What most people say about a poet's obligation to develop a moral life-view in his work is, of course, nonsense — like everything else the majority say if one inspects it closely. The situation is this: their lives are stuck in mediocrity, they have never become great — not because they did not want to, above all else, even per nefas — consequently not because of their moral maturity but because the conditions of their lives did not permit it. Now they want the poet to depict how the "successful" are reduced to wretchedness and nothingness; this is what they mean by developing a moral life-view, and they want this in order, with the help of the poet, to have consolation and compensation in their bourgeois lives, meaning that it would be better to be like us and become a justice of the peace and magistrate, or grocer and captain in the national guard.
A person who really has a moral life-view is quite able to suffer this spectacle in actual life and has nothing against the poet presenting immorality as having great success, becoming great, king, emperor, etc. — his life-view sees through all this and sees the immorality, and this is sufficient for him.
It follows of itself that the person who has divine authority can venture out infinitely further than an ordinary man, however gifted he is, because the former always has one secure point, the order from God. The ordinary person gets the dialectical from two sides: the conflict with men, and also the relationship to God — do I have the right to venture so far out?
It would be a frightful satire on Christendom if one published a work like Blosius's Consolatium Pusillanimium, in order to show what a pastor as spiritual adviser found necessary to say in former days, naturally, because then it was something in which to exist. Nowadays there are no longer pastors as spiritual advisers but only as mere spectators, naturally, because it is not lived any more.
The joy of being a child I have never had. The frightful torments I experienced disturbed the peacefulness which must belong to being a child, to have in one's hands the capacity to be occupied etc., to give his father joy, for my inner unrest had the effect that I was always, always, outside myself.
But on not rare occasions it seems as if my childhood had come back again, for unhappy as my father made me, it seems as if I now experience being a child in my relationship to God, as if all my early life was misspent so dreadfully in order that I should experience it more truly the second time in my relationship to God.
In Denmark, of course, there is no discerning judgment, no real criterion for an artist, a poet, a philosopher, etc. The few that we are, all of whom know each other, all play along in the equality game, and therefore the criterion is: Is he popular or not. We are just like school boys — who are in fact all each other's equal — who merely use the criterion: Is he popular or not. That is why living here in Denmark is so pleasant for all those who are nothing, for they do in fact play along and we are all equal. But it goes all the worse for the few who are something.
Hostrup has never really earned any position, but the public has built him up. And now I am convinced that he is being dumped again, and why? Is it because he has written something worse than usual? No, it is because of a little article he wrote criticizing the drama director Lange, of which the public will say: I don't like Hostrup for that.
If I had not been brought up strictly in Christianity, had not had all my mental and spiritual suffering, beginning in childhood and intensified at just the time I began my career, had I not experienced that and yet had known what I know, I would have become a poet, and I actually would have become an interesting poet . There has hardly been a poet before me who has known about life and especially about religion as profoundly as I do.
But here is where I turn aside, and my position is that old one in Either/Or: I do not want to be a poet such as A describes from one angle and B in a far deeper sense confirms, yes, declares it to be the only one of A's many ideas that he confirms entirely.
What is it to be a poet? It is to have one's own personal life, one's actuality, in categories completely different from those of one's poetical production, to be related to the ideal only in imagination, so that one's personal life is more or less a satire on the poetry and on oneself. In this sense all modern thinkers, even the outstanding ones (I mean the Germans, for there simply are no Danish thinkers), are poets. And on the whole this is the maximum to be seen in life. Most men live utterly destitute of ideas; some few relate poetically to the ideal but deny it in their personal lives. Pastors likewise are poets, and since they are pastors they are "deceivers," as Socrates once called poets, in a much deeper way than poets are.
But here as everywhere demoralization has come about through the disappearance of position no. 1 and the assumption of position no. 1 by no. 2. Relating oneself to the ideal in one's personal life is never seen. Such a life is the life of the witness to the truth. This rubric disappeared long ago, and preachers, philosophy professors, and poets have taken over the place of servants to the truth, whereby they no doubt are served very well — but they do not serve the truth.
The true is really always defenseless in this world, where there very rarely are even ten who have the capability, the time, the diligence, and the moral character to follow through in pursuing the truth — but here in the world the mob of contemporaries is the judge, and they are far too confused to understand the truth but understand untruth very easily. I have regarded it as my religious duty to draw a person to me in order not to leave out the human tribunal completely. He now gets communication from me which he otherwise would never get — and gets them privately. Here again is the possibility that I may become completely defenseless. If vanity and a secular mentality run away with him, he will publish this in a confused form as his own and will create an enormous furor. My efforts at reclamation would be useless. Alas, and a person who is already married, a professor, a knight — what real hope is there of his competence to serve the truth, in a more profound sense what fondness can he have for an undertaking in which all these qualifications are just so many N.B.'s, while at any moment he can turn to the other side, where these are substantiations.
If that which one has to communicate is, for example, a conception of something historical or the like, it may be a good thing for someone else to arrive at the same conception, and all one has to do is simply to work to get this idea acknowledged. But if the point of a person's activity is to do what is true: then one additional assistant professor is just a new calamity, and not least when he gets assistance privately and confidentially.
[Five pages removed from the journal]..... everything reminiscent of her is to be found. A small bundle of letters which I wrote from Berlin to Emil Boesen but which later were returned to me by him may be found in a sealed package in a drawer, labeled "to be destroyed after my death."
Nothing can be done for her; I dare not risk it, she obviously cannot bear the truth. She can endure it, perhaps find happiness, if she still believes that I aspired to greatness and therefore abandoned her, actually did not love her; but the religious element would disturb the whole thing right away. I am certain that, loving as always, she lovingly forgives me, carries no rancor against me, but if she were to understand me, she could not go on, for what keeps her going is the thought that, conceding me everything (as far as talents are concerned), she still believes that she treated me far better than I treated her.
No, nothing can be done for her. Schlegel has in a way been somewhat successful, becoming head of a department already at so young an age. This will comfort her as providential approval of her marriage. She will be reconciled with her fate, lovingly will forgive me, with the interpretation that no matter how exceptionally endowed I was, I nevertheless was untrue to her and she was the faithful and loving one. She at times may feel that what has happened to me of late is a punishment for me and sometimes may consider she was lucky, after all, not to be included in it. In that way everything will be mitigated. I am becoming a faded memory which eventually will visit her rarely and then with a touch of sadness because it gratifies her not to condemn me, and because it gratifies her that I still am unmarried.
All this would be disturbed if in any way she learns the true state of affairs, for she has no intimation of the specifically religious. At that moment she would have a different understanding of the situation, would reproach herself for having treated me unjustly, would lose her self-image and her feeling of superiority over me, and then she would be confused, her imagination would take over again, and then — yes, then all is lost.
An example of rhetorical fraud. Bishop Mynster's sermon for Second Christmas Day, "The Accomplishments of Christ's Witnesses."
P. 70. "If we, my listeners, had been present at this scene, would it not have struck us as utterly pitiable." But then we simply would have been present as spectators. Here is the untruth; he forgets that if we had been present — that is, contemporary, we would have been among the persecutors.
For this is then the summa summarum of the wisdom of men nowadays, of the entire age and almost all individuals: human authority. If men agree with me, if I have the majority on my side, then who the devil will hurt a hair on my head, that is, God does not exist — and then we are all Christians. For me, out of fear of God and God's judgment, to endure the persecution of the majority — that would certainly be madness, and also untruth, for vox populi is indeed vox dei, that is, there is no God — and then we are all Christians. To relinquish what is certain, the certainty of my having won (and for this it is required that I have the majority on my side), in exchange for what is uncertain, is surely madness, for suppose there were no God, that is, that there is no God (for when the hypothetical proposition by comparison with one's life, which expresses that no God exists, is formulated that way, it is a denial; otherwise, when the hypothetical proposition by collation with a life which existentially through sacrifice and renunciation expresses that there is a God, it is positive, affirmative, and thus it is clear that there is nothing incorrect in the hypothetical proposition but that one's life is decisive) — and then we are all Christians.
Rise aloft as high as you can and (somewhat à la Satan — in Job — and a spectator) look out over men, and you will discover that you find no one whose wisdom, existentially, is not this. Eliminate, as far as possible, curiosity about others, turn your gaze entirely in upon yourself, but then let your life express (which is an obvious consequence) that a God does exist, and you will learn, learn in all seriousness, what the wisdom of the majority is, for they will scarcely give you any peace.
I will hardly be able to carry out the whole project. It is too much for one man. Precisely because it centered upon reflecting Christianity out of an extreme sophistication, refinement, scholarly-scientific confusion, etc., I myself had to have all that refinement, sensitive in one sense as a poet, pure intellect as a thinker. But for the next part there must be physical strength and another kind of rigorous upbringing: to be able to live on little, not to need many creature-comforts, to be able to apply some of one's mind to this self-discipline.
Take a strong, healthy child and train him in this kind of self-mastery. In a few well-spent years he will have mastered my whole movement of thought; he will not need a tenth of my mental concentration and effort, nor the kind of talents I have had and which were particularly necessary for the first attack. But he will be the man who is needed: tough, rigorous, and yet adequately armed dialectically.
But I do indeed dare say that the work I have done was herculean. For this I have had the decisive presuppositions, wonderfully good fortune, and blessing, but I do not have the prerequisites for the next part. I would have to become a child again and above all, not a child of old age, for such children often are physically weak; I would have to have better physical health and much less imagination and dialectic.
It is miserable, as I once said to Christian VIII, it is miserable to be a genius in a market town. Of course I said it in such a way that it was a compliment to him. I said: Your Majesty's only misfortune is that your wisdom and intelligence are too great and the country too little; it is a misfortune to be a genius in a market town. To which he replied: Then one can do all the more for the individuals. That was the first time I talked with him. He said many flattering things to me and asked me to visit him, to which I replied: Your Majesty, I visit no one. He said: Yes, but I know that you will not object if I send for you, to which I replied: "I am your subject, Your Majesty has but to command, but like for like — I make one condition." "Well, and what is that?" "That I be permitted to speak with you alone." With that he offered his hand and we parted. At the beginning of the conversation he also said something to me about my having so many ideas that perhaps I could turn some over to him. I replied that I regarded my entire work to be beneficial also to any government, but the point of it was that I was and would remain a private citizen, since otherwise a mean-spirited interpretation would be insinuated. And moreover I added: "I have the honor of serving a higher power, on which I have staked my life."
As I came through the door and gave my name, he said: I am especially happy to see you; I have heard so many good things about you. To which I replied (having, of course, sat in the anteroom in fear and trembling, not knowing whether I would come through the door on my head or on my feet [someone standing out there asked me if I was going to bow three times when I entered, and I responded that it was ridiculous to ask me that question; an old courtier could decide such things in advance, but I did not know whether I would come in on my head or on my feet], but upon entering I approach so close to him that he stepped back and fixed his eyes upon me, and there I promptly saw what I wanted to see): "And I, Your Majesty, I have always said to myself that in the end the man you will get along with best will be the King, because for that to happen I must have someone with enough intelligence for it and of such high standing that it would never occur to him to be small-minded toward me."
On the whole our conversations were well worth writing down.
The second time I talked with Christian VII was at Sorgenfri many months later. In a certain sense, however, his conversation was not particularly significant for me, for he wanted me to do the talking. But it was exhilarating to speak with him, and I have never seen an elderly man so animated, so stimulated, almost like a woman. He had a kind of spiritual and mental voluptuousness. I saw at once that this could be dangerous for me and therefore as circumspectly as possible maintained distance between us. Face to face with a king I found it unseemly to use my eccentricity as an excuse for not coming and therefore employed another tactic — namely, that I was in poor health. Christian VIII was a splendidly gifted man but actually had lost control of his considerable intelligence, which lacked a moral background equal to it. If he had lived in a southern country, I imagine Christian VIII would have been sure booty for a cunning religious. No woman would have gotten real power over him, not even the most superbly endowed woman; for one thing he was too smart for that, and for another he had a bit of the masculine superstition that men are smarter than women. But a Jesuit — he could have turned and twisted Christian VIII, but of course it would have been necessary for this Jesuit to have had the interesting at his command, for that was what he actually was gasping for. But charming, extraordinarily acute, with a rare eye for what could please and gladden the individual, that very individual in particular — that he was.
So I went in. He said: "It is a long time since I have seen you here." Still standing in the door, I answered: "Perhaps Your Majesty will first and foremost allow me to explain. I beg Your Majesty to rest assured that I appreciate very much the grace and favor you show me, but I am in poor health and this is why I come so infrequently; I cannot bear this waiting in the anteroom, it exhausts me." He responded that I did not need to wait but that in any case I could write to him. I thanked him for that. Then we started to converse, for a time walking about as we did so. He always preferred talking about governmental matters or commenting in general on one or another political issue. That day he turned the conversation to communism, about which he obviously was anxious and afraid. I explained that, as I understood it, the whole movement confronting us would be a movement that would not touch the kings at all. It would be a class conflict, but it would always be to the interests of the conflicting parties to get on well with the monarch. The problems were ancient ones returning again, and thus it was easy to see that in a way the king would come to stand outside them. It would be like household disputes between the basement and the first floor, between these two and the second floor, etc., but the landlord would not be attacked. Next I spoke of how to do battle with "the crowd": just remain completely calm; [I said] that "the crowd" was like a woman, whom one never engaged in direct battle, but indirectly, helped it get carried away, and since it lacks thought, it always would lose in time — but just stand firm. At this point he said: "Yes, a king especially ought to do that." To that I gave no reply. Then I said that the whole age needed upbringing and that what took the form of violence in a large country became rudeness in Denmark. Then he paid some compliments to my intellect etc., and I used the situation to say: Your Majesty, you see best in me that what I am saying is true, for everything about me essentially may be credited to my being well brought up and thus really to my father. Then we talked a bit about Guizot and an attack which had just been made on him. I showed the shabbiness in the equivocation that although modern states have actually elevated scandal to an official magnitude with the correlative tactic of ignoring it, suddenly one day people take it into their heads to say that such an attack must be serious. "I am thinking of Guizot;" he has read the attack, then does no more than glance in the mirror to reassure himself that his smile and appearance are quite normal — and then, then people come up with the idea that it is supposed to be serious, and if at some other time he had taken an attack like that seriously, he would have been ridiculed as a country squire who was unaccustomed to life in the big city."
[In margin: Then he talked a little about Sorø, gave a lecture of sorts on it, and questioned me: I answered that I had never given Sorø much thought. He asked if I might not want to have an appointment there. Now I knew that he had been fishing that very morning and therefore alluded to it in my answer. That in addition to the regular lines fishermen liked to have an odd little line on which they sometimes caught the best fish — I was an odd little line like that.]
Then he thanked me for the book I had brought him the last time; he had read some of it — "It was very profound but over his head." I replied: "Of course Your Majesty does not have time to read books, nor is what I write intended for you. But on the other hand you recently had the natural scientists visit you; that appeals to you, appeals to your sense of beauty." He obviously was a bit affronted by this and said: Yes, yes, but the other can also be very good.
Several times I made as if to leave and said I did not wish to detain him longer. Each time he replied: Yes, I have plenty of time. The third time this happened I said: Your Majesty realizes that I have plenty of time; I was afraid that Your Majesty did not have the time. I learned later from a more experienced man to whom I told this that I had behaved like a bumpkin, that trying to be polite in this way in the presence of a king is actually being impolite, since one merely has to wait until he bows.
Eventually I took my leave. He said he would be especially glad to see me. Thereupon he made a move with his hand, which I realized from my last visit meant that he wanted to offer his hand, but since the same man had told me that it was the custom to kiss the hand offered by a king and since I could not feel comfortable doing that, I pretended that I did not understand and bowed.
Meanwhile I vowed to visit him as infrequently as possible.
The third time I visited him was at Sorgenfri; I brought him a copy of Works of Love. Pastor Ibsen had told me that he had somehow gotten the idea fixed in his head that he could not understand me and that I would not get it out again. I had this in mind. I entered, handed him the book. He glanced at it, noted the organization of Part One (You shall love, you shall love your neighbour, you shall love your neighbour) and grasped it immediately; he really was very intelligent. There upon I took the book from him again and asked his permission to read a passage aloud to him, and chose the first portion (p. 150). It moved him, easily moved as he generally was.
Next he walked to the window, and I followed him. He began talking about his government. I told him that obviously I could tell him a thing or two which he otherwise might not get to know, for I could tell him how he appeared from the street. "But shall I speak or shall I not, for if I am to speak, then I must speak quite openly and directly." He replied: "By all means do." So I told him that he had let himself be seduced by his personal gifts, that in this respect a king was somewhat like a woman, who ought to hide her personal talents and simply be a housewife — and be simply the king. I have often reflected on what a king should be. In the first place, he very well could be ugly. In the next place he should be deaf and blind, or at least pretend to be, for it simplified many difficulties; a foolish or inopportune remark, just because it is said to the king, acquires a kind of significance which is brushed aside best by an "I beg your pardon," signifying that the king did not hear it. Finally a king must not say much but have an aphorism he uses on every occasion and which as a consequence says nothing. He laughed and said: A delightful description of a king. Then I said, "Yes, it is true, and one thing more, a king must see to it that he is sick occasionally so that he arouses sympathy," whereupon he burst out with a strange interjection of almost joy and jubilation: Aha, that is why you talk about being in poor health. You want to make yourself interesting.
Yes, it is definitely the case; he could become so excited that talking with him was really like talking to a woman. Then I pointed out to him that he had done himself damage with his audiences, that he became too personally involved with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, thus alienating the upper official class who became impatient with this hap-hazard sort of extraneous influence, that after all he must realize that it was impossible to rule by talking with each of his subjects. He did not take into consideration that everyone he talked to this way went out and gossiped about it. That the error was apparent this very moment when I stood talking this way with him, even though I was an exception, since I felt religiously committed to keep secret every word. (It is in fact true, that as long as he lived I did not speak of it to a person, and after his death to only one and very fragmentarily.) He responded that I must not believe that he was led astray only by his possible talents but that when he ascended the throne he believed that to be a king could no longer be a matter of privilege, but that he had gradually changed his view.
I had said that I had had occasion to make some of these observations the very first day he ascended the throne. He answered: That is so, that was the time there was a general assembly of which you were the president. — What a memory he had. — Just then a door to an adjoining room opened and was immediately closed again. I stepped back. He went to the door, saying: That must be the Queen; she is so eager to see you; I shall fetch her. He returned leading the Queen by the hand, and I bowed. That was essentially a discourtesy to the Queen, who really did not get a chance to make an elegant impression, she even looked insignificant — but is there any other possibility when a Queen makes such an entrance.
[In margin: The King then showed the Queen the copy of the new book, which led me to say: Your Majesty embarrasses me for not having brought along a copy for the Queen. He answered: Ah, but we two can be satisfied with one.]
The Queen said that she recognized me, for she once had seen me on the embankment (where I ran off and left Tryde high and dry), that she had read a part of "your Either and Or but could not understand it." I replied: Your Majesty realizes that it is too bad for me. But there was something more unusual in the situation. Christian VIII promptly heard the mistake, "Either and Or, and I certainly did hear it, too. It amazed me to hear the Queen say precisely what seamstresses etc. say. The King looked at me; I avoided his glance. After speaking a few more words, the King said to the Queen: Is Juliana alone in your apartment? She said "yes" — and then left.
I continued conversation with the King. He asked if I did not plan to take a journey this year. I answered that if I did it would be a very short one, and to Berlin. "You no doubt have many interesting acquaintances there." "No, your Majesty, I live in complete isolation in Berlin and work harder than ever." "But then you could just as well travel to Smørum-Ovre" (and he laughed at his own witticism). "No, Your Majesty, whether I go to Smørum-Ovre or to Smørum-Nedre, I do not gain an incognito, a hiding place of 400,000." That was a little sarcastic, and he answered: Yes, quite right.
Then he asked me about Schelling. With a few strokes I tried to give him a quick impression. He then inquired about Schelling's personal attitude to the court, his reputation at the university. I said that the same thing was happening to Schelling as to the Rhine at its mouth — it becomes stagnant water — in the same way he is deteriorating into a character of a royal Prussian "excellency." I talked a bit more about how Hegelian philosophy had been the state philosophy, and now Schelling was supposed to be that.
My last visit was an example of Christian VIII's sensitivity in displaying an awareness tailored to the particular individual, making it something of a family visit.
I did not speak with him after that. I had firmly decided to visit him as infrequently as possible, preferably when I had a book to bring him. But I do not repent visiting him; I have fond memories of my visits. If he had lived longer, it would not have been good for me, for he really could not appreciate anyone's being a private person; he considered it a king's prerogative unequivocally to point out to everyone his task. Thus it was at the time I began thinking of taking an official appointment that I first went to him.
The whole relationship is a delightful memory to me; he had no opportunity to get anything but an altogether encouraging impression of me, and I continually regarded him as kindness and vivacity personified.
Besides, in a certain sense I am much indebted to Christian VIII for something, namely the pleasant, salutary impression of life he has conveyed to me. I have always been much too disinclined to care about the finite; if my expeditions to the King had taken an unfortunate turn, the effect certainly would have been to make me more indolent. The very opposite was the case. The relationship was beneficial to me in another sense as well. Environed by all the rabble barbarism and by so much petty envy, without having any supportive illusions, I was then and am a strictly private individual, and had become, because of the wretched atmosphere in Denmark and because of my preeminence, an eccentric in the eyes of the masses, since they could not understand me. In a way it was a good thing, too, that the envious upper class, who secretly always have exploited the vulgarity directed against me, got a little difficulty to bite on. For that reason my life had to be accentuated a little. My relationship to the king was of some importance for that. In a certain sense it is just the task for me: only one human being, an absolute monarch, and Christian VIII at that. I readily perceived that the relationship could have become dangerous for me, that Christian VIII could get to relish me too much: that is why I was extremely circumspect, as anyone certainly will admit who knows how he liked me. On the other hand, the relationship was so advanced that at any chosen moment I could have made something of it if necessary.
Christian VIII was only intelligent enough to be almost superstitious about his own intelligence, and therefore when he got the impression of a superior intelligence he became almost fantastic — he constantly feared ghosts. He did not have strong nerves, his life had left its mark on his whole mental-spiritual make-up, he lacked ethical backbone, the religious had practically only an esthetic effect on him — and that was the nature of his intelligence. It is easy to see that such a constitution is unbalanced, and it is a likely prey to duplicity, but please note, in the most delightful and pleasant way. Basically he was very domineering. His preference for other associations to the official ones was a deception perpetrated by his cunning and caution. He was afraid of anyone with real character. If such a person was also visibly strong and muscular, so to speak, he kept him at a distance. But an inflexible character concealed in a flexible cunning and imagination — that was his limit. This X he could not cope with, and as if by a law of nature he would be in the power of a man like that.
Generally speaking, Christian VIII has provided me with many psychological observations. Perhaps a psychologist ought to pay special attention to kings, especially absolute kings, for the more free a man is, the less enmeshed he is in finite concerns and considerations, the more there is to know in the man.
The Collected Works of Consummation
There could be a very brief preface.
Just as a cabinet minister steps down and becomes a private citizen, so I cease to be an author and lay down my pen — I actually have had a portfolio.
Just one word more, but no, no more words now, for now I have laid down my pen.
On the whole it is dreadful to think about what is going to become of the next generation after the way it has been brought up, when with the help of the press it has literally been the case that parents and children have collaborated in playing childish pranks. For The Corsair was something different. In my day we lads did things like that together in school, but of course we were afraid that the teachers or parents would find out. But nowadays the parents themselves set the pattern for the children, making it altogether official. And the schoolmaster himself is afraid of it, as, for example, that spineless fellow M. Hammerich, who preferred to let a teacher (Høedt) leave the school because he had been persecuted by The Corsair and the pupils brought it along to school. What a generation!
Christ veritably relates tangentially to the earth (the divine cannot relate in any other way): He had no place where he could lay his head. A tangent is a straight line which touches the circle at only one single point.
There is something tragic-comic in my situation with R. Nielsen. Gradually he has read his way into my books so that every once in a while there comes an illustration, a brilliant observation, which I recognize and could quote from the text, but he does not seem to notice it.
It could be rhetorically beautiful and moving to end a discourse as is frequently done, with a verse from an old hymn, and then, just when the listener is sure it is all finished, lyrically but briefly exegete the particular words.
For example, the discourse is over, and now comes "a verse from an old hymn"
And when the world's comfort is no longer there
Then you become to me twice as fair ...
and so it will in fact be, yes, so it has to be; for when the vinegar poured for us gets more sour and the gall more bitter, the tiniest bit of comfort which we scarcely tasted in our happier days when we fed on confections becomes twice as sweet. It is not intrinsically sweeter, but the vinegar is more sour and the gall more bitter. Consequently
And when the world's comfort is no longer there
Then you become to me twice as fair.
O, Jesus, all poor sinners' friend,
Draw me wholly to yourself again.
[In margin: Brorson, no. 1104, 9.]
In fact it could be beautiful to take a single verse this way and gradually weave it into a lyrical commentary.
My attentive listeners: In the hymnody of an earlier period it was customary to portray the soul's relationship to Christ as a conversation, using the metaphor of the relationship between a bride and groom. The soul was the bride and was often called the Shulammite maiden.
There is the case of an old hymn in which the soul (the bride) is portrayed as having become impatient, and, no longer able to carry on in the sufferings of life, it impatiently waits for the hour of deliverance. Christ is portrayed as speaking to the bride and saying:
[In margin: It is from Brorson's Svanesang, no. 49, p. 867, but I quote it a bit differently, dropping the first line and drawing the next two lines down to the fourth.]
"When the air is still so brightConsequently it is still midwinter, it is a long time yet until spring, therefore it is impatience to want to have spring now, there is much more to endure before the hour of deliverance comes, in fact the suffering perhaps has just now really begun. The air is still full of snow; indeed, it is not only cold, it is so cold that one shivers, distressingly cold, for cold does not always make one shiver. Therefore the poet has created a new word: shivering-cold. [In margin: It is early winter, the "winter's snow" is still a long way off, it remains tormentingly in the air, thus the uncomfortably cold air that makes one shiver: shivering-cold.] Therefore
With the shivering-cold of winter's might"
"Why do you open the windowAs if spring had to come, spring forth as a bud from the stem; and "always" stare — it is much too early! or — and "always" stare, that is, continues to stare: O, then you will keep on staring for a long time, while you simply grow more impatient, making the long time even longer and the winter even colder and the air even more distressing with its shivering cold. Therefore
And always stare up into the sky."
Why do you open the window
And always stare up into the sky?
Why do you do it again and again,
My Shulammite maiden?
The question is: When should all the latest books be published! I cannot thank God enough for having finished them, and if I had not had the tension of additional mental anguish I perhaps would never have completed them, because once I have come out of the momentum of writing, I never get into it again in the same way. This time I succeeded, and for me it is enough that they exist, finished in fair copy, containing the completion and the entire structure of the whole, going as far as I in fact could go in my attempt to introduce Christianity into Christendom — but, please note, "poetically, without authority," for, as I have always maintained, I am no apostle, I am a poetic-dialectical genius, personally and religiously a penitent.
But when shall they be published? If I publish them while I am still in the position of heterogeneity maintained up till now — that is, independent, free, unrestricted, floating — if I publish them while still maintaining this mode of life, all the extremely exact dialectical categories and determinations in the books will be of little help in defending myself against unhappy confusions, and I will nevertheless be confused with such a one.
But if I had gotten myself a position in the established order first of all, then my life would be a hindrance to a misunderstanding like that. But if I had held such a position, I would not have written the books, of that I am sincerely convinced, and it is really easy to understand. But now it is done and the delay is simply a matter of publishing.
My situation will place me personally under the same "judgment," as everyone else, the judgment upon Christendom contained in these books. It is precisely this which will prevent my being confused with an apostle or someone like that. The books are poetically written, as if by an apostle, but I have stepped aside — no, I am not the apostle, anything but, I am the poet and a penitent.
I have always kept my eyes open for that reef, being confused with an apostle. If that enters in, then I have spoiled my work and am guilty of disloyalty.
Without a doubt Governance has supported me beyond telling; that I myself knew best of all, but not in such an extraordinary way as if I had a special relationship to God.
The influence of this whole "monumentum ære perennius" will be purely ideal. It is like a judgment, but I am not "the judge;" I submit myself to the judgment.
The person who lives in a very restricted context (Stilleben) very easily falls into the trap of wanting to apply the God-relationship or place God into relation to the least triviality, for example that it is God's punishment that it is smoky today, that yesterday the food was scorched, or on each and every occasion one is prompted to think of God. The entire opening portion of Tieck's novel Jahrmarkt takes this up very well.
Those who live in the hurly-burly of the world very easily fall into the trap of getting no occasion in which there is genuine pathos and earnestness in the thought of God or in thinking through the conception of God. They have so many concepts and experiences dancing along that everything is immediately placed under rubrics and nothing really makes a pathos-filled impression. A pastor, for example, who conducts ten funerals a day, twenty marriages every Sunday, baptizes babies by the dozen, in short, never takes off his robe.
Therefore a good measure of the ethical earnestness of a pastor is the pathos with which he is able to invest each of these repetitious ceremonies. This is the case with Bishop Mynster and this really makes him far greater than all his eloquence.
As a preacher Mynster undeniably has something in common with that brand of wisdom and virtuosity exemplified by the ingenious housewife who is also a lady and has some style and has some style and knows how to give the impression that there is a superabundance on the table even though this is not the case. I cannot forget the virtuosity with which my aunt on Kjøbmagergade could say: Won't you have another little piece of chicken — when there was perhaps a wing, which we all naturally passed on saying: No thanks, I am well satisfied — and it was almost as if we were all really satisfied. Mynster's strength is his way of officiating and preaching, and this, although for him a moral virtuosity, at times achieves the level of an artistic masterpiece, which for a quick imagination is reminiscent of the miracle with the three small loaves. Of course this is not a deception but a noble wisdom; in a religious sense there is an insatiability which is anything but religious.
In view of the fact that Peter is my brother and obviously has the religious qualifications to enable him to pass judgment, and also because I still have the responsibility for placing him in such a situation that when I am dead and the dialectical riddle of my life of self-denial has been solved, and the pain of my life can be used as a clue, he will then have the humiliation of actually having judged me wrongly — I have gently reminded him, but with extreme circumspection, that he should watch his step.
But, as he says, he has enough confidence in his judgment. So it is up to him. I did not do it for my own sake. I understand him very well, that he really is still unable to interpret my life as anything but a reckless striving to be great.
That, of course, comes easy, for we have long been familiar with that sort of thing; it is so easy to think that way instead of venturing just a little way into the intellectual exertions contained in my books, particularly since they do indicate the fine line between egotism and what can be true self-denial. To a great extent my essentiality as an author consists in practically having discovered: sympathetic passion.
But all that takes effort; it is much handier to interpret my life that way, so self-complacently to regard one's own Stilleben as religiously superior.
To me he is an example and proof that a man does not understand more than his life expresses. This explains his opinion that the opposition I have had of late is nemesis or God's punishment.
As far as I am concerned it is a matter of indifference, but my responsibility, if I have any, I have taken care of.
It is a rather strange title: Wisdom for a Penny Bought with a Million of "Repentance." It is by a R. Green, published toward the end of the sixteenth century. Mentioned by Ben Jonson in his work Epicoerie, translated by Tieck in his collected works, II. p. 371, first column in a note.
Lines for a Poetic Individual
For any person who has made gossip his profession and living etc. (for example, Goldschmidt) to be considered as belonging to the community again, it should be required that he first and foremost unconditionally apologize at least once a year for as many years as he has carried on the profession. He also could be required to give back the money he has made — Judas did that; after all, he gave back the thirty shekels.
In the Kirketidende (for Feb. 2, 1849) I see in a sort of review of Birchedahl's sermons that he will not recognize a state church at all and battles it in his sermons. Excellent, here again we have one of those confused phenomena — he ought to perceive that the first thing he would have to do would be to resign his position as pastor in the state church, give up his livelihood. But of course he would have an easy answer to that: Then I would have nothing to live on. And of course that can be understood by the whole world, which sees nothing wrong with earning one's bread and butter but considers what I say to be an exaggeration. But there is no doubt that Birchedahl should do it for his own sake in order to see whether or not his conviction is so firm that he could make a sacrifice for it.
The same objection which the Judge in Either/Or uses to trap A (confronting him with a young man who wants to talk with him, instead of lecturing and admonishing him — very moving — see especially the second essay in part II), the same objection is made by life itself against the person who wants to enter into decisive religious categories of which cruelty is one aspect. Life prompts one to become aware of the many, many less endowed, weak, simple men, women, and children, the sick and the sorrowful, etc., who live among us. Life says to the religious: Confronted by all these people, can you have the heart to jack up the price of the religious, of salvation, as high as you are doing, you cruel person. And if the religious person is truly religious and consequently has love in his heart, this objection will make a deep impression on him, one who wants so much to be with those who suffer, whose only joy and consolation, after all, is to comfort those who suffer.
But the objection is the spiritual trial of "human sympathy." What does the prototype teach? Was Christ lenient with himself, or the others. Was it human sympathy to say to the person who was willing to follow him but merely asked to bury his father first: Let the dead bury their dead. Humanly speaking, is it not cruel, humanly speaking almost shocking, to forbid him something that is a matter of piety? We do not say that Christ, after all, was high and mighty and therefore there must not be any meddling in sympathy; that is a misunderstanding, for Christ was not high and mighty, but He was love and the greater His love the less His cruelty would have to be. Not so, Christ is the absolute, and this cruelty is inseparable from the absolute. Nor is there the slightest trace of human sympathy in his reply to poor Peter: Get behind me, Satan. After all, Peter meant the best for Christ in his own way, that is, in human sympathy — and then to treat him that way.
The point is that the religious person unconditionally shall and must have sympathy for all the weak; he wants to be with them, comfort them, and all that, but he does not dare do it — that is, he does not dare center his life in this sympathy so that instead of remaining true to God he scales down and remains in the religiosity of sympathy.
As soon as a religious person ceases to comprehend it this way: I dare not, I cannot do otherwise (that is, he is in the power of the absolute, absolute obedience is demanded of him), he will be side-tracked and will remain in the religiosity of sympathy.
The danger for the religious person who is in the religiousness of the absolute is, of course, self-righteousness, that he becomes arrogant instead of pious, that he wants to be better than other men or puts God, as it were, in his debt, or at least has a self-satisfied consciousness of having done his part.
For this reason such a religious person will usually have a secret strain, comparable to Paul's "thorn in the flesh," which gives him the bold confidence to go on, because it teaches him that he is nothing and truly makes this truth in him. No one can venture out into absolute religiousness on his own; he must begin in an altogether singular understanding with God. Under other circumstance, that which in absolute religiousness is dialectically cruel becomes outright cruelty, sin, guilt.
Strangely enough, the Chinese have the same custom as the Jews. Confucius' name is Khu or Ju, but when the name appears in the sacred books, the people are forbidden to utter it — it is recommended instead that they read it as Mou. It is exactly the same as with Jehovah. The loose way in which the name of Christ is used in Christendom is really all wrong. Curiously, I have personally experienced long periods in which I have been unable to mention Christ's name to anyone because I regard it as too solemn. I have expressed this, also, in the "psychological experiment," where Quidam says (p. 254 bottom) that the girl has pledged herself to him with the name which he does not dare utter, that is, the name of Christ.
See China, historisch-malerisch, Karlsruhe, p. 223.
It is clear that once again my prudence and my melancholy have wanted to deceive me.
I practically had decided not to publish anything but the second edition of Either/Or. (1) The situation at present is so painful and confused, and then to have to say what I must say and in the end be notorious and branded as I am — yes, almost any danger is possible, and in fact it is almost as if one hurled himself into it — and I think that right now I need a little peace and quiet. (2) My financial situation makes it necessary, even obligatory, to think of an appointment. But if in one way or another I become the extraordinary to my contemporaries, that itself would possibly be a hindrance to me. — Then, too, my understanding tells me that it would be humble of me not to publish even what I have ready. (3) It would be almost uncomfortable to live if men in any way have the emotion-charged notion that I am something extraordinary. — But in that case I could, after all, travel a bit.
But the answer to all that must be that it is prompted by nothing but prudence and melancholy. As far as danger is concerned, the magnitude of it only makes it more of a duty not to plunge into it but trusting in God to venture into it; if I remain silent, there will be no danger. — As far as getting an appointment is concerned, that again would be a luxury. But the whole thing is just a possibility for me, a possibility which looks as if it were something as long as it is used merely to disturb me and prevent me from acting in the opposite direction. But if it becomes something in earnest, then I see dubious aspects arising again: ergo, it is an evasion. The big question is whether or not I am qualified for an appointment. Suppose I got an appointment and just what I wanted — but I prudently had refrained from acting decisively in the most crucial moment of my life — what then? Well, it would immediately become a torment to me, like a punishment placed upon me, as if I had sneaked or done it on the sly, deceived God, deceived him about the inner truth of my whole authorship, as if I had let it stand ambiguously in abeyance so that its completion would not hinder my getting an appointment or make too much trouble for me. And how would that help me in my position? Furthermore, it must be remembered that publishing the two books in question would not make it at all impossible for me to get an appointment; on the contrary, in one sense it would make it much easier, inasmuch as it would make me stand out more clearly as a religious author. But, to be sure, this possibility is literally not mine to decide, not until I have ventured to do what according to my understanding would add to my difficulties. Consequently this possibility is only in God's hands. But if he so wills — and I have ventured what I should then I can accept it serenely. As far as the humbleness of refraining from publishing is concerned, this has little meaning since the publishing itself will be bitter enough for me.
I have another concern regarding "The Point of View for My Work as an Author": that in some way I might have said too much about myself, or whether in some way God might want me to be silent about something. On the first point I have emphasized as decisively as possible in "A Cycle of Ethical-Religious Essays" that I am without authority; furthermore it is stated in the book that I am a penitent, that my entire activity as an author is my own upbringing or education. That I am like a secret agent in a higher service. Finally in "Armed Neutrality", every misunderstanding, as if I were an apostle, has been forestalled as decisively as possible. More I cannot do; these are the most important stipulations. Moreover, by reading the book through again I can take care — that no word escapes me which makes me into too much, since God and I know how deeply inadequate I am in my innermost being and how concerned I am that I do not forfeit the meaning of my life by the slightest word to that effect.
With respect to God's wanting me to suppress what is most important, it must be mentioned that the actual motive for that idea is the fearful judgment of the understanding that such an admission would prevent me from getting an appointment, together with the fact that my whole reserved nature is far too disposed toward silence and subtlety. But I do owe it to the established order to make an accurate account of myself before taking any appointment. In one sense my total outlook has been in the service of the established order, altogether conservative, and I would regard it as a gross misunderstanding on the part of the established if it refused to accept me as an appointee. On the other hand there is still a possibility of such a misunderstanding if I publish the books. I ought to expose myself to that danger.
Therefore, it is rather that I owe it to God, myself, the established, and my cause to publish the two books under consideration.
Finally, there is the most crucial point. The second edition of Either/Or is coming out. But since that time I have stepped out in the character of a religious author; how do I now dare let it be published without a careful explanation; it would surely cause offense.
With regard to the idea, which I have had all along, of keeping back completed works in order to slow down my productivity, I do have four works held in abeyance.
Therefore I really must thank God for being constrained eventually into a decision; it is compassion on the part of Governance. I had gotten too much into the habit of pushing decisions aside, of writing but otherwise diverting my mind with possibilities: on the one hand to travel, on the other to seek an appointment. In the midst of all this, time slipped by; even if I kept on writing, I nevertheless was in another sense slack.
At the moment my melancholy raises so many horrendous possibilities that I neither can nor will record them. The only way to fight such things is to say: Hold your tongue, and to look away from them and look only to God. And yet I have a presentiment, or an intimation of faith, that this step, far from becoming the ruination of me, humanly speaking, will make my future happier and easier. Exhausted as I am, very concerned as I always have been, suffering of late in many ways, I could use some encouragement, humanly speaking; humanly speaking, I can say no more, for it may well be that if I just move out I will have more powers. But the point is that because of this presentiment I truly cannot act; thus if it turns out that way, it really will be a gift of God's love and in one respect unexpected, for I must act by virtue of the very opposite, that everything grows dark around me, and that I nevertheless go on with it.
My depression actually has gotten an all too frightful upper hand over me. Most likely much of what appalls me is, as usual, imaginary, largely because I have not breathed freely for a long time but have been troubled by finite concerns, which is not the case with me ordinarily. But whether it is imaginary or not, it is very exhausting when one is obliged to act, to lift the pillar of reflection as I must do.
There must be action simply in order to save life; then God will bring — yes, how can I say it, no, it is ordinarily true, God will bring the best out of it. This matter of the appointment is a lazy possibility that merely will hinder me in the other.
Luther's sermon on the Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday, which I read just today (according to plan), was very impressive. I was moved by the first point, that only one found the jewel, but even more by the next — to miss the mark, which Luther develops beautifully right at the beginning.
[In margin: N.B.]
Incidentally, the "supplements" to "The Point of View" could very well be published and separately. They will then be read considerably. In fact, I now will and should get more involved in the times.
"The Point of View for My Work as an Author" must not be published, no, no!
- And this is the deciding factor (never mind all those ideas I had about endangering my future and my bread and butter): I cannot tell the full truth about myself. Even in the very first manuscript (which I wrote without any thought at all of publishing) I was unable to stress the primary factor: that I am a penitent, and that this explains me at the deepest level. But when I took the manuscript out with the thought of publishing it, I was obliged to make a few small changes, for in spite of everything it was cast too intensely to be published. But I can and will speak of the extraordinary gifts entrusted to me only if I can give the same strong emphasis (which I feel myself when I reflect on the subject) to my sin and guilt. Not to do so would be taking the extraordinary in vain.
I cannot quite say that my work as an author is a sacrifice. It is true I have been unspeakably unhappy ever since I was a child, but I nevertheless acknowledge that the solution God found of letting me become an author has been a rich, rich pleasure to me. I may be sacrificed, but my authorship is not a sacrifice; it is, in fact, what I unconditionally prefer to keep on being.
Thus I cannot tell the full truth here, either, for I cannot speak this way in print about my torment and wretchedness — when the pleasure is really predominant.
But perhaps I have had my head somewhat in the clouds and possibly could have deceived myself about the extent to which, if it came to that, I would really prefer being slain to being obliged to seek a quieter, more tranquil activity.
Once I have articulated the extraordinary in me, even with all the guardedness I have used, then I will be stuck with it, and it will be a torment and a fearful responsibility to go on living if I am pathetically looked upon solemnly as someone extraordinary.
- The fact that I cannot give the full truth in portraying myself signifies that essentially I am a poet — and here I shall remain.
But the situation is this: the past year (when I wrote that piece) was a hard one for me; I have suffered greatly. The treatment by rabble barbarism has interfered somewhat with my incognito and tended to force me to be direct instead of dialectical as I have always been, to force me out beyond myself. My incognito was to be a sort of nobody, peculiar, odd-looking, with thin legs, an idler, and all that. All this was of my own free will. Now the rabble have been trained to stare at me inhumanly and mimic me, day after day, with the result that I have become fed up with my incognito. So I was in danger of making a complete turnabout.
This must not happen, and I thank God that it was precluded and that I did not go ahead and publish "The Point of View for my Work as an Author" (indeed, there always was something in me that opposed it).
The book itself is true and in my opinion masterly. But a book like that can be published only after my death. If my sin and guilt, my intrinsic misery, the fact that I am a penitent are stressed a bit more pointedly, then it will be a true picture. But I must be careful about the idea of dying, lest I go and do something with the thought of dying and half a year and then live to be eighty-two. No, one finishes a book like that, puts it away in a draw, sealed and marked: To be opened after my death.
And now suppose, speaking quite humanly, that I ventured too little, that I could have ventured a bit farther. In that case the good lord, God in heaven who is love, my Father in heaven, who forgives me my sins for the sake of Christ, he surely will forgive me this as well. After all, he is not a cruel master, not a jealous lover, but the loving Father. To him I dare say: I do not presume to venture more, I have a fear of becoming false, of being brash toward you. I would rather stick with my incognito and let everyone think what he pleases about me than solemnly become somebody, an extraordinary. There is no one to whom I can make myself completely understood, because that which is crucial in my possible extraordinariness is that I cannot, after all, discuss my sin and guilt.
So God surely will turn it all into good for me.
Moreover, what I have written can very well be used — if I do indeed continue to be an author — but then I must assign it to a poet, a pseudonym.
For example —
the poet Johannes de Silentio
But this is the best proof that "The Point of View for My Work as an Author" cannot be published. It must be made into something by a third party: A Possible Explanation of Magister Kierkegaard's Authorship, that is, so it is no longer the same book at all. For the point of it was my personal story.
And then I must go abroad in the spring.
But it was due to God's solicitude that I was flushed out of this indolent productivity, producing and producing (and in one sense superbly), but I never took the trouble to think about publishing, partly because I was hoping for death.
"The Seducer's Diary" had to come first in order to shed light on the "Psychological Experiment." The latter lies in the confinium between the interesting and the religious. If "The Seducer's Diary" had not come out first, the result would have been that the reading world would have found it interesting. "The Seducer's Diary" was a help, and now it was found to be boring — quite rightly so, for it is the religious. Frater Taciturnus himself gives the same explanation.
What I am afflicted with is a mixture of a kind of modesty and a kind of pride. When it comes to finite things I am unable to take advantage or look to my own advantage; I am ashamed to protest being cheated — I am embarrassed on behalf of the other person. And yet I am well aware of it, but there is also a certain pride over the fact that for me it is actually enough to have perceived it.
What I have written about Adler perhaps could be published separately under the title: "A Literary Review," and the longer preface to "A Cycle of Ethical-Religious Essays" could be used here.
No, "such an extraordinary" I certainly am not. Partly because I have not collided with the established order but with the universally-human (a suffering which has often happened to a genius), partly because I am a penitent, and finally, the extraordinary in me is so remote from producing anything new that, just the opposite, I am suited to preserving the established order.
Now I see it more clearly — that, rightly understood, I am or ought to be the movement, the awakening, only in a soft and dormant period (for I am the more ideal established order), but in rebellious times I am quite clearly conservative. What R. Nielsen said is quite true — that in a way Bishop Mynster regards me as an exaggeration — in peace-time; but now he thinks that I am more suitable.
Great care must be taken now; there must be a new direction.
There are three possibilities open to me. (1) To step forth directly and decisively into the world of actuality in the character of the extraordinary, disregarding the fact that I am essentially a poet, that essentially I have related poetically to it (even thought I am unusually ethical for a poet in the sense of an emphasis upon willing to be what is poetized), disregarding the fact that I have an accidental advantage: private means. — This would be false on my part and is therefore an impossibility. (2) To draw everything poetical back into myself as a poet and then arrange my total personal life as a poet, seek a poet-distance in order to avoid any occasion for confusion as to whether I am existentially what is poetized. (3) To seek an appointment, as I originally intended.
But my financial problem, especially in these confused times, has taken a bit out of me. With this advantage I wanted to be able to keep on my feet in spite of all the mistreatment from people and to be approximately what has been poetized, but this concern has gnawed at the dialectical elasticity of my mind and spirit, and the mistreatment and all the loathsomeness I put up with has made me a little impatient, to the point where I almost went ahead and declared something about myself (of course still dialectical enough so that I would not say I was that but that I had been), something which, to be sure, is not untrue but which I have regarded religiously as my duty to preserve in self-denial and therefore in all consistency I cannot make public the basis of it, however surreptitiously.
For this reason no. 2 of "A Cycle of Ethical-Religious Essays" (the universal — the single individual — the special individual) cannot come out, either. Despite all disclaimers it will be understood as being about me. But it does also contain the explanation of "The Seducer's Diary," although it probably will not be understood that way, but rather as being about my exposure of myself to the rabble.
And then perhaps, as stated frequently, all the writings that lie finished (the most valuable I have produced) can also be used, but, for God's sake, in such a way as to guarantee that they are kept poetic, as poetic awakening.
What a moody oddity I am. Today I take out what I wrote recently to see if it were the case that it said too much. And there on it stands already: poetical, without authority.
It would be droll to give a play three titles.
He Laughs Last Who Laughs Best
Wie es euch gefällt
in Three Acts
Nonsensical, but obviously there are possibilities here for some lines à la Falstaff. That crazy third title or Fruit Montage is characteristic of him. In his abusive works as well as in his comparisons, when there already has been a plenitude of lunacy, along comes one more which is utterly mad. Things of this nature happen in life. I have a childhood memory (tone of Wahlgreen's boys; they lived with Agerskov at Blegdam 8) — after having exhausted all his invective against another boy in a fit of bad temper, finally pausing for a moment, he then cried out desperately, half ecstatically: You canary!
So it goes. I posed the problem, the problem which confronts the whole generation: equality between man and man. I posed it in action here in Copenhagen. That is something quite different from writings a few words about it; I expressed some approximation of it with my life. In an essentially Christian sense I leveled, but not in a mutinous way against position and power, which I have maintained with all my might.
But people do not grasp this, but they do talk — and I become the victim; and I am supposed to have been guilty of pride, I who have fought sacrificially for equality.
And the result. Well, the result is quite simply that if I had not been as profoundly influenced religiously as I am, I might have withdrawn and sought company — with the exclusive set — that is, I would have become proud.
O, you fools!
I have become involved with R. Nielsen because I considered it my religious duty to have at least one man, so that it could not be said that I bypassed completely this claim.
Of course he can be of no benefit to me ultimately: he is too heavy, too thick-skinned, too spoiled by the age of Christian VIII. Were I to become secular-minded, he naturally would be of advantage to me.
I have been obliged to be a little distant with him, for otherwise he prattles pleasantly about my cause, my cause which either should be intensified unconditionally or hidden in deepest silence.
R. Nielsen can understand me up to a point, but he cannot resist himself, is fascinated by all this profundity, hurries home, jots it down, and communicates it — instead of first acting upon it himself. His communication of the truth will never in all eternity become action.
It is absolutely certain that I am not "such an extraordinary" as presented in No. 2. I have never clashed with the established order, have always been basically conservative. In breaking an engagement I have clashed — but as an individual — with something universally human. But this really does not concern any other man; it is not a collision with the historical as an established order, the kind of collision embodying the dialectic of bringing forth something new. But I have never claimed to have that. Moreover, I have done everything lest my example, my collision, should harm anyone, as if there were something great in not getting married.
I can truthfully say that I have worked in the service of the established order.
And even if pressed forward to becoming a reformer according to my own highest possible standards, I would still be in the service of the established order, for I regard "the crowd" as the evil. If I should fall, I must fall — I have opposed it and will continue to oppose it, supporting the government with all my powers.
But insofar as I touch on that odious traffic in [ecclesiastical jobs], it is not, again, with the idea that anyone's living should be taken away from one single solitary person, or that anyone should become anxious and for that reason give it up. What I am fighting for on this point (still very secondary) is, again, a conception, how one views his job, that one admits to himself that to have it is an alleviation, an accommodation, but does not shamelessly turn the thing around and turn "bread-and-butter" into earnestness — and Christ and the apostles into visionaries.
What I said to Christian VIII is really true — that I certainly believe I have been of benefit to the established order, but it is also true what I said to him about the point of the whole thing being that I am a private individual. For an awakening was needed, and the established order needed rehabilitation in such shabby times, when everything is explained by low motives and when the competent state employee is in one sense diminished by saying: He is in the paid service of the state.
It is awkward to publish even the least little thing that remotely explains the extraordinary. True enough, I am not such a person, but from that, but from that it does not follow, in spite of all the excluding elements, that I will be so regarded [as not being an extraordinary]. But if part of being an extraordinary is to hide the fact, I ought not give any telegraphic signals of that kind.
My only characteristic of extraordinariness is that I am a penitent. It is impossible now to explain this in such a way that the accent falls in the right place. For what does the world really care about such things if it can only get to stare at the extraordinary. But if I cannot say A, then I cannot say B, either.
No doubt there is something sad here. My life, my work as an author, will be explained höchstens as a special kind of genius, by no means as serious and by no means as consistent as the lives of various others. None of my contemporaries penetrates more deeply than this. I am the only one who can explain it (for here to explain is to have made the discovery, to have discovered capacities which do not exist as such for others) — alas, and I am silent. It is as though someone had a great treasure and hid it so securely that he threw the key away.
What troubles me is whether or not I have the right to do this, whether in relation to God this silence is permissible, whether it is permissible to let a productivity which is so infinitely indebted to Him for its ingenuity remain an enigma and for many somewhat odd. And why? In part because the author considers this to be self-denial and in part because he feels unable to assume every misunderstanding in actual life resulting from giving an explanation.
"A Cycle of Minor Ethical-Religious Essays," if that which deals with Adler is omitted (and it definitely must be omitted, for to come in contact with him is completely senseless, and furthermore it perhaps is also unfair to treat a contemporary merely psychologically this way), has the defect that what as parts in a total study does not draw attention to itself (and originally this was the case) will draw far too much attention to itself and thereby to me. Although originally an independent work, the same applies to no. 3, a more recent work.
But if no. 2 and no. 3, which are about Adler, are also to be omitted, then "A Cycle" cannot be published at all.
Besides, there should be some stress on a second edition of Either/Or. Therefore either — as I previously thought — a quarto with all the most recent writing or only a small fragment of it, but, please note, to constitute a proper contrast to Either/Or. The "Three Notes" on my work as an author were intended for that, and this has a strong appeal to me.
If I do nothing at all directly to assure a full understanding of my whole authorship (by publishing "The Point of View for My Work as an Author") or do not even give an indirect sign (by publishing "A Cycle" etc.) — then what? Then there will be no judgment at all on my authorship in its totality, for no one has sufficient faith or time or competence to look for a comprehensive plan in the entire production. Consequently the verdict will be that I have changed somehow over the years.
So it will be. This distresses me. I am deeply convinced that this is not the case, that there is an integral comprehensiveness in the whole production (by the special assistance of Governance), and that there certainly is something else to be said about it than this meager comment that the author has changed.
I keep this hidden deep within, where there is also something in contrast: the sense in which I was more guilty than other men.
These proportions strongly appeal to me. I am averse to being regarded with any kind of sympathy or to representing myself as the extraordinary.
This suits me completely. So the best incognito I can choose is quite simply to take an appointment.
The enticing aspect of the total productivity (that it is esthetic — but also religious) will be very faintly intimated by the "Three Notes." For that matter, if something is to function enticingly, it is wrong to explain it. A fisherman would not tell the fish about his bait, saying "This is bait." And finally, if everything else pointed to the appropriateness of communicating something about the integral comprehensiveness, I cannot emphasize enough that Governance actually is the directing power and that in so many ways I do not understand until afterwards.
This is written on Shrove-Monday. A year ago today I decided to publish Christian Discourses; this year I am inclined to the very opposite.
For a moment I would like to bring a bit of mildness and friendliness into the whole thing. This can best be achieved by a second edition of Either/Or and then the "Three Notes." In fact it would be odd right now when I am thinking of stopping writing to commence a polemic in which I do not wish to engage by replying (a polemic which is unavoidable because of no.1 and no.2 in "A Cycle").
Let there be moderation on my part: if someone wants a fight, then in a concealed way I certainly am well-armed.
My task was to pose this riddle of awakening: a balanced esthetic and religious productivity, simultaneously.
This has been done. There is a balance even in quantity. Concluding Postscript is the midpoint.
The "Three Notes" swing it into the purely religious.
What comes next cannot be added impatiently as a conclusion.
For dialectically it is precisely right that this be the end. What comes next would be the beginning of something new.
A martyrdom of laughter is what I really have suffered. Anything more than this and more profound than this I dare not say of myself: I am a martyr of laughter; but not everyone who suffers being laughed at, even for an idea, is therefore a martyr of laughter in the strictest sense. For example, when a thoroughly earnest man suffers it in a good cause, he does not have the deeper relationship to the martyrdom he suffers. But I am a martyr of laughter and my life has been designed for that; I understand myself so completely as such that it is as if I now understood myself for the first time — on the other hand I would find it difficult to understand myself becoming successful in the world. No, in the martyrdom of laughter I recognize myself again. To be able to become just that, I am the wittiest of all, possessing a superlative sense of comedy, could myself have represented laughter on an unsurpassed scale, could also deceptively have lured men out upon thin ice by doing that, thereby becoming what the age demanded — this superiority, this self-determination is the criterion of the more ideal martyrdom. Quite rightly, I had to direct the laughter upon myself (as Ney directed the soldiers who shot him). And the one who must carry out the order would gladly have been my lieutenant and it certainly never occurred to him to do otherwise than give me place no. 1.
The "Postscript" by Anticlimacus could well make a complete little book under the title:
for Climachus is already known and the idea implicit here (by placing the two together) is authentically dialectical.
My Last Word About Goldschmidt
If I were to speak, I would say something like this. I have nothing to reproach him for. I must reproach myself for wronging myself out of perhaps exaggerated good nature and kindness, for having too much faith in him and hoping for some hidden good in him, for doing him the wrong of putting him to the test so that this had to come out in the open in a decisive way.
Everyone regarded him with contempt; none of those with whom I had any connection associated with him. That was the judgment passed on him, and I thought that it possibly was an injustice to him. He wished to become an author and with that in mind turned to me. I honestly and sympathetically did everything to encourage him and to tear him away if possible from the aberration and perdition of The Corsair.
I laid myself open to the possibility (so in fact several have told me) that many would take exception to my greeting or accompanying that man on the streets. I laid myself open to the circulation by certain envious circles of the opinion that I secretly humored rabble-irony.
I had entertained the thought of becoming more involved with him. But before that happened there had to be a test. Would he, in connection with the only object of his admiration and with what he himself had said in print, have the courage and self-respect to say either: No, I will not attack him, or: I will attack the little article he has written but not the earlier books I personally have admired and immortalized and to which I really am deeply indebted.
He did not stand the test. For me it became — if it must be called punishment — a punishment for being the only person here at home who did Goldschmidt the wrong of having too much faith in him and of hoping that there was something good hidden deep down in the man.
An Eastern proverb says: He who first praises and then berates someone lies two times. That was the snare I stretched for him — an exaggeration, ach ja, I could have been satisfied with the positive assurance of all the others that he was contemptible.
It is really unnecessary for me to give information about myself in direct communication for the sake of my contemporaries. It is not essentially a case of their misunderstanding me but is simply their rudeness, flouting, and envy.
To say something about myself as author in toto is difficult for me, because I never can emphasize strongly enough the part of Governance or my deepest conception about the whole matter. That is something that cannot be done until I am dead.
Self-denial requires the consistency of silence on this subject.
The only misgiving has to do with the God-relationship, whether I do not owe it to him to speak. One can deceive by being a hypocrite. But it is also a deceit to encourage and confirm people in an opinion which underrates one as much as possible. Here is the dialectical point, for if I declare the extraordinary about myself with respect to talents etc., yes with respect to being an author — I still cannot say anything about what to me is absolutely a part of it: all my wretchedness, my sin, etc. But if I cannot do that, then the extraordinary is taken in vain and gives a false picture of me.
There is a remarkable doubleness in all the answers Christ gave to the tempter, in that we understand each of them differently if we consider that Christ, the one speaking, is himself God.
Mohammed protests with all his might against being regarded as a poet and the Koran as a poet; he wants to be a prophet. [In margin: See Goethe, Westöstlicher Divan, Sämtl. W., VI, pp. 33 ff.] I protest with all my might at being regarded as a prophet and want only to be a poet.
(That I voluntarily exposed myself to ridicule)
..... In this respect there is something that filled my soul with sadness. What is called the ordinary class, the common man, has rarely had and in Copenhagen has rarely had anyone who has Christianly loved him more disinterestedly than I have. On the other hand, here as everywhere, we have plenty of those, who in the capacity of journalists, want to make money on him — in exchange for false ideas which can only make him unhappy and make the relationship between class and class more bitter, plenty of those who in the capacity of agitators and the like want to exploit his numbers in order to help him get shot down, while from a loftier position an erroneous view is held and it is said: The simple class is demoralized; they must be shot down. No, no, no — the tragedy of the whole thing lies at the feet of the bourgeois, and if anyone is to be shot down, then let it be the journalists for the manner in which they have wanted to exploit the ordinary class and profit from them. God in heaven knows that blood-thirst is alien to my soul, and I believe that I have a concept of a responsibility to God that is appalling, but yet, yet I would in the name of God take the responsibility for giving the order to fire if I first of all, with the precaution of a most anxious conscience, had convinced myself that there was not one single other man facing the rifles — yes, not one single living creature other than — journalists. This is said of the class. There have been, and according to a quite different standard, honorable and excellent princes and clergy — and yet at the same time and with a certain truth it was said, consequently of the whole class — evil comes from the princes, from the clergy.
The man and the ideal are separated from each other in this way. To be so situated as to be able to live for an idea, to be able to employ all one's time for this, is indeed closer to relating oneself to the ideal — although, of course, when the ideal is Christ there is the infinite qualitative difference between him and one who comes closest to him.
The people, the great majority of men, who must use most of their time in earning a living, in menial work — in regard to them it would be cruel to jack up the price. Here, however, a mildness and a consolation ought to be humanely provided, for the very reason that in such persons the essential concern may be that they are pained by not being able to live for something higher.
Truly, truly I have also always felt and acknowledged this: I have always been indescribably inspired by the fact that before God it is just as important to be a servant-girl, if that is what one is, as to be the most eminent genius. From this comes also my exaggerated sympathy for ordinary people, the common man. And therefore I can be very melancholy and sad about their having been led to ridicule me and thus having been deprived of the one who here at home loved them most sincerely.
No, the cultured and well-to-do class, who if not upper-crust are at least upper-bourgeoisie — they ought to be the targets and for them the price ought to be jacked up in the drawing rooms.
Like everything else in the Middle Ages, the origin of indulgences etc. — their degeneration is something else again — was a childish misunderstanding. By reading this and that prayer so and so often one then received so and so much indulgence (for example, see Liguori, Betrachtungen und Gebetbuch, Aachen, 1840, p. 599 note). But did not my father do the same with me when I was a child? He promised me a rix-dollar if I read one of Mynster's sermons aloud for him, and four rix-dollars if I would write up the sermon I had heard in church. True enough, I did not do it; I remember pointing out that it was wrong to want to tempt me in that manner, because he knew I would like to have the money. But it was not really my father's fault but mine that I have never been a child. For a child, who after all does not have a better sense of things of supreme importance, this method is not at all wrong; one counts on the child's gradually coming under the power of higher conceptions and having at a later time occasion to appropriate them personally in a more profound sense.
It is true that my original intention was always to try to get appointed to a small rural parish. But at the time I was actually thinking of it as a contrast to having become, despite my efforts, successful in the world as an author. Now the situation is entirely different, my circumstances so unrewarding, that for the time it is appropriate especially for a penitent to stay where he is. Humanly speaking, if it were up to me I would give it up, for the generation in which I live is a miserable one indeed when an author of my competence and my self-dedication is treated in this way. I have no interest whatsoever in fighting with them, for in fact there is hardly one I really can say has the competence to judge me. Christianly speaking, my only concern is obedience to God.
It is also true, as I have always said, that the place was unoccupied: an author who knew how to stop. Right. But I was bound to the idea of trying to introduce Christianity into Christendom, albeit poetically and without authority (namely, not making myself a missionary). That, too, has been carried out. But the trouble is that it nauseates me to have to say one more word to this generation, a word which merely will cost me new sacrifices and expose me to new nastiness. And if it is printed, it can just as well lie until after my death. But Christianly, the only question is that of obedience. If it had anything to do with this kind of nastiness, Christ would never have kept his mouth closed.
It is difficult to know whether it is more humiliating to declare right out that I can no longer afford to be an author and now take on the burden of the finite or to lay myself wide open to all that may follow if I publish something but, please note, not making myself an extraordinary who acquires a few disciples.
Finally, there is one thing to remember — that my original thought must still be subject to a certain control. How many times have I not said that a warship does not get its orders until it is out at sea, and thus it may be entirely in order for me to go farther as an author than I had originally intended, especially since I have become an author in an entirely different sense, for originally I thought of being an author as an escape, something temporary, from going to the country as a pastor. But has not my situation already changed in that qua author I have begun to work for the religious. At first I planned to stop immediately after Either/Or. That was actually the original idea. But productivity took hold of me. Then I planned to stop with the Concluding Postscript. But what happens, I get involved in all that rabble persecution, and that was the very thing that made me remain on the spot. Now, I said to myself, now it can no longer be a matter of abandoning splendid conditions, no, now it is a situation for a penitent. Then I was going to end with Christian Discourses and travel, but I did not get to travel — and 1848 was the year of my richest productivity. Thus Governance himself has kept me in the harness. I ask myself: Do you believe that out in the rural parish you would have been able to write three religious books such as the three following Concluding Postscript? And I am obliged to answer: No! It was the tension of actuality which put new strength into my instrument, forced me to publish even more. And so again in 1848.
Moreover, now it is only a question of publishing a few short ethical-religious essay — and three friendly notes. But as I said, I have become sickened at the thought of having to address what I say to such an age, to which, humanly speaking, the only proper response would be silence.
I must travel in the spring.
"In every one of the pseudonymous works the theme of 'the single individual' appears — yes, certainly, and the following is one of several ways: the pseudonymous writers concentrate upon working out the universal, the single individual [den Enkelte], the special individual [den sœrlige Enkelte], the exception, in order to find the meaning of the special individual in his suffering and his extraordinariness.
The Judge in Either/Or had already posed this with respect to the exception from being married.
Then came Fear and Trembling — Repetition, the psychological experiment — all commentaries on the category: the single individual.
But in relation to the reading public, the pseudonymous writers themselves as well as the books affirm the category of the single individual.
The beginning of my authorship is indirectly explained in something correlative, the essay "The Dialectical Relations: the Universal, the Single Individual, the Special Individual." The more recent direction is indirectly explained in the essay "Has a Man the Right To Let Himself Be Put To Death for the Truth?"
The words from Philippians could be the text for a Friday-sermon.
"For me to live is Christ"; but no more, not the next phrase, "to die is gain."
An understanding of the totality of my work as an author, its maieutic purpose, etc. requires also an understanding of my personal existence [Existeren] as an author, what I qua author have done with my personal existence to support it, illuminate it, conceal it, give it direction, etc., something which is more complicated than and just as interesting as the whole literary activity. Ideally the whole thing goes back to "the single individual" [den Enkelte], who is not I in an empirical sense but is the author.
That Socrates belonged together with what he taught, that his teaching ended in him, that he himself was his teaching, in the setting of actuality was himself artistically a product of that which he taught — we have learned to rattle this off by rote by have scarcely understood it. Even the systematicians talk this way about Socrates. But nowadays everything is supposed to be objective. And if someone were to use his own person maieutically, this would be labelled "à la Andersen."
All this is part of an illumination of my position in the development. Objectivity is believed to be superior to subjectivity, but it is just the opposite; that is to say, an objectivity which is within a corresponding subjectivity is the finale. The system was an inhuman something to which no human being could correspond as author and executer.
It will never do to let the second edition of Either/Or be published without something accompanying it. Somehow the accent must be that I have made up my mind about being a religious author.
To be sure, my seeking an ecclesiastic post also stresses this, but it can be interpreted as something that came later.
Therefore, do I have the right (partly out of concern lest I say too much about myself, partly because of a disinclination to expose myself to possible annoyances) to allow what I have written to be vague, lie in abeyance as something indefinite and thus as being much less than it is, although it no doubt will embitter various people to have to realize that there is such ingeniousness in the whole [authorship]. It is, in fact, comfortable to regard me as a kind of half-mad genius — it is a strain to have to become aware of the more extraordinary.
And all this concern about an appointment and livelihood is both depressing and exaggerated. And a second question arises: Will I be able to endure living if I must confess to myself that I have acted prudently and avoided the danger which the truth could have required me to confront.
Furthermore, the other books ("The Sickness unto Death," "Come to Me," "Blessed Is He Who Is not Offended") are extremely valuable. In one of them in particular it was granted to me to illuminate Christianity on a scale greater than I had ever dreamed possible; crucial categories are directly disclosed there. Consequently it must be published. But if I publish nothing at present, I will again have the last card.
"The Point of View" cannot be published.
I must travel.
But the second edition of Either/Or is a critical point (as I did in fact regard it originally and wrote "The Point of View" to be published simultaneously with it and otherwise would scarcely have been in earnest about publishing the second edition) — it will never come again. If this opportunity is not utilized, everything I have written, viewed as a totality, will be dragged down into the esthetic.
The actual Johannes Climacus (author of Scala Paradisi) says: There are but few saints; if we wish to become saintly and saved, we must live as do the few.
(aachen: 1840), p. 570
[In margin:: — N.B. An observation concerning two passages in note no. 2 of the three friendly notes.]
Although "the pseudonyms expected to get only a few readers," it can still be quite all right for the esthetic productivity "to be used maieutically to get hold of men." For one thing, the human crowd is inquisitive about esthetic productions; another matter is the concept of "readers" that the pseudonyms must advance. How many readers Either/Or has had — and yet how few readers it has had, or how little it has come to be "read"!
And is it then a joy to me to introduce something like this into the world? Quite as if I were not a man — I who have so much of the poet in me.
But I am a penitent. And I cannot comprehend that it would please God if I were to begin flagellating myself (as the Middle Ages piously believed), but certainly it can please God that the truth be spoken. It is just the task for a penitent. That which I say, from a divine point of view, is the truth, this is eternally certain. But the point is that the truth, divinely speaking, is, humanly speaking, inimical to what it is to be human.
Christ was himself God, he could not propound anything else than the divine truth. The apostles were called by him. But in the course of time (I cannot understand it in any other way) there has to be a penitent to present the truth in this way, for only a penitent can be so anxious and fearful before God that he dares say nothing else but that which, humanly speaking, makes himself and everybody else unhappy.
[In margin: N.B. — ]
A literary form I could use in the future would be to publish the books as if they had been written fifty years ago.
As yet I have not said a direct word about myself: the postscript to Concluding Postscript contains nothing of the sort; all I did was to assume responsibility for the pseudonyms and speak hypothetically ("according to what I have understood") about their ideas. The information given in Concluding Postscript about the structure of the pseudonyms is by a third party. The conclusion of Works of Love ("The Work of Love in Praising Love") contains nothing direct about me; on the contrary, it says that "the most selfish person" "may be the one who undertakes to praise love." The review of Two Ages has one little hint about me, but that again is not direct communication but is concealed by making it seem as if I had learned it from the novel.
The title page of each of the later books has:
"poetic" — to signify that I do not pass myself off as being an extraordinary Christian or as being what I describe. "Without authority" — to indicate that I do not put others under any obligation or judge others. "For inward awakening" — to show that I have nothing to do with external changes or that kind of reformation.
A Comment on the Book
There is no specific reference to Christ's entry into Jerusalem, but then on the whole there is no reference to the historical.
The poetic character in the book (and therein is the stimulus to an awakening) is in the stamp of modernity it has, without, however, missing the points. Yes, it even became a matter of not holding too scrupulously to the historical facts because they have become trivialized to people who have heard them since childhood.
As far as the entry is concerned, it is a fairly isolated circumstance, nor can it be regarded entirely as a triumphal procession. A man who is so despised (that allowing oneself to be helped by him is punished by exclusion from the synagogue [in margin: for this reason the parents of the man blind from birth do not dare say anything about the one who helped their son]; so despised that it says, "I wonder if any of the teachers of the people listen to him, but the mob"; so despised that he must seek or seeks the company of sinners and tax collectors etc.) — any entry he makes must be understood more as a disturbance than a prestigious affair. [In margin: Luke 19:37 says the whole multitude of the disciples praised God etc., but how many, in fact, are the whole multitude of the disciples; and furthermore they were disciples, after all, and this proves nothing about how the people regarded Christ.]
With poetic propriety I have construed his life as having two phases. The first phase in which his reputation is a problem and there is a controversy about him. The second in which the crowds are influenced by the judgment made on him by those of position and reputation.
But, to repeat, the center of interest in my book is not in a scrupulous correctness about the facts (although, please note, there is nothing that directly controverts anything factual) but in a modernity, that it happens right before our eyes in the dress of our day.
What is presented is the absolute existing in the medium of actuality and in a form of a single human being who is like one of us. This is the paradox. The particular factual details and words are utilized as cues and therefore have the opposite effect they usually have. As a rule people cling to the purely historical; here the book ventures to interpret this poetically in such a manner that the way the particular sacred words are used provides the commentary on them.
It was just the right thing to do. It would have disturbed the effect if I had stuck too scrupulously to the historical.
The temporal and the earthly, which seek to hold one back, seem so important at the moment (all the possible dangers and sacrifices etc. are so great), and when at the point of death one comes to review his life, then one will see that what held him back was so very insignificant, and yet it is one and the same. One ought to be fearful of this inversion.
I ought to see that, as usual, I have received my orders out on the open sea, that things are laid out for me to go forward, that the catastrophe in 1848 also has significance for me.
If anyone in Denmark (yes, I wish I knew if there were really many in any other country) is prepared to be sacrificed, it is I. I have always understood this but ought to continue to understand it. If I had understood from the beginning what I understand now, I would not have been able to persevere. This is how Governance disciplines. But therefore I should obediently and gratefully accept this understanding.
It is my prudence which shrinks back somewhat — in order to help me, in the eternal sense, to be deceived.
Just have faith and confidence; God tests no man beyond his powers.
The other day I went to Mynster and casually mentioned an appointment at the pastoral seminary. It helps. If it were offered to me, I would scarcely be tempted. But it is good that I did it, that I do not have to feel that I plunged myself into great decisions because I was too proud to seek an appointment. But God knows that this is very far from being my case.
Humanly speaking, it is obvious that my misfortune is that I have been brought up so rigorously in Christianity — and then that I have to live in so-called Christendom. To have to go through a martyrdom with all the sensitivity of a poetic soul is frightful enough. But I always see before my eyes that Christ is being spat upon. Why then does the world suppose it is frightening me off when all it does is thrust forward. I perhaps could renounce various things readily enough if it is a matter of abandoning something splendid in order to seek the essentially Christian. But as soon as the world beckons to me in the direction of persecution, I promptly follow the beckoning — there I would dare not give way.
O, to what dangers it is possible to lay oneself open! Danger, after all, is just my element.
But there is one danger, or more correctly, there is something which runs against the constitution of my whole personality, is really in revolutionary opposition to it, and that is to be obliged to speak about my interior life, about my relationship to God. It would distress me to make that step and I would simply beg to be excused. I have been and am willing to risk anything, but this is something else — it is not a polemic but a submission.
It is really for this reason that the publishing of my most recent books costs me so much suffering.
Yet it may well be my duty to God. To have to talk about how I spend my time in prayer, how I literally live in relationship to God as a child to a father (mother) etc. O, this — if I dare say so — this letting down my guard is so hard, so hard for me; it seems to me as if my interior life were too true to me to talk about it.
And yet it is perhaps my duty to God, and the hiddenness of my interior life may be something God has accommodatingly permitted me to have until I have grown strong enough to speak out about it. My unhappy childhood, my abysmal mental depression, the wretchedness of my personal life until I became an author, all this has contributed to developing my hidden interiority. I can quite literally say that in this regard never in my life have I ever spoken to one single person the way two people ordinarily speak together — I have always kept my interior life to myself, even when I spoke more confidentially; and confidentially I have never been able to speak.
Until now God has permitted this, but in one respect it is for me a kind of coddling. God has been so good, so loving to me, that I truly can say that my association with Him has been my only confidential relationship, and He, in all my misery He has permitted me to find the strength to endure it, yes, to find blessing in it.
But when I am to speak about my interior life to others, I am appalled, lest I say too little or too much, yes, just speaking about it seems to me to be, as mentioned, an untruth. In God's confidence I can struggle with me, can submit even to being put to death, but I cannot endure being enthusiastically regarded by men as the extraordinary — to me it is like death. Although under ordinary circumstances I would not have thought of traveling, now I would have to travel far, far away, and if possible remain abroad.
Voluntarily exposing myself to attack by The Corsair is no doubt the most intensive thing along the order of genius that I have done. It will have results in all my writing, will be extremely important for my whole task with respect to Christianity and to my elucidation of Christianity, to casting it entirely into reflection.
It is frequently said that if Christ came to the world now he would once again be crucified. This is not entirely true. The world has changed; it is now immersed in "understanding". Therefore Christ would be ridiculed, treated as a mad man, but a mad man at whom one laughs.
The antimony must now be resolved: that one shall believe that which derision can render ridiculous, which one can see done in a secular and earthly way. This is an even higher accentuation than credo quia absurdum. To the simple man it simply says: All you have to do is believe. To the comprehending understanding it says: It is diametrically opposed to the understanding, but you shall believe. Here the shall is stronger just because it is in opposition to something. In relation to the most caustic mockery of intellectuality it says: Well now, seen from your point of view it is ridiculous, extremely ridiculous, the most ridiculous of all — but you shall believe; it is a matter of heaven or hell, you shall. This is a frightful shall precisely because it makes such a great concession to the opposition.
I now understand better and better the original and profound relationship I have to the comic, and this will be useful to me in illuminating Christianity.
For this reason it is appropriate for my own fragment of life to express this dialectic: that I have allowed myself to be laughed at — but what I say is true.
When no concession at all is made to the opposition, then the shall related to it is not nearly so strong. The greater the concession, the more frightful this shall. The concession is, so to speak, the height of the shower bath.
Therefore the one who is to present Christianity must eminently have what the most caustic scoffer has at his disposal — precisely in order to pose this: shall.
If the whole of Christianity were what the pastors preach, then I would have to renounce Christianity. Why? Because it is not elevated enough for me? No, just the opposite, because it would not be and is not simple enough for me. If Christianity is to be accepted because of reasons, then I must ask for something quite different from what the preachers provide. The fact of the matter is that Christianity must be accepted. It is that power which is in heaven and on earth which says to every human being: You shall believe. See, this is neither too high nor too low, but just right. The preachers' chatter is neither one nor the other.
My friend, you have now lived for a time in the world, in the world of men, and will perhaps live many more years in this world where men naturally have unqualified superiority over you, a single human bineg, and you dare not count on God's direct intervention for your sake. If, then, you expect in a human sense to see happy and pleasant days, then never let yourself become involved in Christianity in earnest — in earnest, for you can easily do it in the ordinary preacher-way. Yes, do not even speak of it. If you do it [become involved in earnest], you will find out how it will go with you, how busy the clergy will be in preserving the congregations' cherished illusions in which they are so cozily ensconced and which also protect the pastors' paid occupations.
If in any way your life expresses that you love God in earnest (consequently according to God's conception), you will be badly treated by men, and in the same degree, and worse in the very same degree as your life more and more expresses that you more truly love God. To dabble in human sympathy, to haggle, is not Christianity. If this were Christianity, then Christ's own life was not Christianity and no paradigm at all. Do not even speak of this, for it points again to the illusion of trillions of Christians and then to the illusion of "paid occupation".
Humanly speaking, there is an almost mad self-contradiction in Christianity's requirement, which is the anguish of being a Christian. It sets a task and says: In the same degree as you succeed, you will come to suffer more and more. You will continually think: "But, Lord God, if I rightly love men — then ..... " The Christian answer to this must be: Stupid man, or presumptuous man, did not the Savior of the world rightly love men, and he was mocked, spit upon, etc.; has it not been this way for all true Christians, and if not, it merely indicates that they were not Christians, for the prototype settles everything.
This contradiction in what Christianity requires and predicts is like a father's saying to his child, "This and this is what you are to do, this is the task, this you shall do — do you understand me? " If not, then shake in your boots," and then adding, "This, then, is the task, but to the same degree, precisely to the same degree, that you exert yourself more and more and are more diligent, more vigilant, etc., and to the same degree that you succeed better in the task, you will also come to suffer more." If a father were to talk to his child in this way, it indeed would seem madness to the child, and the child would be right (disregarding the confusion of suffering and suffering the same thing but as punishment), if he said: In that case it is better not to begin at all, since I come out just as well, and therefore I am better off sparing myself all the trouble and effort.
But this is the way Christianity speaks to a person (as that father to the child) — this is Christianity. But then Christianity adds: But remember that there is an eternity.
Yes, but this means: if you desire, humanly speaking, pleasant and happy days, then never get involved in earnest with Christianity.
If you do, there is humanly only one consolation for you: death, for which you will learn to long more impatiently than the most amorous girl longs to see her lover again. Yet death is no consolation either. But truly there is, there is one consolation — the eternal. Love the eternal, then you hate this life — this is Christianity. Love God, then you hate this world — this is Christianity. Love Christ, then you are hated by all men — this is Christianity.
See, this is Christianity. If you are not conscious of being a sinner to the degree that in the anxiety of the anguished conscience you do not dare anything other than to commit yourself to Christ — then you never will become a Christian. Only the agony of the consciousness of sin can explain the fact that a person will submit to this radical cure. To become a Christian is the most fearful operation of all, of all. Just as unlikely as it is for a person who merely feels a little indisposed to think of submitting to the most painful operation, just as unlikely is it for a man to think of getting involved with Christianity if sin did not pain him inordinately — if, note well, he then knows what Christianity is and has not been talked into some nonsense about Christianity's gentle, life-beautifying, and ennobling ground of comfort.
What if I wrote at the back of the second edition of Either/Or:
I hereby retract this book. It was a necessary deception in order, if possible, to deceive men into the religious, which has continually been my task all along. Maieutically it certainly has had its influence. Yet I do not need to retract it, for I have never claimed to be its author.
"The poet" dreams of exploits which he nevertheless does not carry out himself, and he becomes eloquent. Perhaps he becomes eloquent because he is only an unhappy lover of exploits; whereas the hero is their happy lover — consequently he becomes eloquent because deficiency makes him eloquent. "Deficiency" — O, in their misunderstanding men speak ill of you, as if you were only cruel and not equally compassionate, as if you only took away and never gave — it is deficiency which essentially makes "the poet".
A passage which was not used in the first address in Lilies of the Field and Birds of the Air.
As far as I know no one has yet thought of writing a farce:
In recent days I have had the persistent thought that it would have been better for me if I had gone abroad in the spring a year ago, because however much I have been built up and enriched in the past year, it has also taken a lot out of me.
When I sold the house in December of 1847 it was my thought to take an extensive journey in the spring of 1848. That is why I let time slip by and did not rent an apartment. Meanwhile it became clear to me that if I planned to give up being an author altogether, it would not help very much to travel, in fact, just the opposite, for I am never so productive as when I travel abroad. So time went by; then an apartment in the corner of Tornebuskegaden became vacant, an apartment I have liked from the moment it was built. I decided to rent it and then take a shorter trip in the spring and summer. So time went by. Then I began the publication of Christian Discourses. While I sat reading the proof, the insurrection in Holstein and all that trouble broke out. To travel now was impossible and not to have an apartment to move into at this time would certainly have been very disturbing.
So I moved in. But the apartment was extremely unsuitable, and the confused financial conditions as well as many other things were a drain on me. However, it was precisely during that time that I wrote some of the best things I have done.
Suppose I had taken my departure earlier (which, incidentally, was impossible, since, after all, I had to publish Christian Discourses first), it would have ended with my prompt return, for to experience a financial crisis like that one abroad would have been even more frightful.
Thus it was in no way a fault of mine that I did not go abroad.
But what has occupied me is this: how altogether singular that every time I get serious about ceasing to be an author, something happens to make me keep on and I simply get a new, a richer stretch of creativity. Such was the case again this time. But I have suffered so much in other respects that I have become a bit impatient, and this impatience has certainly nurtured my melancholy notion that it would have been better if I had traveled, sending I was prevented by circumstance from doing.
In other respects it is also a testing of patience to be developing as I am in greater ideality — and then to undergo the painfulness of these days and these daily troubles. Ideally, as a believer I comprehend my significance more and more; at the moment it seems more and more as if I were superfluous. I almost despair of bringing thoughts to bear at this moment, but on the other hand I can be mistreated by the rabble every day, and every day have new occasion to be reminded of the financial situation.
But summa summarum: I cannot thank God sufficiently for the indescribable good he has done for me, far more than I expected.
What contributed, humanly speaking, to Christ's being killed is quite clearly the fact that he unremittingly kept the people in tension. Humanly speaking, he could have spared the people by living in seclusion for a few years, for example, and then coming forth again. This would naturally have been an untruth. But no doubt it was precisely this which precipitated his downfall, the fact that it took such a short time, and yet the people at no time were permitted, as it were, to exhale. The whole thing is like one breath. With jubilation they receive the extraordinary one, and almost in the same moment there is such a heavy pressure on them that the downfall is already intimated. This is the dialectic of the extraordinary person, compressed together. The conception [of Christ] is reversed. The first impression comes again a second time, and then the cry of jubilation is transformed into the cry: Crucify, crucify.
If we forget for a moment that Christ did come into the world to suffer and to die, and if we assume that he had lived as a teacher for thirty years instead of three and also that he had inserted, humanly speaking, a suitable interval to give people time to breathe — then it is possible that he would not have been killed. But to introduce such a suitable interval would indeed have been a false accommodation. With a human being it is another matter, because he usually is himself constrained to this for his own sake, since he cannot hold out incessantly.
Just take a very close look at the fact that the prototype is called a "lamb." This is already an offense to the natural man; no one wants to be a lamb.
Goldschmidt has two very important strengths: he is despised, and he is an object of pity. The first he arrived at by way of The Corsair, the second, by The Jew. In a demoralized world this is the most secure position. He occupies the point from which all attacks can be launched on men of honor and repute, men who are feared, but where he himself cannot be attacked — the very idea is an impossibility. He is despised — that is already a very secure position, although it is conceivable that indignation could mount to the point where he would begin to feel it; but ach wei mir, he is the object of pity, after all, he has described so movingly what he has suffered as a Jew.
There is only one consistent conception of Christianity, and that is to be slain for the sake of truth, to become a martyr, naturally not helter-skelter, the sooner the better, but with the most thorough-going reflection as an aid.
Suicide, occasioned by not being able to endure the tedious preparatory work of the martyr, is a misinterpretation of this only true and consistent conception of Christianity (every other view is secular, temporal, earthly, cowardly, or stupid delay).
But if someone says: The trouble is that you have become too involved with the common man, that you have wanted to exist — if not as author, then personally — for them, my answer is: I know that it is more prudent to live in concealment — but what is Christianity, then? And when Mynster, for example, boasts of the wisdom of his hidden life (not the life hid in Christ) in the secrecy of elite social circles, he satirizes himself dreadfully.
It is really a kind of cruelty that I (a believer) should rejoice over Christ's suffering and death.
How sad that this, also — yes, God knows it is certainly preposterous — this big fuss about my trousers is also connected (symbolically) in a melancholy way with the melancholy of my life. It is not true that there is anything at all conspicuous about them, and it is a lie that I myself in any way arranged or intended to draw attention to my clothes. But the matter is quite simple. If one pays any attention to people's dress, he discovers that older people like to wear shorter trousers. Young people, youth, have a natural interest in clothes and especially the legs. Older people think only of comfort and of anything but how they look.
My father was an old man; I never knew him otherwise. The fundamental misfortune of my whole life is that I was confused with being an old man, and this appeared also in my clothes. I remember very well how distressed I was, from childhood on, to have to wear such short trousers. I remember, too, my brother-in-law Christian's constant teasing.
Then I became a student, but a youth I never was. I never received a youthful impression of life (that a long life stretches out ahead of one, because for me there literally was never more than half a year, and hardly that) which leads a person to have interest and pleasure in his appearance. I consoled myself in another way. My mind developed prodigiously, and I thought about such things least of all. But, just as in other things I abided by the customs of my father's house, eating dinner at a fixed time in the evening etc. etc., so also in the matter of clothes. They remained essentially unchanged, so that I may truthfully say that when they attack the way I dress they actually are attacking my deceased father. Inclined to melancholy, given to irony, I recognized that in suffering I had been an old man at the age of eight — and that I never had been young; intellectually well-endowed, I elevated myself ironically over everything connected with the animal aspects of being human. But that I should ever become the object of a literary attack in this respect, and that thousands should take this very seriously as an attack upon my character — no, this I never dreamed.
If someone wanted to publish my journals after my death, it could be done under the title:
The Book of the Judge.
Pilate's wife had been much troubled by her dream that day and therefore advised against the conviction of Christ. But Pilate did not dream by day; he understood that if he did not convict Christ, he would be no friend of the emperor — and he condemned him. The really amazing thing was that Pilate's wife, who dreamed by day, was more awake than Pilate, who did not dream by day.
There is a heartbreaking inversion of all human categories when they are applied to the God-man; if one could speak about Christ in an entirely human way, one might say that the words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me" are impatient and untrue. Only when God says them can they be true, and therefore also when the God-man says them. And truly, since they are true, this is grief at its maximum.
I feel inexpressibly weak; it seems to me that death must soon put an end to this affair. As a matter of fact, a dead man is just what Copenhagen and Denmark need if there is going to be any end at all to this infamous meanness, envy, and derision. So I do not complain, even if it seems a hard fate that I, who in any other country would have made a considerable fortune and been regarded as a genius of the first rank with an extensive, penetrating influence, by being born in a demoralized provincial town quite logically turned out to be a sort of Mad Meyer, notorious, insulted by every guttersnipe (quite literally), even by criminals — while the envy at the top secretly rejoiced and delighted in its victory. I do not complain, despite the indictment that literally every single person has kept absolutely silent the three years that this has gone on every day. I do not complain. The ancients entertained themselves by having men fight with wild animals; the villainy of our age is more refined. But victims have fallen and tears have been shed silently by women (the wives and daughters etc. of the persecuted), and meanwhile the derisive laughter and the subscription list mounted. The victims turned aside and died, the women hid their tears, and no one paid any attention, for those who were suffering of course did everything to hide. Then I offered myself as a victim. I dared think I was a little too big for Denmark for the way in which I meet my death to go unnoticed. Only a dead man can stop and avenge baseness of the kind in which a whole country is more or less guilty. But avenged you will be, all you who have suffered. I feel inexpressibly satisfied that I, if anyone, have found the specific life-task that is utterly appropriate to all my personal qualifications. It was convenient enough for my contemporaries to let me put a stop to the evil, to let me with all my sacrifices guarantee P. L. Møller and Goldschmidt's restraint — and at the same time to satisfy their envy by my having to suffer what I have had to suffer, augmented by being regarded as mad by the notables for being willing to expose myself to such a thing. Retribution is coming.
And so I turn to the other side, reflecting with much fear and trembling on my personal life and its sins, but hoping and believing that for Christ's sake God will forgive me — and then "ein seliger Sprung in die Ewigkeit."
A question which one of our distinguished men, who also makes a claim to being a Christian, wants answered.
- That the most practical way to live is to live hidden, entrenched behind illusion, acquainted with only the best people, that this is most practical, the only practical way — this I know and this I knew very early — but now comes the question: does one have the Christian right to do this, isn't this secularism's lie and falsification, for which one will be called to account on judgment day quite differently than for common crimes, for particular crimes are one thing and the fact that one's whole life has daily deserved condemnation is another, that one's life from beginning to end has been a consistent carrying out of this untruth?
- To venture to make the mass of men aware of the truth and to eliminate the distance of illusions and to deal with the mass in such a way that this must be judged to be a dangerous business, a sure road to martyrdom, and humanly speaking, madness to do it — but now comes the question: does one have the right to shirk, won't one be called to account on judgment day first of all on the basis, so to speak, of the total structure of his entire life?
When one orders his life in such a way that he Christianly forsakes the prudence of the secular mentality, risks a bloodless martyrdom — and suffers it — how can there be any sense in calling such a place or such a country Christian where such things happen, or is there a trace of sense in becoming a martyr — in Christendom — because one expresses what is essentially Christian? Does this situation not prove that it is an untruth, when a place where such things happen calls itself Christian?
The "Three Notes" shall not be published, either. Nothing is to be declared directly about me; if anything is to be said, much more should be said, "The Point of View" should be published. But all such writing shall lie there finished, just as it is, until after my death.
About my personal life, and directly, nothing is to be said: (1) because after all I am essentially a poet; but there is always something enigmatical in a poet's personality and therefore he must not be presented as, and above all he must not confuse himself with, an authentically ethical character in the most rigorous sense. (2) Insofar as I am a little more than a poet, I am essentially a penitent, but I cannot speak directly of that and therefore also cannot discuss any possible extraordinariness granted me. (3) I cannot make sure for myself and for my communication that the emphasis will fall strongly enough upon God. (4) It is an inconsistency in connection with self-denial.
Therefore, to want to do it would be on my part: (1) a piece of recklessness, wanting to speak about myself at this time, as if either I were about to die tomorrow or it had been decided that I would stop being an author, since neither is the case. (2) It would be arbitrariness and impatience (the result of my having been the one who suffered) for me to want to decide my own fate in advance or to contribute to my being forced farther into the character of a martyr, even if I secretly am that but without demanding the satisfaction of being regarded as one.
It was a godsend that I did not do it, that I did not publish the "Notes" or that God did not permit it to happen. It would have disturbed my life in every way, whether I continue to be an author at present or am put to something else. Therefore I actually have to repent the time I spent bumbling around tinkering with the "Notes," one word here and a word there. I have suffered a great deal, but God is helping me also to learn something.
How much God is the one directing the whole thing I see best in the manner in which the discourses about the lily and the bird came into being at the time — just what I needed! God be praised! Without being contentious against men and without talking about myself, I managed to say what ought to be said, but in a moving, gentle, uplifting way.
And now to travel; I must get away from here both for a moment's recreation and for a longer period, for it is all involved with my still being essentially a poet.
If I am to make any direct communication about myself personally, I must be forced to it from the outside, although with difficulty, since my creativity is actually not my own but a higher power's.
O, but it is still inconceivable and at times I am overwhelmed when I suddenly think about it: that I, who in my melancholy and my understanding of what is essentially Christian, found my only joy in expressing equality with all men and therefore exposed myself to the disfavor of the elite — that I, I in particular, that I was persecuted by the simple class for my pride, that I, I in particular, that I became the victim which the whole trend of the times craves — and thus I was precisely the one who expressed it long before the problem emerged.
It can hurt when I think about how I was forced to change in some ways, it can hurt deeply. I who previously had a genial greeting for every working man and to everyone a friendly word, an expression of recognition for everyone — I am now a man of few words, evasive, alter my manner of greeting people somewhat, look half absent-mindedly at the one who greets me (alas, I who loved to be the first to greet!) and greet impersonally. I am obliged to do it; I must deliberately remind myself to do it — for I cannot be the savior of the world, and if I do not continue somewhat this way it will end with my being put to death.
From this it is easy to see that the tragedy of journalism is always the same, that it says what it says in such a way that, if there was nothing to it before, it turns into something. For now there is something to my being proud. But whose fault is it? The journalists'! If I look at everyone with open, genial eyes — then I detect those grinning fools by the dozens: ergo, I must (in self-defense) — keep my eyes to myself. If I am willing as before to have a friendly word for everyone, then I am promptly surrounded by a bunch of those tittering oafs: ergo, I must (in self-defense) proudly be a man of few words. The result of this conflict is that I accentuate all the more the individuals who are devoted to me or for whom I have a special affection — and in this way (yes, it is in self-defense) I have been obliged to change.
One thing I have learned, however: the essentially Christian collision. This collision was not originally within my scope. I owe it solely to my conflict with the crowd. My collision is genuinely Christian. I am persecuted — because I was good-natured.
It is not simply that the world wants to be deceived, that is, that one gets farthest ahead (in the secular world) by deceiving; no, it insists on being deceived, becomes enraged when one does not deceive it. Proudly hold men in contempt — and they love you — love them, and they hate you.
But I ought not be discouraged; however, the situation is all too demented, and therefore I must pull back somewhat. The fact that the press is involved makes the evil frightfully powerful. If the press were not involved, I could still place some hope in my personal powers. But it is a dreadful thing that every week or every day in the twinkling of an eye one man can get 40,000 or 50,000 men to say and think the same thing. And it is impossible to get hold of the one who is personally guilty, and the thousands he incites against one are in a sense not guilty.
Woe to the daily press! If Christ came to the world today, as sure as I live he would not attack the high priests etc. — he would attack the journalists.
Governance really does know how to relate every man's collision to his capacities. The collisions in my life — very likely because I have been granted unusual capacities — have a potentiation which has given them great import for me and has led me to recognize at once my identity, my personal peculiarities; thus I can correlate the nature of my collisions with my spiritual and intellectual characteristics, and it is also certain that such collisions occur very seldom.
My erotic collision had the potentiation that it was not some other force that separated us, nor was it the girl herself who made the break with me, but it was I myself who was obliged to demolish an authentic love. Thus, in addition to my own erotic pain, I felt sympathetic pain for her whom I made unhappy and eventually the anguish of responsibility doubly sharpened by the fact that it was my melancholy and repentance for my earlier life which made me do what I did. Without a doubt this is as complicated an erotic collision as possible.
My other collision is with the world. Here again the potentiation is that I am the one who voluntarily exposed myself to the whole thing. Incidentally, the collision with "the crowd" was already a potentiation; but of course there is not one single man with whom I could collide in such a way that it could enter my mind that it had any great significance or was an equal struggle.
My superiority in relation to the universally human is promptly manifested in the collisions of my life by the "spiritual trial" [Anfœgtelse] that always accompany them. The spiritual trial is due to the fact that I myself am the one who acts. I myself must take the decisive step; I myself must expose myself to the suffering. Precisely this unsolicited movement becomes the spiritual trial, which always voices the thought: has not too much been ventured. That is, in every one of my collisions there is also a collision with God or a struggle with God. It is precisely this aspect of the collision which makes my suffering so frightfully earnest.
Just imagine how changed my life would have been if it had been a girl who chose not to love me and broke up with me — I think I would have kicked over the traces as a prank. But I did not do it — for I was obliged to be the one who acted and had to strive with God: frightful collision. Imagine that it was one single man who attacked me in print: I believe that in the same moment he would have fallen over me and broken his neck. But "the crowd" is in itself already a strenuous collision of quite another sort. And yet this, too, does not amount to much; but I myself was the one who acted, I struggled with God: frightful collision!
But this again witnesses to the fact that I relate to the essentially Christian, for these are genuinely religious and Christian collisions.
If there is anything called necessity in an individuality, then in mine it is to be where the danger is. Thus it was possible that I was the only one in a whole generation who perceived the wrong and hurled myself against the rabble-barbarism and the ridicule and ventured out into a danger — which supposedly was no danger at all! You fools, or, more correctly, you equivocators! No, there is no danger as feared in the world as just this danger of laughter, and how it was feared here in Denmark and here in Copenhagen I know best of all, I who associated with everybody and am indeed something of a connoisseur of men; I knew how it was and is feared by the boldest journalists and public personalities, I knew that it was cowardice that kept everyone silent. That was how I found out that this danger, which in addition is profoundly congruous with my personal individuality, was a danger for me. It is the only danger I have found in Denmark to match my capacities. A polemic with Heiberg — that would have been a joke, and even if he had had ten others along, it would not have become serious and would soon have been forgotten. But now it is in its fourth year — and Copenhagen is still interested in my trousers and legs as passionately as in Tivoli, the masques at the Casino, or the war.
All the treatises (associated with Adler) in "A Cycle" etc. could well be published. But they are to be published separately, each by itself, or at most two together, and by the pseudonyms HH, FF, PP. They could then, like guerrillas, accompany the publication of the three books for awakening. But precisely because their role is to be guerrillas, they must appear in as small doses as possible.
I have made one final attempt to say a word about myself and my whole authorship. I have written "A Supplement" which should be called "The Accounting" and should follow the "Discourses". I think it is a masterpiece, but that is of no importance — it cannot be done [published].
The point is that I perceive with extraordinary clarity the infinitely ingenious thought present in the totality of the authorship. Humanly speaking, now would be just the right time, now when the second printing of Either/Or appears. But there is something false in it.
For I am a genius of such a kind that I cannot just directly and personally assume the whole thing without encroaching on Governance. Every genius is preponderantly immanence and immediacy; he has no "why"; but once again it is my genius that lets me see clearly, afterwards, the infinite "why" in the whole, but this is Governance's doing. On the other hand, I am not a religious person of such a kind that I can directly assign everything to God.
Therefore not a word. If anything is to be said, then just that. Or if the world wants to extort a statement and explanation from me, then this.
I suffer indescribably every time I have begun to consider publishing something about myself and the authorship. My soul becomes restless, my mind is not content to be producing, as it is generally; I regard every word with horrible suffering, think of it constantly, even outside of my time for work; my praying becomes sickly and distracted,for every trifle becomes excessively important as soon as it gets tied in with this. As soon as I leave it alone, either produce it with the idea of not publishing, or produce something else, then I am calm immediately, my mind is at rest, as it is now in having written and in intending to publish the "Three Godly Discourses."
Suddenly to want to assume this enormous productivity as one single thought is too much — although I see very well that it is that. Yet I do not believe that I was motivated by vanity. It is originally a religious thought — I intended to attribute it to God. But this is why everything is now ready — until after my death.
I cannot assume it personally in this way. It is true, for example, that when I began as an author I was "religiously resolved," but this must be understood in another way. Either/Or, especially "The Seducer's Diary", was written for her sake, in order to clear her out of the relationship. On the whole, the very mark of my genius is that Governance broadens and radicalizes whatever concerns me personally. I remember what a pseudonymous writer said about Socrates: "...his whole life was personal preoccupation with himself, and then Governance comes and adds world-historical significance to it." To take another example — I am polemical by nature, and I understood the concept of "that single individual" [hiin Enkelte] early. However, when I wrote it for the first time (in Two Upbuilding Discourses), I was thinking particularly of my reader, for this book contained a little hint to her, and until later it was for me very true personally that I sought only one single reader. Gradually this thought was taken over. But here again Governance's part is so infinite.
The rest of the things written can very well be published. But not one word about myself.
I must take a journey.
A Poetic View of Myself
[In margin: Used as "an accompanying paper" with "The Accounting."]
..... If, however, someone were to say to me: You who for a long time now have lived and go on living every day surrounded by the drivel, ridicule, and cruel treatment etc. of these thousands of people — it seems to me that there is something artificial in the silence you steadily maintain about all this, or in the tranquillity with which you talk about yourself, as if you were untouched by the wretchedness of life [changed to: all these matters], I would answer him like this.
In the first place, when I speak, there is a very exalted person listening — incidentally, this is the case with every human being, but the majority do not bear it in mind — there is a very exalted person listening: God in heaven; he sits in heaven and listens to what every person says. I bear this in mind. No wonder then that what I say has a certain formality and solemnity. Moreover, I am not speaking with those thousands, but with the single individual before God — thus it is rather to be wondered at that what I say is not infinitely more formal and solemn.
Secondly, already as a small child I was told — and as solemnly as possible — that "the crowds" spit upon Christ, who was in fact the truth [in margin: that they spit on Christ, that the crowd ("those who passed by") spit on him and said: Fie on you]. This I have hid deep in my heart [penciled in margin: even though there have been moments, yes, times, when I seemed to have forgotten it, it has always come back to me as my first thought.] In order better to conceal the fact that I hid this thought deep in my soul, I have even concealed it under the most opposite exterior, for I was afraid that I would forget it too soon, that it would be tricked out of me and be like a blank cartridge. This thought is my life [in margin: although the task so far has been intellectual but fought religiously], and aided by it I also promptly and readily understood that simple wise man who occupied me so much in my youth, that martyr of intellectuality, whom "numbers," "the crowd" persecuted and condemned to death. I know for certain that I am on the right road — the drivel, derision, and bestiality of "the crowd" are the best possible proofs of that. No wonder, then, that what I say has a certain formality and solemnity and has, as I do, a tranquillity, for the road I am taking is right, I am on the right road, even though far behind. Assuming that those who after voluntarily suffering for a long time the cruelty, mistreatment, and vilification of their contemporaries (consequently after being, as it were, salted, for "every sacrifice ought to be salted"), then after having been mocked, spit upon (consequently after having accepted the last dedication beforehand) — assuming that they end up being crucified or beheaded or burned or broken on the wheel — assuming, then, that in the Christian order of precedence these are in first rank, which certainly is indisputable — I believe that without saying too much about myself I am just about in the lowest class, the eighth class. No doubt I will rise no higher. A teacher's comment on one of his pupils is appropriate to my life, the only thing lacking is that it was not written about me: "He is going backward, but not without great diligence." Certainly this was an unsuitable expression by the teacher. Only in a very special situation such as my own can such a judgment be expressed appropriately. Yet "not without great diligence" is perhaps saying too little, for I am applying myself very diligently, am extremely busy and hard-working, and I am going backwards for sure, and it is also certain that the more diligent I am the more I go backwards — thus I am in truth going backwards with great diligence. In this way I hope to enter into eternity, and from a philosophical point of view how would it be possible to enter into eternity except through the backward movement of one's affairs. After all, Christ, who was the truth, was spit upon — and if I forgot everything, I do not forget, just as up to now I never have forgotten for a moment, what was said to me as a child and the impression it made on the child. It sometimes happens that a child while still in the cradle is pledged [forloves] to the one who someday will be his wife or her husband: religiously understood, I was pre-pledged [for-lovet] early in childhood. Ah, I have paid dearly for at one time misinterpreting my life and forgetting — that I was pledged. On the other hand, I once experienced in my life the most beautiful, blessed, and to me indescribably fulfilling satisfaction because in the step I took at that time, in the danger I voluntarily exposed myself to at that time, I completely understood myself and realized that I was pre-pledged. Pledged, betrothed to the love which, despite all my errors and sins, has surrounded me from the beginning until this moment, surrounded me, of whom it can be said with complete truth that he sinned much, but of whom it perhaps may not be completely false to say: he loved much — surrounded by a love which infinitely exceeds my understanding, a fatherly love "compared to which the most loving father is but a stepfather."
Just one thing more, something upon which, if possible, I, with a dying man's last will, put the strongest, most earnest emphasis. I no doubt have a grave and sad advantage (when I consider myself in relationship to those glorious ones, to whom I stand in only the most distant possible relationship, down below as the very lowest in the lowest class, in eighth class), yet in one respect an advantage over them with respect to being able to hold out. For it seems to me that if one is himself pure, perfect, and holy, the opposition of the world (to the truth) would make a person so sad that he quickly would die of sadness. But I am not a saintly person, I am a penitent, for whom it can be indescribably suitable to suffer and for whom, precisely as a penitent, there is a satisfaction in suffering. Yes, if I were a contemporary of a more pure man, I would be happy to turn all the scorn and mistreatment of "the crowd" from him to me. I look upon it as an advantage that I, who have the honor of serving the truth by personally being a penitent (for what I may have done wrong earlier and for what offense I personally have committed) in this way (but only in this way), that I find human mistreatment to be in the right place when it is turned against me. [In margin: And I certainly have been extraordinarily successful in my deception, which to a certain degree may have been the invention of mental depression, the deception of being regarded as the most frivolous of all.]
No, absolutely right, not one word is to be said about me personally, above all not with respect to assuming the whole authorship as my idea and goal; no matter how much I demur in the presentation itself, it is not sufficient — I must be silent. For everything would become false if I were to consolidate the whole course of the foregoing the moment I came out decisively as a religion author.
No, I am a poet. My writing is essentially my own development; just as juice is pressed from fruit, Governance time and again and in a wonderful way has pressed me into a necessary situation precisely in order to make me as productive as I should be.
Right now I actually am at the point where it could be a matter of stepping forth in character, but this would be something new and ought not be confused with assuming as my own everything I wrote previously, all the more so since I have thought constantly of stopping.
I am a poet. I shall go abroad. It is the economic situation which prevents it. Independence was the support I needed, and the fact that I had it is perhaps to blame for my actually being a poet. Now I understand it. Now just patience.
I constantly return to this dialectic: Christ comes into the world in order to save men, to make them eternally happy; the angels sing at his birth: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased — and yet Christianity itself teaches that to be a true Christian is, humanly speaking, to be the most wretched of all, that consequently Christianity makes a person, humanly speaking, more wretched than he otherwise would ever be.
This I have understood only in this way, that there is a collision between the divine and the human qualities, that Christ understands everything in the divine sense, but precisely this, that one is to be drawn up so high, is for a human being the greatest possible suffering, just as it would be for an animal if it were treated as a human being or if it were required to be a human being.
Yet it must be firmly maintained that Christ has not come to the world only to set an example [Exempel] for us. In that case we would have law and works-righteousness again. He comes to save us and to present the example. This very example should humble us, teach us how infinitely far away we are from resembling the ideal. When we humble ourselves, then Christ is pure compassion. And in our striving to approach the prototype [Forbilledet], the prototype itself is again our very help. It alternates; when we are striving, then he is the prototype; and when we stumble, lose courage, etc., then he is the love which helps us up, and then he is the prototype again.
It would be the most fearful anguish for a person if he understood Christ in such a way that he only became his prototype and now by his own efforts he would resemble the prototype. Christ is simultaneously "the prototype", and precisely because he is that absolutely he is the prototype who can be approached through the help of the prototype himself.
Moreover, it must be remembered — something I constantly drive home — that to be a Christian, humanly speaking, is the greatest wretchedness in order that the accent can fall infinitely upon the fact that only sin can drive a human being to Christ, that Christ shall not be taken in vain in the usual preacher-chatter about a heavenly friend, gentle lessons about truth, profundity, the satisfaction of profound longings, and other sweets which silk-robed preachers serve to silk-clad listeners.
God be praised, now I understand myself. It is good that I did not go abroad a year ago this spring and perhaps become distracted on the journey or wrongly productive, and furthermore what I have suffered the past year has been supremely beneficial even though terrible.
Never have I had such an abundance of ideas — and with all the qualifications I stand now in a certain sense as at the beginning. It is Christianity I shall set forth, and what I have to do in this respect is already present in me, but it will be abundantly sufficient for the longest life.
There is only one humiliation qua author that I must take, like everything else, from God's hand — and personally I have always been deeply humbled — and that is that I may not venture myself to express in actuality that which I present and according to the criteria I set forth, as if I myself were the ideal. Here I am obliged to admit to being predominantly a poet and thinker; mental depression and impatience and anxiety had nearly driven me too far out, which would have ended with my cracking up. It was also (something I realized earlier but not as clearly as now) a misunderstanding of all my qualifications; it was a superhuman task which perhaps never will be worked out: with my temperament, my imagination, my poetic aptitude for description, and then also to want to be that existentially. As a rule the hero comes first, or the ethical character, and then the poet — I wanted to be both; at the same time as I needed the "poet's" tranquillity and remoteness from life — and the thinker's composure, at the same time I wanted to be, right in the middle of actuality, that which I wrote and thought. Self-tormenting as I have always been, in my depression and very likely, too, with an admixture of pride, I devised this task to plague me. God has helped me, and as always in every possible way.
It is now so very clear to me, all that I realized earlier about how God has led me to this task: to illuminate Christianity, to depict the ideal of the Christian. That I myself should be that, I did not consider at the time, for I believed that I was about to die.
When that did not happen and I did not die, I momentarily started to misjudge myself. It seemed to me that the world, or Denmark, needed a martyr. What I had written was all ready and I actually thought of underscoring it, if possible, what I had written in the most decisive way by being put to death.
The misunderstanding, or the potential wound to myself, was that I was incapable of doing it.
Now everything is in order. I have to withdraw a step from this wanting personally to be what is presented, and then the task is mine. I will put all the more pressure on Christendom. I became the unhappy lover with respect to becoming personally the ideal Christian, and therefore I became its poet. I will never forget this humiliation and to that extent will be unlike the usual orator who wantonly confuses talking about something with being it. I did not get married, but I became the most enthusiastic champion of marriage. So also in a similar way with the second task. I do not have the strength to become a witness to the truth who is put to death for the truth. Nor do I have the temperament for it. I remain a poet and a thinker; for that I was born, but in relation to Christianity and the ideal for being a Christian. I perhaps can bring a minor sacrifice or two, but essentially I relate myself to being a witness for the truth in the true humility of confessing that in the strictest sense I am not a witness to the truth. My admitting this is the truth in me. But the fact that it is true in me produces a pain which is precisely the condition for the poet's and the philosopher's creativity.
I have ventured much farther out than a poet usually does. This too was necessary in order to accomplish the task: Christianity, the ideal for being a Christian.
Just as the sigh of a poet's own unhappy love is heard in his song, so also in all my enthusiastic discourse about the ideal for being a Christian my sign will be heard: Alas, I am not one, I am only a Christian poet and thinker.
Christ was silent. There are two reasons for being completely silent: either because he did not have a single word to say in his defense or, that it would have been a most atrocious falsehood to say a single word in his defense.
From a letter of thanks to Councillor Ørsted for the third volume of his book on the constitution, but the letter was not sent.
....."I wonder, is it the same with horses?"
It seems to me there is something, to speak as a Greek, something divine in this Socratic question, and not least in this incomparable comparison — with horses.
From another angle as well, for these days one is tempted actually to abandon talking about human beings in order to devote oneself to talking about horses, or, when the discussion is about human beings the talk is just like that about horses. At any rate I have found extreme satisfaction in the fact that a state (Genoa) has finally succeeded in finding the type of prime minister for our day: a hackney cabman! Truly, if he cannot, he who is associated with horses, if he cannot rule men — then no one can.
A hackney cabman! How witty actual life is! I do not believe that it would occur even to the wittiest poet to use a hackney cabman à la Aristophanes. He perhaps would have used a barber, a rope-maker, a brush-maker, a flunked student, a janitor, a part-time waiter, a delivery boy, a pauper, etc., but he would not have thought of a hackney cabman. Aristophanes himself used a sausage peddler in The Knights, but did not think of a hackney cabman! This can be explained by the fact that there were no hackney cabmen in Greece then, but even if there had been, Aristophanes perhaps would not have thought of using one. And if it had occurred to him, he perhaps would not have used him, and perhaps he would have been right, for very likely, despite all their excesses, men were somewhat more human then than they are now.
In a certain sense, "the hackney cabman" has reconciled me with life again, for now my mind is at ease. In my apartness from life I time and again do get to know according to the barber that somewhere in Europe a professor has become a prime minister, or a person with an M. A. degree, a bachelor of laws, an academic virtuoso, an attorney, etc. At times I was indignant, at times I had to laugh, but my soul found no rest, no complete satisfaction, either in indignation or in laughter. Finally came — the hackney cabman. Eureka, I shouted. When one goes traveling to discover America — and sees land, when in the midst of chaotic times one discovers — the law — then one's mind is set at ease. That very same moment I fell poetically in love with the hackney cabman or what I could be tempted to call my hackney cabman. Now it was my wish — ah, and all the greater the disappointment for actuality did not have what it promised! — my wish was that the hackney cabman might succeed in hurling his two colleagues from power, in overthrowing them, and in setting himself up as dictator in Genoa, and next, that by force of arms or in some other way he might succeed in gradually subduing all Europe under his paternal and wise hackney-cabman reign. What would one not give to see all Europe or the reins of the government in all Europe in the hands of — a hackney cabman!
If anything should be said about my activity as an author, it could be done in such a way that a third person is formed, the author, who would be a synthesis of myself and the pseudonym, and he would speak directly about it. Then only an introduction would be needed, in which this author would be introduced, and then he would say everything in the first person. The introduction would point out that the whole authorship is a unity; but I would not be the pseudonym, nor the pseudonym I; therefore this "author" would be a synthesis of the pseudonym and me.
All human religiousness, and also Judaism, culminates in the words of Solomon (or David): I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken by God.
Compassionate God — and then it is Christ who says: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, and it is Christianity which makes this whole earthly existence [Tilværelse] into suffering, crucifixion.
Then how do you get a mild morality out of Christianity!
Pfui, pfui, that my fear of danger, hypochondria, and distrustfulness of God led me to want to make myself out to be far inferior to what I have been given. As if arrogating something to oneself were only a matter of defrauding the truth, as if making oneself out to be inferior were not a matter of defrauding God and the truth, and yet it seemed to me to be so humble. O, hypochondria, hypochondria!
Humanly speaking, there really is no pleasure or joy in having to be the extraordinary in such cramped quarters as Denmark; it gets to be a martyrdom. But now, now, after God has inundated me with kindness, granted me so indescribably much more than I expected, now when he (both by means of the abundance he has showered on me during the year past — and its sufferings) has led me to understand my destiny (true enough, it is different from what I originally supposed, but things had already worked out earlier in such a way that all my religious writings, yes, everything I wrote after Either/Or, are not as I originally planned and presumably I could not have understood everything right away), should I now blink, shrewdly take it all back because of apprehensions about making ends meet and become a poet — that is, religiously understood, a deceiver. No, no, from the very beginning I had no such ideas: either an author in character — or a country pastor, and then not a word more from me ever, but not a poet, not an author on the side.
The future looks dark, and yet I am so at peace.
This day, my birthday, will be an unforgettable day for me!
When all is said and done, a play such as "The World Wants To Be Deceived" or its existence is a dreadful judgment on or a confession of the corruption of the age. Corrupt ages have been seen before, and every age is more or less corrupt. But then there was also someone or other who profoundly perceived the corruption of the age — and he emancipated himself from it, dissented, perhaps became the victim, eh bien, but also the sign that there was still some truth left.
But for a penetrating, authentic, completely realistic understanding of the corruption of the age to become, not a call to repentance, but a witty stage play with the basic theme that this is the way the world is and we are all the same, one person is no better than the next — so clear the decks, let's have a good time over it — good God, how awful!
And then that such a society is permitted to call itself Christian. But then, of course, like everything else it is a lie which everyone uses (as Scribe says) but no one is deceived by, since everyone knows that it is a lie — it is a lie, the only truthful thing about it is that the clergy have their bread and butter.
O, that I then could become so depressed that out of fear of God, out of fear that I would arrogate something to myself, I wanted to be — a poet. A poet! Really, one poet more at this time is just as insane as if someone were to avail himself of the moment to get married at the very time his house is on fire. A poet at this time! What is needed now, if possible by the thousands, is martyrs, the authentic rescuers. Nevertheless, I have been afraid of aiming too high and then later doing damage because I was unable to do it. But this is despondency. After all, I can take being mistreated, grossly mistreated — but I do not require the other.
How easy it would have been, too, to have fooled away my life in the miserable old rut, just taking care of myself, living in respectable obscurity — truly a respectable obscurity when one despicably uses obscurity to avoid dangers. Therefore, whatever the cost, I am grateful and thank my God that I became aware, that my first care and training has been at the hands of bestiality, so that I should not arrive in eternity and then perceive — how I had frittered my life away in respectable obscurity.
At times I can become almost anxious and afraid on behalf of the man when I think of Bishop Mynster. He is seventy-two now and soon will go to his — judgment. And what harm he has done to Christianity by conjuring up a false appearance — in order that he could sit and reign. His sermons are very much in order — but in eternity he will not preach, there he will be judged.
My one constant thought is that I may never get so busy that I forget to sorrow over my sins and reflect on my personal guilt. O, it is so very difficult for a penitent to proceed resolutely, because he continually feels paralyzed by the thought that he is a penitent.
As far as my writing is concerned, the world movement or the conflict is between two conceptions: the interesting and the simple. The age has been carried away by the interesting and still is; the movement should be made to the simple.
Therefore I was in eminent possession of the interesting (it was this which the age demanded). There is hardly an author, and certainly none in Denmark, who can dispute my precedence in the sense of being essentially the only one of the kind as author, the interesting one.
By falsifying my task I would have become the hero and idol of the moment; in that case I would in fact have abandoned the movement toward the simple and transformed all my power into the interesting and into the moment. I remained, eternally understood, faithful to my task and became the martyr of the moment, and precisely this is evidence that I remained true to the task.
God be praised; I owe it all to him.
On my part there is nothing at all meritorious in the whole thing. For one thing, I have been a genius who frequently did not understand having done the right thing until afterwards, and for another, I have been bound, as if in the service of a higher power, by a congenital melancholy and a tormenting thorn in the flesh, as well as by being personally a penitent.
It might be very good sometime to write a book entitled:
It might not be so good to use a pseudonym here.
Somewhere there must be an aphorism by me which reads something like this:
There is some consolation in the fact that language has so many words like nonsense, drivel, rubbish, chitchat, gossip, prattle, chatter, jabber, etc., for if there were no such word at all in the language, one would have to fear that everything is gossip. The alarming thing is not that there are so many words in the language to describe something like this; it would be alarming if there was not one single word for it.
How witty a typographical error can be! In the second of the two minor essays, instead of "the gift of being able to work miracles" it reads "the inconvenience."
The first essay (of "Two Minor Essays") is poetic, but in the same sense as a Platonic dialogue. A personality like that is created in order to avoid pure abstraction, the informational approach. But no more. The novelistic in him, incidentally, is of no value, only his thought content. A work of this nature corresponds to the unity of "thinker" and "poet". Someone like that is different from abstract thinkers in that he has a poetic element at his service, but he differs from a poet in that he essentially stresses the thought content.
My Tragedy, Humanly Speaking
is simply that I have been a genius, that I have had a strict upbringing in Christianity, that I have had money.
Without the first, I of course would not have begun with a gigantic jump but gradually, my motives would have been cluttered; without the second I would not have had the idea of suffering which made me decide to act against prudence; without the third I would have been unable to gain position.
All these three things, of which the first two actually are advantages, have become my misfortune, for people regard truth and piety as pride and vanity.
R. Nielsen's book is out. Realizing the wrong I have suffered in the interest of truth, realizing my mastery of the circumstances, he still thought, as I suspected, that if he only enlisted my support and I stayed by him somewhat — that it could be done, that he could even gain importance, perhaps be a success.
That was the enthusiasm for the rightness of my cause.
In fact, he did come to the right one.
The writings are plundered in many ways, the pseudonyms most of all, which he never cites, perhaps with deliberate shrewdness, as the least read.
And then my conversations!
Humanly understood, it would still be a kind of consolation if a witness to truth dared say to his loved ones at his death: See, now I have suffered — now it will be easy for you. Alas, no, he must say: Now it is your turn.
And so it must and shall be as long as this world lasts.
This world is a world of untruth, of lies, and to live Christianly in it means to suffer.
Therefore the most difficult of tasks is this: from "poet" to Christian; for the poet clings fast to this world even though he suffers in it. A poet can endure much in this respect. The one thing he cannot do is to let go of the world as Christianity requires. The poet can become more and more unhappy but nevertheless through imagination continue to relate himself to the world — real renunciation he never achieves.
Alas, in many respects it is as if this had been written about me. Yet there may still be enough of the better in me that at least I have dared venture out far enough so that providence can get hold of me.
The Total Production with the Addition of the Two Essays by H. H.
The authorship conceived as a whole (as found in "One Note Concerning My Work as an Author," "Three Notes Concerning My Work as an Author,") and "The Point of View for My Work as An Author" points definitively to "Discourses at the Communion on Fridays."
The same applies to the whole structure. "Three Godly Discourses" comes later and is supposed to accompany the second edition of Either/Or and mark the distinction between what is offered with the left and what is offered with the right. "Two Minor Ethical-Religious Essays" does not belong to the authorship in the same way; they are not an element in it but a point of view. If there is to be a halt, it will be like a period one projects in advance in order to have a stopping place. It also contains an apparent and an actual eminence: a martyr, yes, an apostle — and a genius. If any information about me is to be sought in the essays, then it is this: that I am a genius — not an apostle, not a martyr. The apparent eminence is included in order to determine all the more accurately the actual one: for most men the word "genius" is so indiscriminate that it can mean anything; for that very reason it was important to define this concept, as the two essays do by means of defining that which is infinitely qualitatively higher.
Thus the "Two Minor Essays" appropriately has the character of a signal. But it is dialectical. It could signify: here is the stopping place; and then could signify: here is the beginning — but always in such a way that above all I take precautions not to occasion any conceptual confusion but remain true to myself in being no more or no less than a genius, or in being a poet and thinker with a quantitative "more" not customary in a poet and thinker with respect to being what one writes and thinks about. A quantitative "more," not a qualitative "more", for the qualitative "more" is: the witness to the truth, the martyr — which I am not. And even qualitatively higher is the apostle, which I have not fancied myself to be any more than that I am a bird. I shall guard myself against blasphemy and against profanely confusing the religious sphere, which I devoutly am doing my uttermost to uphold and secure against prostitution by confused and arrogant thinking.
There is a beautiful verse which concludes each station of the so-called Kreuzweg-Andacht (pp. 654 ff.) by A. Liguori:
Gehst Du hin, aus Lieb' zu mir;
Um das Leben zu erwerben,
Lass mich sterben, Herr! mit Dir!
and then it is altered from the twelfth station on:
Bist Du nun, aus Lieb' zu mir: Hast das Leben mir erworben
Ach lass sterben mich mit Dir.
No doubt the reason there is so little preaching about pecuniary worries [Næringssorg] is that to talk about it is embarrassing to those who suffer under it, and, secondly, the way the gospel speaks of it seems to them too hard. Poetically (i.e., when personally one has a guaranteed livelihood) what the gospel says is indescribably uplifting. But when it is in earnest, that is, when one is personally in need and want and then is supposed to be uplifted by the freedom from care of the lilies and the birds or by the divine elevation of Christ — this is too lofty and, from a human point of view, too rigorous.
Christ was wrapped in rags and laid in a manger, but he was buried in a new grave.
(And in a grave which belonged to another person, which Luther regards as an allusion to the symbol that Christ is dead for us.)
Yet burial in this way is an exception to degradation.
Burial in the new grave and with the greatest possible solicitude is connected with the Resurrection. Suppose, for example, that Christ's body had been cremated, since he was indeed a criminal, and the ashes strewn to the four winds — yes, of course this is inconsequential, because the Resurrection is essentially still the same miracle, but there would nevertheless be something offensive to the weaker ones.
It should be remembered that Christ did not turn Nicodemus away, consequently that he was patient with him — but he never did become a disciple, although John calls him a secret disciple, but where? I cannot remember the passage; I know I have Luther's reference to it in the Gospel-text for Good Friday.
Christ has almost been upbraided for irresponsibility for making a treasurer of a man like Judas, who had thieving inclinations. On the other hand, one could rather say: What trust and love on the part of Christ, for the best and boldest way to save such a person is simply and readily to show him unconditional confidence; if this does not help, then as a rule there is no help for him.
To "deceive" takes an infinite virtuosity in deception. One thinks he has definite information about the deception and next time for sure he will catch the deceiver — but ignores the fact that the next time his deception will be something new. He is the opposite of Stupid Gottlieb; at times it seems as if Stupid Gottlieb will catch him. Stupid Gottlieb dutifully, faithfully, and obediently does the next time exactly what he was told to do the previous time. With respect to the deceiver people are like Stupid Gottlieb; they think that the deceiver will do the same thing next time — and they are tricked.
Seen in terms of the idea, this is the maieutic, which serves just to develop the other.
If I were asked how, apart from my relationship to God, I was disciplined to be an author, I would answer: By an old man, to whom I am most grateful, and by a young girl, to whom I am most indebted — to that unity of age and youth, of the severity of winter and the gentleness of summer which must also have been a natural potentiality within me; the former disciplined me with his noble wisdom, the other with her loving unwisdom.
Something about the play "The Sisters on Fir-Tree Mountain"
In the preface the author says that the idea was not borrowed from a fairy tale, but neither is it his own. This is a curious kind of honesty and perhaps, after all, dishonesty. It is honest to say that it is not his own, it is dishonest not to say more. For if he gave his source and the more pertinent particulars — perhaps, who knows, perhaps he both owed another more than one thinks, and perhaps he used badly that which he borrowed.
Instead of getting married, a girl became avaricious — sits upon the mountain and spins gold — this is detected twenty-five years later at the other sister's silver wedding (incidentally, it could have been quaint to make it fifty years because of the golden wedding). The miner explains that it is not only on account of this girl but of many that he, lost in something abstract (or the like), actually does not live but merely wastes his life. The idea is that there is an abstract life which means simply to lose life.
Fine. That may very well be what was borrowed, the part about the abstract life. What has the poet done with it? He has taken a particular example, and what? Avarice — how thoughtless. If one wishes to pin-point discerningly the falsity in abstract life, then one must select something essentially innocent. The avaricious maiden's defect is not abstract life — but avarice.
Thus the author has picked a wrong example. Thereupon he makes, as they say, a universal of the particular and puts it in the mouth of the miner. But it is precisely that which is not illuminated by the example, for the example was erroneously selected.
On the other hand, if one wishes to validate the concrete life in contrast to the abstract, then one must see to it that he does not go too far afield. For the authentic religious life, in contrast to what people generally understand by concretion and what this poet no doubt understands by it — is an abstract life: to suffer, to "be sacrificed."
This the poet has had no inkling of at all. For example, he has neither grasped how the problem should be placed in proper relation to the ethical, which will forbid not only the sin but also an abstract life, nor in contrast to the religious, which in a completely different sense affirms the abstract life. From a categorical point of view, the author has bungled in every respect; his categories are confused.
Now take a look at the pseudonyms. On the assumption that the life most men "life" and live concretely and that in this sense of concretion life is also wasted, the attempt here is to achieve the legitimate abstract life. For this purpose there is used: (a) an esthetic eccentric whose very defect is an erroneous abstract life, without being essentially sinful — and (b) the ethicist, but in such a way that he points to the religious.
This is the process in all the pseudonyms' endeavors.
But, of course, such a grand endeavor is probably also an abstract life — but is it more concrete to seize with muddled categories a particular idea, to turn the whole thing wrong, to confuse all the spheres — and then "momentarily" make a big hit as a profound thinker.
Were I to take a particular example for the pseudonyms, I could use the passage in Either/Or where the esthete divides men into two classes, those who work in order to live and those who do not need to, and then show that it would be a self-contradiction if the purpose of life is supposed to be to work in order to live, since the purpose of living, after all, cannot be to produce the prerequisites for living.
On this basis the piece could be constructed. But then the piece would also have to point out the religious. In Either/Or the ethicist rounds off life with marriage, but the whole work is also only an element in the endeavor.
Obviously there should have been three sisters, a third, a Christian "Mary": then the play would have had value. [In margin: or an "Anna" (patience in expectation) in order to show the abstraction of the religious life to be true abstraction.]
Here Quidam of the psychological experiment has the great merit of making clear that "the desire" must be preserved in suffering. The ethicist rightfully condemns waiting for hallucinations and wasting life as being esthetically eccentric, but from behind the ethical emerges the religious again: that to live abstractly (ideally) is to live. Only one man has lived absolutely ideally abstractly in this way: the God-man.
O, but what do they know, these poets who pose as being so profound!
It has always been difficult for me to present Christianity in its true rigorousness, for it seemed to be that way only for me, for me because I had sinned more than others. It has always been my desire to be rigorous with myself in order to be all the more lenient with others, but this is still only a misunderstanding, for it was most rigorous in the Holy One himself. But just as a parent does not consider a child's possible iota of guilt worth mentioning, so in comparison to me other men have always seemed to me to be innocent.
There is something sad in hearing Mynster (as today in Pentecost vespers), who has adhered to the secular mentality as much as anyone, begin on the text about the little flock to whom it pleases the Father to give the kingdom etc. Essentially it is no different from the time when Heiberg, the public's foster father, became polemical because he got into a quarrel with the public.
In the same sermon, like a background bass, was the idea that he had been consistent enough to join the minority in parliament. Good Lord, is that anything to get excited about, himself maintaining silence and associating with the biggest names. No, Mynster has never had an inkling of what Christian polemic is; he is pampered and spoiled, mainly by being an orator — there is perhaps nothing which so spoils and corrupts a man. Promptly to become emotional in the pulpit — instead of acting in actuality — and then to have it seem to the person himself and the audience as if the man had acted. Yes, Plato and Socrates were right: banish poets and also orators from the state.
On the whole, the Greek concept of a philosopher (that is, a thinker in ethical character) is much more appropriate to the communication of the essentially Christian than this spineless concept: an orator, a declaimer — instead of an implementer.
A tragic result of the completely mistaken, twisted, totally unchristian view, the majority view that truth is where the majority is — a tragic result of this is that people are always talking as if Christianity had become more true because there are now so many millions of Christians. They say that when Christianity came into the world miracles were needed because there were so few Christians; now that there are so many Christians, indeed, almost all are Christians, now miracles are not needed. Well, thanks for that, but it seems to me that miracles are needed now more than ever. They do not maintain that Christianity is a militant teaching, is a polemic, that it posits eternal enmity between God and the world, and then they turn the relationship around and say it — this polemical view — wins (according to men's quite scatterbrained notion of winning) because the majority assume it.
Moreover, there is something objectionable to me in all this talk about miracles being needed at that time, just as if human reason were subsequently competent to see through God's tactics, which reason understands neither before nor afterward. But we are vain; we want so very much to comprehend or appear to comprehend; we want so very much to fraternize with God.
To put it very simply — miracles happened at that time; therefore, they may well have been needed — but I do not allow myself to speculate about how they were needed.
It is this disastrous impertinence of scholarship toward GOd which is all too difficult to root out.
Each of the writers here at home received a copy of Either/Or. I felt it was my duty, and I could do it at this time, for now there can be no apparent notion of trying in this way to create a coterie for a book — for the book, after all, is old, its peak is passed. They of course received the copy from Victor Eremita. As far as Oehlenschläger and Winther are concerned, I was happy to send them copies, for I admire them. I was happy to send one to Hertz as well, for he has significance and there is something charming about the man.
I dare not ruminate any more about publishing the books that are finished, and I cannot justify it. What troubles me is my economic concern for the future; the depressing thought that I might situate myself too high; the earthly consideration that I possibly might hinder myself in getting an official appointment.
Well, God certainly is a long way from compelling me against my will, I can readily be free — but humbly, almost penitently, I must rather feel ashamed of having consumed myself in melancholy and reflection for such a long time and almost prefer to have God forcibly constrain me to do what he wants me to do freely.
I do fervently thank God that he has not let me escape but has made me stick to the one and the same idea; for the worldly evasions and excuses (I cannot, it is too high for me, too much, etc. etc.) look so good at the moment, especially together with thousands and thousands who probably are of the same opinion. But in eternity — if I died tomorrow — O, the time for regret, for recollection will be so long. To have enjoyed the moment, to have been prudential in the moment cannot be recollected in eternity — no, that is impossible, after all, it is most alien to eternity — but to have denied oneself in the moment, that can be recollected in eternity.
God knows whether I may not have been a little too thin-skinned about not wanting to have one single adherent! For even though I were actually to die right now, or suppose even that I were put to death for my idea, and in this way escaped the difficulties involved in acquiring adherents: it must, after all, occur in a second generation if it all is not to relapse into itself; and am I myself then in some way too good to suffer and endure the inconvenience of having adherents, who always more or less bungle the idea.
It seems as if I have loved myself only or mainly in the idea: insisting that my life express the idea without considering that if the truth or something true is to get into the world, it must put up with its communication to others and then tolerate its becoming precisely thereby less true, that all who get it second hand depreciate its value. But nevertheless should one not love them so much that one speaks it plainly to them just the same.
Take the supreme example: if Christ, who was truth, had insisted absolutely upon not exposing truth to any misinterpretation, refused to become involved in any accommodation: then his whole life would have been one single monologue.
The point is that I have too profoundly understood that truth does not win by means of adherents but constantly suffers loss the more it acquires. My life's thought was the extreme consequence of that.
However, I do not believe there was any egotism involved. In the first place, my melancholy must be taken into consideration — my idea that I am a penitent. Furthermore, that the alternative (to accommodate) had not occurred to me previously. In the third place: why is the appearance maintained that all as such are Christians? An illusion like that can be destroyed only by indirect polemic, and that was my intention, and that was why I had to be so consistent and so inflexible in my consistency.
Just as the Guadalquibir River plunges into the earth somewhere and then comes out again, so I must now plunge into pseudonymity, but I also understand now how I will emerge again under my own name. The important thing left is to do something about seeking an appointment and then travel.
(1) The three small ethical-religious essays will be anonymous: this was the earlier stipulation. (2) "The Sickness unto Death" will be pseudonymous and is to be gone through so that my name and the like are not in it. (3) The three works. "Come to Me," "Blessed Is He Who Is not Offended," and "From on High He Will Draw All Men to Himself" will be pseudonymous. Either all three in one volume under the common title, "Practice in Christianity, Essay by ———," or each one separately. They are to be checked so that my name and anything about me etc. are excluded, which is the case with number three. (4) Everything under the titles "The Point of View for My Work as an Author," "A Note," "Three Notes," and "Armed Neutrality"* cannot conceivably be published.
* See this journal, p. 157 [i.e. X1 A 450].
These writings properly remain pseudonymous. Here there is the dialectical tension and tightening with respect to the doctrine of sin and redemption, and then I begin with my own name in a simple upbuilding discourse. But it is one thing for a work of such a dialectical nature to appear pseudonymously and something quite different if it appears over my name, in character, as the finale of the whole effort.
After all, there is no hurry about publishing. But if it is to be in character and as a finale, it must be done as soon as possible, something which has pained me frightfully and which has now become almost an impossibility, because today, June 4, I spoke with Reitzel, who said he dared not take on anything new for publication. On the whole the man has plagued me unbearably with his miseries, which perhaps are exaggerated anyway.
A battle of ideas has taken place here. In actuality the whole matter of publishing with or without my name perhaps would have been a bagatelle. But to me in my ideality it is a very taxing problem so that above all I do not falsely hold myself back or falsely go too far but in truth understand myself and continue to be myself.
I have struggled and suffered fearfully. Yet one who fights for the "You shall" as I do must also suffer at this point. But yet at times I probably have not been far from pressing this "You shall" in an almost melancholy-maniacal way. But now I understand myself. You shall — this is eternally true — but it is not less true and it is also a "You shall" that with God you shall understand your limits and beyond them you shall not go or you shall abandon such desires.
But, gracious God, how I have suffered and how I have struggled. Yet it is my consolation that the God of love will let this be to my good, and in a certain sense it consoles me that I have endured this suffering, because in this very suffering I have become convinced of the way I am to turn.
My misfortune always has been that it is so difficult for me to take an appointment. My melancholy, which is almost a quiet derangement, has been a hindrance to me all along, my consciousness of sin, too. This has aided me continually in venturing, for it has assured me that I was at least not being guided by vanity and the like. But now in God's name I must turn in this direction.
Strangely enough, incidentally, I have written so much in journal NB10 [i.e. Papirer X1 A 82-294] and in this journal [NB11, Papirer X1 A 296-541], but there is on a loose sheet something I have not wished to enter in the journal and which I still really regard as the most decisive [factor] and also one of the earliest — I now end with precisely this.
Addition to previous: ad journal NB11, p. 127 [i.e. X1 A 422].
If "From on High He Will Draw All Men to Himself" is to be pseudonymous, then the first discourse will have to be omitted, since it actually was preached by me in Frue Kirke. Or with a note which just as well admits the truth promptly and candidly. This discourse is a kind of plagiarism. It is a discourse delivered in Frue Kirke by Magister Kierkegaard. I believe it is reproduced fairly accurately, and I beg the Magister's forgiveness for having published it, but this discourse has substantially determined the whole book — thus in a way belongs with it. The author, who so frequently has had to tolerate being used, no doubt will easily put up with this. — Then I could answer that I really have no objection except that by appearing in this connection it really has become something different.
But perhaps it is better to omit it; such jesting could easily be misunderstood.
journal [X1 A 422]. To be written transversely in the journal.
If I had the means, I would venture further out — of course, not with the intention of being put to death (for that, after all, is sinful), but nevertheless, with that possibility in mind, believing that eventually my life might take a still higher turn.
Now I cannot, and I cannot defend venturing in the way which would give my life such a turn that I really would not recognize myself, whereas I fully recognize myself in the kind of persecution, if it may be called that, which I have suffered. Yes, from earliest childhood I have had the presentiment in my soul that things would turn out this way for me, that in a certain sense I should be regarded even with a certain solemnity as somewhat extraordinary and yet be laughed at and regarded as a bit mad.
Now I cannot. Now all my original plans go against me: to be a writer for only a few years and then seek an appointment, to practice the art of being able to stop — all the more so since it was my intention, never as definite as last year when I sold the house and made a little on it, to stop in earnest (I did not even rent rooms; this I did only much later) and to travel: and the Friday-discourses have always seemed to me to be a suitable terminating point. Perhaps I should have done that. I suffered much in 1848, but I also learned much and in that case [traveling] I would scarcely have learned to know myself in this way.
Now I cannot. Suddenly to be forced to sustain a very perceptible financial loss, perhaps at a time when I am about to take the most decisive step — and then perhaps not be put to death anyway and then to bungle the whole cause and myself — no, that I cannot do. To my mind it would be tempting God if I, spoiled by having had financial means, were now, with this new danger, to venture to a degree previously untried.
In addition, I now have a misgiving about myself which I would not have if I had financial means: is there possibly a connection between this almost martyr-impatience of mine and another kind of impatience, my shrinking from the humiliating task of actively seeking an appointment and from the humiliation implicit in all such things and in the whole mode of life. Moreover, I do have perhaps a trace of life-weariness. Perhaps it is also an exaggeration in the direction of expressing that I have suffered injustice and therefore could wish that they would put me to death.
Finally, there is a big question whether I, with my differential mental and spiritual capacities, am not intended to live, because the more there is of scientific scholarship and the like, the less relevant it is to work in that way.
Finally, it is part of being human not to become the very highest which he has envisioned — patience and humility in this respect. But he will be wounded by this highest, and that I have been, through having been so close to it in thought.
Consequently I do not take the least little step in that direction.
[In margin: A motto which relates to the three books: Practice in Christianity.]
The motto that appears in one of the latest journals [i.e. X1 A 251] and which is supposed to appear in the edition of the three books (Practice in Christianity) is an authentic motto for my endeavor — I do not feel strong enough to imitate you to the point where I die for you or your cause; I am content to do something less, in adoration to thank you that you would die for me.
It is not difficult for men to understand Christianity, but what is difficult for them is to understand the degree of self-overcoming and renunciation which Christianity demands. Established Christendom promotes this situation by brilliantly proving that one can be a Christian — and also as secular-minded as anyone.
It is dangerous to have to tighten the screw of essentially Christian self-renunciation — and thus contend with men who insist that they know very well what Christianity is.
It is not poetic to live as the lilies and the birds (how stupid of bourgeois philistinism to reproach "the poet" for presumably doing this — instead of having a job); no, it is simply the true way. But the tragedy is that "the poet" does not do it; only the apostle does this. The poetic way is to earn one's own keep in one way or another and then to preach, speak, poetize about living as the lilies and the birds or as the apostle.
The objection of bourgeois philistinism against the poetic way might have a kind of apparent justification only to a certain extent, namely to the extent that the poetic way might be sheer flightiness. For the apostolic way is to live as the birds and the lilies in respect to livelihood — and then to be filled with the thought of the Eternal, working for eternal goals.
Humanly understood, things look like this. This earthly life has sorrows and misfortunes in great number (sickness, poverty, etc.). Let us help one another as well as we are able; honor and praise to anyone who hits upon new means and methods — and then comes Christianity and brings only a new occasion for need and wretchedness: the truth — to be obliged to suffer for the truth.
There is a something appalling, an extremely concentrated sadness, in one single phrase in the first essay by H. H., right at the beginning of the introduction. Already as a child he was an old man ..... he went on living, he never became younger. This almost insane inversion, a child who never became young, a child who was already an old man and never became younger. What a terrible expression for terrible suffering.
And yet there is the difference that when he does, as we assume, grow old, he is not at all as old — because, as an old man to be old as an old man is old is not the same as to be, as a child, old as an old man is old.
All the objections to Christianity — what are they, after all, to the person who in truth is conscious of being a sinner and in truth has experienced belief in the forgiveness of sins in this name and in this faith is saved from his former sin.
The only conceivable objection would be: Yes, but it was still possible that you could have been saved in some other way. But to this he cannot reply. It is just like a person in love. If someone were to say: Yes, but you could perhaps have fallen in love with another girl — then he must answer: To this I cannot reply, for I know only one thing, that this is my beloved. As soon as the person who is in love can reply to this objection, he is then eo ipso not in love. And as soon as a believer can reply to this objection, he is eo ipso not a believer.
The whole problem of Christ's second coming prophesied as approach but still not fulfilled I explain by pointing out that it is a subjectively true expression. Not only must Christ speak in this way and after him the apostles, as was the case, but every true Christian must also speak this way. That is, to be a true Christian is so agonizing that it would not be endurable if one did not continually expect Christ's second coming as imminent. Agony, suffering, nourish a necessary illusion. Therefore the opposite can be said, that everyone who does not speak this way but some other way, who expects Christ's coming sometime many centuries hence, or everyone who is busy showing that events have not happened as Christ predicted, is no true Christian. One is not a true Christian except in the pain and agony of being a true Christian in this world; and if one is in this pain and agony, then this illusion is a necessity.
Think of a girl in love who is separated from her beloved. The more in love she is and consequently the more she feels the pain of separation, the closer this pain brings her the hope of meeting him again. She hopes for reunion very soon, and yet she perhaps lives on for many years but continually hopes for reunion very soon. As soon as she begins to talk about a reunion sometime, after many years, etc., this means that she is no longer in love; generally, it means that she wants to arrange for a new marriage.
It is wonderful that in the [Danish] language the word nourishment [Næ] is related to near [nær]. To the degree that the need is greater, the nourishment is nearer; the nourishment is in the need, and even if it is not the need, it still is the nearest. If the lover is really in love, the reunion is very near to her; if she is not entirely in love — then the reunion is a remote prospect.
The only form of polemic one can use against objections is to fall upon the objector from behind. When a girl has the look of being in love and says: I long for my beloved, for the sight of him again, but this is a remote prospect — then one does not argue with her but says: Well, my girl, from this I see that you are not in love. So also when objections are raised regarding Christ's declaration about the imminent second coming. One says to him: You must declare yourself either not to be a believer or to be a believer. If you say the first, then I reply: What concern is the whole matter to you; it concerns you no more than love concerns a third party. If you say that you are a believer, you who nevertheless make such objections, then I say to you that you are not a believer — this I prove from the way in which you speak.
"Armed Neutrality" can best be published as an appendix when the three works are published as one ("Practice in Christianity, a Venture"), but of course pseudonymously by the same pseudonym.
A pseudonym is excellent for accentuating a point, a stance, a position. He is a poetic person. Therefore it is not as if I personally said: This is what I am fighting for — which indeed could become a duty almost for my entire life, but which external conditions could make it impossible for me ever to fulfill, if, for example, I find it necessary to use most of my time to work for a living.
The situation could, however, easily become fatal.
The situation is neither more nor less than that Christianity has been abolished in Christendom, and that Christendom nevertheless will still not give up the claim of being Christian.
If I were to fight over doctrines — O, it is not likely the conflict would become so dangerous, at least in our time when tolerance is so broad or when indifference is honored in the name of tolerance.
No, what is involved in Christendom's abolition of Christianity is: self-denial, renunciation of the world, etc. — about such things it does not want to hear a word and yet wishes to be Christian.
And to have to speak of this could easily become fatal. For what else does a man love as he loves the secular, his profit, honor, esteem, the community of mutual self-love, etc. If he is allowed to continue along this line, then he is quite ready to accept Christianity as a doctrine.
But the movement which must be made in order to lead Christendom back to Christianity again is a movement of inwardness. It is as if a lawyer came to an estate and in a certain sense found everything entirely in order — except that the occupants had got the idea that the property belonged to them and not to the benevolent master. What is to be done, then? It would not be his business to fire the blacksmith or the pastor or the foreman, etc., no, everyone is permitted to keep his place, except that a legal document is drawn with all concerning and covering everything on the estate whereby it is made known publicly that the estate belongs to the benevolent master.
Christendom has repeated the parable of the vineyard workers who killed the lord's messengers and finally also his son, "because this is our vineyard." We think we might just as well be a Christian — who knows, it might be prudent. But there is no ear for what Christianity requires regarding self-denial, renunciation, and seeking first the Kingdom of God. And then once in a while someone comes along who either is a true Christian or is so concerned for the truth that he makes no secret of what is understood by being a true Christian. He is shouted down as a traitor, ad odium totius Christianitatis (ad modum odium generis humanum, as the earliest Christians were called), and killed. It is also treason to disclose this whole web of lies by being honest. Therefore they kill him. They say, as did those in the vineyard: "Let us kill him, since the vineyard is ours."
Humanly speaking, it is a thankless task; first to constrain oneself to self-denial (good Lord, one is still flesh and blood!) and then to be hated, cursed, and treated as inhuman because one does this.
This is Christianity, this is the "gentle doctrine of truth" in "quiet moments" in "holy places".
There is only one, and quite rightly pathological, proof of the truth of Christianity — when the anxiety of sin and the burdened conscience constrain a man to cross the narrow line between despair unto madness — and Christianity.
There lies Christianity.
Curiously enough, in the Three Godly Discourses I attributed to Paul the words of Peter: "Cast all your cares upon God."
Perhaps it is not required at all that you should let yourself be slain for Christianity or bring many sacrifices, but you must have offered yourself absolutely. But then can anyone observe whether or not a person has done this? No, nor is he supposed to be able to do this; yet it must be remembered that one can get a kind of suspicion about a man's whole life when one puts together all the external data. Even if you are altogether pure, you will have to submit to this as your cross; you will have to endure this misunderstanding, as if in all inwardness you had not offered absolutely — this is the least you can suffer in recompense for not coming into the dangers of actuality.
Christ halted Paul and said: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is perhaps a more common shattering conversion when Christ halts a person and says: Saul, Saul, why do you run away from me, why are you afraid of me; I am in fact your savior. This is the transition-crisis in becoming a Christian, that is, the person who is to become a Christian is first of all anxious before Christ, although he relates himself to him.
In margin of previous:
The words of the angel to Mary Magdalene at the grave could be used here: Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus of Nazareth; because until confidence in his grace and compassion appears, the person who seeks Jesus at first actually experiences fear before him, before his holiness.
My misfortune or what makes my life so difficult is that I am stretched one key higher than other men and where I am and what I do are concerned not only with the particular but always with a principle and idea as well. The most the majority do is to think about which girl they should marry; I had to think about marriage. So it is in everything.
It is basically the same with me now. The most the majority do is to think of which appointment they should seek, and I am at present deeply involved in the tension, in the battle of ideas, the question of principles, concerning the extent to which these so-called Christian professions are legitimate from the essentially Christian point of view.
No doubt what makes me unpopular is not so much the difficulty of my books as it is my personal life, the fact that even with all my endeavors I do not amount to anything (the finite teleology), do not make money, do not get appointed to a job, do not become a Knight of Denmark, but in every way amount to nothing and on top of that am derided. To my mind this is what is great about me if there is anything great. And this costs me struggle and strain, for I, too, am flesh and blood — and yet this is precisely why I am unappreciated and mistreated.
What actually has made me a religious speaker? The fact that I am a listener. That is, my life was so complicated and intense that I truly felt the need to hear words of guidance. I listened and listened, but if what I heard was supposed to be Christianity, then there was no help for me. So I became a speaker myself. This accounts for my knowing with certainty what our pastors seldom know, that there is one who benefits from these discourses: I myself. I am the exact opposite of other speakers: they are preoccupied with speaking to others — I speak to myself. And it is also a fact that insofar as others think it impossible to benefit from my discourses, then it must be because their lives are far too superficial, all too lacking in intensity, insulated from dangers.
Why is it that children who are brought up strictly do not cry when they fall and hurt themselves? Because they know that if the parents find out they will get a beating to boot. Therefore why? Because the pain of the fall is not final and definitive to them. And why is it that an older generation brought up in rigorous piety can endure so much without complaining? Because of their conception that God's punishment would swiftly come, consequently because the pain itself was not the final and definitive thing, but the punishment was the derivative.
Why is it that today, and in particular the more externally favored a man is, the more he suffers under even the slightest hardship. Because no higher, no ethical idea, derivative and vivifying, intervenes.
Yesterday I read about the following case in one of our newspapers. A workman's wife comes home and finds that her husband has hanged himself. Imagine her horror. She takes him down and then must turn and look after her baby crying in the cradle. She then runs to get help. She finds that two doctors are not at home, then goes to a woman she knows to ask for advice; finally gets hold of a barber — of course it is too late. And then what? Just listen. She is brought to trial for not having exercised proper vigilance in trying to revive him. Merciful God! But something else occurred to me. Suppose this terrible thing had happened in a more prosperous family — what grief there would have been, and rightly so, but perhaps also the heartbreaking grief that would elicit expressions of sympathy. But the poor wretched woman. Yes, she can thank the justice for getting something else to think about, she gets, as we said, a trial and is fined ten rix-dollars. One thing is sure, this is a splendid derivative device — but justice!
So I wanted or rather thought it necessary to act circumspectly and make sure of an appointment first of all and then publish the books pseudonymously. A splendid interpretation of "Seek first the kingdom of God!" What good would it have done me if I had collapsed under the weight of having acted circumspectly and then would have had to resign from my position anyway. All my apprehension about being denied an appointment is no doubt hypochondria. No doubt all my other apprehensions are also to a large extent mixed with hypochondria, but however heavily it weighs upon me, the action still must not be prudential.
This cam alive for me yesterday (Sunday). It has bothered me for a long time that I had considered stopping my publishing in order to take steps to arrange an appointment for myself. Of late one of my own phrases has come to mind spontaneously — that God is not served by men who snap in the crucial moment. I have been troubled by something I read somewhere in Fenelon, that it must be frightful for a man "from whom God had expected more or upon whom God had counted for a decision of greater amplitude." On the other hand I was struck by what I read today in Fenelon, part 2, p. 26 (Claudius' translation). And especially what I read yesterday in Tersteegen's Christmas sermon, p. 141. "The wise men went another way," for we should always be ready to follow God's guidance.
The whole matter of its being a higher course than I had considered is no doubt true, but then a man ought not demand that the whole thing be transparent to him right away. And has not my idea been changed little by little, has not the intervention of Governance made me an author in a completely different sense than I originally had in mind. What was my original thought? Allow me to backtrack scrupulously in time. What was my thought when I left her? It was: I am a penitent; marriage is an impossibility; there will always be a shadow to make it unhappy and that also protests the wedding. On the other hand — and God knows I thought of this too, even though I wanted to forget it or pretended to have forgotten it — on the other hand, the decisively religious life, for which I feel a need and for which I as a penitent must have the possibility if I want to be honest with God, cannot be combined with marriage. If God is going to bring my sins down upon me, I must not through falsification be in the situation of having to ask God to spare me for the sake of another person, another human being to whom I have in that case been joined by a falsification. That is, my life must either become a despairing hedonism — or an existent as unconditionally consistent as possible.
And for me (N.B.) to stop at this time and beget a heresy and deceive God, him who like a father gently has led me farther and farther out into decisions I would have been unable to endure if I had understood everything at once. O, pfui on me! And because I have hesitated so long, everything has become more difficult.
In margin of previous:
N.B. But obviously something is still overlooked here, that then I still had the idea of being an author without financial worries, and in any case would be able to get a pastoral appointment* whenever I wanted it.
Addition to previous, in margin of X1 A 494:
* Yes, and that is very crucial, for actually that is just where the trouble lies. But here, too, as happens so frequently when I write this way, there is a certain editing, that is, there is, as here, a telos in the interpretation which forces me to act.
Addition to X1 A 494:
Historical Note. To make sure it is not because I shrink from taking a step in the opposite direction, the day before yesterday (Saturday) (after failing to meet with Mynster on Friday), I went to see Madvig but did not meet him. That was perhaps fortunate. For I may say in my defense that this time, as usual, I considered taking this step but always with the possibility of getting the momentum to act in the opposite direction; in other words, this is intrinsic to my nature because when something that tempts me as possibility turns out to be capable of realization, it turns into something else.* So I did not get to see Madvig.
* Yes, it is true. Would to God I had been offered an appointment, for then it very likely would be far easier to understand that I cannot accept it. But here comes my self-tormenting again; if it is not offered to me, then I fear that I do not take the necessary steps in order to safeguard myself.
Now Mynster was left. How reluctantly I went to him, for I have indeed noticed how uneasy he is with me, especially since R. Nielsen's book and the little anonymous piece which he certainly has read. Three weeks ago I visited him — I immediately saw how things stood with us and merely exchanged two words with him, pacing up and down the floor, quite contrary to custom. He, however, repeated again and again: Dear friend, dear friend — but refused to enter into conversation. That was why I reluctantly brought myself to go to him. But I did go on Friday; scrupulous as I am , I regarded it as my duty not to spare myself lest I start worrying about it afterward. Friday he was administering communion. I wanted to visit him on Saturday, but he was going to preach on Sunday and I knew that he would rather not talk with anyone. Today (Monday) I visited him. Just as I thought: "How do you do, dear friend" — and "Dear friend" — and then he said that he had no time to talk with me — "I am speaking plainly," I understood him. But I also understood how to collect myself and thanked him for showing such confidence in me. He repeated this. "Dear friend" six or seven times, I am sure, clapped me on the shoulders, and patted me — meaning that he is afraid to talk with me because he is afraid to get too involved with me. To be sure he said: Come again another time, but since he realizes very well that it cannot be this week, after which he leaves to make his official visits, it is easy to understand, after all. But thank God I did it and did not spare myself. But thank God I did not get to talk with him. For even if I actually was merely exploring the possibility of arranging an appointment prior to making a definite decision, who knows, it could be very risky for me. However, my past life certainly has taught me the opposite. The very day I decided in earnest to break the engagement in the afternoon, in the forenoon of that day I said just the opposite — and had I not done so, I would not have had the strength to do the opposite in the afternoon. It is due to the fact that I am almost sheer reflection. But no doubt it is best for me that it happened as it did. A positive predisposition to agree with my idea could have helped me. If that had happened, I most likely would have gained the strength to abandon it in order to do just the opposite. But if opposition to my idea of getting an appointment had been indicated, such a situation could very easily have an adverse effect upon me and induce me to apply additional energy to accomplishing its possibility — for its realization always would be subject to one final consideration. An unsuccessful attempt along that line perhaps could give me a distaste for that which really preoccupies me.
It is as if Christ said to the soul: How can you be anxious about me and become more anxious in my presence; I am in fact your very Savior. Believe me that I am. This is not an assurance, this is infinitely more than an assurance; I let myself be crucified for you; if this cannot convince you, then it is impossible.
The other alternative is perhaps more rash, perhaps bolder, perhaps a more daring venture, but this does not make it more true for me — and to be true is of first importance.
If I consider my own personal life, am I then a Christian or is my personal life purely a poet-existence, even with an addition of something demonic. In that case the idea would be to take such an enormous risk that I thereby make myself so unhappy that I would get into the situation for really becoming a Christian. But does this give me the right to do it dramatically so that the Christendom of a whole country gets involved. Is there not something desperate in the whole thing, something like the treachery of starting a fire in order to throw oneself into the arms of God — perhaps, for perhaps it would nevertheless turn out that I would not become a Christian.
All this about my person as author cannot be used at all, for it is clear that it only will involve me more in the interesting instead of getting me out of it, and this is also the effect it will have on my contemporaries. The simple transition is utterly elementary: to be silent and then to see about getting an appointment.
There is no question but that I will stop being an author now, but I would still like to dispense with the interesting: put down the period myself and officially in character. The simple way to do it is to cross over to the new in complete silence; this solemn determination to put down a period is an extremely dangerous thing; the elemental point is that there in fact comes to be a period.
I regret — and I blame myself for it — that in several previous entries in this journal there are attempts to exalt myself, for which God will forgive me.
Until now I have been a poet, absolutely nothing else, and it is a desperate struggle to will to go out beyond my limits.
The work "Practice in Christianity" has great personal significance for me — does it follow that I should publish it right away? Perhaps I am one of the few who need such strong remedies — and should I, then, instead of benefiting from it and myself beginning in real earnestness to become a Christian, should I first publish it? Fantastic!
The work and other works are ready; perhaps the time may come when it is suitable and I have the strength to do it and when it is truth in me.
In many ways it is true that the entire authorship is my upbringing or education — well, does that mean that instead of being in earnest about becoming a true Christian I am to become a phenomenon in the world?
CONSEQUENTLY The Sickness unto Death appears at this time, but pseudonymously and with me as editor. It is said to be "for upbuilding". This is more than my category, the poet-category: upbuilding.
Just as the Guadalquibir River (this occurred to me earlier and is somewhere in the journal [i.e. X1 A 422]) plunges down somewhere into the earth, so is there also a stretch, the upbringing, which carries my name. There is something (the esthetic) which is lower and is pseudonymous and something which is higher and is also pseudonymous, because as a person I do not correspond to it.
The pseudonym is Johannes Anticlimacus in contrast with Climacus, who said he was not a Christian. Anticlimacus is the opposite extreme: a Christian on an extraordinary level — but I myself manage to be only a very simple Christian.
"Practice in Christianity" can be published in the same way, but there is no hurry.
But nothing about my personality as a writer; it is false to want to anticipate during one's lifetime — this merely converts a person into the interesting.
On the whole, I must now venture in quite different directions. I must dare to believe that through Christ I can be saved from the power of melancholy in which I have lived; and I must try to be more economical.
The wrong way is much too close, wanting to reform, to arouse the whole world — instead of oneself, and this certainly is the wrong way for hotheads with a lot of imagination.
I have also had a tendency toward it, almost demonically wanting to force myself to be stronger than I am. Just as sanguine men are required to hate themselves, perhaps it is necessary for me to love myself and renounce this gloomy self-hatred which can even become almost pleasurable.
I also have the fault that I constantly escort myself in the role of a writer and then almost desperately demand of myself that I act in character. That is why I need humiliation at this point. I was humbled at the time by the engagement, having to break it jolted my pride.
In margin: About Anti-Climacus]
Johannes Climacus and Anti-Climacus have several things in common; but the difference is that whereas Johannes Climacus places himself so low that he even says himself that he is not a Christian, one seems to be able to detect in Anti-Climacus that he regards himself to be a Christian on an extraordinarily high level [in margin: see p. 260, p. 267 [i.e., X1 A 530, 536], at times also seems to believe that Christianity really is only for geniuses, using the world in a non-intellectual sense.
His personal guilt, then, is to confuse himself with ideality (this is the demonic in him), but his portrayal of ideality can be absolutely sound, and I bow to it.
I would place myself higher than Johannes Climacus, lower than Anti-Climacus.
It was, after all, a desperate notion and also somewhat demonic, the whole idea which I long ago abandoned of publishing everything, including the part about my authorship, in one volume.
As a matter of fact something different took place. All the suffering involved in the work of reflection of late actually has been a profound awakening for me.
Now I am able to say that Christ has come in this way to reveal to me that Savior is to be understood as one who helps a person out of his misery and not simply one who helps a person bear it.
But the point is that I have never been able to take command of myself in the ordinary human sense because of my unfortunate melancholia, which at one point was a kind of partial madness.
Thus my only possibility was to function simply as spirit, and that is why I could be only an author.
At last I was ready to stake everything (the consequence of working in this way) and then of my own volition retire, again because I inhumanly have been able to work only as spirit, that is, in the third person.
All my inner torment, together with my brilliance and the treatment I have suffered, brought me to the point where it seemed as if I myself were a governing force to organize an awakening.
To be able and to be allowed to do this for the truth has been my only satisfaction, my only comfort.
Now Governance has intervened and required me in self-denial to abandon that bold but also demonic idea.
It will help me if God will enable me to work more humanly so that I do not always need to make myself a third person, so that I personally can enter into things.
[In margin: About The Sickness unto Death]
The book is characterized as being "for upbuilding" the preface speaks of it as upbuilding. It really should say: for awakening. [In margin: see p. 259 in this journal (i.e. X1 A 529)]. This is its basic character, and this is the forward step in the writings. Essentially it is also for awakening, but this does not need to be said yet. This will come out decisively for the first time in the next book, "Practice in Christianity."
[In margin: About a postscript to The Sickness unto Death.]
At first I thought of a postscript by the editor. But for one thing it is plain to see that I personally am a part of the book — for example, the part about the religious poet; for another, I am afraid I thereby will contradict the argument in another book (in one of those which make up "Practice in Christianity") about making observations instead of preaching.
[In margin: Such a postscript is completely inappropriate to the tone of the book, and in the long run humility of that sort might rather almost embitter.]
In any case, the sketches for this postscript are in my desk.
[In margin: The title of the book: The Sickness unto Death]
It finally came to bear the inscription:
This "for awakening" actually is the "more" that came out of the year 1848, but it is also the "more" that is so much higher than my own person that I use a pseudonym for it. [In margin: See p. 253 in this journal (i.e. X1 A 520).]
I use only the poetic designation: "upbuilding,", never "for upbuilding."
[In margin: A passage in the preface to the book The Sickness unto Death.]
To the closing passage, "but that the form is what it is," I have thought of adding:
apart from the fact that it is also rooted in my being who I am.
But this would be going too far in transforming a fictitious character into actuality; a fictitious character has no possibility other than the one he has; he cannot declare that he could also speak in another way and yet be the same; he has no identity which encompasses many possibilities.
On the other hand, the fact that he says: "It is at least well considered" — is proper, for it may very well be that, although it is his only form. For him to say: "It is psychologically correct" is a double blow, for it is also psychologically correct with respect to Anti-Climacus.
Climacus is lower, denies he is a Christian. Anti-Climacus is higher, a Christian on an extraordinarily high level. [In margin: see p. 249 (i.e. X1 A 517).] With Climacus everything drowns in humor; therefore he himself retracts his book. Anti-Climacus is thetical.
[In margin: The significance of the pseudonyms.]
All communication of truth has become abstract: the public has become the authority; the newspapers call themselves the editorial staff; the professor calls himself speculation; the pastor is meditation; no man, none, dares to say I.
But since without qualification the first prerequisite for the communication of truth is personality, since "truth" cannot possibly be served by ventriloquism, personality has to come to the fore again.
But in these circumstances, since the world was so corrupted by never hearing an I, it was impossible to begin at once with one's own I. So it became my task to create author-personalities and let them enter in the actuality of life in order to get men a bit accustomed to hearing discourse in the first person.
Thus my task is no doubt only that of a forerunner until he comes who in the strictest sense says: I.
But to make a turn away from this inhuman abstraction to personality — that is my task.
[In margin: the eulogy on Bishop Mynster by F.F.]
This eulogy is given on the presupposition that "state church," "established Christendom" are valid concepts. That from a Christian standpoint this must be denied is an entirely different matter. But if these concepts are assumed to have reality (and this ought to be assumed in a conception of Bishop Mynster, since it is reasonable, after all, to conceive a man according to his own idea and thought), then he is great and admirable. On the other hand, Bishop Mynster can be attacked only if one attacks these two concepts.
[In margin: About Anti-Climacus.]
If I have represented a person so low that he even denied being a Christian [In margin: see p. 249 (i.e. X1 A 517)], then the opposite also ought to be represented. And Christendom does indeed greatly need to hear the voice of such a judge — but I will not pass myself off as the judge, and therefore he also judges me, which is easy enough and quite appropriate, for anyone who cannot present ideality so high that he is judged by it himself must have a poor understanding of it.
There is no Christianity in the land — and then a synodical meeting is called! It will probably be of the same nature as parents-teachers' meetings: problems will come up about louvres in the church to ventilate the air, whether the abolish the collection plate — whether the pastor should not have different garb, perhaps also have a ring in his nose.
De se ipso
Actually, something else will happen than what I originally had in mind.
When I began as the author of Either/Or, I no doubt had a far more profound impression of the terror of Christianity than any clergyman in the country. I had a fear and trembling such as perhaps no one else had. Not that I therefore wanted to relinquish Christianity. No, I had another interpretation of it. For one thing I had in fact learned very early that there are men who seem to be selected for suffering, and, for another thing, I was conscious of having sinned much, and therefore supposed that Christianity had to appear to me in the form of this terror. But how cruel and false of you, I thought, if you use it to terrify others, perhaps upset ever so many happy, loving lives that may very well be truly Christian. It was as alien as possible to my nature to want to terrify others, since I both sadly and perhaps also a bit proudly found my joy in comforting others and in being gentleness itself to them — forgetting the terror in my own interior being.
So my idea was to give my contemporaries (whether or not they themselves would want to understand) a hint in humorous form (in order to achieve a lighter tone) that a much greater pressure was needed — but then no more; I aimed to keep my heavy burden to myself, as my cross. I have often taken exception to anyone who was a sinner in the strictest sense and then promptly got busy terrifying others. Here is where Concluding Postscript comes in.
Then I was horrified to see what was understood by a Christian state (this I saw especially in 1848); I saw how the ones who were supposed to rule, both in Church and State, hid themselves like cowards while barbarism boldly and brazenly raged; and I experienced how a truly unselfish and God-fearing endeavor (and my endeavor as an author was that) is rewarded in the Christian state.
That seals my fate. Now it is up to my contemporaries how they will list the cost of being a Christian, how terrifying they will make it. I surely will be given the strength for it — I almost said "unfortunately." I really do not say this in pride. I both have been and am willing to pray to God to exempt me from this terrible business; furthermore, I am human myself and also love, humanly speaking, to live happily here on earth. But if what one sees all over Europe is Christendom, a Christian state, then I propose to start here in Denmark to list the price for being Christian in such a way that the whole concept — state church, official appointments, livelihood — bursts open.
I dare not do otherwise, for I am a penitent from whom God can demand everything. I also write under a pseudonym because I am a penitent. Nevertheless, I will be persecuted, but I am secure against any honor and esteem that from another side could fall to me.
For some years now I have been so inured to bearing the treachery and ingratitude of a little country, the envy of the elite and the insults of the rabble that I perhaps — for want to anything better — am qualified to proclaim Christianity. Bishop Mynster can keep his velvet robe and Grand Cross.
Thank God I did not publish the book about my work as an author or in any way try to push myself to be more than I am.
The Sickness Unto Death is now printed, and pseudonymously, by Anti-Climacus.
"Practice in Christianity" will also be pseudonymous. I now understand myself completely.
The point in the whole thing is this: there is a zenith of Christianity in ethical rigorousness and this must at least be heard. But no more. It must be left to everyone's conscience to decide whether he is capable of building the tower so high.
But heard it must be. But the trouble is simply that practically all Christendom and all the clergy, too, live not only in secular prudence at best but also in such a way that they brazenly boast about it and as a consequence must interpret the life of Christ to be fanaticism.
This is why the other must be heard, heard if possible as a voice in the clouds, heard as the flight of wild birds over the heads of the tame ones.
But no more. That is why it must be pseudonymous and I merely the editor.
Ah, but what I suffered before arriving at this, something which was essentially clear to me earlier but I had to understand again.
God will certainly look after the rest for me.
If I now continue to be an author, the subject must be "sin" and "reconciliation" in such a way that in an upbuilding discourse I would now make use of the fact that the pseudonym has appropriately raised the prices.
For this pseudonyms will be used continually. I entertained this idea once before, particularly regarding that to which Anti-Climacus is assigned, and it is somewhere in the journals, no doubt in NB10 [i.e. X1 A 422].
The fearful stress and strain I have experienced lately are due to my wanting to overexert myself and wanting too much, and then I myself perceived that it was too much, and therefore I did not carry it out, but then again I was unable to let the possibility go and to my own torment held myself on the spearhead of possibility — something, incidentally, that without any merit on my part has been an extremely beneficial discipline for me.
Now there has been action, and now I can breathe.
It was a sound idea: to stop my productivity by once again using a pseudonym. Like the river Guadalquibir — this simile appeals to me very much.
So not a word about myself with respect to the total authorship; such a word will change everything and misrepresent me.
To the natural man the Christian view of life must seem to be a hatred of life, and the pagans were justified as pagans in calling Christians: odium generis humani.
"Established Christendom" has messed the whole thing up with human sympathy, and therefore the natural man is almost highly pleased with — yes, with Christendom, which, of course, is not Christianity.
In margin: And besides, when the sum total of religiousness is nothing more than the solemnity of Sunday in quiet hours, from whence should the possibility of offense come? The possibility of offense lies precisely in this, that the solemnity should be in the everyday.
It is absolutely right — a pseudonym had to be used.
When the demands of ideality are to be presented at their maximum, then one must take extreme care not to be confused with them himself, as if he himself were the ideal.
Protestations could be used to avoid this. But the only sure way is this redoubling.
The difference from the earlier pseudonyms is simply but essentially this, that I do not retract the whole thing humorously but identify myself as one who is striving.
[In margin: About the review of H. H.'s book in Kirketidenden]
The little book by H. H. is reviewed in Kirketidenden (Saturday, July 21). The opinion is that it is by "a very young author who has read Mag. Kierkegaard." Splendid. What a critic! This little book is very significant. It contains the key to the greatest potentiality of all my writing, but not the one at which I have been aiming. And the second essay contains the most important of all the ethical-religious concepts, the one I have deliberately omitted until its appearance there.
But I will not say anything about the book. Because to me, as I expressed earlier somewhere [i.e. X1 A 351], it is a false point of view, signifying that I will take another direction.
Perhaps it is even a feint on the part of the reviewer to lure me out onto thin ice.
If anything is to be written about this review, it must be done with the idea that I would stand up in defense of that "young man" and that the reviewer has done him an injustice. If it could be of any joy or compensation to him — who is a very young man according to the expert reviewer — then I can assure him that I have read the little book with unusual interest and found that it grasped a point (the sympathetic collision) which as far as I know no one here at home has grasped with the exception of my pseudonyms, and found that it properly grasped and also explained the perhaps most important ethical-religious concept: authority. Assuming, as the expert reviewer says, that he is a very young man, I would say to him: Young friend, keep on writing. Without reservations you are the one I would trust with the continuation of my work.
But nothing will be done; I will not elaborate the point. It is just for a little fun.
[In margin: Martensen's Dogmatics]
While all existence is disintegrating, while anyone with eyes must see that all this about millions of Christians is a sham, that if anything Christianity has vanished from the world, Martensen sits and organizes a dogmatic system. What does it mean that he undertakes something like this? As far as faith is concerned, it says that everything in the country is just as it should be, we are all Christians; there is no danger afoot here, we have the opportunity to indulge in scholarship. Since everything else is as it should be, the most important matter confronting us now is to determine where the angels are to be placed in the system, and things like that.
[In margin: Martensen's Dogmatics]
It is really ridiculous! There has been talk of the system and scientificity and about scientificity etc., and then finally comes the system. Merciful God, my most popular book is more stringent in definition of concepts, and my pseudonym Johannes Climacus is seven times as stringent in definition of concepts. Martensen's Dogmatics is, after all, a popular piece lacking the powerful imagination or something similar which could give it that kind of a worth; and the only scholarliness I have discovered in it is that it is divided into paragraphs. He has no more categories than Mynster. Strangely enough, Mynster is frequently quoted — and as a dogmatician. And at one time it was Mynster whom "the system" was going to overthrow.
So I turn off the tap: that means the pseudonym Anti-Climacus, a halt.
An awakening is the final goal, but that is too high for me personally — I am too much of a poet.
Christianity tends above all toward actuality, toward being made actuality, the only medium to which it truly is related. It is not to be possessed in any way other than by being made actual; it is not communicated except to or in upbuilding and awakening. It must always be assumed that there are some who do not have it or who are still lagging far behind — therefore there must be labour on their behalf. But Christianity dare not be communicated in the medium of tranquillity (less so because one who does this ventures to affirm that now all are Christians). Therefore, Christianly understood, the artistic, the poetic, the speculative, the scientific, the pedagogical are sin — how do I dare give myself the tranquillity to sit this way and piddle with it!
Martensen, whose activity is to find half-terms and definitions, also says that Christianity must be a life, an actual life — and now come the assertions — a genuinely actual life, a completely genuine, actual life in us; one must not relate himself to Christianity by way of imagination. Good. But Martensen's own existence — what does this express? It expresses that he wants to be a success in the world, have great honour and regard, be in a high office, etc. — is this the actualisation of Christianity?
As a philosopher, Martensen makes assertions and is not at all dialectical, and as a Christian, he also merely makes assertions. Generally the categories are purely rhetorical — which can very well beguile a person.
I am a little more than a poet to the extent that I nevertheless have had the courage to expose myself to ridicule and endure it. But I have had the advantage of a living. I do not bleieve I achieve any more. I withdraw, but with God's help I shall keep an enthusiastic vision of those who achieved more.
Now The Sickness unto Death is published and pseudonymously, putting an end to the confounded torment of undertaking too great a task: wishing to publish everything at one time, including what I wrote about the authorship, and, so to speak, taking the desperate step of setting fire to established Christianity.
Now the question of when the three other books come out is of less importance (and the one about my authorship will not appear at all), for now there is no question of the force of one single blow.
Now I will rest and be more calm.
I did not learn that Olsen was dead until I was talking with Luno about printing The Sickness unto Death. I was so reluctant to impair the impact of my dealings at the printing house that I went ahead with the printing. Furthermore, I was so shaken by the far too much thinking I have done of late that I finally feared completely losing grip on myself.
In margin of previous:
Council Olsen is dead.
This will certainly lead her to think in a special way of her relationship to me. If so, I owe it to her to bring up the matter again. Governance, too, indicates to me that this is the time for it. My most difficult period is always from August 9 to September 10. I have always had something against summer. And now, at the time when I am physically at my weakest, come the anniversaries of my father's death and, September 10, of my engagement.
[In margin: about "her"]
Where "she" is concerned, I am, as ever, but even more fervently if possible, ready and willing to do everything that could comfort her and cheer her up. But I am continually afraid of her passion. I am the guaranty of her marriage. If she finds out the real truth of my relationship to her she suddenly may get a distaste for marriage — alas, I know her far too well. And either she is essentially unchanged, and then it is extremely dangerous, or she has changed so essentially that it will not mean much to her if I make any approach.
The Sunday after the Councillor's death she was in church (Helliggeistes-Kirke) with her whole family, I was there too. Contrary to her custom, she left immediately after the sermon, something she usually does not do, since she always remains and sings a hymn, whereas way back as far as I can remember I have had a habit of leaving immediately. As I said, she left immediately, accompanied by Schlegel. She was just in time so that we almost met when I came down from the gallery. She perhaps expected me to greet her, but I averted my eyes. A purely accidental reason also made it impossible to get further involved at the time, even if I had wanted to.
Perhaps it is good that I had all that trouble at the printer's during that time, for otherwise I perhaps would have gone ahead and made a move — directly contrary to my previous understanding that her father was the only one with whom I could wish and dare to become involved. She no doubt thinks the opposite, perhaps believes that he has stood in the way of my making a move toward her.
God knows how much I long to be, humanly speaking, gentle to her, but I dare not. And in many ways it also seems as if Governance wants to prevent it — perhaps knowing the consequences — for it was a purely accidental circumstance that made it impossible for me to speak to them that time. The next time when Koltholl preached I was in Helliggeistes-Kirke, but she was not.
If it could be done and if I had not virtually ceased being an author, it would give me much joy to dedicate one of my books to the memory of Councillor Olsen. In fact, for that purpose the book "From on High He will Draw All to Himself" could provide the opportunity.
The trouble with Martensen is this perpetual talking about Kant, Hegel, Schelling, etc. It provides a guaranty that there must be something to what he says. It is similar to the journalistic practice of writing in the name of the public.
[In margin: The three godly discourses (The Lily and the Bird) and The Sickness unto Death with respect to time of writing.]
It must be remembered that the three godly discourses about the lily and the bird are the last thing I wrote. They were finished May 5, 1849. The Sickness unto Death is from the middle of 1848.
What an accomplishment the Concluding Postscript is; there is more than enough for three professors. But of course the author was someone who did not have a career position and did not seem to want to have one; there was nothing worthy of becoming a paragraph in the system — well, then, it is nothing at all.
The book came out in Denmark. It was not mentioned anywhere at all. Perhaps fifty copies were sold, thus the publishing costs for me, including the proofreader's fee (100 rix-dollars), came to about 400 or 500 rix-dollars, plus my time and work. And in the meantime I am caricatured by a scandal sheet that in the same little country has 3,000 subscribers, and another paper (also with wide circulation, Flyveposten) continues the discussion about my trousers.
I am like a chaplain in a monastery, a spiritual adviser to the solitary etc. — but I cannot involve myself in the nonsense that is now called piety, religiosity. Spiritual trial [Anfœgtelse] is literally never spoken of any more.
Christ had the certainty that what He suffered was atonement for all, unconditionally for all, and the confidence that with his every step, his every word, "the Scriptures were fulfilled." He was the Scriptures given life.
[In margin: Martensen]
It is characteristic of Martensen that he never quotes the younger Fichte, Baader, G¨nther, but constantly quotes Schleiermacher, whom he corrects. This means that he directly capitalizes upon what has appeared since Schleiermacher and also profits by correcting Schleiermacher.
The two works by Anti-Climacus ("Practice in Christianity") can be published immediately.
With this the writing stops; essentially it has already stopped (that which is wholly mine) with "The Friday Discourses." The pseudonymous writer at the end is a higher level, which I can only suggest. The second-round pseudonymity is precisely the expression for the halt. Qua author I am like the river Guadalquibir, which at some place plunges under the earth; there is a stretch which is mine: the upbuilding; behind and ahead lie the lower and the higher pseudonymities; the upbuilding is mine, not the esthetic not [the pseudonymous works] for upbuilding either, and even less those for awakening.
Anti-Climacus will be the higher pseudonym, and thus the piece "Climacus and Anti-Climacus" [i.e. X6 B 48] cannot be used, unless it should be by a new pseudonym. That means that I cannot be the author of the piece.
But on examining it, I see that this was never the intention. The piece is by Anti-Climacus himself. It may well be done. Nevertheless, perhaps a new pseudonym is better.
The concept "Christendom", "established Christendom", is what has to be reformed (the single individual).
What is needed is the maieutic. It is not at all a matter of getting any change in externals, not that I, for example, get hundreds to imitate me in what before God I have realized; it is a matter of men being guided to an awareness that every individual is to seek the primitive God-relationship.
A flanking manoeuvre can be made against the clergy on the point that they have become all too secularized, but not personal attacks on individual clergymen; yet it must not be done in such a way that external changes seem to be recommended.
It was impatience on my part suddenly to want to abandon indirect communication and personally take over the whole thing in the capacity of an extraordinary. In spite of all my disclaimers and stipulations there still would be confusion about such a step.
"Practice in Christianity" will be the last to be published. There I shall end for now.
Consequently the year 1848 will be included, since the things by Anti-Climacus are all from 1848. The remainder is from 1849. According to decision current writing will be shelved.
If "Practice in Christianity" is published, what has been intimated many places elsewhere will be carried out — in all earnestness to set forth the possibility of offense. This is also related essentially to my task, which is continually to jack up the price by bringing a dialectic to bear. But for this reason, too, a pseudonym must be used. That which represents the dialectical element has always been by a pseudonym. To want to make it my own would be both untrue and an all too frightful and violent means of awakening.
[In margin: Martensen]
Martensen can lecture on anything. In his Dogmatics, p. 456: "The more fervently and powerfully faith is proclaimed in the world, the more it becomes the signal for opposition, and the world is constrained to manifest its enmity to the truth, which becomes effective by means of this very opposition." That is all very well and good for rote-reading — but now take Martensen's life: he is in collusion with speculation, floridly courts the favors of philosophy, makes accommodations, etc. etc. — and this he himself alludes to as wisdom in contrast to the paradox. But faith cannot be proclaimed powerfully without the paradox, and the paradox is precisely what tenses the world in torment, so that deliberately or against its will it must reveal itself.
This, you see, may be called a professor, in contrast to a thinker.
[In margin: The Basic Shift in Modern Christendom]
As I have demonstrated on all sides, all modern Christendom is a shifting of the essentially Christian back into the esthetic. Another shift is that the conception of the preparatory condition for becoming a Christian has been broadened in a completely confusing way. Thousands of men who are a long, long way from having an impression of Christianity stand on the same level as a catechumen and summarily have been made Christians. In this fashion there has been such an advance that if such people are supposed to be Christians, then an indifferent catechumen is an outstanding Christian. And this is just about the way it is in "established Christendom." Just as everywhere else, first place has been allowed to vanish; third place, which otherwise is alien here, has been promoted to an actual position, and class 2 becomes number 1. The apostles, the no. 1 Christians, the witnesses to the truth, etc. become fanatics.
In a certain human sense the matter must be put the very opposite to what is usually done. It is generally found to be quite natural that the disciples felt themselves forsaken upon Christ's departure, that a miracle was needed to strengthen them, that it was easy for them to be strong as long as Christ was with them, and the like.
What simple human experience teaches is forgotten. In a certain sense the disciple leads a timorous existence as long as the master lives with him. In a certain sense the disciple cannot be himself, vacillates between being apprehensive every moment over the teacher's judgment, which is right at hand, and wanting every moment to be propped up by him.
The law is always this: precisely in order to reach his full strength, a person must not have visible but only invisible help. The same divine help which when invisible is absolute help is in a certain sense, humanly speaking, an impediment when it is visible.
Certainly this is the meaning of Christ's words that it is profitable for them that he go away, for otherwise the spirit cannot come.
My Writings Considered as a "Corrective" to the Established
The designation "corrective" is a category of reflection just as here-there, right-left.
The person who is to provide the "corrective" must study the weak sides of the established scrupulously and penetratingly and then one-sidedly present the opposite — with expert one-sidedness. Precisely in this consists the corrective, and in this also the resignation in the one who is going to do it. In a certain sense the corrective is expended on the established.
If this is done properly, then a presumably sharp head can come along and object that "the corrective" is one-sided and get the public to believe there is something in what he says. Ye gods! Nothing is easier for the one providing the corrective than to add the other side; but then, right there, it ceases to be the corrective and itself becomes established order. Therefore an objection of this nature comes from a person utterly lacking the resignation required to provide "the corrective" and without even the patience to comprehend this.
"The thorn in the flesh" must be struggled against by yielding, not by kicking against the goads (against which Paul seems to have kicked so hard that as a result he kept the thorn in the flesh); sin must be struggled against with all the combative power one has.
Thus one of the most difficult collisions occurs when a person finds some ambiguity at this point, to what extent it is the thorn in the flesh or it is sin.
It would seem easier to proclaim Christianity to those who lead happy lives, are healthy and prosperous, enjoy life — than to proclaim it to cripples, the sick, malcontents, etc., but in another sense it probably is far more difficult.
The point is that we are not very careful about what Christianity is. If Christianity is to be preached in truth to the happy, those who enjoy life, then Christianity becomes a kind of cruelty. And on the other hand it is far easier to proclaim the consolation of Christianity — to cripples.
But the point is that people would rather enjoy life etc. — and that is why they are even afraid to look at a cripple, an insane person, a beggar; they wish to keep on being ignorant of him — and then to proclaim Christianity to — the favored!
O, I have seen this much too close at hand. My own soul has been in fear and trembling and I have therefore actually needed Christianity — and then a young, light-hearted girl. Yes, when a hardened sinner in the last days of his life suddenly awakens to repentance and the pangs of sin-consciousness, send for me — with God's help I will be sure to preach. But a young, light-hearted, lovable girl, as yet without any deep impression — and then Christianity! Here I did not know how to preach. And yet she is no doubt much, much purer than I.
But then is not Christianity for all, is it only for those who are sick and full of sorrow, for those who labor and are heavy laden?
Is it a mistake to want to make everybody Christians?
These problems have occupied me very much. I sometimes use the advice I give myself: Does it concern you? Do you not need Christianity? Then I answer Yes, and look after myself.
[In margin: About "her"]
Now that the Councillor is dead, it is not impossible that she thinks that some approach could take place from my side; in that case she would have considered the Councillor to have been the real hindrance to me. This certainly is a misunderstanding. The Councillor was the very one with whom I desired reconciliation and therefore also sought it. Reconciliation with him had no dangerous or serious consequences whatsoever, and in my eyes the offended father was the object of very serious concern.
But if she really does wish it, how gladly I would be reconciled with her. She has suffered for my sake, suffered what must be the deepest humiliation to a young girl, even if I did everything to alleviate the humiliation, and also proposed that she be the one to break the engagement — she has suffered for my sake, and God knows how much I want to make all possible amends. For my own sake as well: the easier the conditions on which she can be married to another, the easier my personal life will be. In a way my personal relationship to God is a reduplication of my relationship to her.
But on the other hand, if she finds out that I was motivated in the past by considerations of religion and suffering, I run the risk of her suddenly yielding to despair over her marriage. It is an awkward matter, "that it would be the death of her", and she is the married one; an awkward matter that I was "a scoundrel" — and now it must be seen in a quite different light. And even if I could do all this for her so gently that there would be no danger in this respect — I know very well her vehemence and passionate nature. As I have said to myself before, I am the guaranty of her marriage.
But if she herself takes the bold risk of being the one who requests it, then I will consider myself obligated in God's name to do what I so gladly would do. In that case the chief responsibility will not be mine. By getting married she has emancipated herself from being unconditionally under my responsibility.
Moreover, one thing is sure, my relationship to her has been a very personal contemporaneous course in getting to understand what faith is. For in this relationship I know very well how what seems to be is just the opposite of what lies at the base. The fact that I have gone through this experience has helped me in my own faith-relationship to God. Although my life goes against me and the world is sheer opposition, I nevertheless do have faith. If one has no such experience, in his relationship to God he will promptly want to have a direct understanding and not the understanding of faith.
Moreover, it is quite fitting that just when I was ready to diminish my existential momentum as author the thought of having a direct understanding has been placed right before me.
A Final Version of a Catastrophe in My Public Life
Rabble barbarism has won out in Copenhagen and has made headway in Denmark; all who should be authorities, journalists, even the police, despaired and said that there is nothing to be done here, and the rabble barbarism increased and of course was triumphant. And yet it was said continually, but as a wish, a pium desiderium. It is intolerable, something ought to be done about it.
Now the question was whether or not there was in the land an esteemed younger man — for an older one would not be of use in such a situation, for it would immediately be said: he is too old, he does not understand this modern age — an esteemed younger man who dared to do something.
Such a one there was and just one: "the great pseudonym," without reservation a most esteemed name and without spot or stain to date — and venerated by that very rabble barbarism, which shrewdly preferred to have a friendship in that quarter.
But it would have been absurd for "the great pseudonym" suddenly to be false to himself and have prior consultation with others. Therefore he does it without preliminaries, but with religious resolve.
What he actually had to do, his task, was this: would he be able to give the affair such a mighty turn with a few words that he could manage to impress editors themselves.
This he succeeded in doing. It is a historical fact. Goldschmidt lost his nerve and went abroad. P. L. Møller came out very shamefacedly under his own name and bowed; later he too went abroad. The Corsair got the worst of it and in a way was "never itself again."
Now the question was: what price would this altruistic person have to pay for taking this step, for quite understandably payment must be made.
Here was the task for the contemporaries who occupy themselves with regulating the opinions of the more educated classes (the better type of journalists). Their task was to second the step and show that it was unselfish, the only thing there was to do, almost heroic.
They were all silent. This was the betrayal. And I saw at once that little by little my relation to the citizenry would be lost irretrievably.
Meanwhile I calmly held my position and was basically victorious. I actually had never realized how strong and religiously undergirded I was.
If I had had sufficient financial assets and could have looked ahead without any worries on that score, or if my whole life had been stabilized, nothing more would have been necessary; all alone I was unqualifiedly the strongest.
Everything that distinguishes itself in the world is usually betrayed by contemporaries. But my betrayal at the hands of my contemporaries was of a baser sort because it constituted a double betrayal.
It is the more reputable people who actually have betrayed me.
Moreover, it should be noted (this is characteristic of me) that regardless of how difficult my position was, I asked the journalists I knew not to get involved in it. That is true; I asked them or advised them not to — but what I thought privately is something else. My cause was clean, dedicated to God — one does not then personally beg for help.
Wretched age! The possibility of which I otherwise had continually assured myself — that of living an agreeable rural life when I retire from writing, situated not a little above a rural pastor's modest position because of my literary reputation — is lost; it is hard for such a marked man to live in the country.
[In margin: About "her"]
It would be most desirable to be completely free in my relationship to her for a moment in order to see what power she actually has. Basically she has so taken possession of me with her appeals and tears that I have taken her into my relationship to God and keep her there.
Her appealing but also too intense feminine submissiveness was disturbing to a melancholy such as mine. Her rash supplication to me in Jesus' name to remain with her was disturbing to an anguished conscience such as mine, which all too willingly would do everything for her but in its contrition cannot do it, an anguished conscience which itself knows best how profoundly, how exceedingly great is its need for gentleness — and then whenever my faith is weak it is tortured by the thought that I have been cruel to her.
It is a dreadful torment, augmented by the great capabilities entrusted to me. Truly, when Providence gave the man strength and the woman weakness, whom did he make the stronger? The terrible thing about getting involved with a woman is that she yields through weakness and then — then one battles with himself, with his own power.
My Position in Regard to What Will Become the Situation in the Near Future
Presumably the Church is to be reformed now; synods are supposed to be held, there is to be balloting, etc.
Even the strictest orthodox, even Rudelbach, seem to want to take the position of relating themselves directly to all this and to do everything to make it as orthodox as possible.
I have always carried out flank attacks, wounding from behind. At the very time that our most important task is supposed to be to reform the Church, I come with a contribution which screws up the price of being a Christian so high that it is doubtful that in the most rigorous sense there is a single true Christian living.
This is troublesome! Undeniably! But it is also sad and ridiculous that there is no awareness of what constitutes the basic corruption.
My continual task has been that of delaying — it is something like tapping a man on the shoulder when he is ready to jump and saying to him: May I have a word with you?
Right there is my point of coincidence with Mynster. This is the genuinely derivative means. But the fact is that in a certain sense Mynster is afraid of derivative means, especially when it is in my hand. He himself has used it a little, but as a prudent official — here it is used by one who is nothing (one of those dangerous, suspicious people) and is used with absolute teleology.
Yet it may well turn out that Mynster is not the victim, if he will only be circumspect, keep quiet and act calmly. I have always given my activity a turn as if I were a complete subordinate who operates under Mynster's supreme auspices and have given the impression that he nods his supreme approval and that this is decisive.
In a certain sense there is an uneasiness in this lest there occur so to speak, a blink of the eye, a touch of uncertainty in the face.
My task quite rightly is entirely dialectical, and I cannot get away from the thought that I ought not get into a struggle with one who reminds me of my father.
[In margin: About "her" forgiveness.]
If I sincerely ask her forgiveness and obtain her sincere forgiveness, I must also sincerely justify myself and tell all. If I do that, she will first of all get a correct understanding of how she was loved, of how I was and have been true to her, of what I have suffered, of how the very deception, the cruelty were solicitude — and then, then suppose that she suddenly conceives a dislike for her marriage and begins where we left off in the first course, since I did in fact ask her forgiveness two months before the actual breaking of the engagement. Anyone who knows how she talked about Schlegel in the past, that is, how disparagingly (it must be remembered that the situation of my being the one who suggested she take Schlegel must, after all, really exasperate her and make her lose patience), will always have misgivings.
Her forgiveness cannot make my life any easier. When all is said and done, it really is not she who binds me but I myself bind myself with her. The wound I received at her hand but that was directed by me was and must remain a religious wound — it is the relationship to God which is binding.
On the other hand, if I were to follow through in the deception and suddenly act as one who has been a scoundrel and now has repented of it, then I will deceive her and her forgiveness will be a mockery.
Being an affectionate woman, she no doubt is now content in her marriage. She interprets it this way. I was a man of exceptional talent in a sense too high for her. But then I would not have been the loyal one either. I had a bolder, more ambitious goal — she would have to fall. But I did love her, she will tell herself, and I will piously forgive him, yes, pray to God for him. In this there is femininely some sense. Her way of maintaining herself in relation to me is simply to be the pious, devout one and thus better than I. If I now come with my explanation of the pious one, everything will perhaps be disturbed.
It is plain that my relationship is a God-relationship.
But I ought to renounce all self-torment. My self-torment has been that I have wanted, to the point of despair, for her to understand me completely. But perhaps this is not God's will at all; he holds me in relationship to him by this very misunderstanding, and I rest meekly in his hand because whenever I have little faith, I anxiously wonder whether I could do something to make her understand me. When I trustingly close my eyes and am silent, I am at peace; as soon as I cease to do that, the misunderstanding torments me, because, after all, in my relationship to her every immediacy, every externality, is against me.
Now, if she herself were to demand an explanation from me, I would risk it. I would do it in such a way that I would make it plain to her: there is in this one factor of which I cannot speak, and you must not ask it of me but must forgive me for not being able to speak of it. Other than that I would tell her the truth, and here I believe that there would be a degree of understanding that perhaps could even give her joy. I can truthfully say: she was the beloved, the only one, and that I loved her more and more, and that she was the beloved when I left her, that I will love no other. Then, as to a certain point, I must beg her to believe me. If she is woman enough for that, then the explanation is almost total. But if it were possible that she would turn dialectical and begin to ponder over such a demented collision, she would be unhinged. As long as she can hold to this — that I was, if not an evil man, at least a man intoxicated with high flying ideas — then there is no collision; but if I turn out to be religiously motivated, then there is a collision.
I have borne the responsibility for her to the point of bearing responsibility for her life. For a long time now she has had the support of a marriage. For what wrong I did in venturing into a relationship I could not realize, I have suffered my punishment, and if I have not suffered enough, or if I have suffered it, in any case I must ask God for forgiveness. To give her an explanation, insofar as it is possible, can be dangerous for her, can disturb the illusion of her marriage, can be dangerous for me, can alter my relationship to God. And even if this were not so, there is still one more consideration, consideration for Schlegel, who deserves every circumspection.
But, as was said, the fact that it can be dangerous does not mean that it absolutely must not occur, for sometimes the most proper thing to do can be dangerous. If she asks for it, the risk will be taken. God knows there is nothing I would like better.
Perhaps it eventually will be clear to me that I might dare to take the first step, but the main thing, after all, is my personal relationship to God, and, after all, she is married.
[In margin: "Her" Relationship to Me"]
I should and must have my freedom; even on the most reasonable terms it perhaps would still have been punishment enough to my pride to have ventured into something I could not realize. Consequently I should and must have my freedom.[*]
[*] In margin:
And certainly getting my freedom was also the only suitable thing for her. She would have been unhinged and in a very short time she would have run herself ragged, overstrained herself, because she had such a prodigious impression of me and wanted if possible, to match something more ideal. Meanwhile I with my intellectual activity and my dreadful closedupness would have been living in a world of my own. How mad, to be wasted on me, how mad, all for nothing, or that in this way she would become a tremendously agonizing burden to me — which she neither should nor ought to be. I still retained, for all that, torments of my interior life. Now if I had dared marry her in such a way that my innermost self would have been shut off from her and dared to apply all my resources to charming her and making her happy: truly, this would have been my highest wish. But the marriage vow obligates me to be completely open, convicts me if I did not do so, demands that I lead her into my deepest inner self; well, at that very moment the relationship will be an absurdity and she will be insanely wasted upon me, wasted on me, will make my life all the more tormented by having to see her suffering. — She can greatly enrich Schlegel's life, she can make him happy; he will adore and thank her. She may retain a secret pain with regard to her relationship to me, but in the profoundest sense just this may make her more ideal and the relationship may actually correspond to her nature, in which there was still a good deal of pride.
If femininely she had been content with my first proposal to break the engagement, which was composed as humbly as possible and in which I asked her forgiveness — the relationship would never have become so dreadful. In her despair she went beyond her limits and in despair wanted to force me beyond my own: now the relationship became frightful. There was only one thing to do, absolutely only one thing to do, to undergird her with a deception. This I did, without sparing myself. But thereby the affair became for me a single combat with God. At any moment God can fill me with anxiety over not having her forgiveness — and in that I am, humanly speaking, as guiltless as possible. If I were to ask her forgiveness now, I run the old risk that, discovering that she was nevertheless loved, she will cast herself in despair upon me again.
In a certain sense it is fortunate to be a woman. She suspects nothing of all this, "she does not complain that I broke up with her, but about the way in which I did it."
Perhaps to a point she herself ought to have understood this a little and made my situation a bit easier, perhaps.
Alas, but she was so young, and she was so lovingly devoted to me — O, all too humbly submissive to entertain the thought of taking sides against me. Furthermore, she was in a difficult position. She certainly must have had a prior conception of how furiously embittered the Councillor, the fearful one in the eyes of the family, would become. Furthermore, she perhaps had wronged Schlegel somewhat by taking me — and now this catastrophe. Finally, I myself have dialectically made the affair difficult for her. I could have demanded my freedom more directly, either in a moderately religious way or a little more persuasively. But I deliberately did not do so. I had a very particular reason for not getting married; I was not stranded by her but by marriage itself, and on religious grounds. It was indefensible to let her remain unmarried for the same reason — and that would have happened if I had used altogether direct communication, for then I would have imprisoned her to me forever.
Consequently she is utterly and completely without guilt — after all, should not innocence be guiltless! In any case it is impossible to see her fragment of guilt if one looks simultaneously at my enormous guilt in "sweeping her along with me out into the current" — alas, these words remind me of the very beginning of our engagement when it was so clear to me that I had done just this. But at the time in her overweening confidence she made me feel so secure that I almost began to regard the danger as insignificant since she took the matter so lightly.
My guilt is that I swept her out into the current, and her guilt is really no guilt, even though she ought to have perceived earlier that it was impossible for her to struggle through and get what she wished, for I was too strong. But here, too, she is without guilt, for in fact I myself gave her the hint+ to use submission in her struggle, for I knew this would be most dangerous to me, as it has in fact been. But consequently she is innocent; yet I constantly reminded her to submit because she could not possibly stand against me.
And why was it fair and square of me to give her the hint? Because I was not the Lord God but was myself struggling with a higher power, and in my inward struggle her struggle with me was reflected; so it was important both for her sake and mine that the affair did not become too easy for me.
[In margin: My relationship to her]
My Relationship to HerMy basic guilt is to have swept her along. Phase I
The engagement. I, essentially turned inward, suffering the anguish of mental depression and of conscience for having "swept her along"; naturally, in my relationship to her, love and solicitude, perhaps too much, but I was already a penitent. In other respects I was not at all attentive to her, as if there could be any difficulty with her.
She goes ahead in boundless overweening confidence. At the same time I am not essentially depressed about the matter, and the pangs of conscience have no connection with it. I breathe as lightly as usual.
Here is part of my guilt. I ought to have used the opportunity to let her break off; then it would have been the victory of her overweening confidence.
But the matter was too earnest for me, whether I would be able to actualize the marriage, and besides there was something childish in her presumptuous confidence.
In any case, in a way I now had myself in hand — and I approach the matter more from her side.
She yields and is transfigured into the most lovable creature.
Simultaneously I am assailed for the second time by my first feelings, intensified by the responsibility which has increased now with her feminine, almost worshipful devotion.
I see that there must be a separation.
Here — honest with her and traitorous to myself — I advise her not to attempt to fight with the weapon of pride, for that would make it much easier for me, but with submission.
But there must be a break — I send her back her ring in a letter, which word for word is printed in the "Psychological Experiment".
Instead of letting the decision rest, she goes to my room in my absence and writes an utterly despairing note in which she beseeches me for Jesus' sake and the memory of my dead father not to leave her.
Then there was nothing for me to do but to got to the extreme and, if possible, support her with a deception, do everything to repel her in order to incite her pride again.
Then two months later I broke the relationship a second time.
Now, except at particular times, there must be no more thinking about this. Otherwise the throes of self-torment will be in full course. Furthermore, the explanation, the more concrete explanation, which I conceal deep within, the one which actually involves an even more definite horror for me — this I am not writing down.
For me this relationship signifies God's punishment. It became terrible because in her despair she cast herself upon me so forcefully that she weighs heavily on my sympathy and on my God-relationship. The affair will certainly follow me through my whole life, even though it will come to be understood somewhat differently in relation to my whole development.
The main thing now is to remember to thank God again and again for "having given the explanation himself" by letting her get married and thereby alleviating the situation.
My prayer is that I may be able — if she desires it — to give her some joy in return for what she has innocently suffered for my sake — some joy, but, please note, of the kind which truly will benefit her.
Perhaps the day will come when she will have forgotten me completely, perhaps; in any case it is an open matter! At one time she cast herself upon me and upon my relationship to God in such a way that I will carry her the rest of my life.
But I must guard myself against surrendering to self-torment.
I could almost say that my genius has really been my suffering. In any case it has supported me the way a life-jacket supports a swimmer.
To have a strong body and then just intellectually have to maintain merely the idea, for example, that death is a certainty at any time — well, thanks, generally that is reserved only for preacher-prattle.
But there is no difficulty for one as weak as I am.
Every day I live is an occasion for wonder. Doomed as I am — and yet I go on living! Yes, my life is like a satire on what it is to be a man.
But this gives credence to what I write. Actually it is all too true that men are too physically strong to allow them to get involved with such matters.
Strangely enough, early in my engagement I frequently touched on the theme that there have been men whose very significance was to be sacrificed for others. Just as in a shipment of fruit some are likely to be bruised because, for one thing, they must bear the pressure of the others and, for another, ward off the pressure on the others; so in every generation there are some who are sacrificed for the race.
I had an early inexplicable presentiment that this was my destiny, but now, right now, it has become very clear to me that this is my destiny — and why, just because I became engaged, consequently just because I stepped out of character and wanted to extend myself in life instead of remaining an intensive point. That particular thought and the fact that it became so palpable to me was the indirect evidence that I must get out of that relationship.
But what a strange reduplication; alas, it almost seems as if she has been sacrificed for me!
"Gold and silver I do not have, but I give you what I have; stand up and walk," said Peter. Later on the clergy were saying: Gold and silver we have — but we have nothing to give.
This was prompted by reading in Rudelbach (on the constitution of the church) that a prelate, while showing a magnificent bowl, is supposed to have said that it is now no longer true to say: Gold and silver we do not have. The epigram has greater force the way I have edited it.
It is not only true that the mistreatment I have experienced at the hands of rabble barbarism has profoundly influenced my development, but it is certainly also responsible for a tone my environment would not have provided otherwise: the kind of lyric entitled The Lily and the Bird.
Dialectically this mistreatment has also enriched me with the essential conflict between Christianity and the world, something that otherwise would have escaped me in my preoccupation with internal problems.
The shaping element in this suffering has one again been that I have been the superior one, yet in combat with a weaker element which in a sense is stronger. If I take each individual in the crowd, how in the world could it ever occur to me to battle with him; and yet it can be a very onerous task to battle the crowd. But on the other hand it may become idealizing and tinged with sadness simply because I feel all too clearly my disproportionate superiority, plus my having been well-disposed toward these people — and yet in another sense, in a far inferior, vapid sense, the "crowd" is far, far the stronger.
Once again it is my relationship to God which really must be developed. When one strives with a man who is either actually, in the ideal sense, one's superior or equal, the relationship to God is eclipsed and completely forgotten. But no battle is so likely to develop a man spiritually as a conflict in which he is the stronger, and the weaker one in another sense is the stronger. The fact that I actually am unable to find an appropriate opponent signifies that God wants to use this conflict to develop my God-relationship.
"Practice in Christianity" certainly should be published under a pseudonym. It is the dialectical element and would be much too strong if I brought it out personally.
So The Sickness unto Death, "Practice in Christianity", "The Point of View for My Work as an Author," and "Three Notes" belong to the year 1848.
To 1849 "From on High He will Draw All unto Himself," "Armed Neutrality,", and other small things, including the one about Phister.
Even if I wanted to publish "From on High" under my name, it is nevertheless definite that the conception of my writings finally gathers itself together in the "Discourses for Communion on Fridays," for "The Point of View," after all, is from 1848.N.B. And in order that "From on High," which is somewhat polemical,
not be the last work, some additional discourses for the Communion on Fridays could
be written, a second series of them. One is already as good as finished, and some suggestions
for a few more are in one of the new folders bookbinder Møller has made.