to see the nobility of his conduct are envious of him and therefore exploit the difficulties he creates for himself, this incitement of mediocrity against himself, mediocrity which of course is able to see it only as insanity or pride for someone to defend himself not against derogation but against jubilant elevation, something for which anyone should be slaphappy.
This is the collision. Mynster's many years of ignoble footling proclamation of Christianity, which has gilded mediocrity, naturally has contributed to the fact that in Denmark there presumably is not one single person who is [not] in the power of mediocrity.
This is the collision. My remuneration in this world is suffering. I await in the next the reward that when I see the glorious ones they will concede that I treated them with integrity, that I did not take advantage of the market town to attribute to myself what belongs to them.
Thus I believe that I perhaps will not, as Bishop Mynster wishes, lie in my grave as an honorable man — for this recognition on the part of my contemporaries I do not expect.* But I expect that this will be the verdict on me among those glorious ones.
* In margin: Note. That is, I do not expect the present age to understand the extent of my honesty and integrity toward the glorious ones — because dishonesty has not been the charge leveled against me as an author.
Inasmuch as Bishop Mynster's wish has come to my mind, let me make a comment on it. His memoirs practically end with this wish. It is like him. In a certain sense, he was a deceiver on a grand scale. Therefore this last insult is also as it should be. It seems to me that when one has defrauded the glorious ones on the scale he did by falsely enjoying a lifetime of esteem as if he were one of the glorious ones — it seems to me that one ought then not be so immodest as to wish to lie in his grave as a man of honor but be grateful that it lasted as long as he lived.
The Truth of the Matter
Speaking purely humanly, Christianity in the New Testament is utter terror; neither Judaism nor paganism has anything as terrifying — this is also the judgment of contemporary paganism and Judaism.
Paced by the founder and the apostles and on the strength of this thrust, it goes for a short time — but soon begins the story that is really the story of Christendom, the story of a cunning way of discarding Christianity, not by revolting, please note — God forbid, no, they dare not do that — but by hypocritically changing it, by contriving an appearance as if what they had was Christianity, although it is just the opposite. Compared with this story of Christendom's lie, all the crime stories in paganism and Judaism are like child's play.
Christianity is the religion in which belonging to the religion means to be a priest (consequently no laymen); to be a Christian means to be a priest.
Furthermore, Christianity is the religion in which to be the priest also means to be a sacrifice oneself (therefore not a priest who offers the sacrifice — to say nothing of living on the sacrifice).
As stated, then, to be a Christian means to be a priest, and consequently to be a Christian means to be sacrificed.
That kind of worship, you see, is not what we men like at all.
So step by step through the long, long history which is called Christendom, the craven and hypocritical attempt to reverse this whole religion has succeeded so that eventually in Protestantism it became a refined enjoyment of life.
What was so terrifying, and so it was at first, that even the toughest masculine nature quaked at venturing out — yes, one shivers to think of it, as a child might plead and beg to get out of something — while God nevertheless calmly ordered to advance, what was so terrifying that even the most honest of men preferred to desert — while God nevertheless ordered him back — this is now — how disgusting! — this is now an idyllic story of begetting children, etc., an idyll in which the pastor, himself a begetter of children and family man, plays the accompaniment for this idyllic nonsense and gets six dozen eggs for every child born in the parish, so that it is especially necessary for the pastor to have learned arithmetic in order to be able to count both the eggs and the other — and this is supposed to be New Testament Christianity.
The Wretched Age
..... I have made various sacrifices, and if I now carried it to the point of genuine self-denial, would any of my contemporaries, I wonder, be inspired to imitate me? No, no. Something else would happen instead. A few assistant professors would avail themselves of the intellectual output of my life — for lecturing. And since they seem to have an eye for advantages, they would profit from it and consequently would be understood by their contemporaries. And a few poets would avail themselves of the tensions in my life and find in them a motif for poetic portrayal; and since the poets today have an eye for advantages, they would profit from it and consequently would be understood by their contemporaries, who also might have been remotely influenced by my presence. And thus even in my lifetime I would be turned into profit.
Poets today probably have long felt that it would be highly desirable to have an unusual Erscheinung become manifest in actuality — it would help people to believe a little more in the romantic novel; it is so long since anything unusual has been seen that the novel itself is beginning to suffer from it. Just as one longs to get fresh meat after being away at sea for a long time and having only salted meat, so one wants to get the impact of something unusual, not to imitate it, no, no, but to be able to use it for a poem, and so that the public might be more receptive to the poem.
Poetry itself, the modern novel, no longer dares presuppose so much faith in the unusual by the reading public that they are able to believe in it — even in the novel. Actuality is that insipid and flat and wretched. Because the poets have not dared presuppose this faith, it has become common in our day for writers to reverse matters and try to give the effect of actuality: a real-life story, a story of real life, etc.
And, not to omit this point, that was why I turned the relation around and concealed what in substance was from actual life by always using the phrase: psychological experiment.
Among the various ones who have been called out in an exceptional way by Governance, there have perhaps been not a few who have had greater capabilities and gifts, and many have had greater knowledge, and all perhaps have had greater zeal and enthusiasm — but no one, not one has had a more difficult task, not one in Christendom.
To strive against princes, popes — what a relief it is, after all, especially as we come closer to our own time — compared to striving against the masses, the tyranny of peers, against the leering of brainlessness and bestial nonsense and depravity.
Outside of Christianity Socrates stands alone — you noble, simple wise man — you were actually a reformer.
is new in such a way that there literally is no one in Christendom's 1800 years from whom I can learn how to go about it.
For everything that up until now has been of an extraordinary nature has worked in the direction of spreading Christianity; whereas my task is aimed at putting a stop to a mendacious propagation, also at getting Christianity to drop a whole mass of nominal Christians.
Thus none of the extraordinary ones has so literally stood alone as I, even less has understood it to be his task to ward off in order to remain alone, for if there is to be a halt, it is easy to see that the fewer the personnel used for bringing about a halt, the better the task will be done.
Well, well, this will be something for the assistant professors once I am dead. Those infamous rascals! And yet it is futile, even if this, too, is printed and read again and again, it is still futile. — The assistant professors will still make something profitable out of me, will teach directly, perhaps adding: The singular character of this is that it cannot be taught directly.
The real plebians are recognisable as men who are unfit for anything else than to be spectators, who stand and stare and gape or who at most are devoid of character, foolishly wanting to be included in the crowd — to whom it never occurs to want to be themselves the ones who act as individuals in a higher sense.
The Berlingske Tidende's Review of Martensen's Episcopal Ordination Sermon
When one orders, for example, a four-dollar Christmas cake from a baker, one gets not only a much larger cake than one costing one dollar, but the baker feels that at that price he ought to use the best quality butter, many spices, etc.; therefore if a piece were cut from each of the cakes, the one costing a dollar and the one costing four dollars, a connoisseur, such as a baker, could taste which one was from the four-dollar cake. — When one orders a funeral oration costing twenty-five dollars from a clergyman, one gets not only one which is a good deal longer than a ten- or five-dollar one, but the pastor feels that at that price he ought to use the best quality butter and the most sought-after spices; therefore if one took two full sentences, one from the five-dollar and one from the twenty-five-dollar discourse, and submitted them to a connoisseur (a funeral director, for example), he would promptly detect which one was from the twenty-five-dollar discourse.
So, too, with the Berlingske Tidende's review. When an author advances in civil life, he also advances in merchant Nathanson's critical institute — that is, in the future the criticism of his performances makes use of a better quality butter, or in any case puts the butter on more thickly, so that here again a fine connoisseur, when shown such a review, but without knowing the name of the author being reviewed, would promptly be able to decide the approximate rank of the author from the way it was prepared, from the stylistic flourishes, etc.
Prof. M., as we all know, just became Bishop of Sjælland — immediately he makes a tremendous advance with merchant N. Read this review. There you see what merchant N. is able to do — the finest and most delicate butter — it is the genuine grand style, the kind Mette speaks of when she says to Johan v. Ehrenpreis: Speak in the grand style. It is the genuine official language; thus, if it would not completely disturb the effect in another way, it should be labeled: Made to order.
Protestantism, Especially Grundtvigianism
In every way the point has been reached that what is called Christianity these days is precisely what Christ came to supersede. This is the case in Protestantism, especially among the Grundtvigians.
Strictly speaking, the Grundtvigans are Jews. I pledge myself to prove that they have a Jewish view of marriage to the degree that they not only regard it as permissible, as Christianity teaches (in contrast to celibacy), not merely as αδιαορον — no, they believe that one cannot be a real Christian unless he is married, and further, that a flock of children and numerous progeny are the blessing of God, a token of God's pleasure — completely Jewish.
Furthermore, in place of circumcision they have baptism (also an objectivity), which they appeal to quite as the Jews appeal to circumcision.
Furthermore: a genuine Jewish superstition about lineage.
Furthermore: the delusion of being God's chosen people; either that the Christians (the baptised) are God's chosen people or that the Danes are that.
It is Jewish optimism, the most dangerous kind of Epicureanism, that in which the enjoyment of this life becomes the worship of God.
And this is supposed to be New Testament Christianity.
To deny God by one's deeds.
About My Task
I would be permitted to say what I have to say in any other way whatsoever (philosophic, as an interesting communication, as witty satire, etc.) — and would make a big success — but not with the character of Christian concern. The present generation knows very well that Christianity does not exist at all, but it is afraid to have it said and mean that we should then become Christian.
As far as I am concerned, I in fact leaned originally toward carrying out my task by way of dialectical redoubling, not with the character of Christian concern in the strict sense.
But Governance is also in the play and reserves the right to decide in what interest the task is to be carried out.
Serpens, nisi serpentum comederit, non fit Draco.
Further: a rat is trained to bite rats by eating a rat out of hunger.
The reverse: only a person who is bitten by men becomes an apostle; this belongs in order to qualify his passion; an apostle in direct understanding with men is an impossibility.
It is really abominable. Although I have to put up with living as a caricature, a kind of crazy man, to a whole class of people, I am — but this must not be said — so outstanding to my contemporaries that even while I am alive minor novelists actually use my life to make their writing interesting.
Presumably authors of that sort are jovially waiting for me to make a complete mess, collapse, lose my mind, etc. — in order to write about it immediately.
Really and truly, natural scientists are not wrong in pointing to the depressing fact about nature that everything revolves around one creature's eating the other, but perhaps it is reserved to me to call attention to the far more loathsome sense in which men are maneaters.
Preachers and professors eat the dead. Novelists, writers of romances, and minor authors eat even the living. It never occurs to such a scoundrel that he could assist some greater excellence not to succumb. O, no, even if he could, he owes it to his trade not to do it lest he miss out on a poetic motif and the public's eagerness for just that sort of writing.
It is really Christianity's discovery that the sin of the world or that sin is a double lie: first, the lie of regarding it as madness, untruth, and then the lie of wanting this to be right, to be honored for doing this. It is a lie of the first magnitude: to get earthly advantages through the communication of truth — the next lie is that getting advantages in this way is supposed to be earnestness, is honored as earnestness, as wisdom in contrast to dreams.
The counterfeit of using acorns for coffee is easily detected and is not dangerous.
However, an example of more subtle counterfeiting is to use a portion less of the directed amount of meat for the soup and then substitute some seasoning.
That actually was Mynster's brand of counterfeiting, and it is actually that kind of counterfeiting which is made so much of in just about every age under the name of orthodoxy, whereas it is far more dangerous than all the heresies and schisms.
This Sinful World
This is Christianity's view. Man is a fallen spirit. And just as, for example, in Russia a nobleman who has offended is punished by being put in the army as an ordinary man, so the fallen spirit is punished by being put into the trappings of a slave (the body) and sent to this penitentiary of penance (the world) for the sake of his sins.
But just as the rank and file among whom the nobleman is placed do not notice that it is a punishment but are well satisfied, just so these countless battalions of animal-creatures who lack spirit and among whom the Christian has been placed are very happy and satisfied, find it to be a very nice world, look upon the slave trappings as fancy dress, find it glorious to eat, drink, have a bowel movement, propagate — and just think, mama even got triplets, something the state rewards with a prize, which is just as improper as offering a prize for other bodily functions.
What I am writing here is Christianly so true, so true, and Christianly it has to be said in this way; truly it is high time, for in the name of Christianity all respect for Christianity has been lost on the largest possible scale, and Christianity has been degraded to the lowest paganism.
And yet I can say that what I am writing here is tortured out of me; it is not done intentionally, it is against my will.[*] Alas, I have sympathetically loved men. Generally people who amount to something do not wish to share with others, but that was my life. And my collision came from being unwilling to affiliate egotistically with anyone but, instead, sympathetically loving what it is to be man.
In this manner I went out in the world and got, so to speak, my deserts.
Sad as it is, that is the way it is. Behind the whole thing is a Governance who says: This country is morally corrupt, and as sure as I live they will not escape punishment. For this he will be used ("he" means me). But he will not get off scot-free either, even if he will always have the consolation that I selected him out of love. But he will not go scot-free. In reward for his sympathy, his contemporaries should make his life bitter. That will be good for him, make him tough enough to be rough.
As a rule it is arrogant minds who report to Governance and want to be assigned to shaking things up. Governance cannot use them. No, a sympathetic melancholy disposition is just what guarantees that it is not egotism, and the fact that his contemporaries themselves discipline him by embittering his life is justice's additional solicitude so that what comes will be just exactly what men have deserved.
[*] In margin of previous:
Alas, in an earlier period I felt all too deeply the pain that it was made impossible for me to enjoy life, this beautiful human life. The effect on Richard III was that he decided to make life bitter for others. Not so with me: I intended to conceal my suffering and then make life beautiful for others — who has described marriage and all these aspects of human existence more beautifully, more charmingly, than I? And then it is men who repay me by embittering my life and thereby, to be sure, bring me farther and farther into Christianity. And then there finally comes a moment when Christianity seems to say to me: My little friend, it was out of love for you that it was made impossible for you to enjoy life. But this had to be hidden from your eyes until you could cope with and bear Christianity, which has a completely different view of this life.
How childish to be duped by such a thing — alas, how true what Socrates said: Now that I have become seventy years old, it seems to me that I ought not embellish my style like a school boy. Although it very seldom occurs to me now, it may awaken, wistfully, my old urge to find delight in word-forms. As a prose writer I believe that simply with word-forms I am able to achieve effects which the poet cannot exceed in truth and beauty.
Let me take as example (and this is the very example which intruded itself upon me today and spoke so beautifully for itself that it actually has gotten me to take pen in hand for the sake of such a childish thing — let me take an in-and-for-itself pregnant thought: Everything disappoints, the hope or — that hoped for. [In margin: The sentence itself — the hope disappoints, or that thing hoped for — is by Schopenhauer.] Already there is form here, for the dash is form. But perhaps the thought is expressed too compactly; therefore let the thought express itself in such a way that it becomes a somewhat longer sentence and then a linguistic equation: Everything disappoints: the hope, what is hoped for does not come, or what is hoped for does come — and disappoints. [*]
Sometimes I have been able to sit for hours enamored with the sound of words, that is, when they have the ring of pregnant thought; I have been able to sit for hours like a flutist entertaining himself with his flute. Most of what I write is spoken aloud many times, frequently perhaps a dozen times; it is heard before it is written down. [+] In my case my sentence construction could be called a world of recollection, so much have I lived and enjoyed and experienced in this coming into existence of ideas and their seeking until they found form or, even though in a certain sense they most often found it at once, until every detail, even the slightest, was fitted in (for work on the style was actually a later task — anyone who actually has thoughts also has spontaneous form) so that the thought could feel, as we say, altogether suitably accommodated in the form.
— and then the Danish reading public! What has happened is so true, so true, and so characteristic — my contemporaries have occupied themselves primarily with the way I dress; this is the aspect of me they have understood best. On this point my contemporaries might say regarding me: They chose the better part. I am not complaining, in one sense I owe very much to the crudeness of the age; moreover, I think my experience would have been the same in any age.
[*] In margin of previous:
The sentence that hope disappoints is a totally ordinary remark; what must be accentuated is the next sentence. Think of a person who has passionately experienced that hope disappoints — this very word-form will either appeal to his passion or bore him. When he hears the first part (hope disappoints) he will get impatient and think: Are we going to hear that rubbish again; but then the form of the next sentence will completely satisfy him.
[+] In margin of previous :
In other sense most of what I have written has been written currente calamo, as they say, but that comes from my getting everything ready as I walk.
The Collision of Human Existence
There is a complete, qualitative difference between being spirit-man and merely animal-man.
But physically there is nothing to see in this distinction.
The collision resides in the fact that animal-man rushes in upon spirit-man or is set upon him. If I were to talk in Greek fashion about it, I would have to say that this spectacle amuses the gods in the same way hunting with hounds amuses men. Basically it is also more amusing because that around which everything revolves is physically a nothing. Viewed as hunting with hounds, this battle is also more ambitious than such a hunt usually is, for of what avail are a few hundred hounds compared to legions of animal-men.
Christianly the matter has to be viewed differently. Christianly this collision is the education of the spirit-man, his examination, also his mission, inasmuch as he has the additional task to witness that man is spirit, all of which becomes more and more necessary and also more and more strenuous because of the mounting refined bestiality during the course of hundreds of years.
The Grand Retort
The words "Here is the man" ["See hvilket Menneske," literally, "See, what a man"] are really the human race's judgment upon itself, the expression for its being prostituted.
Remarkably enough, just as in the different nuances of the Passion story there are to be found one or more suggestive and characteristic expressions for the abominable, the shocking, the cruel, the inhumane, etc. act committed here, if these words "See, what a man" were not there, there would be missing an expression for the fact that the human race, on top of everything else, is also guilty of prostituting itself.
The God-man had never lost patience and turned the relationship about, saying, "I am absolutely not in the human race with you." No, he continued to express that he was in the same human race with them.
But then the family of man could not restrain itself and declared: You are not related to us — see, what a man. The God-man wants to show what it is to be a man, wants to elevate man into relationship with God; the family of man thinks it understands the thing better and declares itself not to be related to him.
This is the prostitution of the human race; in this very instant the family of man is debased beneath what it is to be a man and is essentially animal. A humorist would say that poetic justic requires that man, in memory of the event, be decorated with a tail, and he must insist that this tail stand perpendicularly from the body in such a way that it would be impossible for any tailer's skill to hide it, and also that it could not be chopped off inasmuch as it would have the remarkable capacity of immediately growing out again.
Augustine has nevertheless done incalculable harm. The whole system of doctrine through the centuries relies essentially upon him — and he has confused the concept of "faith."
Quite simply, Augustine has reinstated the Platonic-Aristotelian definition, the whole Greek philosophical pagan definition of faith — and thus he has aided Christianity in about the same way as Saxo Grammaticus, according to Peer Degn's explanation, enriched the Latin language by, for example, bringing in such words as: a dun horse [en blakket Hest], equus blakkatus.
In the Greek view, faith is a concept which belongs to the sphere of the intellectual (it is all splendidly presented, especially in Plato's Republic; however, Aristotle's Rhetoric also deserves notice). Thus faith is related to probability, and we get the progression: faith — knowledge.
Christianly, faith is at home in the existential [Existentielle] — God has not made his appearance in the character of an assistant professor who has a few axioms which one must first believe and afterward understand.
No, "faith" is at home and has its place in the existential and forever has nothing to do with the comparative or the superlative in requiring knowledge.
Faith is the expression for the personality's relationship to personality.
Personality is not a sum of axioms nor is it an immediate accessibility; personality is a bending-into-itself, a clausum, a αδυτον, a µυστηριον; personality is the "in-there", because of which the word persona (personare) is suggestive, the in-there to which one, himself a personality, must relate himself believingly. Between personality and personality no other relationship is possible. Consider the two most passionate lovers who have ever lived, whether or not they are, as it is said, one soul in two bodies — nonetheless it can never go beyond one person's believing that the other loves him or her.
In this purely personal relationship between God as personality and the believer as existing personality lies the concept of faith.
But already at the time of Augustine, Christianity was much too much at rest, had leisure to enable the scientific or scholarly to rise — with its conceited and misunderstood importance — and then we get pagan philosophy — and this is supposed to be Christian progress....
In margin: Therefore the obedience of faith (i.e., Romans 1:5) is the apostolic expression; then faith is oriented toward will, personality, not toward intellectuality.
The Public — The Daily Press
Goldschmidt stated someplace in Nord og Syd that if a paper such as The Corsair had a sufficient public, it was thereby justified.
Charming! Consequently the public says: We have no responsibility, no guilt; for we are not the ones who write it. G. says: I have no responsibility, for if there is a sufficient public — then etc.
Incidentally, the lines are just as I would have them. They express the sophistry that numbers determine concepts; there is nothing in and for itself, everything is relative, numbers decide the outcome.
But suppose it were utilised this way: If a sufficient public (number) regard stealing as permissible, or if stealing had a sufficient public (number), then it is eo ipso justified. And, after all, one would have the same right to do so, for why should stealing in and for itself be more of a sin than slander, character assassination by means of the press — and furthermore there is, after all, nothing in and for itself; numbers determine the outcome etc.
But the fact is that this cannot easily happen, because the great, great majority of people own a little something and thus are not interested in getting that position established or, as G. says, it cannot get a sufficient public.
It is different with journalistic villainy. Generally speaking, it can be used only against those who in one way or another are somebody, are prominent, for only they can be sniped at. The overwhelming majority are thousands who are nobodies, those lucky people — in our day the only privileged ones — those thousands whom the press cannot attack because they are nobodies and are of no interest to others.
Therefore to these thousands and thousands the press seems a great good — in fact, it is designed to serve their envy without any likelihood of their suffering from it or becoming victimised themselves. That is why journalistic villainy will always have a sufficient public.
This matter of the press is the deepest degradation of the human race, for it encourages revolt from below; a monstrous weapon has been invented that is designed and intended to kill everything that amounts to something, so that only the nobodies are safe; these are by far the most numerous — and thus "the mass" (the evil principle) is installed as the real sovereign.
Are a thousand women disguised as men a thousand men?
Likewise all Christendom is a disguise — but Christianity does not exist at all [er slet ikke til].
A Picture of a Strenuous Life
To be a secret police agent in the context of regular policemen who are policemen can be strenuous enough. But to be a secret police agent in the context of regular policemen who are thieves — how terribly strenuous!
In one sense it is dreadful, almost fatal, to be the extraordinary under the polemical conditions of the Christian extraordinary. Not merely that it is the greatest possible, an almost superhuman, strain, but this relation of opposition to others and the dimensions of that opposition are almost fatal to all merely human sympathy.
That is why I have steadfastly — sympathy is my passion — desired only to point out the extraordinary.
I recall the words of the dying Paul Møller, which he often said to me while he lived and which, if I remember correctly, he enjoined Sibbern to repeat to me (and in addition the words: Tell the little Kierkegaard that he should be careful not to lay out too big a plan of study, for that has been very detrimental to me): You are so thoroughly polemical that it is quite appalling.[*]
Although I am so polemical and was so even in my youth, still Christianity is almost too polemical for me.
[*] In margin of previous:
I cannot remember exactly whether the dying P.M. enjoined Sibbern to say those words to me (You are so thoroughly polemical, etc.), and I am almost inclined to doubt it. But I remember very well the other words he asked S. to tell me the last time he spoke with him before his death. As for the first words (You are so thoroughly polemical), that is what he always said to me while he was living, and S., too, has used them against me several times afterward.
Slight, slender, and frail and, compared to others, with practically none of the physical qualifications making for a whole man, melancholy, sick at heart, profoundly and inwardly ravaged in various ways, I nevertheless was given one thing: eminent sagacity, presumably to keep me from being completely worthless.
Already as a young lad I was aware of my intellectual gifts and that they constituted my power over these far stronger companions.
It was precisely sagacity that had to be worked against. Presumably this is why I, who have my work in this area, was equipped with tremendous sagacity.
Alas, but in a certain self-seeking sense I have not had great joy in this power of mine. For this power of mine has been so taken over for religious purposes that by means of more ideal passions and by becoming aware of what Christianity is I saw that the law for the religious is to act against sagacity.
As far as that goes, I am still worthless and weak, for this my power is not used to attain what sagacity usually attains.
But this is precisely why I can also be the preparatory functionary in the area of the religious. I have far, far more sagacity, far, far more resourcefulness than the most sagacious, resourceful person I have known among my contemporaries — ah, but in a certain sense I have all this to make me, humanly speaking, unhappy, make my life difficult, troublesome, and embittered.
But what I have to do I can in fact do; I can obstruct and bring things to a standstill; there is no one alive so cunning and clever that he can devise something so ingenious that my detective eye does not promptly detect it and which my sagacity cannot promptly expose as a trick.
That is why I was so profoundly exasperating to the late Bishop, who undeniably in a finite and self-seeking sense was very sagacious, for he never could understand my sagacity; it never occurred to him to deny that I was sagacious, but the use I made of my sagacity was incomprehensible to him. In fact, I understood the law for his sagacity, but he did not understand the law for mine.
Incidentally, this alone makes it understandable that I must live in the most complete solitariness, for even if I did get someone to understand my sagacity, I would get no one to understand my use of it. Anyone who undertakes to understand me and my life promptly interprets me one exponent lower, does not notice that all the collisions of my life are one exponent higher than those of men generally, that they are voluntarily self-instigated by religiously acting against sagacity, by religiously working against myself. As far as that goes, it is extremely painful for me if anyone takes it upon himself to console me — for he utterly fails to understand the issue. There is a world of difference between these two: someone who happens to be ridiculed against his will and someone who voluntarily demands it of those who idolised him, between someone who despite all effort does not amount to anything in the world and someone who systematically prevents himself from amounting to anything in the world, etc. And worse than all the unpleasantness and nonsense and ruckus and mistreatment, much worse, is the torment of being consoled by someone who utterly misses the point in one's life, especially when this point is so determinative that it makes such a human existence an extreme rarity. I was superior to my contemporaries to an unusual degree. I voluntarily exposed myself to mistreatment — and after eight years of this I am presumed to be so weakened that the original qualifying factor may be forgotten now and to be on equal footing with what is seen every day — someone who is trying in vain to make a success in this world. No, poor, miserable market town, no, it will not work. In the interest of truth I have taken care to assemble the various egotisms of the present age in such a way that the truth surely will come to light without my deriving any profit from it, which does not happen to be my aim anyway. But one thing is sure, my report will read that the basest of all is still mediocrity, the most profound damnation is mediocrity — alas, any crime is far preferable to this self-satisfied, smiling, cheerful, blissful demoralisation: mediocrity.
In this world of temporality and sensuousness and, as Christianity teaches, in this world of sin, the idea can actually be only in suffering.
Only once has the idea been unconditional, in Christ; his life was therefore unconditional, absolute suffering.
Oddly and suspiciously enough, there is a great clamor these days against blasé satiation.
But just look at the actual source of the noise, it actually comes from the self-indulging secular Epicureanism which then wants to declare Christianity to be first and foremost the most dreadful dullness.
As a matter of fact, Epicureanism detects that the shoe pinches, that there is a disintegrating which threatens to disturb the whole dunghill — so it raises a hue and cry about blasé satiation. And to be sure there is much that is nothing but blasé satiation, but it can also be the crisis for Christianity, a breakthrough.
Predicate-less Being [Væren]
Jehovah says: I am who I am; I am. This is the supreme being.
But to be in this way is too exalted for us human beings, much too earnest. Therefore we must try to become something; to be something is easier.
Roguish, as everything related to humanity is, we express it in this way: earnestness is to be something.
Most men, or at least almost everyone, would die of anxiety about himself if his being should be — a tautology; they are more anxious about this kind of being and about themselves than about seeing themselves. So their situation is mitigated. The alleviation might be, for example: I am Chancellor, Knight of Denmark, member of the Cavalry Purchasing Commission, Alderman, Director of the Club. In a deeper sense all this is — diversion. But, to repeat, man is probably not able to bear true earnestness. What I am inveighing against is merely this lying, this making diversion into earnestness. And yet perhaps I am wrong here, too; for generally men would never be able to last it out if they weren't permitted to live in the illusion that this is earnestness; they would die of anxiety about life and about themselves at the mere thought that their earnestness is diversion, without, however, being deprived of this diversion.
But no doubt all these numerous predicates are actually diversions, distractions, which prevent a man from the deepest impression of this to be. And how infinitely far men now are from being able to bear the actual impression of earnestness is best seen from the fact that they have even made this predicative being into — Christianity. Nowadays men's inability to bear life's earnestness has gone so far that they must even be permitted to delude themselves that diversion is — Christianity.
A Picture of Modern Christianity, Especially in Protestantism, Especially in Denmark Imagine a country where generally everybody is able to swim — but swimming is understood to mean putting on a life-jacket or tube and then going through the motions of swimming. That is called swimming — and a good deal of attention is paid to who can — as they say — swim the best, make the most beautiful motions, etc. — — — If a swimmer came to such a country, would he not say: You are not swimming at all; this whole business of determining who makes the most beautiful motions is pure nonsense, for not a one of them is swimming.
Similarly when Christianity is preached throughout the whole country by state-appointed officials who make it a livelihood and a career — when the assumption is made that Christianity exists and attention is fixed on who is the greatest orator etc. — is this not nonsense, since Christianity simply does not exist.
The one who demolishes Grecian spontaneous esthetic beauty — Socrates — is the son of — a sculptor and a midwife.
The Corruption of Christianity
I dare claim a priori that this corruption is without analogy in the history of religion: the corruption consists in this — that Christianity continues to survive after it has been made into the opposite of what it is to be Christian (especially in Protestantism, especially in Denmark). Furthermore, there is inherent in this kind of corruption and in the fact that it is exclusively Christian an indirect expression of respect for the fact that Christianity is the true religion. They do not dare abolish it; neither do the preachers ridicule it privately while they recite it to the people — no, they sneakily make it into something else, something opposite; with all their might they strive to delude themselves that this is Christianity — to this extent they have real respect for Christianity.
Christendom's 1,800 Years
What if providence thought as follows: I have now established Christianity — from now on it is turned over to men; I send no one to represent it in the divine interest; I want to see how men manage it and what becomes of it. And God, who in love is infinitely concerned for each and every individual, in another sense majestically squanders millions and centuries of time.
This accounts for the fact that in the course of 1,800 years since the time of the apostles there is no one to be found who really represents Christianity in God's interest, hating being a man, hating himself, and in this hate loving God, unconditionally serving the unconditional; on the contrary there is great human integrity — but always in the direction of human interests.
This can be linked with Christ's words: When I come again, I wonder if I shall find faith on earth.
What if this were providence's idea — to use 1,800 years to look things over — and not until the maximum confusion is reached, not until then to interfere by again raising up individuals who in God's power and might express Christianity in the interest of God.
The Way Must Be Changed
These words are a stock phrase for my pseudonyms — and strangely enough, they are also entirely appropriate to the meaning of my whole life. There actually is nothing I have touched on that does not bear the secret label with respect to the given: the way must be changed. And in one phrase what is my significance with regard to Christianity, what else but: the way must be changed.
The New Testament
A young girl "16 summers old" — it is her confirmation day. Among various elegant and beautiful gifts she also receives a beautifully bound New Testament.
Look, this is what they call Christianity! Actually they do not expect her to read it, not any more than the others, of course, or read it in any primitive way. She receives this book as a consolation in her life: Here you will find consolation if you should need it. Of course they do not expect her to read it, no more than the other young girls, and above all not primitively, otherwise she would discover that here are all the terrors, compared to which the ordinary terrors found in the world are almost a jest.
But look, this is Christianity. And this, too, is Christianity, this foolishness with Bible societies which distribute New Testaments by the millions.
No, I could be tempted to make another proposal to Christendom. Let us collect all the New Testaments there are and bring them out to an open place or up on a mountain and then, while we all kneel, let someone talk to God in this manner: Take this book back again. We human beings, such as we are, are not fit to involve ourselves with such a thing; it only makes us unhappy. I suggest that we, like those inhabitants (Matt. 8:34), beg Christ "to leave the neighbourhood." This would be honest and human talk — something different from this nauseating, hypocritical preacher-prattle about life being worthless to us without this priceless good, which is Christianity.
The Examination and Judgment of Existence
The question which existence puts to men, if you will, and to which the respective answers divide men into two qualitatively different classes (animal and those related to the divine) is: Do you desire that any one human being should be martyred in every possible anguish so that you can enjoy yourself materially; or are you willing to be sacrificed for others?
He who answers the first question with a "yes" is eo ipso an animal. This is just as bestial as Ole Kollerød's sitting at the table and eating with the knife which he used to murder another man. It is animalistic to feed upon and to want to live off another man's anguish and sufferings. This is the enormous mass of perdition. To be sure, this mass is always frightfully huge, but the false teachers are largely responsible for the fact that it is as large as it is.
The second class of men answers "no" to this question. And now it is put to them: Are you yourself willing to be sacrificed for others?"
If anyone is unconditionally willing to do this, happily assured that it is out of love that God demands it of him — he is really of the family of God.
But if someone is not so strong that he is willing to be sacrificed for others in this manner, with the top speed of enthusiasm, nevertheless, if there is a willingness in him, then God assuredly helps him to become sacrificed.
If one were to put to a better man the question: Are you willing that another man in all possible anguish be sacrificed for you, he has to answer: If this in any way determines my salvation and blessedness, I accept it, but then I must declare that this other person is completely different from me, qualitatively different from me. I must worship him as superhuman being.
So it is in respect to the God-man.
Analogically to the God-man, even though inferior, the apostles were sacrificed, thus becoming witnesses of the truth. Here Catholicism has in a certain sense been right in wanting to worship the saints, for a saint is a qualitative step superior to someone who is willing to live materially well on another's sacrifice.
Protestantism is the coarsest and most brutal plebeianism. People do not want to know of any qualitative difference between apostles, witnesses of the truth, and themselves, even though someone's existence is completely different from theirs, as different as being eaten is from eating.
With respect to the fact that the God-man is the sacrifice of atonement, it must be remembered that he always demands imitation, so that he does not bear the guilt for this beastly villainy that one person has to be martyred in order that others eat and drink, beget children, etc.; and materially enjoy this life.
Man is a synthesis. He is an animal, but there is also a possibility of something divine in him. The answer to this question: Are you willing that another man in all possible anguish be sacrificed in order that you can materially have it good, makes it obvious whether the man concerned is animal or is in family-relationship with the divine.
How animalistic and what a mistake when there lives a man who one realizes is actually being sacrificed for an idea — and then to want to have pity on him and congratulate oneself on not being sacrificed in this way. It is animalistic not to feel oneself called to imitate him, witness for him, fight for him, suffer with him — for the idea. And the pity is a mistake; for since the condition of salvation is bound up with being sacrificed, then he is still the one who draws the longer straw.
A Genteel Villainy
Precisely among the most cultured and cultivated of my contemporaries there are some who perceive very well that the rabble persecution and mistreatment I suffer is a mark of my distinction, that I not only am right but that I will also become a celebrity because of it. They are so cultured and cultivated that they see this — and that is why they take part in the ridicule and nonsense and vileness.
Besides being helped by a far higher source, I am helped among other ways by my fortunate objective passion for sleuthing, the fact that I can completely forget that I am the victim if only I can make a psychological detective discovery.
An objective passion like that is of great help. For example, if someone who is being verbally abused has a similar objective passion for language so that his predominant interest is in the language being used, what a great help it would be.
If my contemporaries could understand how I suffer, how Governance, if I dare say so, maltreats me, I am sure they would be so profoundly shaken that human sympathy would try to wrench me away from Governance (as sometimes is done on behalf of a child mistreated by the parents).
But this is a misunderstanding. For I rest in the conviction that it is out of love, yes, out of love that you do this, O Infinite Love! I know that in your love you suffer more than I suffer, O Infinite Love — even though you cannot for that reason be changed.
But my contemporaries cannot understand this. Even if I were to speak, they could not understand it — even if I were to speak. But as a precautionary measure things are well arranged so I really cannot speak, because I understand that things are so arranged that those to whom I would have to speak would be unable to understand it — a new cruelty, my contemporaries might say, if they could understand it.
Like those in the ox of Phalaris, whose screams sounded like music — those whom God uses are confined in an even worse way — for all their suffering is always taken by their contemporaries to be arrogance, which means that the contemporaries find joy in bringing more sufferings upon them — because of their arrogance.
But so it must be, O Infinite Love. If a man like that could make himself understood — and then in a weak moment forgot himself and talked out of school: what irreparable loss. That is why, O Infinite Love, you take care to keep such a thing from happening.
I was granted a gift, and in such proportions that I may call it genius — this is my gift of being able to converse and talk with any man.
This happy gift was granted to me to hide the fact that I am unquestionably the most silent man in the present age.
Silence concealed in silence is suspect, arouses suspicion; it is almost as if a person betrayed something, at least he betrays that he is silent. But silence concealed in a most striking talent for conversation — that, now, is real silence.
Every human being is by nature intended for primitivity, since primitivity is the possibility of "spirit" — God, who has done it, knows this best.
All worldly, temporal, secular cleverness is a murdering of one's primitivity; Christianity means to follow one's primitivity.
Murder your primitivity and materially you will get on very well in the world, perhaps even make a hit — but the eternal rejects you. Follow your primitivity, and you will be shipwrecked in the temporal, but the eternal accepts you.
In margin of previous:
By primitivity Christianity naturally does not mean all this intellectual ostentation of being a genius, etc. No, primitivity, spirit, is — first of all, first, first to identify one's life with the kingdom of God. The more literally a man is able to do this, acting, the more primitivity.
He who has not suffered under the bestiality of man does not become spirit. Man is of such an intende nature [saaledes...lagt an] that the kind of suffering which is predominantly the suffering "from men" is part of becoming spirit.
In margin of previous:
Every man is a synthesis, is animal-spirit. In order to get the animal rightly knocked out of him, the person who is to become spirit needs the suffering of being treated bestially by men.
And when I am dead, how busy all the assistant professors will be stripping me and mine, what competition to say the same thing, if possible, in more beautiful language — as if that were what matters.
How ludicrous an assistant professor is! We all laugh when a Mad Meyer tugs at a huge boulder which he believes is money — but the assistant professor goes around proudly, proud of his knowledge, and no one laughs. And yet that is just as ludicrous — to be proud of the knowledge by which a man dupes himself eternally.
Yes, you assistant professor, of all the loathsome inhumans the most loathsome, you may very well manage to say the same thing as the religious person has said, perhaps in even more beautiful language, you also may manage to reap worldly advantages with your shrewdness, yes, even honor and esteem such as the authentically religious person never won in this life — but you are duped eternally.
I do not write this as if it could occur to me to hope to convert an assistant professor. How can I hope to influence a person whom Christ's utterances against the Pharisees and against pontificating cannot frighten. Here the verse applies: They have Moses and the prophets; if they do not believe them, then neither will they believe etc.
"Close the Cover"
So it says in an old hymn. Close the cover, that is, of the coffin, close it tight, really tight, so that I can really be at peace, well hidden, like a child who is so exceedingly happy when he has found a good hiding place.
Close the cover, close it tight — for I am not lying in the coffin, no, what lies there is not I but what I so very much desire to be rid of, this body of sin, the whole apparatus of the prison I have had to bear.
It is all too true what people, the practical people, say about me: that I am no good for anything, that I am an utterly impractical man, totally out of place in this practical world.
Alas, yes, I am good for only one thing — and for this I perhaps have an eminent genius — I am only good for loving. Therefore I am completely superfluous, a sheer luxury item in this practical world, yes, maybe even a luxury item that is in the way to boot — so it may end with my getting kicked out of this world.
But love I can! You women, come to me, or to say the same thing in another way, do not come to me. How good are you for loving, you maidens and madams of this miserable generation. No, I am good for loving, and if this were my only genius — it was raised to the second power — concealed in the incognito that I was the most selfish of all men.
Yes, for loving, that was the only thing I was good for. An object, just an object! But just as the archer whose bow is strung unusually taut has to ask that an object placed at a distance of ten feet for him to shoot at be placed at a distance of 150 or 200 yards, so it was for me. In order to love I had to place the object at a distance!
That was the school in which I was more and more perfected in my one and only genius — to love.
An object, therefore, an object! That was what I looked for and sought.
And then I found it! For you, you, you Eternal Love, you fabulously wealthy one, like all rich men you of course have no need for indispensable articles but, like all rich men, have use only for luxury articles. So you found use for me. In fact, I was the officially acknowledged luxury article in this practical world. You found use for me — and I found the object.
So let the practical age in which I live asininely preoccupy itself with my trousers; let a trumpeting future preoccupy itself just as asininely with my ideas and books. I have found what I was looking for.
I have found it. "Sure enough," as they say, "but on the mayor's table," meaning that there is something shady about having "found" it. Well, I admit it all right; you, O God, helped me both to seek and to find.
I am solitary and alone, I cannot hope to be understood: the young are too young, the old are too stodgy — or, as the beloved poet of incomparable language has the girl say incomparably of her suitors: "The one is too young to break my wreath, the other too heavy to enter my dance" — except that it does not end for me as for the girl — that I take the third one — no, there was no third one.
Christianity (the Authority)
This is the way Christianity came into the world: it was substantiated by authority, its divine authority; consequently the authority is higher.
Now for a long time the relationship has been reversed: men seek on rational grounds to demonstrate, to substantiate the authority.
And yet this is supposed to be the same religion.
This is the way it was when Christianity came into the world: for a long time mankind had despaired of making anything out of this existence [Tilværelse], despaired of finding the truth — then came Christianity with divine authority.
Augustine, for example, always turns the whole matter in such a way that the perfection in Christianity is precisely the authority, that Christianity has truth in its most perfect form, the authority, that if one could have the same truth without authority it would be less perfect, for it is precisely the authority which is the perfection. Alas, even Augustine had learned what it is men need: authority, which is precisely what the race, weary of philosophers' doubt and the wretchedness of life, had learned through the entry of Christianity into the world.
Now the situation is turned in this way — a so-called philosophical Christianity finds that authority itself is imperfection, is at most something for the plebians, that perfection is to get rid of it — to recover the situation as it was before Christianity came into the world.
And theology seeks to substantiate Christianity's authority, to give reasons for it, that is, even worse than any attacker, theology indirectly confesses that it is not authority.
This is the way the situation has been for a long time, from generation to generation — and everything goes along charmingly: students become theological graduates, graduates become pastors or professors, get married, beget children for Christianity, careers are assured in the best manner! O, disgusting!
What they now call Christianity is actually nothing else than making a fool of God.
Ah, but this again is so horrifying to me — will eternity actually discard these generations and millions of people as eternally lost.
The Difficulty of My Task
Everything, everything I see around me — but forget it, such things should not concern me — yet everything, everything I have read and heard about (Socrates the only exception, and in Christianity Jesus Christ, for the apostle does not constitute an exception) has constantly construed the task thus: one has something called a cause, or one has a cause in a great, exalted, and profound sense.
So the task, the goal striven for, is to get men interested in it, to win them to it, to get them to participate, etc. To that end, if I may say so, every sinew, every muscle is strained, or every sail is spread.
This, then, is the task. However, the one striving this way does not at the same time have an equally strong idea that men's interest, participation, etc. are something dubious, are the sure way to travesty, foolishness, and lack of character, that with regard to ideality the participation of men does not increase it, preserve it — no, but rather corrodes it and converts it into meaninglessness, travesty, etc.
It goes like this. One who strives in this way works with all his might to win the support of men — years later (10, 20, or, in proportion to the energy he puts forth, 50, 100, 200 years) history reveals quite plainly the truth that human support is the way to get ideality destroyed, converted to foolishness and nonsense.
But that striving individual did not have this consciousness when he began. No one, not one of those about whom I have read had at the beginning this perspectival consciousness of what usually comes to light only later with history.
In other words, all the people I have read about (Socrates is the only exception) had only an immediate consciousness of their task, not a reflected consciousness, only an immediate enthusiasm, not a reflected enthusiasm: they stood at the beginning. — History then taught us the end of the story: Socrates knew the end of the story when he stood at the beginning — he begins there.
But when this is so, the task is (O Socrates!) strenuous to the second power. That kind of reflected consciousness would kill a merely spontaneous enthusiast, so he would not decide to do anything at all. With loving concern the knowledge of what the end will be is hidden from the eyes of the immediate enthusiast. If he could see the end, his enthusiasm will die.
How appallingly strenuous: at the same time that the task is to relate to men, to be on a divine errand — as Socrates understood his life — and then at the same time to have to guard against men, because one knows as surely as history has ever revealed it with respect to the striving of any long deceased enthusiast that the participation of men is the way to travesty. Alas, yes, so it is; just as every day he lives a man comes one step closer to death (for death is surely certain), so for every man whose participation is won, travesty comes one step closer — travesty, this certainty that is waiting for every ideality.
But when I think of myself I sometimes can become completely anxious and fearful for myself: where does a young man get a consciousness which would seem to take a long, long life to acquire — that is, if it is acquired that way. "How did he happen to begin?" is the question my pseudonyms constantly raised with reference to the extraordinaries in order to learn something of them. As for me, how did I happen to begin? How sad — as I so often had to say of myself in my younger days — alas, I was never young. When I was a youth I was a thousand years older than an old man! Likewise I must also sadly say of myself: I have never actually been a man! I have never craved social life or had a spontaneous faith in men — and yet (this could be called a contradiction!) yet I am an enthusiast, yes, truly an enthusiast.
If I were a spontaneous, immediate enthusiast, if I simply had a straightforward task, not a reflected task, what an excellent position my cause would now be in; everything is as favorable as possible to win the support of men.
Look, the Minister of Culture likes me; Martensen has become Bishop and he feels strongly that he has been favored as a protégé and has a difficult position — all this disposes him to make everything as easy as possible for me. The attitude among the people is favorable to me, yes, essentially very favorable, because the very fact that I have allowed myself to be ridiculed etc. is beginning to change things for me and to benefit me. As always, in order to bestow its favors on a person properly, the public first of all needs to be allowed to do him wrong. Then, too, in the same vein Martensen's appointment is also advantageous to me, because there is a disposition to let me benefit from being a nobody, from having worked gratis, etc. — that is, I would be able to evoke pathos here.
But when the task is reduplicated, then all this is only an added strain inasmuch as it must be rejected.
No, I have never actually been a man. And there is something inhuman, if you please, in this as well: a young man who — and this idea goes back to my early days — has the idea: there are men whose destiny is to be sacrificed for the others.
To Love God Is to Hate What Is Human
The human is the relative, the mediocre. Men are at home only in mediocrity. God is the unconditioned. To love God is, then, impossible without hating what is human.
But this hate of the human which Christianity refers to is not something original in any man. No, the baseness and wretchedness of men force it out of one who originally loved men and in a sense continues to love them, that is, in the idea, according to the eternal, but not in the sense of his letting himself be won over to mediocrity.
Sometimes we see a person who is happy and is inclined to what we call loving men. The great rarity, as in my case, is the man who is unhappy and sees that he has to be reconciled to it and then believes that he should be able to help others.
This was my case. But the wretchedness and abjectness of men, which cravenly rewarded my sad, sympathetic desire to help them, taught me, forced me, to seek a closer and closer relationship to God, made it impossible for me to survive without coming to grips with the essentially Christian principle: to love God in contrast to men. I see very well the hand of Governance in this, and Governance must be acceded to in this: it will have its ideas advance, and it knows how to direct.
But this Christian hatred of men is anything but what is usually understood by misanthropy, wishing them ill etc.; no, it is loving them in the idea, ultimately wishing them well.
Alas, I have been endowed with the eminent intellectuality of a genius, but I am anything but what might be called a holy man, and anything but one of those deep original religious natures; and an apostle existentially stands a whole quality higher, but in eternity men are ranked existentially.
This is why I feel like a child when I contrast myself to an apostle or even to a figure like Socrates, despite my knowing very well what intellectuality I have compared to that of an apostle, who does not exactly excel intellectually, whereas he existentially stands above Socrates.
I feel like a child. And again on this point an expert would quickly perceive which sphere I belong to, that I belong in the sphere of the geniuses (which at best can be called second rank, and strictly speaking, third rank. Yet there is so much of the existential in me that it cannot be denied that I nevertheless may be said to have suffered for the idea). This belongs to the sphere of genius and is connected with or contributes to the mental depression and unhappiness which is inseparable from genius. Genius is a disproportionate composition. Goethe's comment on Hamlet gives a striking picture of the genius: He is an acorn planted in a flower pot. So too the genius: a superabundance without the strength to bear it.
That the North is the less favored part of the world is seen, among other aspects, in the following two: the harsh climate makes impossible the kind of carefree approach to making a living found in the warm countries, where a philosophical ideality is therefore also more easily attained, a philosophical ideality which does not divide a man so that with philosophy he becomes a professor of philosophy and businessman. For another thing, only in the North do we find this pedestrianism which in so many ways warps the feminine nature and poses problems which simply cannot appear in the South — namely, that a woman is a person who is also useful and profitable. Originally it was not so; originally a woman was designed to be a luxury: a companion, an adornment, a decoration. Only in the North does she also have to prove herself useful, and therefore it is also in the North that this question of her emancipation has to arise.
The Sum Total of What I Have Done
And what is the sum total of what I have done? Quite simply, I have injected just a little bit of honesty
It is like finding something on the road — I would not appropriate it but either let it lie or have it advertised. So with my New Testament in hand I have said: There is something wrong about the way in which we are Christians. Therefore I want to report to you, God! If what Christianity promises actually could be attained on the terms offered these days, no one is more gratefully willing to accept it than I. But I want to report to you and inquire if this all hangs together properly.
But that is scarcely allowed in this — honest (Christian!) world. Dishonesty very cleverly (and I admit that in a certain sense it is clever) maintains the position that the safest thing is to pretend it is nothing at all. Well, yes, that is the safest way, after perhaps having prospered in this world, to be rejected eternally. But I admit that what dishonesty does is, it says so itself, the safest way: "It is the safest way. Above all, let us not meddle at this point. At one time, and happily continued through many generations, there was brilliant success in fooling God and, to use the most affable expression, putting a wax nose on him — so let us not be crazy enough to stir up anything now."
What Indirect Mockery of the World!
The attack upon the Savior of the world is made — anonymously. Glory be to the human race!
At one time my condition was such that I had the burden of anguish which I may call my thorn in the flesh: a sorrow, a mental anguish related to my late father, a deep grief related to that beloved girl and everything that was involved. Thus I believed that, compared to the ordinary man, I might be said to be carrying a heavy burden.
Meanwhile I found so much spiritual and mental joy in my work that even the burden of sorrow over sin still did not force me to call my life one of suffering.
Added to all these earlier things, I now have the burden of financial concern and mistreatment by the rabble.
Without falsifying or muddling the concept, I may say that my life is a kind of martyrdom, but of a new type. What I as a public person am suffering is best described as a slow death, like being trampled to death by geese, or like pettiness's painful method of execution used in distant lands: being cast to the insects, and the offender is first smeared with honey to whet the insects' appetite — and in the same way my reputation is the honey which really whets the insects' appetite.
Only let it come, the auditing of history — everything is all right, and this includes the fact that this did not just happen, but I voluntarily exposed myself to it.
If I would start a movement, form a party, etc., gather numbers — then I would be regarded as being a power. Well, good night! But I still would not be understood. Actually my life is one of the most profound satires on this generation: an altogether solitary man, apparently so weak externally that he scarcely exists — and then an initiation into the secrets of life such as is rarely found, and then only after a long period of time will I really be understood, although I do not mean that men will have become better or different than they are now.
But the satire consists precisely in this that such a little dot has been present, a dot whose influence will prompt a latter generation to reconstruct my life fantastically, rewrite it in order to be able to explain its influence, for the world will always be just as shrewd.
The intensive is always related ironically to the extensive — something along the line of the saying: "Der Eine hat den Beutel und der Andrew hat das Geld." Extensity is an enormous mechanism — and intensity, well, the smaller the extensity into which it can be squeezed, the greater the irony. Extensity spreads and sprawls with great complacency — it generally spreads to such a degree that intensity is not permitted to slip in at all with even as much as a little bit of a dot — the situation is all the more ironic — imagine the irony inherent in a huge audience, one so huge that the speaker could not get in the door and could not manage to give his speech at all.
At every moment of actuality, extensity is an enormous mechanism — it does not detect, it has no intimation that it essentially is all played out, that a little dot is to be seen — a dot, yes, esteemed public, a little dot is to be seen. But if it is ludicrous for actors to go on acting after the curtain has fallen, then by rights the given actuality is also ludicrous every time such a dot appears, for the dropping of the curtain means that the comedy is over, and the appearance of the dot signifies that the given actuality is now over and done with. But, as stated, the smaller, the more miniscule this little dot can be, if possible detected only through a microscope, the more ironic it is. The irony consists in the disparity between the extensive and the intensive. There is nothing ironic in routing a given actuality with battalions — that is sensate power against sensate power, therefore homogeneity, proportionality — but a dot! There is nothing ironic in killing a horse by hitting it on the head with a club — the quantity of the sensate force corresponds to the size of the horse. But to kill it by sticking it or pricking it in a particular spot with a sewing needle — there is something ironic in that. To dispose of an actuality in such a way that it is promptly apparent that it is finished — there is nothing ironic in that; what has happened is, after all, apparent. But to dispose of an actuality in such a way that the last thing anyone suspects is that it is over and done with — that is ironic, for what has happened is not apparent. No, esteemed public, what has happened is not apparent. On the contrary, the given actuality seems to be completely unchanged, the whole mechanism is in full operation, all the players as busy as usual. And yet something has happened, but it is not detected; and what has happened is this — a little dot has appeared. It is visible — that is, actuality does not see it, but it is to be seen.
A man's whole life is secularized, his every thought from morning until evening, his waking and dreaming.
In addition he is, of course, a Christian, for he lives, to be sure, in "Christendom."
And in the capacity of being a Christian he is "a stranger and exile in this world."
This is just as ridiculous as savages' making themselves elegant with a single piece of European clothing — for example, the savage who comes on board stark naked except for the epaulets of a general on his shoulders.
The Beginning — the End — the Beginning
The beginning was: There were no Christians at all.
Then all became Christians — and for that reason there are once again no Christians.
That was the end; now we stand at the beginning again.
Alas, no matter how old I am, when thoughts present themselves I am almost like a child who has been given permission to pick fruit in the garden and wants so much that he almost transforms joy into toil and trouble.
is a disguise. All this business about the preachers and professors gives the appearance of being labor for the infinite, but it is finitude, purely and simply like all other trades. It is just the same as when Martin Fredriksen, playing the part of a Russian officer, shows up in fine society — yet without disavowing his borrowed role — but suddenly a policeman becomes aware of him and says: Ha! It's Martin Fredriksen! it is the same with the preachers and professors who are disguised as servants of the infinite and the idea — the police know them immediately and know that they are disguised bacon peddlers and hotel managers.
To want to get someone to help me would turn out to be just as ludicrous as for a darning needle or an awl to want to help do the finest embroidery for which the sharpest English needle would be too blunt — willing enough, perhaps, but not sharp enough.
The Specific Character of Corruption in Christendom
When Christianity entered the world, the depravity against which it had to battle most directly was in the sphere of carnal lusts and cravings, wild unbridled passions, the animality in man.
Then Christianity did enter the world; Christianity was the truth.
The corruption which can follow from this, which is the case with Christendom, is in the nature of the lie.
This corruption, in relation to that which has been corrupted, is far deeper than what held sway before Christianity entered the world. Thus the ensuing corruption always corresponds proportionally to what is introduced. For example, asceticism exists to restrain lusts and the flesh. If there is corruption in which asceticism is instrumental or if there is corruption following on the heels of asceticism, it is not sensual lust but unnatural desires.
But the lie is the specific character of corruption in Christendom. Just as the country constable shudders when he comes to the big city and sees the scale of crime there, so a pagan ethicist would shudder at the grandness of the lie which is Christendom; indeed, a pagan ethicist would not have the instruments to measure the depth of this lie which Christendom is.
And the lie is so habitual, such a state of lying that thousands and thousands are bona fide thoughtlessly lost in the lie.
It is all a lie, and to such an extent that the only way we try to counteract it is to recognize mutually that it is a lie — to such an extent is the lie official.
What was intended as a blessing but which men themselves have transformed into a curse upon them — Christianity — actually makes liars out of them. This terrible lie — that everyone calls himself a Christian and deludes himself and his neighbour into thinking that both of them are Christians.
How deserved, therefore, the mockery over the human race, this nauseating almost daily telegraph-lie. Rejoice, O human race, that you have invented the telegraph; be proud of your discovery which is so appropriate to the times, calculate to lie on the greatest possible scale. Just as the Romans branded slanderers with the letter C, so the telegraph is a brand upon the human race — you liars.
Yes, the lie is the specific character of the corruption in Christendom. Just as in the state of corruption which Christianity found, where raw lusts and passions were not regarded as sin but rather as something magnificent, so it is now in Christendom with the lie. No one thinks that lying is something evil; the assumption is rather that it is just as impossible to live without air — and there is truth in this in the sense that the very atmosphere of this Christian world is a lie. We regard lying as unavoidable and we admire the big lie in the very same way the raw pagans admired violence and plundering on a large scale and unbridled lusts on a colossal scale.
The Freethinkers' Version of What Christianity Is
As noted elsewhere, the state of Christianity has long been such that one cannot find out what Christianity is in the so-called Christian church (especially in Protestantism, especially in Denmark) but has to seek it among the freethinkers. Yet this, too, has its hazards, because the freethinker, simply because he himself wants to escape Christianity, sometimes finds a bitter pleasure in exaggerating Christianity as bitterness. The so-called Church falsifies Christianity by softening it — for we do indeed want to be Christians. The freethinker, standing on the outside and wanting to bait the Christians, falsifies Christianity by making it bitter. Of the two, however, the freethinker's version is closer to the truth than that of the so-called Christian Church, especially in Protestantism, especially in Denmark.
In all fairness I cannot ever ask for any help from men, because I fully realize that the concept of Christianity I represent is not exactly acceptable to us men right off; on the contrary, it is what we defend ourselves against with all our might — therefore it is unfair to ask that they help me. And I must fear this help, however much I wished to live in harmony with men, I must fear it, for it means that my cause suffers loss.
On the other hand God cannot help me directly, for then the cause loses ground; he must help me by knocking me around — and yet it is out of love, yes, out of love — would only that I were worthy of it.
Bishop Mynster once thought it strange that the prototype may stand both ahead and behind, as Anti-Climacus says. He could not get it through his head that the prototype could stand behind. However it is not difficult to understand, as I in fact once understood it. It is similar to a corporal's training of recruits; sometimes he stands in the rear in order to see to it that he has not lost anybody. Otherwise the same thing could happen to him as happened in Preciosa to Pedro the castellan, who marched ahead of his henchman and when he looked back his henchmen had gone down another road. And this actually is the game Christendom, especially in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, and not least Bishop Mynster, has played: letting the prototype go ahead alone. This, Your Grace, is why the prototype also stands in the rear.
What Socrates talks about in Phaedo, namely, that the pleasant and the unpleasant are set together like vertical angles, is the law for everything Christian. Man is a synthesis; but as "spirit" is introduced, the compound of the synthesis is split and is put together like vertical angles. This is why the more spirit there is the stronger do flesh and blood react, and here we have what the apostle really talks about, that which cannot enter into the harmonious synthesis.
In an age when there is such a craving for originality, there suddenly pops up an originality of such a qualitative character that to be this originality must be a suffering.
This is my situation. Yet I do not complain of the age, for the same thing would happen to me in any age.
A merely quantitative originality is directly recognisable and understandable by way of a given or what is given (and the more inferior, the lesser the originality, the more rapidly and surely it is recognised). Qualitative originality must actually demand faith. But men never wish to put in this effort. When in some future time qualitative originality rests on its results — yes, then it is feted, but then faith is no longer required. Thus a qualitative originality must always suffer more or less, for it cannot possibly begin with its result — and men are incapable of anything more than believing on the basis of the result — that is, they are incapable of faith, they are merely capable of craving — to be deceived!