[In margin: About her]
This girl must needs become very costly to me, or I had to make her very costly to me religiously.
She herself implored me with tears and supplications (for the sake of Jesus Christ, in memory of my dead father) not to forsake her; otherwise I could do anything, anything at all with her; she wholeheartedly would put up with everything and still thank me all her life for the greatest of blessings, her relationship to me. The father, who explained my behaviour as eccentricity, begged and beseeched me not to leave her: "She was wholeheartedly willing to put up with everything." As far as he himself and the rest of the family were concerned, he promised me most solemnly that if I wished it to be that way, neither he nor any member of his family would ever set foot in my house; as soon as I married her she would be completely in my hands, as if she had neither relatives nor friends.
So I could have married her (disregarding my inner problems) in a convenient way; I could have put everything under obligation in gratitude, could even have been an utter tyrant, always having this frightful method of coercion that, after all, I had done her a good deed. If I really had done that, I would have been a scoundrel; shamefully, outrageously shamefully, I would have exploited a young girl's agony which brought her to say what never ought to have or could have been meant that way. She was not wrong in thinking that if I only decided to marry her, I certainly would do everything I could to make her life worth living, that is, she had faith in me.
Suppose I had married her. Let us assume it. What then? In the course of a half year or less she would have been unhinged. There is — and this is both the good and the bad in me — something spectral about me, something no one can endure who has to see me every day and have a real relationship to me. Yes, in the light overcoat in which I am usually seen, it is another matter. But at home it will be evident that basically I live in a spirit world. I was engaged to her for one year, and she really did not know me. — Consequently she would have been shattered. She probably would have bungled my life as well, for I always was overstraining myself with her because in reality she was in a sense too light for me. I was too heavy for her and she too light for me, but both factors can very well lead to overstrain. Very likely I would not have amounted to anything or perhaps I may have developed just the same, but she would have been a torment to me simply because I would see that she was altogether wrongly situated through her being married to me. — Then she would have died and all would be over. To take her along into history as my wife — no, it cannot be. It is all right for her to become Madam and Mrs., but no longer may she be maintained in the character of being my beloved; it must be set forth as a story of unhappy love, and for me she will remain the beloved "to whom I owe everything"; then history will take her along — on this I will give instructions to history.
It is all very simple. My understanding told me clearly that what I wanted to do was right, the only right thing to do. But if my conscience had not kept its grip on me, she would have won. Solely on the strength of my understanding I could not have risked defying her tears, her supplications, her father's sufferings, my own wish — and I would have given in. But I was obliged to fight the matter through on a higher plane, and that accounts for my inflexibility, which was interpreted as heartlessness. On the other hand, if it had not been a matter of conscience for me, the affair would never have become as extreme as it did; I very likely would have surrendered earlier. She actually would have sacrificed herself much too intensely and there would always be the question of whether she could recover from it.
My understanding told me. She can marry Schlegel. She herself admitted to me later that if I had not come along when I did, she no doubt would have become engaged to Schlegel. Thus everything was as it should be. Who knows, the little girl who thought that my pride was to blame for forsaking her, who knows, perhaps it was her pride that made her prefer me at the time. After what she had gone through with me, the relationship to Schlegel could indeed be beautiful. So she got a man, a good man whom she had once loved. She would be installed in her rights as a woman, for her life would have great meaning to him; he would gratefully appreciate every day and every hour of their life together and all her loveliness and lovableness. If he does not, he is a fool. Alas, after all I am somewhat spectral, and it would have been far more frightful to live with me day in and day out in my home. — Thus her relationship to me once again would be beautifully ordered. She did not become the beggar in my house, but the beloved, the one and only beloved. And so it is that she belongs to history.
I do not cling especially tightly to life but would just as soon die; her situation the day I die will be enviable. She is happily married and her life has a significance to her husband that is rare for a wife, for no doubt he comes little short of idolizing her — and then too, my life expresses that she was the only beloved, and my whole author-existence will accent her. If not before, she will understand me in eternity.
But as for myself, it becomes more and more clear to me that it is Governance who used her to capture me. The possibility of her — it was that which was supposed to develop me, and then responsibility in the God-relationship.
I was meant to be captured. And I had to be captured in such a manner that, in the deepest sense, I had to come into conflict with myself. For that reason the other party had to be someone who in a sense was nobody, an object and yet not an object, an inexplicable something who by capitulating brought me to do battle with myself. It took a woman to do that, a woman who femininely uses weakness as a weapon. And she had to be lovely in order to be able to affect me all the more — thus all the more assuredly bringing me to do battle with myself. She had to be young so that the father, regarding her practically as a child, felt all the more called upon to put the whole responsibility on me.
So it was that I was captured, or I was forced to make myself captive in the God-relationship. After it happened, it was as if Governance said: As far as she is concerned, she will be taken care of; she will come out of this all right. But you are trapped. She can neither release you nor bind you; nothing can change the picture, for you are trapped in the responsibility and captive to me.
The Past Summer,
as was the intention, lent support to my considered duty to stop writing now; it has been constantly distressing, creating a new external torment whenever one was over and done with.
The war took Anders from me; my feeling about my house suffered and even more so because of Strube's most regrettable illness; I wanted to be far away, and yet it was impossible for me to leave.
Then, too, all my financial worries, and the calamity that before one knows a thing about it there is probably an income tax.
Then, too, Reitzel has not been dependable. When being an author involves the self-sacrifices it has for me, putting my own money into it as I am now doing, perhaps ruining my future, then not even to have an accommodating publisher but to be choked and stifled by his concerns and misgivings, his unreasonableness in asking me to have one or two sheets printed each week and have the book come out at a more opportune time of the year. All of which then turned out to be a lie — but under the circumstances it is agonizing to go through such things.
And then the tanner with whom I live during the summer has plagued me with odors. Many, many times I have had to use sheer mental power not to get sick out of impatience. Abused in many ways by rabble barbarism and snoopy inquisitiveness, I have found my home to be a comfort, having a pleasant home was my greatest earthly encouragement. With that in mind I rented a splendid and very expensive apartment — and then to have to pay 200 rix-dollars and have to suffer this way.[*]
[*] In margin: Besides that, I also have been terribly hindered by my relationship to R. Nielsen; my own interpretation of that is as follows. Through him I come in contact with the confounded geniality which chatters and chatters and makes arrangements with publishers in advance and uses, God knows, a half year, I believe, to print a little book — and meanwhile I would just like him to get it out. And then he finally gets it out, but for the most part only confusion results.
In addition, I have had scruples again and again about publishing what I have finished writing.
To find any diversion in Copenhagen is practically impossible, since the minute I show myself I promptly am assaulted by pecky, tiresome, snoopy inquisitiveness.
Through all this I have suffered the usual discomfort summer has for me.
Then Councillor Olsen died, and I acquired new concerns.
During all this I have had to deny myself what really gives me strength: I have not dared to start any new writing project, to say nothing of giving it momentum and impetus. I have decided to stop writing. And yet to write is actually my life.
Of course my mental depression has had a free hand such as it usually does not have, for when I write I forget everything.
It truly has been a difficult time for me. I look upon it simply as a practice in patience and hope that as such it truly will be of benefit for me. However painful as it is, it may help me become more concrete.
But may I never forget to thank God for the indescribable good he has done for me, far more than I had expected. And that blessed thought that is original and primary in my soul must always stay there — that God is love and his wisdom is infinite, his possibilities are limitless; and where I have scarcely one possibility, he has a million!
O, once I am dead, Fear and Trembling alone will be enough for an imperishable name as an author. Then it will read, translated into foreign languages as well. The reader will almost shrink from the frightful pathos in the book. But when it was written, when the person thought to be the author was going about in the incognito of an idler, appearing to be flippancy, wittiness, and irresponsibility personified, no one was able to grasp its earnestness. O, you fools, the book was never as earnest as then. Precisely that was the authentic expression of the horror.
For the author to appear earnest would have diminished the horror. The reduplication is what is monstrous in the horror.
But when I am dead, an imaginary character will be conjured up for me, a dark, somber figure — and then the book will be terrifying.
But in calling attention to the difference between the poet and the hero a truth has already been said. There is a predominating poetic strain in me, and yet the real hoax was that Fear and Trembling actually reproduced my own life. This aspect of the book was intimated in the first hint [i.e. IV A 76] about it in the oldest journal, the one in octavo, that is, the oldest journal from the time of my literary activity.
Christianity does not really exist [er ikke til]. At least I have not seen a single Christian existence [Existents] in the more rigorous sense, and this applies to me. Is it, after all, anything but a frightful mockery that a whole nation is Christian and one thousand men live off the whole nation's being Christian.
Christianity does not really exist. The relationship to original Christianity is like that between a delicate, sentimental engagement and a marriage. They maintain a relationship of possibility to Christianity — perhaps with death in mind, but otherwise they do not put it on existentially. No one boldly ventures, so to speak, to leap existentially into the ethical.
The essentially Christian does not exist. Everything is merely about Christianity, which is not.
At times I am buoyed up by the thought that the thorn or spike I have in the flesh, a suffering I try to bear patiently, will itself be or will help me to be a thorn in the eye of the world.
Vigilius Haufniensis has quite correctly drawn attention to the concept "anxiety" [Angst] as the middle term in relation to temptation. Actually, it is the dialectic of temptation. If a person could be entirely free of anxiety, temptation would not have access to him.
This is how I understand the fact that it was the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve, for the serpent's power is precisely anxiety. It is not so much ingenuity and craftiness as it is the ingenuity which knows how to create anxiety.
And anxiety (as Anti-Climacus correctly observes in respect to immediacy — it is right at the beginning, in the discussion about the universality of despair) is most intense about nothing. This is the way the tempter and the temptation saddle the person who knuckles under with the very discovery of the temptation — for, say the temptation and the tempter: I really said nothing at all. You became anxious over nothing.
Anxiety is the first reflex of possibility, a glimpse, and yet a terrible sorcery.
Frederikke Bremer will become popular in various circles because of this interpretation.
I live on here now, having voluntarily exposed myself to and continuing to endure the prolonged and yet perhaps the most bitter of martyrdoms, the martyrdom of ridicule (doubly painful because the context is so limited and because the measure of my endowments and achievements is generally recognized). With frightful mental and spiritual strenuousness I endure by continued writing in the face of constant financial sacrifices — and yet it is well known that I have not dropped one single comment on the situation. Frederikke's version is that I am so sickly and irritable that I can become bitter if the sun does not shine when I want it to. You smug spinster, you silly tramp, you have hit it! Various circles that are perhaps not so different will be united by this interpretation. On the one side Martensen, Paulli, Heiberg, etc., on the other, Goldschmidt, P. L. Møller. It was a wonderful old world — Martensen may witness "for God and his conscience" did he not become Bishop and swathed in velvet and did not Frederikke run to him every day and read his Dogmatik, of which she got proof sheets (this is a well-known fact). And Goldschmidt may declare: It was a wonderful old world, I always had 3,000 subscribers. Tutti, it was a wonderful world; only Magister Kierkegaard was so sickly and irritable that he could get bitter if the sun did not shine when he wanted it to.
Here is another peculiarity in Christendom. If Christianity relates to anyone in particular, then it may especially be said to belong to the suffering, the poor, the sick, the leprous, the mentally ill, and so on, to sinners, criminals. Now see what they have done to them in Christendom, see how they have been removed from life so as not to disturb — earnest Christendom. Rarely do they have a pastor, and then he is a mediocre one. Christ did not separate them in this way; it was for them especially that he was a pastor. The pastors, however, go on living in secular security; there they decorate life; "they assuage the sorrows and ennoble the joys" — this they do, and, most curious of all, they do it according to a fixed price.
Christianity in Christendom fares as a weak child who is given something and then a couple of stronger children come and grab it. These all too intensely secularized people whose entire life and way of thinking are secular, they take possession of Christianity, grab all its consolation served up in the form of human sympathy — and those unfortunate persons who especially ought to have the benefit of Christianity are shoved aside.
Christ is born in a stable, wrapped in rags, laid in a manger — so unimportant is this child apparently, so meagerly valued. And immediately afterward this child is already so valuable that it costs the lives of the children in Bethlehem. Such is the squandering which can take place in connection with this child.
Discourses for Fridays
This can be the regular form of writing
Three Discourses for the Communion on Fridays
- Luke 7:47. "He who is forgiven little, loves little."
- 1 Peter 4:7. Love covers a multitude of sins.
At "the altar" it is especially true that "love," namely Christ's love, covers a multitude of sins. In the strictest sense Christ's reconciliation was a work of love or "the Work of Love" .
- 1 Corinthians 11:31,32.
Can be used another time.
In margin of previous:
3. Luke 24:31 could be used. The very fact that he becomes invisible to me is the sign that I recognize him: he is indeed the object of faith, a sign of contradiction, in a certain sense must become invisible before I recognize him. He is the prototype, must therefore become invisible so that the imitator can be like him.
At the altar he is invisibly present and yet verse 30 says that it was when he blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to them that they recognized him.
It is certainly not unusual in this world to see a person who believes that he himself does not need rigorous Christianity but that he must be rigorous with others. In my own life I have not and perhaps never will get beyond the point of "fear and trembling," literally positive that everyone else will very likely be saved — but not I. Also in another sense, I always have been afraid to depict the rigorousness of Christianity, for to me it seems that it is too rigorous and that, considering my life, I need that kind of rigor, but others do not. As soon as anyone appealed to me personally, I promptly would mitigate it considerably and be as lenient as possible — but I myself do not escape the rigorousness.
I depict what Christianity is; I am unusually well qualified to do that and quite literally understand it to be my calling, to which I have been led in the most amazing way from the beginning.
I do it in partially poetic form.
Now it depends on how the age will take it, and my fate also depends upon that.
If it remains calm, quietly lets itself be influenced by it, the relationship will be as genial as possible.
If not, if it turns and challenges me, in one sense the age will get the worst of it, for then I must stay put. What happens to my depiction will be my direct evidence against Christendom. Then everything will be raised on power in rigorousness, making it more rigorous for me, of course, but I must certainly be included.
I have never passed myself off as the extraordinary Christian. My situation really is not unlike that of a man well known for his intelligence and talents along certain lines, who is arrested by a prince and told: I want you to interpret a certain matter. If you do as I desire, you will be well off. You will have enough time for rest and recreation, but you also must work diligently and industriously a suitable time each day. I truly do feel that I have a strangely childlike relationship such as this to Governance. I get certain free hours every day for diversion, and I never think of it as being anything but entirely permissible and of Governance's wanting anything less than the greatest possible human happiness for me. But no more. Incidentally, if I do not do what is wanted, Governance has frightful means of constraining me.
And this is how I live in this boundless world. When I make the mistake of looking at others and seeing how they live, busily occupied with operating in the moment and for finite goals, I shudder. But I am secure and happy in my faith.
There is something indescribably sad about my life. I wanted to live with the simple man; it gratified me immeasurably to be concerned, friendly, kind, and attentive to that social class which simply is forgotten in the so-called "Christian state." In many ways what I could do was insignificant, but to just that kind of people it can be significant, nevertheless. Let me take an example of the people I know by the score. An oldish woman from Amager sits in Buegangen and sells fruit; she has an old mother whom I sometimes have helped a little. When I greet her, I essentially am not doing anything — but yet it would please her, it would cheer her up that every morning a man whom she must regard as well off came along and never forgot to say "good morning" to her and sometimes also spoke a few words with her. Really, what the state needs is just the kind of idler I was if it is to recompense in the smallest way for the scandalous wrongness of its existence. For everyone clutches at the higher, the more distinguished relativities in society — and when people reach that point, who cares about the common man of the land. An idler like that is necessary, or many of them; he is a copula. To the social class that generally has to stand and wait in anterooms and hardly gets permission to say a word, how encouraging in many ways that there is a man they invariably see on the street, a man they may approach and talk to freely, a man with hundreds of eyes particularly for the sufferings of that social class — and I was that man — and that in addition this is a man who has established himself in the elite world.
O, even if it was motivated in part by melancholy, it nevertheless is Christianity.
All this is now virtually destroyed. To that social class I now am a sort of half-looney — I cannot be of any good to them. Now I, too, must avert my eyes and be aloof, lest I end up like a Mad Maier with a veritable crowd collecting around me.
It all comes from the journalism which is published to protect the common man — against the elite.
This, you see, is the result of having a situation in the country where "boys judge us." A really clever fellow, a young man, who — not in connection with his crimes, for here I have only been an admonisher for him and have cautioned him, but in connection with a perhaps better possibility — sat as a learner at my feet (and this he will scarcely deny), and he has 3,000 subscribers in a country where I have 50 purchasers.
But, but, here it comes again. I will be understood, perhaps while I still live, and perhaps far sooner than I think — and as soon as this understanding is established a bit, I am convinced that there will not be anybody so hard of heart that he will not be affected by my life — and then the fact that I have endured this will once again be beneficial to me — or not to me but to my cause. The common man is my task, even if I continually have had to make a stand at the very top level of the cultured and distinguished world.
And among other things my life eventually will have the recompense that it is not so much the distinguished who wrong the poor as all their counselors and heroes.
Equality is what the world wants, love to the neighbor — and yet I am persecuted because I lived and live on the streets. If there was any purpose to it at all, it was to weaken the secular mentality petrified in relativities. By being that that is, into the existential, my daily existence or a daily existence such as that is worth much more than ten or twenty newspaper articles and a whole journal, which pontificate but existentially remain in the old ways.
The reason I was misunderstood was, for one thing, that I did what I did for religious motives and not to serve an esteemed cultured public. That is why I cannot defend myself either, for in doing so I concede to the public.
But my life will involve the most precise, existential police-operation in the Christian spirit; everything on all sides will be arranged to illuminate the theme: by what right does Denmark, especially Copenhagen, call itself Christian, by what right do 1,000 career men make Christianity into a living and nothing else? My life will also be a complete existential study on human selfishness and the deceit and hypocrisy carried on in the name of Christianity.
[In margin: Matthew 16:23.
In her relationship to the man (erotic love — marriage) it is really true that the woman — and this is her special charm — "understands only the things of men" (Matthew 16:23): sparing the beloved, taking care of him, adorning his life for him, etc., which is directly opposite to the truly divine prodigality, which is the impetuosity of martyrdom, which is to be sensitive to what belongs to God. — What is true of the woman holds true also for the friend as commonly understood.
From this it is readily seen that "the martyr" in his lifetime will be accused, hated, and cursed for egotism, vanity, misanthropy, and so on.
From this it is also readily seen how right I am in my basic contention against Christendom, that Jewish piety has been slyly substituted for Christian piety. Jewish piety is an attachment to this life and is an understanding of the things of men — Christianity means to be sensitive to the things of God. The sermon-address basically suppresses Christianity and dresses up Judaism. They organize themselves cozily in this life with Jewish piety — and then with the help of Christianity add atonement and eternity. Until now this has been the most convenient kind of religion ever invented.
Something about Myself Which Must Be Steadfastly Maintained
I have never claimed and I do not claim to be a Christian to any extraordinary degree. Definitely not. If I, with my imagination and my passions etc. had been a man in the ordinary sense, no doubt I would even have forgotten Christianity altogether. But I am tied and bound to tormenting wretchedness, like a bird with clipped wings, but I still retain all my seemingly extraordinary mental powers. But the very simplest qualifications for being an ordinary human being, these are the very ones denied to me, while the extraordinary in another sense is granted me. Thus I am brought to a halt once and for all, can be made conscious of my chains at any hour of the day if need be. But otherwise I have been equipped with great capacities, have been well brought up in Christianity from childhood, and furthermore have all the qualifications for it — and then it has become my task to present Christianity. But free, free as a man ordinarily is, that I have never been. As a matter of fact, I was brought up too rigorously in Christianity; it actually has been an offense to me — but free I have never been, not so free that I could ever cast it into oblivion; for when one expects to die tomorrow and today feels — perhaps many times — how unhappily bound he is: then there is no space for oblivion. I fully recognize how very much has been done for me; it is true of me that I cannot thank God sufficiently for all that he has granted to me and for giving me, the most wretched of all, a meaning which I discern best of all. I also have been increasingly mollified, through a religious understanding of my life — but, O, what would I not have given, especially in my younger days, to be an ordinary person for just half a year! All my eccentricity, O, it is nothing but a cleverly devised hoax to conceal my misery. What cost me in private the bitterest tears and plunged me into despair I explained away as pride and all that.
I do not claim and never have claimed that I did not get married because doing so is contrary to Christianity, as if my being unmarried were, from a Christian point of view, a perfection in me. Far from it. Had I been an ordinary human being, the danger for me no doubt would have been something else, that of being taken up too much with women, and I possibly could have been a seducer. But one thing for sure, I most joyfully would have married my fiancée; God knew how much I wanted to; but here again my wretchedness intrudes. So I remained unmarried, and I got the opportunity to reflect upon what Christianity actually has meant in commending the unmarried state.
I do not claim and have never claimed that it is a Christian perfection on my part not to try to get a position, as if that were the reason I did not do it. Far from it. From the time my financial situation became difficult and also earlier I very easily could have accepted a position. It always has been very easy for me to get along with people, and accustomed as I am to being circumscribed, it never occurred to me that it might be burdensome for me. But here comes my wretchedness again: I cannot because I am not an ordinary person, because my mental depression borders on insanity, something I no doubt can hide as long as I am independent, but which makes me unfit for service where I myself cannot control everything. People think it is pride: well, that is the old story. Therefore, I have had to persevere in uncertainty and have had good opportunity to reflect upon what Christianity actually means by having something against bureaucratic office.
This all explains why I always assume a poetic relation in my presentation of Christianity. In a certain sense I am being constrained continually against my will — and in the process I discover the essentially Christian. In this way I seem to be freed from the danger that what I think of could be vanity. I have not rejected marriage out of vanity, far from it; it has its warmest advocate in me. I have not rejected a position out of vanity, far from it, I would rather have had it. It seems to me that if I could get more peace and tranquillity this way and foresee a longer life in such a context, I could do some greater things: perhaps it is a delusion, but that is how it sometimes looks to me. — That is why I dare not require that others do what I am doing, for one thing is certain: I did not have the strength either to abstain from marriage or from seeking a position, but I have been constrained. But this also is true, that what I present is Christianity. Neither should I be accused of partiality, of not being able to see the other side, for the other side has in me its most ardent spokesman.
On the Year 1848
In one sense 1848 has raise me to another level. Another sense has shattered me, that is, it has shattered me religiously, or to say it in my own language: God has run me ragged. He has let me take on a task which even trusting in him I can not raise to its highest form; I must take it in a lower form. For this reason the matter actually has contributed inversely to my religious or further religious development. In one sense I want so much to venture; my imagination beckons and goads me, but I will simply have to agree to venture in a lower form. Without a doubt it is the most perfect and truest thing I have written; but it must not be interpreted as if I am supposed to be the one who almost censoriously bursts in upon everybody else — no, I must first be disciplined myself by the same thing; there perhaps is no one who is permitted to humble himself as deeply under it as I do before I am permitted to publish it. I, the author, who myself am nothing (the highest) must not be permitted to publish it under my own name, for the work is itself a judgment. In one way or another I first must have arranged myself in life some way or other and have conceded that I am weak like everyone else — then I can publish it. But that which tempts my imagination is to get permission to do it before I, humanly speaking, can pay the price. Quite true, the blow would then be all the more powerful, but I would also gain a false high position. It is poetry — and therefore my life, to my humiliation, must demonstrably express the opposite, the inferior. Or should I also be an ascetic who can live on water and bread. — And yet this mortification, I would willingly submit to, if only I am able to undertake an appointment. In a still deeper sense this is my difficulty. And there may be still greater humiliation here before it becomes possible, if it becomes possible.
Economic concerns came suddenly and all too close. I cannot bear two such disparate burdens, the hostility of the world and concern for the future, at the same time. My idea when I rented the apartment in Tornebuskegaden was to live there a half year, quietly reflecting on my life, and then seek an appointment.
Then suddenly everything was thrown into confusion. In a matter of months I was in the situation where tomorrow, perhaps, I would not own a thing but be literally in financial straits. It was a severe drain on me. My spirit reacted all the more strongly. I wrote more than ever, but more than ever like a dying man. Without question, in the context of Christian truth it certainly is the highest that has been granted to me. But in another sense it is too high for me to appropriate right off in life and walk in character.
This is the deeper significance of the new pseudonym, which is higher than I am myself.
O, I know I have not spared myself; even to the point of strain I have wanted to force myself to venture something rash, but I cannot do it, I cannot justify it.
This is how Governance continually keeps his hand on me — and governs. I had never considered getting a new pseudonym. And yet the new pseudonym — but note well that it is higher than my personal existence — precisely that is the truth of my nature, it is the expression for the limits of my nature. Otherwise I would finally become veritably more than human.
As stated earlier [ie. X2 A 648] it is not improbable that now, after her father's death, she is expecting an approach.
Without my doing anything, such as deviating from my ordinary pattern, she more than once has managed to pass so close to me that it was almost a confrontation. But I cannot very well make the first step. After all, I really do not have any direct information about her situation, and by getting married her life expresses that she has forgotten the story. Suppose that, even if not completely forgotten, it were forgotten in such a way that raking up the past would be dangerous. And then there is Schlegel; it is almost unfair to him for me to be put in the same play. And yet it worries me that I may be unkindly cruel to her — how sadly true, my love once was that terrible thing: kind cruelty! And just as the bogeyman in the fairy tale thirst for blood, so I thirst to do all I possibly can to make amends to her — they really thought that I was proud — well, thanks for that — so proud that I left my honor in the lurch — no, but it would be of satisfaction to me if sometime I might be allowed to show the world how proud I am by making her everything. Ye gods, from a human point of view it is a fairly modest request for a renowned man such as I am now to venture to be allowed to take an unobtrusive place as a kind of unhappy lover alongside the girl who beseechingly begged that she might be his maidservant. And yet I ask nothing more, except that it must be abundantly clear that I have God's approval to act in this direction. Irony was once part and parcel of my nature, but here it approaches sadness — how ironic to imagine myself religiously fulfilled by being a kind of unhappy lover.
But what a wonderful and yet moving pattern! Ordinarily it goes like this. Either it is the girl who cannot be satisfied with the inferior but snatches after the more glamorous — and then there is an inoffensive fellow (but the more mediocre) who loved her before. She still feels kindly toward him and he is allowed to trot humbly alongside as an unhappy lover toward whom one feels somewhat kindly. Or it may be this way: he is the famous figure etc., and he lets a girl sit and twiddle her thumbs remembering him while he marries a more distinguished girl.
And yet nothing fits me better than this very relationship. To trot along as an unhappy lover on the left side of a girl who has rejected my love: no, that will not do for me. But to trot alongside the girl whose love I truly did not reject but was forced to make it seem as if I, humanly speaking, rejected it: yes, this is the task for me. Yet may not danger be involved in such a relationship. Perhaps she never did love me as much as she admired me, and I perhaps never loved her erotically as much as I can truthfully say I was moved in the most beautiful way by the lovable child. Furthermore, if I understand that it can be done, then the power whose sanction I have received will also hold his hand protectingly over us. But it would be an alleviation for me — God knows if I would recognize myself again — if I, all too frightfully rehearsed in the kind of love which looks like cruelty, were permitted for once to express a line, a friendship, a bit more directly.
Texts for Friday's Sermon
Some of the words which were mockingly spoken to him when he was crucified could be used, but with a different meaning.
Matthew 27:40. "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself."
They say the very opposite; if he had saved himself, then the temple would not have been destroyed.
In margin: If he saves himself, he does not destroy the temple.
Save yourself — O, no, the Christian must say; do not save yourself, you who are the Savior of the world, for then the world would be lost.
In this way one can learn something from mockery as well.
Matthew 27:40. "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."
No, just because he was the Son of God, he remained upon the cross, or just because he remained upon the cross he showed that he was the Son of God.
But men do not comprehend that which is of God; they demonstrate and draw conclusions inversely; they want to conclude that he is the Son of God from the fact that he descends from the cross — but then the Son of God is precisely what he would not be.
Matthew 27:42. "He saved others; he cannot save himself."
No wonder — if he would save himself, he could not save others; it is precisely in order to save others that he will not save himself.
Here again the mockery says something entirely different from what it seems to say.
Luther's sermon on the Gospel for New Year's Day contains the authentic Christian distinction, the stringent assertion that:
Christ is not a savior for this life but for eternal life. Yes, what is more — and Luther says this, too, in the same place — he is the very opposite of a savior for this life; for Luther declares that in this life — precisely to express that he is no savior for this life — he lets those who believe in him slog along as if in a bog.
Incidentally, here one sees the distinction between Jewish and Christian piety, for Jewish piety wants a savior for this life.
But in Christendom Christ has been completely transformed into merely human pity.
But it is my view that the most rigorous must really be heard, that men must not be permitted to cross it out and ignore it, that it must be heard so that men can humble themselves under it, but not proclaimed in such a way that men are cruelly driven to want to be spirit according to a frightful criterion.
Here is where I differ from Mynster and the like; he wants to suppress it completely. I want to have it said; and furthermore I am willing to declare that when I say it it is only poetic; since my life is far from being that spiritual.
On the whole I believe that this is the ethical respect which has to be introduced. Wherever I describe what is higher than my own personal life, I have to add explicitly: I am only a poet. Where my own personal life expresses what I speak about, there I use and should use a certain kind of authority. But if what I describe is higher than my life, then for the sake of truth I must admit that I am only a poet. And above all I must not suppress the highest and make my little no. 2 or no. 3 or no. 10 into the highest.
Mynster may have some justification for everything he says about the necessity for moderation etc. — but, but the highest must not be suppressed in the name of moderation. No, it must be presented in all its demand and men must then be told: If you cannot do it, then entrust yourself to God, confess your weakness: he is no cruel Lord, he has great compassion. But you are not permitted to be ignorant of the highest aspects of God's requirement.
If a young girl were to ask me if I regard not marrying as superior to marrying and if so she would forego it, I would answer: If you are in love, if it truly is your dearest wish to be united with the beloved, then simply say so to God, and I would joyfully conduct the wedding ceremony and do everything to make it the best. But you must know that God could require that you should renounce this happiness also.
The contrast to the ancient mode, in which the third person is used for oneself because a person's life is merely a fact, is to dare the uttermost in saying I, directly to say the most about oneself. This is expressed in the God-man; the God-man would not be the God-man if he were great in such a way that he tended to become third person.
We cannot find a better parody of antiquity and its use of the third person than Lamartine's speech in the third person about himself. It is completely improper. Stimulated to the point of lyrical reflection, Lamartine takes up all these things — and yet talks in the third person. This is affectation. Yes, he goes so far — and this has a kind of esthetic worth — as to engage in mimicry. He declares: Thereupon Lamartine said with a look of ... etc. Lamartine has really made a kind of discovery; he has discovered what is absolutely impossible to say in the third person, for one himself cannot possibly know it. It becomes altogether comic and reminds us of Charles in The First Love, who also narrates his life in the third person.
To use the third person is either childishness — at a certain age a child talks in the third person, simply because the child is still not a person — or it is an eminence which is more than a person, a person who himself is the event. Anything between the two becomes comic if the third person is used.
One could also understand the gospel about the wedding celebration in Cana as follows: it is the first miracle simply because it is the motto for Christ's entire life: first of all suffering, then glorification. Christ's reply to Mary: O woman, what have you to do with me, also has a certain distant resemblance to his reply to Peter: Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. At that moment Mary also has some of that earthly impatience which wants to be helped immediately.
It certainly must never be forgotten that Christ helped also in temporal and earthly needs. It is also possible falsely to make Christ so spiritual that he becomes sheer cruelty. After all "spirit", absolute spirit, is the greatest of cruelties for us poor men.
Consequently Christ also relieved earthly suffering, healed the sick, the lepers, the deranged; he fed people, changed water into wine, calmed the sea, etc. — but, says the pastor, we dare not expect such assistance nowadays — and so it is dropped, and Christ becomes almost more cruel toward us than toward his contemporaries.
The answer to this has to be "No." Please note that since the striving involved in becoming and being a Christian is in proportion to contemporaneity with a Christian in the strictest sense of the word, then contemporaneity with an apostle is so rigorous that none of us will get to experience it. And now contemporaneity with Christ himself. The miracle, the miracles of compassion for earthly need and suffering are still somewhat alleviating and the altogether indispensable alleviation — otherwise it would have been impossible to live with Christ. If for only one single day Christ had expressed what it is to be absolute spirit, the human race would have blown up.
But we who are living 1,800 years afterward — we are content to regard the horror through the imagination, and on the other hand we are all too inclined to turn everything into human sympathy — this way, you see, our situation becomes far easier than that of the contemporaries, who had the miracles to hold on to.
O, the way I lived with the common man: there perhaps is not one in the whole generation who could do it, and how few are they who understand him and understand the callousness and cruelty of class distinctions that ordinarily underlie associations with the common man. And then to have this forbidden to me, to have it regarded as ridiculously overplaying the part, and that I cannot ever do anything more for the common man, because for him I exist as a sort of half-looney. And that this has come about by means of those "who take the part of the common man against the aristocrats."
O, how tragic!
About the Completed Unpublished Writing and Myself
The difficulty in publishing anything about the authorship is and remains that, without my knowing it or knowing it positively, I really have been used, and now for the first time I understand and comprehend the whole — but then I cannot, after all, say: I. At most I can say (that is, given my scrupulous demand for the truth): this is how I now understand the productivity of the past.*
* Note. The truest statement, however, is that there is an "also," because I have understood part from the beginning and always understood in advance before I did it.
The flaw, again, is that if I do not do it myself, there is no one who can present it, for no one knows it the way I do. No one can explain the structure of the whole as I can.
But this is my limitation — I am a pseudonym. Fervently, incitingly, I present the ideal, and when the listener or reader is moved to tears, then I still have one job left: to say, "I am not that, my life is not like that."
Quite true: I feel I would be able to be more effective if at this moment someone stepped forward and spoke in his own name and gesticulated with his life: but perhaps Governance does not think this way — I must in truth learn that there is something higher which I perhaps am able to think but do not dare venture.
"From on High He Will Draw All to Himself" must be done pseudonymously.+
+ On a scrap of gray paper enclosed with this manuscript there is a note to the effect that in one way this book contains a dialectical heresy; to be specific, one of the Expositions (no.5 or 6) develops the point that preaching in our day has become impersonal, and this is stated by a pseudonym! But for one thing this is my limit, I can go no further than to call attention to this, and for another, I am, after all, the responsible publisher, and as a matter of fact people will regard it as being said by me. The more which is there is really this: that while it is true the speaker is a nobody, a pseudonym, the publisher is an actual person and recognizes that he is judged by what the pseudonym says.
If my suffering, my frailty, were not the condition for my intellectual work, then of course I would still make an attempt to deal with it by an ordinary medical approach. There is just no point in suffering as I suffer and not do a thing about it if one's life has no significance anyway. But here is the secret: the significance of my life corresponds directly to my suffering.
It would indeed be appropriate for me to come out directly and admit how I regard the poetic element in me, despite my being a religious author — that from a religious point of view it is an imperfection, but I still cannot avoid it, and no doubt most of my contemporaries are unable to, either.
On the words of Paul:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
one could speak on the theme:
what judgment do you make on your childhood and youth? Do you judge that it was foolishness and fancies? Or do you judge that you were at that time closest to the Most High?
Just tell me how you judge your childhood and your youth, and I will tell you who you are. Say it to yourself how you judge, in order that you might come unto wisdom, for wisdom is nothing else than to judge childhood and youth rightly, together with expressing it in one's life that he judges rightly.
Incidentally, the nonsense they said about me in other respects has been long forgotten and makes no difference. But it has had the effect that for the lowest class I live under a nickname, am tagged by one comical oddity or another which I am forced to carry (for I cannot in fact put off my legs — that is, I no doubt may do so in the grave) — in that way my life is a daily martyrdom. Even the elite have the power any time they are so inclined to let me understand that this is how the rabble look upon me. Such a martyrdom is not the easiest. My fame is utilized to sustain the insults.
It is both laughable and lamentable, but one thing is sure, it would be a relief if I could get Goldschmidt to write, for example, about my suit-coat, my vest, my hat, so my legs could get a little peace.
It is really a blessing and a comfort to me right now to know before God that I suffered in leaving her, that it was sheer suffering. What strength it gives me! In fact, if I had left her out of selfishness and an ambition to be a glittering success, my life would have been inevitable despair. Right now I am very serene; where under other conditions I would say: I have lost, now I say: I have won. I know that basically there is not one single person who would not be appalled and moved to deepest compassion if he really knew, quite literally, how I have suffered. But it was precisely that which intensified the pain, knowing that I was a sure prey to pity — and that is why I did everything I could to keep it entirely under cover, and I succeeded.
The suffering was dreadful; depressed as I was, I realized my misery to be greatly intensified by having made her unhappy — and then, suddenly, a wealth burst from my soul which appalls me when I look back upon it.
This is the real basis of my power; my suffering is my superiority; there is also something terrible in the awareness that undergirding me and my relation to the contemporary there is a diametrically opposite understanding of myself before God.
Very likely the same thing will happen to me that happened to others before me: sooner or later they will think that they understand me by means of the results. O, but then I was all alone in my misery, so miserable that I cannot even get my pen to write about it, although I knew and remember it all too well. Then I stood all alone — not like one who is suffering, no, with a young girl's indictment that I would be the death of her, with a father surviving as if she were already dead, with a family's curse upon me, with human speech and everything hostile to me! If at that time I could not have walked around and talked with peddler-women and cab-drivers etc., I could not have survived. I was struck by what I read about Napoleon when crossing the Alps, that he was preoccupied, like someone in a dream, and talked preferably with his guide, discussing the latter's domestic affairs. That is to be expected. Napoleon, after all, was carrying around a plan for the world; I carry only a deep melancholy, about as deep as possible.
About Myself as Author
Once again I have reached the point where I was last summer, the most intensive, the richest time I have experienced, where I understood myself to be what I must call a poet of the religious, not however that my personal life should express the opposite — no, I strive continually, but that I am a "poet" expresses that I do not confuse myself with the ideal.
My task was to cast Christianity into reflection, not poetically to idealize (for the essentially Christian, after all, is itself the ideal) but with poetic fervor to present the total ideality at its most ideal — always ending with: I am not that, but I strive. If the latter does not prove correct and is not true about me, then everything is cast in intellectual form and falls short.
Given the momentum of my writing a year ago I also managed to comprehend the total authorship and myself. I realized that I was a poetic reflector of Christianity with the capacity to set forth the Christian qualifications in all their ideality; I realized how in wonderful ways I had been led into this early in my life. I realized — how in wonderful ways I had been led into this early in my life. I realized — and God be praised I still realize it unaltered — that I can never thank God sufficiently for the good he has done for me, indescribably much more than I had expected. All this I realized, and the total structure of the authorship, and I put it all down in the book about my work as an author.
Then for a time I misunderstood myself, although not for long. I wanted to publish this book. The understanding of my life as an author and of myself was, if I may say so, a gift of Governance to me, encouraging me to go ahead with becoming more truly a Christian — and the misunderstanding was that I wanted to publish it, forgetting that this would be an overstepping of my limits. If I state that I am this poetic reflector and venturer, then I am making myself out to be more than I say I am: in one way or another I myself get to be the ideal and claim to be it. The whole thing would then be in the realm of the interesting, and my contemporaries would then be made fellow-conspirators in my intrigue — but I have no right at all to call it that, for it is also my development.
In the most curious ways I have been prevented from publishing. And now the turn has been made, the new pseudonym established. I deserve no credit whatsoever, because once again it seems that a Governance has helped me do the right thing.
Many times I was all set to publish the writings about myself, but — no. I was able to write them with the same calmness I customarily have in my work, but the minute I took them out with the thought of publishing them, I felt uneasy, an overstraining I had never sensed before.
That was my boundary. To publish them would have produced a great confusion. Despite all the disclaimers in the writings, it would not have been possible to prevent my being regarded as an extraordinary Christian, instead of being only a genius; eventually I perhaps would have made the error of regarding myself as an extraordinary Christian. The truth of the matter, however, which I have learned by the very writing of these books, is that I am far, far from being an extraordinary Christian, that there is still an element of the poetic in me which from a Christian point of view is a minus. Publishing them would have been a bewildering poet-confusion. In one sense the understanding I arrived at elevated me to a perception of what extraordinary endowments had been granted to me, and how an infinitely loving Governance had been leading me from the very beginning, but at the same time and in another way it humbled me by giving me to understand how far I still was from being a Christian in a stricter sense. But this very perception was gained through the suffering of wanting to publish but not being able to do it. If I had not been hindered, if I had been permitted to storm ahead with the publishing, a confused darkness undoubtedly would have entered my soul.
If things take such a turn that a contemporary demands an explanation from me, I certainly could give it, but not until I first ask permission to speak quite unguardedly. It is a different matter if I, so requested, explain the enterprise itself, how I now understand myself, what the end will be despite all my objections: to press on to my goal with the transformation of my own life.
Example of Horror in a Situation
In a boat on the seething, foaming sea there is but one man, a pilot or whomever you want to imagine. Calmly he sits in the end of the boat, his hand on the rudder, while the boat sails along in proudest flight. Then it is lifted up on the crest of a burgeoning wave — the spectators on shore gasp in admiration; the pilot himself is calm and almost seems to enjoy the excitement of the shuddering. Suddenly he notices a little tremor in his hand, telling him: either your hand has gone lame or the boat is not responding to the rudder. It would have been impossible to see this even if one had sat calmly alongside of him as the calmest observer — and without altering his quiet, composed posture, he plunges into the abyss.
The horror consists in concentration of the horror in one single almost unnoticeable point, that the horror is really given no expression at all, that he does not make the slightest change in his daring, calm, and composed posture and yet is so crippled that he plunges to disaster. The very horror is that the horror is not manifested in any way, not so much as in a movement of the arm.
From one angle something may be immodest, from another angle, the opposite may be immodest.
If a man were granted one wish and he wished for a kingdom, he perhaps would be called immodest. But if a man were permitted to wish and he said: Well, I really do not have anything to wish for, except that I wish I had put on overshoes today instead of rubbers — this, in fact, is being immodest, for it actually signifies that one is very well off (unless one is mentally deranged or insane). But if a person is very well off and merely lacks his galoshes in place of his rubbers — and then if a spirit came along and granted him a wish, he would turn away from the spirit, turn to God and say: No, indeed, I will not make a wish, but I will thank God for all the good things he has done for me.
This is why I am so indescribably happy in the midst of all my sufferings. My imagination almost swoons to think of the millions of possibilities that God has at every moment. I do something wrong. I am aware of it at once. What is to be done now? My gloomy imagination instantly perceives the possibility that this little mistake can ruin everything. But then, the very same moment, I say to God: Bitte, bitte; I made a mistake; but even if I am a pest, an impudent pest, O God, make something good out of this very mistake. And then (God who has millions of possibilities at every moment), then the circumstances are combined somewhat differently and, so it is. This very mistake proves to be the right thing. That is how I pray to God. And that is how I get more joy out of this mistake than out of the most proper thing I ever did.
Christianity and Speculation
Christianity is an existence-communication[Existens-Meddelelse], brought into the world by the use of authority. It is not to be an object of speculation; Christianity is to be kept existentially on the move, and becoming a Christian is to be made more and more difficult.
Take a simple example. An officer says to a disorderly mob: Move on, please — no explaining.
No explaining — why? Because he uses authority.
Is there, then, nothing objective in Christianity or is Christianity not the object of objective knowledge? Indeed, why not? The objective is what he is saying, he, the authority. But no explaining, least of all the kind which, as it were, sneaks behind the back of the authority and finally speculates him away, too, and turns everything into speculation.
How, after all, can a divine teaching enter the world? By God's empowering a few individuals and overpowering them, as it were, to such a degree that at every moment throughout a long life they are willing to act, to endure, to suffer everything for this teaching. This, their unconditioned obedience, is the form of their authority. They use the authority and appeal to God, but they also support it with their unconditioned obedience. If you do not choose the good, well, then we are prepared to suffer everything, and then we will find out who is the strongest. It is like being at an auction. Men want to frighten the one sent from God, show him all the horrors, but he says: I bid just the same because my unconditioned obedience, in which I moreover am self-constrained, makes it possible to outbid you in endurance. He endures, then, and finally he dies. Now he is constraining. Now he constrains the race and thereby brings the divine teaching to bear upon the race. His unconditioned obedience, which was the support, becomes itself an explanation of his having had divine authority, something he himself had said. As long as he is living and striving, he really uses the most unconditioned obedience, because he cannot get a willing ear for his divine authority; but then he dies, and now the authority has all the greater effectiveness.
The two small pieces by H. H. are very instructive.
About the Three Discourses on Fridays (The High Priest, The Publican, and The Woman Who Was a Sinner) — they are related to the last pseudonym, Anti-Climacus.
There was some truth in Peter's comment once that religiously the difference between him and me was that he considered the relationship to God as one of being loved and I as one of loving. This was not a completely new observation to me; I frequently have pondered whether or not God is far too infinitely elevated for a man to dare love him — but it does, after all, stand there: You shall love the Lord your God. Furthermore, I myself have always maintained that it is God who does everything for me.
Nevertheless this is not an infelicitous way of indicating the difference between us two. In fact, Peter has never been mentally-spiritually young; the religious made a morbid impact on him; he became so anxious and afraid before God that he is stuck in this pusillanimity — and God knows whether he ever will really be stirred up to dare believe that God loves him. I have never been young physically. But mentally-spiritually I have been a youth in the best sense of the word. Overwhelmed by God, shattered until I felt even less than a sparrow before him, I nevertheless received a positive bold confidence to dare youthfully to become involved with God; I have childishly been able to get it through my head that God's infinity is manifested precisely in his being able to be concerned about the very least; I was childishly able to imagine piously that he was not irked when in connection with an honest endeavor I said: Bitte, bitte, do not refuse me, O you infinite one, you for whom I am in another sense less than nothing at every second.
This is youthfulness, this is childlikeness, but it is fundamental to my nature. What a blessing to me that it has been so natural and geläufigt for me to understand this, to have at my finger tips the understanding that the more infinite one is — the less he is able to be concerned with little things — O, no, I have never been that commonsensical! — No, the more infinite one is the more he can and will concern himself with little things. I literally believed that he was concerned about every single sparrow — literally, of course, for it was extremely important to me, since in another sense I continually have regarded myself as a sparrow or less.
Call it crazy, but in my final moment I am going to pray to God for permission to thank him once again for making me crazy this way. In act, it is doubtful whether anyone whom God has not made crazy like this really has ever realized that he exists before God.
Moreover, I readily recall what I so frequently recall — that in the relationship to God progress in one sense means that the longer one lives with him the farther he feels himself to be away from him in one sense, for, after all, he is infinitely more elevated. As a child one lives with him cheerfully and without ceremony; as a youth, one believes that it still can be done if one really tries: alas, as an adult one perceives that he is far too infinite for him — however, there is a not unimportant difference if one has been a child and a youth or started right away with what begins to the aged.
It is the concept of "Christendom" which must be performed; what has to be done is the dialectical opposite of introducing Christianity and yet in another sense rather similar: to introduce Christianity — into Christendom.
The illusion that all are Christians has reached its peak — well, then, there can be no talk about introducing Christianity — therefore examination in Christianity is required; through a presentation of Christianity a test must be made of what is really meant by saying that all are Christians. This is analogous to Socratic questioning. Just as he began with the Sophists, who claimed to be Christians [sic], and then emptied them by questioning, so we begin here with the claims of those who say they are Christians. And just as he was the ignorant one, so the examiner here must be someone who says that he is not himself a Christian. And just as the fruit of the Socratic questioning was a sharper definition of knowledge, the fruit here is a sharper definition of what it is to be a Christian.
Even a human being can approximately understand that a man does not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God — although these words and the context in which they were used (namely, the temptation story, where the contrast is with having fasted for forty days and nights) are superhuman, for a human being is certainly not such pure spirit that he can live literally on the word of God instead of on food and drink.
O, but a person can live on for a long, long time, year after year, suffering and perhaps tormenting himself under a particular conception of some specific Christian point — and then suddenly the lights go on for him and he comes to see the same matter from another side and he feels a relief comparable to that which a hungry man feels when he gets food, or a fainting person when he is restored.
Think of a person who is deeply conscious of being a sinner, has tormented himself by being able to conceive of Christ only as the Holy One and therefore only shrinks from him, although he continues to stick by him. What a transformation when it really becomes clear to him that Christ is the Savior, is like a physician upon whom one calls in his weakest moment; whereas, in the very opposite way, he had dared turn to the Holy One only in his best moment.
As for the objection raised against appealing to the N.T. in defense of the polemical factor in Christianity, the objection which says: Yes, so it was then, but now, in Christendom — well, all right, let us take Luther, who certainly lived in Christendom. Read, for example, his sermon on the gospel [John 16:16]: A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.
No, the situation in Christendom is infinitely worse and more dangerous than when Christianity lived vis à vis paganism, precisely because of the mendacious illusion of Christendom. This is why the polemical factor should, if possible, be even stronger.
The Turn in the Authorship, How the New Pseudonym (Anti-Climacus) Was Introduced
My intention was to publish all the completed manuscripts in one volume, all under my name — and then to make a clean break.
This was a drastic idea, and I suffered indescribably in persistently wanting to cling to it; I penciled notes here and there (especially in the books about the authorship), at the same time continually overtaxing myself on the whole project, especially on the added point that I should existentially alter my course and yet in a way conceal that there was something false about my stepping forth in character on such a scale — by withdrawing entirely.
Finally it became clear to me that I definitely had to consider my future and that it was beyond my ability to undertake both at once — to concentrate on a literary enterprise like that and also to have financial difficulties. So I decided to lay aside everything I had finished writing until a more propitious time — and then not to write anymore and to make a move to get an appointment.
Then the idea came to me again that it might be unjustifiable for me to let these writings just lie there, and I also became somewhat impatient when I thought of how difficult it is for me to get to be an office holder, even if willing to do everything, and so I make futile visits to both Madvig and Mynster. Then I tackled the matter again — send the first part of the manuscript to the printer under my name, making it possible now to undertake the whole project. My idea was to let actuality put the pressure on me and to get a close perspective of the matter, and I committed myself to God and his help.
Meanwhile Councillor Olsen died, raising a host of difficulties — I realized also that it was rash and unconscionable to instigate a coup of that nature — with the result that The Sickness unto Death was made pseudonymous.
This led me to understand myself and my limitations; I gained an ingeniousness with respect to the structure of the authorship, which again is not original to me; I realized that it was practically desperation on my part to want to venture that far out toward being an apostle of sorts, and in so curious a manner that I simultaneously would break off and with the same step possibly wipe out my future.
If this had not happened, if I had let all that I had written just lie there, I no doubt would have come back every week to the thought of carrying out that stupid idea, and I probably would have unhinged myself, for it still would not have been carried out.
Now the writing has begun to move, the pseudonym is established, I can breathe again and am released from the ghost of overstrain.
About the Three Discourses (The High Priest, The Publican, The Woman Who Was a Sinner)
They are now delivered to the printer.
- I must have a fulcrum, but I cannot use a pseudonym as a fulcrum; they are parallel to Anti-Climacus, and the position of "Discourses at the Communion on Fridays" is once and for all designated as the fulcrum of the authorship.
- Since at this time there is an emphasis on my pseudonym (Climacus), it is important for the stress to be in the direction of upbuilding.
Again, what love on the part of Governance, that what I need and must use always lies finished and ready.
- The preface is reminiscent of the two upbuilding discourses of 1843, because to me it is very important to emphasize that I began at the outset as a religious author: it is of importance for the repetition [Repetitionen].
About My Authorship as a Totality
In a certain sense there is a problem of choice for my contemporaries: They must choose either to make the esthetic the total idea and interpret everything in that way or choose the religious. Precisely in this there is something awakening.
A New View of the Pastor — the Poet in the Sphere of Religion
Christianity has of course known very well what it wanted. It wants to be proclaimed by witnesses — that is, by men who proclaim the teaching and also existentially express it.
The prevailing modern notion of a pastor is a complete misunderstanding. Since pastors probably should also express the essentially Christian, they have quite rightly discovered how to relax the requirement, abolish the ideal.
What is to be done now? Yes, now we must prepare for another tactical advance.
First a detachment of poets; almost sinking under the demands of the ideal, with the glow of a certain unhappy love they set forth the ideal. Present-day pastors may now take the second rank.
These religious poets must have the particular ability to do the kind of writing that helps people out into the current.
When this has happened, when a generation has grown up which from childhood on has received the pathos-filled impression of an existential expression of the ideal, the monastery and genuine witnesses of the truth will both come again.
This is how far behind the cause of Christianity is in our time.
The first and foremost task is to create pathos, with the superiority of intelligence, imagination, penetration, to guarantee pathos for the existential, which "the understanding" has reduced to the ludicrous.
Here is my task. A young man, an utterly simple man can be used for the highest level of the existential — for that the ethical alone is the sole requirement. But when "the understanding" and the power of the understanding have triumphed in the world and made the genuinely existential almost ludicrous, then neither a young man nor a simple man is able to cut through. Then there must first be a maieutic, an old man in a certain sense, eminently possessing all the gifts of mind and spirit — and these he applies to create pathos for the pathos-filled life.
Any young girl can truly fall in love. But imagine an age which has sunk to such depths of commonsensicality that all the brilliant minds etc. applied their talents to making love ludicrous — then no young girl is able to cut through. There must first of all be an older person who can crush this commonsensicality and create pathos — and then, hail to thee, O youth, whoever you are — then there is a place for youth's in a sense far inferior powers. And yet in one sense the relation is such, as it always is in the pseudonymous works, that the young person stands higher than the older one.
Alas, my own life demonstrates this. Only now do I see where the turn must be made — now after almost overstraining myself for seven years, now when I must begin to carry a new kind of burden, concern for making ends meet. O, why was there no older person who related to me as I do to the youth.
Yet in a certain degree I myself do belong to the old, but I guarantee pathos.
Mynster's error was not the prudence etc. he has used. No, the error was that, enchanted by the workings of his prudence in the world of temporality, enchanted by his power and influence, he actually let the ideal vanish. Were there in Mynster's preaching but one thing — a constant and deep sorrow over not having been spiritual enough to become a martyr, I would have approved of him; I would then have said of him what I say of myself: He did not become a martyr, but he is able to bring forth martyrs.
No one can take what he has not been given — and neither can I. I also am marked by having been born in Christendom, spoiled in my upbringing, etc. If I had not been brought up in Christianity, if I had stood outside Christianity, it might perhaps have the power to swing me a stage higher, if, note well, Christianity itself were represented as in its earliest time, when there was pathos in abundance.
But no one can take what has not been given to him.
How true it is to me now that all my recent productivity has actually been my personal upbringing, my humiliation. Youthfully I have dared — then it was granted to me to put forth the requirement of ideality in an eminent sense* — and quite rightly I am the one who feels humbled under it and learns in a still deeper sense to resort to grace. Moreover this which I now again have experienced even more personally has already been called to mind in the works themselves, for Anti-Climacus says in the moral to "Come to Me All Who Labor and Are Heavy Laden": The prototype must be presented so ideally that you are humbled by it and learn to flee to the prototype, but in an entirely different sense — namely, as to the merciful one.
* Note. Apart from what always, of course, takes precedence, the solicitude of Governance, which accounts for the fact that I always understand best afterwards, the success of my presentation is connected with: (1) the injustice and mistreatment I have suffered as an author, something that has all the stronger impact because of my polemical nature, (2) my mental depression, (3) my religious attitude and inner sufferings, (4) also the conception I have that as a penitent I must venture, just because of that, what others do not venture. But I must be very cautious on that last point, for it is extremely difficult to know oneself and not confuse boldness with really being willing to suffer.
But all must relate themselves to the ideal; and no matter how far below and how far away I am, there must still be in my glance and in my sighing a direction which indicates that I also am related to the ideal — only in that way am I one who strives.
And then, as Anti-Climacus says: then no overrash impetuosity.
Yet how different to begin as a young man can begin, and then in the best years of his life still to have belonged to the old.
One thing remains — we are still all saved by grace.
[In margin: The Position of Christianity at the Present Moment]
The Position of Christianity at the Present Moment
Actually, the revolution is much closer than we think. The last band of free-thinkers (Feuerbach and all related to him) has attacked or tackled the matter far more cleverly than formerly, for if you look more closely, you will see that they actually have taken upon themselves the task of defending Christianity against contemporary Christians. The point is that established Christendom is demoralized, in the profoundest sense all respect for Christianity's existential commitments has been lost (for assurances of respect amount to nothing). Now Feuerbach is saying: No, wait a minute — if you are going to be allowed to go on living as you are living, then you also have to admit that you are not Christians. Feuerbach has understood the requirements but cannot force himself to submit to them — ergo, he prefers to renounce being a Christian. And now, no matter how great a responsibility he must bear, he takes a position that is not unsound, that is, it is wrong of established Christendom to say that Feuerbach is attacking Christianity; it is not true, he is attacking the Christians by demonstrating that their lives do not correspond to the teachings of Christianity. [In margin: This is why one may say of Feuerbach: ab hoste consilium.] This is quite different. It may very well be that he is a malitieus daemon, but he is useful for tactical purposes.
What Christianity needs for certain is traitors. Christendom has insidiously betrayed Christianity by not wanting to be truly Christian but to have the appearance of being so. Now traitors are needed.
But this concept, traitors, is dialectical. The devil also, so to speak, has his traitors, his spies, who do not attack Christianity, but attack the Christians — with the express purpose of getting more and more to fall away. God, too, has his traitors: God-fearing traitors, who in unconditional obedience to him simply and sincerely present Christianity in order that for once people may get to know what Christianity is. I am sure that established Christendom regards them as traitors, since Christendom has taken illegal possession of Christianity by a colossal forgery.
Strangely enough, I always understand best afterwards. Dialectically Johannes Climacus is in fact so radical a defense of Christianity that to many it may seem like an attack. This book makes one feel that it is Christendom that has betrayed Christianity.
This book has an extraordinary future.
And I, the author, am in a way held up to ridicule as always. I manage to do things the entire significance of which I do not understand until later. This I have seen again and again. For that very reason I cannot become serious in the trivial sense in which serious people are serious, for I realize that I am nothing. There is an infinite power which, as it were, helps me; when I turn to it, I pray — this certainly is earnestness; but when I turn to myself, I almost have to laugh at the thought that I, a wretched nobody etc., seem to be so important. I cannot quite make myself intelligible to others, for whatever I write they promptly categorize as pertaining to me. In my own consciousness, where I understand the way things really hang together, at every alternate moment jest can scarcely be avoided. But it is a pious jest, for precisely in smiling at myself in my nothingness there is again an expression of devotion. To use a metaphor and example, it is as if a little girl were loved by someone whom she feels to be very superior to her intellectually. In the ordinary sense of the word this relationship does not become serious. The like for like that provides finite security and earnestness is lacking. She cannot help smiling at herself when she thinks of being loved by — him, and yet she feels blissful during every moment of his visit. Nor does she dare tell herself "in earnest": He loves me, for she will say: My relationship to him is actually nothing; he would do no wrong whatsoever in leaving me this moment, for there is no relationship between us, but the relationship is blissful as long as it lasts.
But my relationship has the peculiar quality of being reflective, so that I do not see it until later — see, there I have been helped again. I take my pen, commend myself to God, work hard, etc., in short, do the best I can with the meager human means. The pen moves briskly across the paper. I feel that what I am writing is all my own. And then, long afterwards, I profoundly understand what I wrote and see that I received help.
It is easy to see that dialectically Johannes Climacus' defense of Christianity is as radical as it can be, for dialectically the defense and the attack are within a single hair of being one.
"Johannes Climacus" was actually a contemplative piece, for when I wrote it I was contemplating the possibility of not letting myself be taken over by Christianity, even if it was my most honest intention to devote my whole life and daily diligence to the cause of Christianity, to do everything, to do nothing else but to expound and interpret it, even though I were to become like, be like the legendary Wandering Jew — myself not a Christian in the final and most decisive sense of the word and yet leading others to Christianity.
A line by Thomas à Kempis which perhaps could be used as a motto sometime. He says of Paul: Therefore he turned everything over to God, who knows all, and defended himself solely by means of patience and humility . . . . He did defend himself now and then so that the weak would not be offended by his silence.
Book III, chapter 36, para. 2, or in my little edition, p. 131.
Galatians 2:19 (for I through the law died to the law) corresponds exactly to the presentation I usually give of our relationship to "the prototype". "The prototype" must be presented as the requirement, and then it crushes you. "The prototype", which is Christ, then changes into something else, to grace and compassion, and it is he himself who reaches out to support you. In this way through the prototype you have died to the prototype.
The Significance of the Whole Authorship
is its calling attention to the essentially Christian.
Attention is not supposed to be called to me, and yet it is to existence as a person that attention is to be called, or to the crucial significance of existence as a person for the essentially Christian. Therefore, my existence as a person is also utilized, but always in order to point beyond me at the decisive moment: I am not that.
To call attention this way is to place the essentially Christian in the relationship of possibility to men, to show them how far we all are from being Christian.
The New Pseudonym Anti-Climacus
Since all the writing under the title Practice in Christianity was poetic, it was understood from the very first that I had to take great pains not to become confused with an analogy to an apostle. Generally my hypochondria has also had a part in all the later works, for even though things undeniably have become more clear, they were not understood this way from the beginning.
When the section "Come to Me All Who Labor etc." was written, "Poetic Venture — Without Authority — For Inward Deepening in Christianity" was placed on the title page at the outset. And then came my name. And the same with the others.
But as time went on, it became clear to me (in this connection see journal NB11 or NB12 [i.e., X1 A 295 - 541; X1 A 542 - 682 and X2 A 1 - 68], but more particularly NB11) that if possible there must be an even stronger declaration that it was poetic — and that it was best to have a new pseudonym. This became clear to me. Meanwhile I wanted to wait and see, during which time I suffered very much, constantly undertaking too much with the whole writing project and tormented by the fixed and desperate idea of publishing it all in one swoop and then leaping aside and vanishing, something I basically understood could not be done but which nevertheless captivated my imagination so that I really did not want to give up the possibility, although it became more and more apparent that if I were to get air, there would have to be a break.
Finally I decided to lay the whole project aside and seek an appointment; and when that had been done, I would publish gradually, in small lots, what was completed.
I then went to Madvig and Mynster and met neither of them; then I was strongly influenced in the opposite direction and took it to be a hint from Governance that I was about to make a mistake, that I simply should venture everything. Now came the reaction. I wrote to the printer and engaged the compositor and said that they "should go ahead." I get word from the printer that all is clear and could they have the manuscript. At the very same time I learn that Councillor Olsen has died. That affected me strongly; if I had known about it before I wrote to the printer, it would have prompted a postponement. But now, after so frequently being on the verge of it, fearfully overtaxed as I was, I was afraid I would be incapacitated if I backed out after taking this step.
I was under great strain and slept badly, and, strangely enough, a phrase came to my mind, as if I myself were hurling myself into disaster.
In the morning I pondered the matter again. It seemed to me that I had to act. Then I decided to submit the whole matter to God: to send the first manuscript (The Sickness unto Death) to the printer without saying anything about what else there was to be printed. My intention was to allow actuality to test me; it was possible that the sum total could be printed, and it was possible that there could be a turning aside.
Under that tension I began to see that it should be published under a pseudonym, something I understood earlier but postponed doing because it could be done at any time.
In the middle of the typesetting there was trouble with Reitzel, making me extremely impatient. Once again I had the thought of withdrawing the whole manuscript, laying it aside, and waiting once again to see if I should have everything published at the same time, and without the pseudonymity, for the pseudonymity was not established as yet, inasmuch as the title page was not printed, because, contrary to my practice, I had originally ordered it to be printed last. I went to the printer. It was too late. The composition was as good as finished.
So the pseudonym was established. That is how one is helped and helps himself when it is so difficult to act.
Basically people would rather have a fanatic who says that he himself is the ideal (then they can either parade with him or promptly part company with him, saying, and rightly so — he wants to be Christ) than one who honestly strives, who humbly does not call himself more than a poet, and confesses how infinitely far behind he is. The contemporaries cannot get rid of him as promptly or quickly; he can become a continual disturbance to his contemporaries.
The New Pseudonym (Anti-Climacus)
The fact that there is a pseudonym is the qualitative expression that it is a poet-communication, that it is not I who speaks but another, that it is addressed to me just as much as to others; it is as if a spirit speaks and I get the inconvenience of being the editor. What he has to say is something we men prefer to have cast into oblivion. But it must be heard nevertheless. Not that everyone should do it, nor that salvation depends upon my doing it — O, no, I realize, after all, that my life does not express it either, but I humble myself under it; I regard this as an indulgence, and my life is restless.
With respect to ethical-religious communication (that is, along the lines of depicting the requirement of ideality — which is different from grace and what is involved in it, different in that rigorousness creates tension to the point that one feels the need of grace, without, however, being permitted to take it in vain), I am not permitted to communicate more than I, the speaker, am, that is, in my own factual first person, no more than my life existentially but fairly well conforms to. If I place the requirement higher, I must express that this presentation is a poetic one. It is altogether appropriate for me to present it, for it may influence another to strive more, and I myself define myself as one who is striving in relation to it, thereby distinguishing myself from the typical poet, to whom it never occurs to strive personally toward the ideal he presents.
Incidentally, it is a terrible thing for the requirements of the ideal to be presented by men who never give a thought to whether their lives express it or not. That I have been aware is indicated by my calling this poetic communication — even though I am striving.
That the communication is poetic may be expressed either in the form of a declaration by the speaker saying in his own person: This is poetic communication, that is, what I am saying is not poetic, for what I am saying is the very truth, but the fact that I am saying it constitutes the poetic aspect, or qua author he can do it with the help of pseudonyms, as I have done now for the first time in order to make matters clear.
But the difference between such a speaker-author — and a typical poet — is that the speaker and author himself defines himself as striving in relation to what is being communicated.
And this whole distinction pertaining to poet-communication is related again to Christianity's basic category, that Christianity is an existence-communication [Existents-Meddelelse] and not doctrine, as Christianity has unchristianly and meaninglessly been made to be, so that the question in relation to a doctrine is simply: Is my interpretation of the doctrine true, the true interpretation, or not, like, for example, an interpretation of Plato's philosophy. No, the question is: Does or does not my personal life express what is communicated. As long as my life expresses what is communicated, I am a teacher; when this is not the case, I am obliged to add: What I say is certainly true, but my saying it is the poetic aspect; consequently it is a poet-communication which, however, is meaningful both for keeping me awake and keeping me striving, and, if possible, for awakening others.
In book no. 1 ("Come to Me All Who Labor and Are Heavy Laden") the qualitative rigor is Christianly untrue in one sense (because it is almost solely metaphysical) — the affirmation that Christ came to the world because he was the absolute, not out of human compassion or for any other reason, an affirmation which corresponds with the absolute "You shall." At the same time it holds true Christianly on the other side that Christ came to the world out of love in order to save the world. The fact that He was obliged to break the world, as it were, the fact that, humanly speaking, enormous suffering comes from accepting him, certainly are due to his being the absolute, but joy over the fact that he came in order to save must completely surmount all this suffering. These two affirmations (He came because he was the absolute, and He came out of love in order to save the world) make the difference between Christianity being proclaimed in "law" or in "grace".
In book no. 2 ("Blessed Is He Who Is Not Offended") the qualitative rigor is the necessity with which the offense is joined together with all that is essentially Christian.
In book no. 3 ("From on High He Will Draw All unto Himself") the qualitative rigor is the necessity with which abasement is joined to being Christian, that unconditionally every true Christian is abased in this world.
So much is certain, the preacher-talk which sentimentally longs to be contemporary with Christ certainly must cease. My formula is: I will be honest, I will admit that if I had been contemporary with you, I too certainly would have betrayed you. Incidentally, this has already been stated in one of the Friday discourses of the first collection.
Pseudonymous Publication of the Writings about My Work as an Author
But it is not necessary to publish them pseudonymously, it is not even right to do so, inasmuch as the matter does not become sufficiently simple.
The category: that I myself am the one who has been educated, that it all is my own education, is decisive enough.
The first idea to publish all the books (including those which have become pseudonymous) in my name and in one volume along with the writings about my work as an author was still vague and unclear (as it was impatient), because the writings about my work as an author go only to the Friday discourses in Christian Discourses and therefore no impression is conveyed of the whole new productivity contained in the same volume.
No, the new pseudonym, Anti-Climacus — who in the dialectical sphere makes a new dialectical contribution which must be resolved by an upbuilding discourse on "grace" — provides "the halt". And within the halt, then, comes the communication about my work as an author.
The thought of publishing all the writings in one swoop under my name, and thereby with the greatest possible impetus, and then jumping back without really ever knowing where, without regard for the consequences I would invite by such a step, other than wanting to live in retirement: this was sheer, desperate impatience.
My task has never been to bring down the established order but constantly to infuse inwardness into it.
From the beginning I perceived the wrongness of it, but it momentarily tempted my imagination and was related to a poet-impatience.
My task has always been difficult. With my sights on a brash scientific scholarship, a brash culture, etc., which wants to go even farther than Christianity, I jack up the requirements of ideality so high — and at the same time I also have a great responsibility, since I have the most intense sympathy for the common man, woman, etc., and I do not want to make them anxious.
On the whole, the woman is and ought to be a corrective in proclaiming the ethical-religious. One must not make it rigorous for men and have another kind for women, but in making it rigorous one ought to respect the woman as an authority also and temper it through assistance from that source. And for the sake of the cause, a woman perhaps may lift the burden just as well as a man precisely because she has fewer ideas and also fewer half-ideas than the man, and thus more feeling, imagination, and passion.
In another journal I have drawn attention to the difference between secular advancement, where one continually craves and covets climbing one rung higher yet, and the opposite situation in spiritual advancement, where the man who is called intercedes for himself at every higher step he has to take, since he understands very well how, humanly speaking, the suffering becomes greater and greater.
From this comes the formula of the called life, that when the final race is to be run, the last step to be taken, it is usually with the help of repentance over having wanted to draw back. So it was with the apostle Peter's denial. If there is a step which is too high for a person and yet has to be reached, this is the last power a man has, this repentance for having wanted to cheat.
As a rule the religious ought to be kept just as mild as rigorous. God wants to be the ruler, but in the form of grace, concession, etc.: he wants to handle a person as carefully and as solicitously as possible. To suffer ought to be a joy, a matter of honor; one comes to God and asks permission — and God says: Yes, indeed, my little friend. But of course it does not follow from this that one may not suffer. On the contrary, in the profoundest sense one may suffer indescribably, have his thorn in the flesh as well, but despite this, assuming that this suffering cannot be taken away, one can find joy in getting permission to be active in this way, to live for an idea.
It is different with "the apostle": he is constrained.
Here I thoroughly understand why it is so important that I hold myself back and do all I can to prevent being confused with something à la an apostle: precisely because I am able to provide a point from which the qualifications of an apostle may in some measure be scrutinized. But what disarray if I myself were to cause the confusion.
It is not at all surprising that Socrates made such a deep impression on me.
It may be said that there is something Socratic in me.
Indirect communication was my native element. By means of the very things I experienced, went through, and thought through last summer with respect to direct communication, I have set aside a direct communication (the one on my work as an author, with the category: it is all my education) and have also acquired a deeper understanding of indirect communication, the new pseudonymity.
There is something inexplicably felicitous in the antithesis: Climacus — Anti-Climacus, I recognize so much of myself and my nature in it that if someone else had invented it I would believe that he had secretly observed my inner being. — The merit is not mine, for I did not originally think of it.
The category for my undertaking is: to make men aware of the essentially Christian, but this accounts for the repeated statement: I am not that, for otherwise there is confusion. My task is to get men deceived — within the meaning of truth — into religious commitment, which they have cast off, but I do not have authority; instead of authority I use the very opposite, I say: the whole undertaking is for my own discipline and education. This again is a genuinely Socratic approach. Just as he was the ignorant one, so here: instead of being the teacher, I am the one who is being educated.
[In margin: Concerning the Preface to "Practice in Christianity"]
It is also part of my task to present the essentially Christian so high that I judge myself — and then, quite consistently, also do it myself.
That is what happened in the original preface to "Practice in Christianity". This original preface is in fact the right one; an outline of another on a scrap of paper together with "Practice in Christianity" is not to be used.
So it happened in that preface. It is also lenient. The pseudonym is rigorousness; he judges — whom? Me, the editor. But I acknowledge this myself in the preface.
Right! Here I acknowledge my nature again. There is a far off chord of the melancholy of irony. Ironically, the converse is also commonly characteristic of the convert, who judges everybody but himself, while here no one is judged but myself. It is a spiritual skirmish.
See 55, middle, in this journal [i.e. X2 A 204].
About "The Sickness unto Death"
Perhaps there ought to have been, as first intended, a little postscript by the editor, for example:
This book seems to be written by a physician; I, the editor, am not the physician, I am one of those sick.
As mentioned, it was contemplated; in fact, in my desk, there are several outlines for such a postscript from that time, but the fact is that at the time I did not as yet have as deep an understanding as I do now of the significance of the new pseudonym. Furthermore (as is also noted in the journal [i.e. X1 A 422] from the time The Sickness unto Death was printed), I feared that it would be misinterpreted in various ways, as if I myself were afraid and wanted to keep myself on the outside and so on.
Now I understand perfectly that an editor's preface must always accompany the new pseudonym, Anti-Climacus, in which I say: I am striving.
There must be some kind of judgment in Christendom — aber, in such a way that I myself am judged. [In margin: p. 50 in this journal] [i.e., X2 A 199].
This is, it may be said, a kind of heroism corresponding to my nature, a synthesis of rigorousness and gentleness.
Possibility and Actuality, see p. 52 [i.e., X2 A 202].
We all weep when the pastor preaches about being reconciled with our enemies. Actually to seek reconciliation is regarded as effrontery. Thus Councillor Olsen regarded it "as unheard of effrontery," was furiously incensed over it, or was when he came home.
A Further Step with Respect to "Her"
received his answer and the other letter unopened.
Everything is found in a packet* in her tall cupboard
in a white envelope labeled: About Her. It was November 19.
* In the same packet there is also a quarto volume: "My Relationship to Her, August 24, 1849, somewhat poetic." And in a little packet in gray paper, labeled "to be burned after my death," lying in a little drawer in my desk, there is an older but similar interpretation of my relationship to her, about whom there are also various notes in the journals from two years ago (1848) and last year (1849), probably in older journals as well.
Addition to *: Since I have never known the date of the breaking of the engagement, I made an attempt to figure it out. This attempt is on a scrap of paper in the older packet, the one in gray paper lying in the little drawer in my desk, labeled: to be destroyed after my death.
Addition to *: A copy of my letter to Schlegel and the one enclosed to her is also in an envelope in one of the two small drawers in the high desk.
It was like this.
In view of the possibility that her father's death[+] may have led her to expect an approach on my part (something about which I perhaps have additional data), I once again took up the idea. For the second time I let a poet try his hand at the task and her situation and found that a sisterly relationship was a possibility, which probably would make her happy, and that would make me happy, always with the understanding that her marriage, and especially to Schlegel, was the highest benefaction toward me. Then, too, the whole matter may well come up again sometime if qua author I need to repeat it. My conflict was a religious one. To be deceived by a scoundrel was in her favor. Yet she was carried away in her desperate declaration of love, of wanting to die, her religious entreaties, etc.[++] — she who now is married — and I unmarried. — I submitted to this view; notes with regard to this are found in journal NB12 [i.e. X1 A 542 - 682; X2 A 1 - 68].
[+] To me it was also remarkable that Councillor Olsen's death coincided with my intention to make a turn away from the authorship and appear in the character of a religious author from the very beginning (see a scrap of paper in journal NB13 [i.e., X2 A 69 - 163]. And when I appear as such with the whole authorship as religious, a dedication would essentially be related to "her".
[++]Yes, but she also has a great responsibility toward me because of her misuse of pious entreaties; in a certain sense she is to blame because by a desperate recklessness she forced the issue so high after it had been resolved in as humble a way for me as possible! A responsibility which first became really clear with her becoming engaged so soon afterwards.
Then I acted[$] decisively, motivated by the following:
- A whole life is perhaps too great a criterion for a woman. It can give me satisfaction to preserve intact all my devotion to her and let my author-career glorify her name etc. — but how can it really help her if she or I must first be dead, and what does a woman really care about historical fame. Such faithfulness is almost cruel; it would be better for her if I were a bit less faithful and she got some good from it during her lifetime.
- I feared that it might be pride on my part that kept me from action, that I was unwilling to expose myself to the unpleasantness involved. Well, then I dared not refrain from acting. As far as approaching her was concerned, I knew that refraining from doing so could not be due to my pride, for I am only all too confident in that relationship. No, the touchy element was really Schlegel. Consequently I made my approach to him, and he used the occasion for a moral lecture.
[$] If it could have taken place, the reconciliation with "her" would have occurred simultaneously with the Three Discourses (The High Priest, The Publican, The Woman Who Was a Sinner), which contains in the preface — for the sake of repetition of the entire authorship — a repetition of the preface to the Two Upbuilding Discourses of 1843, a book I knew she read at the time.
Now it is done. Praise God that I did it. At a later date I may have had such thoughts: you ought to have done it, and then it would have been too late. Now I can breathe. All lectures of that kind make the matter easier. Her prayer and pious entreaties — yes, that was a potent force.
In other ways it is impossible [corrected from: difficult] to do anything. I dare not be personal. To approach her personally — the minute she hears my voice I take the risk of her completely misinterpreting my approach before I get a chance to explain what I want.
Now the matter is finished. One thing is sure — without Schlegel's consent not one word. And he has declared himself as definitively as possible. It is in his hands how.
In margin of previous:
And of course not one word to her about winning Schlegel over to my idea. No, never! I know how to respect a marriage. I discovered this possibility for her and rejoiced to gladden her heart with it, enhancing her marriage — only God knows whether I demanded too much of myself by being so prodigal with myself — it was supposed to be a gift from Schlegel to her. If he had understood me, if he had believed in me, then I would have become practically a servant in his hands. — But now the affair is really ended. And never have I felt so light and happy and free about this matter, so totally myself again, as just now after making this sacrificial step! For now I understand that I have God's consent to let her go and to take care of myself, complying only with her last plea: "to think of her sometimes," in this way keeping her for history and eternity.
If there suddenly were to be a strong upsurge of interest in religion, I imagine that Goldschmidt, always the business man, would eventually initiate a devotional magazine for home use, Christian anthologies, and the like. I would bet four shillings on it. It would contribute to disclosing what a pastor is actually understood to be these days, for there is no doubt but that Goldschmidt would be able to do it just as well or better than many pastors. Of course, he reads a little in that field and uses his imagination for the rest — and thus we have an analogy to that temperance-preacher who gets four "schnaps" for every member he recruits for the society.
The expression "the author's author," which I myself once used because it was unavoidable and later was appropriated by a few others — this expression actually is descriptive of the plus that I do have. I actually am an author for authors; I do not relate directly to a public; no, qua author I make others creative. That again accounts for my suffering, for as long as this is not understood, the more-than-ordinary in me becomes a minus instead of a plus.
Incidentally, there is something ridiculous about Martensen. With the aid of mediocrity it will finally turn out that he becomes classical — and I am labored. Thanks for that! Just note whether his work is related in the remotest way to making others creative!
An Accounting of My Action Against The Corsair
A. The consequences for those involved
- It was a matter of separating P. L. Møller and Goldschmidt and getting G. away from The Corsair — this was done.
- It was a relief for many of those who were being attacked to be placed in another situation when I jumped in — and from that very elevation to be immortalized and eulogized.
- With respect to presenting the religious, which is to be emphasized, things were prepared for an awakening of awareness, and if one is going to include the common man, the surest thing to do is first of all to let him make a mistake so that he himself gets to understand later that he has made a mistake, for the common man is always good-natured and is won over most positively when he is regretful; one must not struggle with him over power but give him the power and then get him to misuse it; it gives him satisfaction that he had the power and he is all the more willing to regret the misuse of it.
B. The Consequences for me
- The satisfaction that I was true to myself and my idea and did not shrink from any consequences but ventured farthest out. This satisfaction tallies with my historical significance; and the same action has extended the future of my name considerably.[*]
- When I gave up being an esthetic author and as a consequence lost this support in maintaining indirect communication: it once again was maintained although in another manner — namely, by creating this opposition to me.
- If I had not taken this action, I would have escaped completely the double-danger connected with the essentially Christian, I would have gone on thinking of the difficulties involved with Christianity as being purely interior to the self.
- It has become my own education and development.
- As author I have gotten a new string in my instrument, have been able to hit notes I never would have dreamed of otherwise.
- I have achieved "actuality" in a much stricter sense of the word.
[*] After all, I had set the tone of irony — what a satire on me, then, what a devastating judgment, if I had not done everything to prevent the opinion that The Corsair is the same kind of irony, that the two acknowledge each other, The Corsair immortalizes him as the master. And from the Christian point of view, what a judgment on me if I had been contemporary to such demoralization and was either too stupid to see it or too cowardly to act.
[In margin: About Peter]
Now Peter is going to have his say about the authorship.
How is one to react to that? I know very well that he has merely read here and there in some of the books — that is enough for him. (N.B. This is based on his own words.) Then he took it upon himself to give an address at the convention. But it so happened that the contemplated address could not be used — so he gets the idea the night before to say something about Martensen and Sø and R. Nielsen.
The lecture was given — and then printed. If one remonstrates that it lacks genuine knowledge, the answer is: Well, Good Lord, it was only a convention address. But why print it, then? Not only that, but the very fat that it is given as an address first, and then printed, falsely ascribes even more importance to it.
How tragic! In such a little country where I still have not yet had any reviews, everyone avails himself of my books to have an opportunity to say something. My cause thereby goes backward instead of forward. Of course it is "not the time and place" to enter into the whole more subtle concretion I have given the problem. I am flattened into a maundering mediocrity — I could just as well have not written anything.
And now the tragic delusion that it is my brother "who, after all, must know all about it in detail."
Another consequence of living in a little country is that one's name may become so well known that the mere mention of it is taken by everyone or by many to be an allusion to be person. So also with my name: Søren. Yes, one's title, or whatever one wants to call it, can become that familiar. At one time the Berlingske Tidende published over a three- or six-month period a serial story from Swedish in which the character appeared under the name of Crazy Magister or Crazy Preacher. There were many who were led by association of ideas to think that it alluded to me. (It was "A Night at Bullar Lake.")
[In margin: Martensen]
better to be silent and merely read Scripture aloud.
Martensen preaches on the self-chosen text. Let the dead bury their dead. And what does he do? Presto! He gets involved in the observation that whole epochs and generations simply buried their dead, spiritually speaking.
Well, thanks for that. Whole generations, epochs, millions, millions — what wonderful dissipation. Where does that leave me, the single individual, with my minuscule act; it is more or less the same whether I do it or not.
What Schleiermacher says about asceticism in one of his lectures on religion (no. 2) is, in my estimation, most excellent: every person of depth has his asceticism.
[In margin: Peter's remarks at the convention]
Peter's Remarks at the Convention
After all, there is some confusion-compounding to take a passage from Paul and then exhibit Martensen and me as the two positions. For if Martensen is to be compared with Paul, then Paul (and also his ) becomes ecstasy pure and simple. The Martensenian-Petrian concept of composure is a partially irreligious concept of mediocrity and indolent comfortableness.
Moreover, Peter should also have pointed out that it is especially difficult these days to represent ecstasy. For mediocrity, worldly haggling, etc., are preponderant. It should also be pointed out that my ecstasy is characterized by equally great composure. The very fact that I use pseudonyms, invented characters (consequently not myself) to represent the ecstatic, while in the upbuilding discourses I myself speak gently and quietly. The difference between the category of the single individual as it is used by the pseudonyms and as I use it, etc.
But what does Peter care about all this. He self-complacently expounds to mediocrity (and of course to the jubilation of the rural clergy) that there are two trends (that is, the achievers) — and they are one-sided; but we, who achieve nothing, we are of the truth, and we are also the majority. Just believe me, I know; should I not know it — after all, I am eight years older than my brother.
[In margin: About Peter]
During the long time I have been an author, Peter found no occasion to express his opinion. But scarcely does it appear that I am going to be treated as somewhat important than he promptly gets busy unloading (and presumably will also make an offer to me on behalf of the party), motivated especially by the fine chance to score a cheap point by ridiculing R. N. (a very rewarding business just now) and to punish him as a warning against being a follower — he who himself has been a follower and copier of Gruntvig to the point of ludicrous affectation.
The whole affair has been very painful to me. [In margin: See p. 158, bottom, in this journal (i.e. X2 A 280).] Peter was completely devoid of sympathy all the time I was suffering rabble-persecution; literally not one word along that line was either spoken or written by him; we have never kept in close touch, but from that time on he pulled back completely. He knows that I have financial worries — never one word about it. He knows that I suffer from being disproportioned to the country — never a word about it.
But eventually he sees his chance. He assumes a standpoint superior to the two positions: Martensen — S. K. (for he declares quite properly that he is not mediating between us [in margin: His words are very singular: he does not wish to mediate between two sinful men; in ordinary human language this would be: I, a sinful man, do not want to take it upon myself to mediate between two men], but actually his presentation implies that he merely wants to avail himself of these two positions — ergo, he is supposedly on a higher plane). He lashes out in popular fashion with all the sloppy jargon and thus in half an hour is capable of judging seven years of work. He enthusiastically proclaims the supremacy of the rural clergy and the dominion of mediocrity. He takes the precaution of hiding behind the excuse that it was a rush job. He cashes in on the illusion: I, as the author's elder brother, am surely well informed (which is such a frightful lie that he certainly should have pointed it out); he ties my hands, for I cannot make a move without the world shouting: Scandalous! And he remains the nice fellow, for it is indeed favorable publicity for me, something I in another way have to suffer again, since it will be called partiality. He gets me into trouble with R. Nielsen, who possibly believes that I am jabbing at him from behind in this attack on him, and when R. N. attacks Peter, he will no doubt think that I am jabbing at him from behind R. N. — i do not think that all this was clear to Peter, but he should have been clear on part of it and would have been, too, if he had not been coddled into smug self-complacency by these rural preachers and convention-goers, so coddled that he even fell victim to a kind of stupid joviality and thought he was doing me a favor, although he should have understood that to do that he must apply a criterion and actually elucidate my work as an author, and least of all connive with illusions and numerical determination by men.
As I have always said, only a dead man can rule the state of affairs in Denmark. Dissoluteness and envy and stupidity are preponderant everywhere. If I died now, my life would have an extraordinary influence; even much of what I have just roughly dashed off in the journals would acquire great significance and influence, for then men would accept me and could concede to me what was and is my due.
If only I had physical energy now, just a little, I could do several things. It is burdensome and sad that much that is interpreted summarily as pride and the like is quite simply lack of physical energy. I am so weak that I practically have to use mental energy even in things of slightest importance.
Peter came down in December. He told me that he had delivered an address at the last convention where he had talked about Martensen and me and was surprised that I had not heard it. He went on to say that in the same lecture he actually had directed his remarks against R. Nielsen and a certain H. H. At that point I told him that I myself am H. H. He was somewhat stunned by that, for he very likely had not read any farther in the little book, fully convinced that it was not by me. We discussed it a little, then Peter said: Well, there isn't much point in talking further about it, for I have to write up the address first. So he wrote up the address. He dealt very briefly with H. H. and also observed that he certainly had a remarkable similarity to S. K. God knows what he actually said at the convention.
It is an awkward situation, especially when one wants to be a man of conscience etc.
Lately, in a way that at least jars me, he has gotten hold of the Scriptural phrase: "All is yours." He also uses it in the address. Once in an earlier conversation I reproached him, saying that there was a certain integrity which requires one to give the source of certain thoughts and expositions, to which he answered: It is not at all necessary, for "All is yours" applies to the true believer.
The words of John the Baptizer, "I am a voice," could be applied to my work as an author. To prevent any mistaken identity and being taken for the extraordinary, I always withdraw myself, and the voice, that is, what I say, remains. But I always withdraw myself in such a way that I do own up to striving. Thus I am like a voice, but I always have one more auditor than speakers generally have: myself.
About H. H.
Peter finds it inconsistent that when one says "Only the person who remains silent becomes a martyr," he is in fact saying that. Quite true; aber, that happened because I wanted to take a new direction at just that point. You see, my dear Peter, here is a consistency of which you are not aware.
But the book does in fact hold out the possibility of a martyrdom nevertheless — namely, to be put to death because one has defended the thesis that a man does not have the right to let himself be put to death for the truth, since the contemporaries would regard this as enormous arrogance.
And finally it was and is my view that part of a step such as being put to death for the truth is that one's contemporaries are helped to share the guilt in an appropriate way, an invitation to participate is extended, for otherwise the responsibility is too great.
But, after all, such things cannot be brought out without betraying the secret machinery; on the other hand I perceive that Peter is not a particularly resourceful combinateur.
[In margin: R. Nielsen]
The day before yesterday I took a walk with Nielsen. It was the last time this year. The conversation turned in such a way that he himself acknowledged that there was some personal reason, at least in part, for his changing his course. "He felt himself to be left out in the cold compared with Martensen; for several years now Martensen had been occupying the place in The Royal Society which belonged to him," and so on. Well, it is good that he himself says this. I am hoping both that actuality will properly shape him up and that through his relationship to me he will come to a completely different view of life, and then something good might come out of it. The fact that he himself now acknowledges it indicates that some change has already taken place in him.
The Berlingsk Tidende trumpets Ørsted's book (Aanden i Naturen) as a work which will clear up the relations between faith and science, a work which "even when it is polemical always uses the finest phrases of the cultured urbanite." One is tempted to answer: The whole book from first to last is scientifically — that is, philosophically-scientifically — insignificant, and even when it tries to be most significant it always moves in the direction of the most insignificant phrases of triviality.
Just as a basso at times can carry the tune so deep that one cannot hear it at all but only by standing close to him and observing some convulsive movements of the mouth and throat is sure that something is happening — so also Grundtvig at times goes so deep into history that one sees nothing at all; but deep it is!
What self-contradicting anguish in Christ's relationship to the disciples! He, the master, He who demanded adoration, He sees that the disciples, humanly speaking, really suffer by being His disciples, so that, humanly speaking, it was almost as if He ought to thank them for remaining faithful to him.
And what a singular kind of value-dialectic — to know oneself to be God and then to be so unable to assure his trusting disciples of a tiny little bit of esteem, that on the contrary they have to suffer debasement just because of their relationship to him — and then still to maintain the image of infinite worth.
Is this not as it is everywhere — that what is essentially Christian can be illustrated only analogously by madness. A deranged person can continue maintaining the delusion that he is a king, in spite of the protest of the whole world. Yes, but when a person is not mad, and then to maintain the thought that he really is the infinitely exalted one when everything expresses contempt and mockery, to maintain this before the disciples who, humanly speaking, instead of adoringly giving thanks for the possibility of being disciples, would rather, humanly speaking, have been right to let him feel that it was he who should thank them, he who still in a certain sense cannot even do without them, for he has to have and use a few men — this is superhuman!
In order to bear mental tension such as mine, I needed diversion, the diversion of chance contacts on the streets and alleys, because association with a few exclusive individuals is actually no diversion — now this has been made impossible, for diversion is impossible when one is recognized by all, who constantly, almost frenetically remind me of only one thing.
Formerly I had the consolation of taking to the country any time I wished, living in idyllic peace and quiet, keeping people somewhat at a distance by my reputation in the capital, and delighting in the easy way I could converse with everyone. Now this too is denied me. A marked man, I can live only in a larger city where there are others who have an idea of what such things mean; already it is actually unfeasible to associate with the middle class in the city, since they have a quite different concept of such a thing, but the country folk do not know what is what.
And all this is the result of living in a country which is no country at all but a provincial market town.
When Christ is compared with the bridegroom and the believer with the bride, it must be remembered that the first part of this figure does not fit; for certainly it is not the bride who chooses the bridegroom but the bridegroom who chooses the bride by making an offer of marriage; but he courts her and is at that very moment subordinate. It is not this way with Christ. However, it may still remain a weak analogy; for just as it is precisely the man's conscious superiority which makes him courteously express this to the weaker woman by humbling himself (and therefore it would be very inconsiderate for a girl, who is actually the weaker one, to make the proposal, since it would become pure begging, simply because she is not strengthened by the supporting truth that she is in truth the stronger one), so is it also the mark of infinite superiority in a superior person that he practically presents himself as the one who requests the devotion of the other. This is the considerateness of superiority; and the reason why infinite superiority can do it is precisely that it is infinite superiority.
The Sunday between Christmas and New Year, Epistle: Gal. 4:1-7
Theme: God's upbringing or our upbringing by God.
(1) First we are slaves under the law, (2) then we become children, (3) then children who cry Abba, Father, and co-heirs of Christ.
Consequently there is an increasing openness in relation to God. But it is not like the relationship between adults and children, in which the openness comes after the child has grown up; here it is the reverse — one does not begin as a child but as a slave, and the openness increases as one becomes more and more a child.
As I have noted in another journal, the increase of inwardness in the relationship to God is indicated by the fact that it goes backward for a person; one does not come closer to God directly; on the contrary, one discovers more and more deeply the infinite distance. Therefore one does not begin by being a child and then become progressively more intimate as he grows older; no, one becomes more and more a child.
The difference is misunderstood in the newest philosophy (when Trendlenburg quite properly points out that we ought to begin with ), as if the question were merely whether we should begin with being or with becoming. No, the question about becoming, about movement, comes again at every point; if we do not begin by presupposing , we do not move from the spot with seyn; if, however, we assume motion, then we can bring it to a halt at every point, because getting away from the initial spot already involved .
Strictly speaking, the way Peter defended himself when efforts were made to remove him from office was not Christian but legal. His as well as the tacit claim of all Grundtvigians was that they are the only true Christians — ergo, they have to protest the whole concept of Christendom and the state church. Then the state church declares: You must either do it — or resign your office. He answers: Neither one; if you wish to dismiss me, that is your affair. But thereby he indirectly recognizes the state church and the concept of Christendom: that we all as such are Christians. That is, he hangs on to the concept of the state church just as hard as any one of its champions if he happens to disagree with it on a particular point.
is categorically correct; nothing is said about Denmark or Germany or Sweden etc., nor about whether it is the present or the past — no, it is a purely dialectical definition: the relation between the two concepts: Christianity — and Christendom, with the purpose of introducing Christianity.The Title:
A Contribution to the Introduction
of Christianity into Christendom
It is spiritual fencing.
In margin of previous:
This observation was found on an old scrap of paper lying with the folder of writings.
But this title was not used; if it were used, it would, after all, be merely poetic, and that is too much. The original title was used, Practice in Christianity, A Venture.
It is sad to have an eye such as mine. I saw R. Nielsen's ideal possibility — but do not dare say it to him directly, nor can it help to do so, for then it will turn into something else entirely and in the strictest sense not be the ideal. He did not see it. I see the possibility in Stilling, and here it is the same. So also with a number of others. I yearningly anticipate the moment when an existential ideality will appear in our setting. Now if this were something reserved for only the exceptionally talented — but this is a possibility for anyone — and yet it is so rare!
Hugo de St. Victor states a correct thesis (Helfferich, Mystik, Vol. I, p. 368): "Faith is really not supported by the things which go beyond reason, by any reason, because reason does not comprehend what faith believes; but nevertheless there is something here by which reason becomes determined or is conditioned to honor the faith which it still does not perfectly succeed in grasping."
This is what I have developed (for example, in Concluding Postscript) — that not every absurdity is the absurd or the paradox. The activity of reason is to distinguish the paradox negatively — but no more.
In an earlier journal or in loose papers from an earlier time (when I read Aristotle's Rhetoric) I was of the opinion that a Christian art of speaking should be introduced in place of dogmatics. It ought to relate itself to πíοτις. πíοτις in the classical Greek means the conviction (more than δóξα, opinion) which relates itself to probability. But Christianity, which always turns the concepts of the natural man upside down and gets the opposite meaning out of them, relates πíοτις to the improbable.
This concept of improbability, the absurd, ought, then, to be developed, for it is nothing but superficiality to think that the absurd is not a concept, that all sorts of absurdities are equally at home in the absurd. No, the concept of the absurd is precisely to grasp the fact that it cannot and must not be grasped. This is a negatively determined concept but is just as dialectical as any positive one. The absurd, the paradox, is composed in such a way that reason has no power at all to dissolve it in nonsense and prove that it is nonsense; no, it is a symbol, a riddle, a compounded riddle about which reason must say: I cannot solve it, it cannot be understood, but it does not follow thereby that it is nonsense. But, of course, if faith is completely abolished, the whole sphere is dropped, and then reason becomes conceited and perhaps concludes that, ergo, the paradox is nonsense. What concern there would be if in another realm the skilled class were extinct and then the unskilled found this thing and that to be nonsense — but in respect to the paradox faith is the skilled. It believes the paradox, and now, to recall the words of Hugo de St. Victor, reason is properly determined to honor faith, specifically by becoming absorbed in the negative qualifications of the paradox.
Generally it is a basic error to think that there are no negative concepts; the highest principles of all thought or the proofs of them are certainly negative. Human reason has boundaries; that is where the negative concepts are to be found. Boundary disputes are negative, constraining. But people have a rattle-brained, conceited notion about human reason, especially in our age, when one never thinks of a thinker, a reasonable man, but thinks of pure reason and the like, which simply does not exist, since no one, be he professor or what he will, is pure reason. Pure reason is something fantastical, and the limitless fantastical belongs at home where there are no negative concepts, and one understands everything like the sorcerer who ended by eating his own stomach.
Never is that evil, mediocrity, more dangerous than when it is dressed up as "geniality."
Could be used for a discourse.
The two last lines of every stanza in no. 45 of Brorson's Svanesang for a discourse on "Faith" or on "Patience."
- The greater the need, the more it looks fixedly toward the end. Therefore, it is not put off if the way is hard and steep.
- Nor is it put off by the condition of the path, whether it is a swamp or is strewn with roses.
Nothing really matters when our bent is toward heaven.
- Nor the length of the path.
The nearer to its home
The more briskly it proceeds.
In margin: I have switched the stanzas; Brorsons stanza 3 is used as stanza 2, and stanza 2 as 3.
There is a striking word-play in the words fruit and fear [Frugt and Frygt.] As they say: There is no fruit if a man has no fear.
About My "Heterogeneity"
No doubt in relation to what is generally prevalent I have had a heterogeneity, essentially rooted in early suffering, later redoubled by dialectical suffering, which made me in my silence even more dissimilar.
But for one thing I have never viewed my heterogeneity as a perfection, but rather as an imperfection on my part; for another, I have never been altogether satisfied with it but only relatively.
As a consequence, I can use direct communication to indicate to my contemporaries the indirect communication which is used.
Viewed in this way, any reflective person has a measure of heterogeneity. As long as he reflects on something and just uses indirect expressions, he is heterogeneous. I have a greater measure of it, because I have the whole published communication. But then I also view my whole literary activity as my own education.
Absolute heterogeneity continues in indirect communication to the end, since it refuses altogether to be in the context of the universal. But this heterogeneity, of course, is superhuman, demonic or divine.
All heterogeneity is based on the point of departure of particularity but seeks to get back again to the universal. In this way the forward impetus is provided. Absolute heterogeneity continues in the dissimilarity of the point of origin to the end. The effect then is qualitatively greater.
In consequence of this, the category I use is: I must make men aware. I have never assumed the character of heterogeneity simply because I have viewed it as an imperfection on my part (for this reason no "authority" either) and because the authorship is my own development.
But to make men aware is a category which still is in the context of the universal. Absolute heterogeneity includes nothing to make men aware; it is in character and denies the context. The difference is easily discernible. The fact that I poetically and pseudonymously communicate the latter is a concession. The situation is quite different when an individual communicates it under his own name and claims that his life expresses it.
Absolute heterogeneity would have to begin just about where I am now ending, with the developed consciousness, which I have arrived at by means of what has been traversed. But precisely because I have achieved it by means of what has been covered, I also have come to the realization that I cannot appear in the character of what has been presented but have a poetic relationship.
If I had not understood this and been helped to understand it, most likely I would have gone in the wrong direction and become a zealot.
But someone could say: "Yes, but the very presence of pseudonyms is itself indirect communication." The answer to that must be: You are overlooking something; in the "editor's preface" there is always the category: I am striving, together with my acknowledgement that this is the more ideal Christian requirement. The maximum of the indirect would be to deliver such a communication and leave it completely, altogether dialectically ambiguous as to whether it is an attack upon Christianity or a defense. Absolute heterogeneity would be to make it completely direct communication but then personally step forth in the character of the communication. For if this happened, the established order would be completely burst asunder because of this dissimilar individual.
But the category: to make men aware, developed in greater detail in my preface and safeguarded by my existential life, is intended for just the opposite, to let the established order continue, every stitch of it — and merely seek to breathe some interiority into it, leaving it up to each one whether he will use it.
For me to do more is unconditionally impossible, for then I would have to have authority, which I have denied having from the beginning, and why? Because I do not dare appeal to God in such a way that I in any manner dare suggest that he has chosen me for something special; what I can say again and again and never enough in the context of my need is simply how I feel he has helped me in what I myself had begun in a small way. I have not begun with boundless wisdom, which is implicit in being chosen by God and gives one authority; I began in just the opposite way with being an unfortunate, a sufferer — and thus I began. Then one thing followed another and I am the most surprised of all to see what has been granted to me.
But this situation cannot possibly give authority. This is why the indirect method always has been logical for me. The only departure is that since the writing is also for my own education and development, it ends with pseudonymous works which set forth the Christian requirement ideally and in relation to which I define myself as one who strives.
If I had been only a poet, I may well have ended up in the nonsense of merely poetizing Christianity without perceiving that it cannot be done, that one has to take himself along and either existentially express the ideal himself (which cannot be done) or define himself as one who is striving. Had I not been a poet I may well have gone ahead and confused myself with the ideal and have become a zealot. What, then, has helped me in addition to what is of greatest importance, that a Governance has helped me? The fact that I am a dialectician.
This is a sample of "Christendom." It is told of Bernard of Clairvaux that parents held back their children and wives their husbands — lest Bernard should persuade them to become Christians in such a way that they actually forsook everything. And so it is always with the vital Christian. He is like the πεισιθáνατος of antiquity to the extent to which he calls a person away from the sensate man's lust of the eye and the pride of life — and yet in Christendom we are all assumed to be Christians! And in our present age, when there lives not even one πεισιθáνατος.
In order to defend the reality of art in relationship to religious spirit the argument runs like this: the spirit penetrates a man in such a way that one sees what sort of a man he is — for example, when Luther said: "God help me, Amen," he said this so that people got to see into his inner self, what manner of man he was. This then is something of a concession, although it must be remembered that it must not be taken too literally, for if it transformed a man in this way, then also his enemies might immediately see the same thing. Next, it must be remembered that it does not hold true in respect to the object of "faith," precisely because immediate obviousness is denied in order to test faith and in order that faith can be faith — that is, there can very well have been a human transfiguration (although one should always bear in mind that the enemy did not see it — to take a lower level example, the ones who stoned Stephen did not see his face as the face of an angel), but quite properly there is no corresponding direct immediacy as the token of its being God. And thus the object of faith is not available for artistic presentation. And even in the relations among men, to the extent to which a man in relationship to something may be the object of a kind of faith, to the same extent he cannot be painted or depicted in this relationship. For the fact that there must be accompanying faith signifies precisely that there is no direct immediacy; otherwise everyone would have to see the same thing, also his enemies — who judge exactly the opposite.
But in the midst of Christendom one is hardly ever aware of the Socratic — that the ethical teacher (the pure one, the noble one) was the ugliest of men who looked as if he were capable of all evil — and this is in Christendom which, indeed, relates itself to the God-man, the object of "faith" — and yet people think that all inwardness can be painted, i.e., is directly recognizable. What is "faith", then? Well, of course, nowadays "faith" is this thing and that thing, opinion, and the like — and art is a higher sphere; and then, too, we are all Christians.
"Anxiety" is actually nothing but impatience.
Two scraps of paper lying with "From on High He Will Draw All to Himself."
This book cannot be made pseudonymous because it remonstrates against the transformation of preaching into observations, that is, the impersonal — and a pseudonym, after all, is also something impersonal.
sheet, and the book is made pseudonymous.
That paper has the following content:
Oct. 9, 1849
In one way there is a dialectical heresy somewhere in this book — namely, where it is pointed out that preaching has become impersonal, that it is communicated by someone who is no one. The inconsistency is that this is done by a pseudonym, who is himself, after all, no one. But here is my boundary: I can make men aware — no more. And on the other hand, I am still part of it as editor and will, in fact, take the responsibility, and everything will be understood as if I myself said it. Consequently there is nevertheless a very essential step forward, both in getting it said and in the actual attribution to me. The plus here is really this: that while the one who is speaking is indeed no one, a pseudonym, the editor is an actual person and one who acknowledges that he is judged by what this pseudonym is saying.
Real self-doubling [Selvfordoblelse] without a constraining third factor outside of oneself is an impossibility and makes any such existing [Existeren] into an illusion or an experiment.
Kant was of the opinion that man is his own law (autonomy) — that is, he binds himself under the law which he himself gives himself. Actually, in a profounder sense, this is how lawlessness or experimentation are established. This is not being rigorously earnest any more than Sancho Panza's self-administered blows to his own bottom were vigorous. It is impossible for me to be really any more rigorous in A than I am or wish to be in B. Constraint there must be if it is going to be in earnest. If I am bound by nothing higher than myself and I am to bind myself, where would I get the rigorousness as A, the binder, which I do not have as B, who is supposed to be bound, when A and B are the same self.
This appears particularly in all religious areas. The transition — which really is from immediacy to spirit — this dying-away-from does not get to be in earnest, becomes an illusion, experimenting, if there is no third factor, the constraining factor which is not the individual himself.
Therefore all the eminent individuals, the real "instruments", are constrained.
The maxim which I give myself is not only not a law, but there is a law which is given me by one higher than myself, and not only that, but this lawgiver takes the liberty of taking a hand in the capacity of tutor and bringing pressure to bear.
Now if a man is never even once willing in his lifetime to act so decisively that this tutor can get hold of him, well, then it happens, then the man is allowed to live on in self-complacent illusion and make-believe and experimentation, but this also means: utterly without grace.
A man can be so rigorous with himself that he is able to understand that all his rigorousness amounts to nothing; I must have the help of someone else who can be that rigorousness, even if he is also mildness.
But to involve oneself with this other one does not mean to give assurances and give assurances; it means to act.
As soon as a person acts decisively and enters into actuality, then existence [Tilværelsen] can get hold of him and providence can bring him up.
It is certainly true that even if a person pampers himself ever so much, it still can occur to providence to take him to task [tage ham i Skole (school)]. But he does not like to do this; this is almost anger. What providence wants is that a man shall believe and believe in him. Providence is no friend of this effeminate coddling, this wanting to play at being autodidactic when at the same time there lives such a remarkable tutor and teacher as our Lord, to whom he can turn.
But in ordinary human circumstances the fact that I am sent to school or seek to enter school means that I go here or there, wherever the teacher lives. Spiritually, this means that I act decisively — and immediately the teacher lives right there. For what is it I want — I want to be brought up to be spirit — and yet I do not want to act decisively? Nonsense!
The Dialectic Oriented Toward Becoming a Christian
Socrates did not first of all try to collect some proofs for the immortality of the soul in order then to live, believing by virtue of the proofs. Just the opposite. He said: The possibility of immortality occupies me to the point that I unconditionally venture to wager my whole life unconditionally upon it, as if it were the surest thing of all. And this is the way he lived — and his life is a proof of the immortality of the soul. He did not first of all believe by virtue of the proofs and then live; no, his life is the proof and not until his martyr-death is the proof complete. — You see, this is spirit. It is a little embarrassing for mimics and all those who live second-hand and tenth-hand lives, those who are result-hunters, and those with cowardly, effeminate natures.
Used with discrimination, this may be applied to becoming a Christian.
First of all comes, quite properly, Lessing's doubt that one cannot base an eternal happiness upon something historical.
But here there is [existerer] something historical, the story of Jesus Christ.
But is it historically entirely certain? The answer to this must be that even if it were the surest thing in all history, this does not help; no direct transition from the historical can be made as the basis for an eternal happiness. This is something qualitatively new.
What do we do now? This — A man says to himself, a la Socrates: here is [existerer] something historical which teaches me that for my eternal happiness I must turn to Jesus Christ. I must beware of taking the wrong turn into scientific rummaging and reconnoitering to see if it is historically entirely certain; for it surely is historical — that is, if it were ten times as certain even to the minutest detail, it still would not help me — for I cannot be helped directly.
Then I say to myself: I choose; the historical here means so much to me that I resolve to venture my whole life on this if.*
*In margin: This is to be found in Christ's words as well: If anyone will follow my teaching, that is, live according to it, that is, act according to it, he will experience, etc. This means that there are no advance proofs — nor is he satisfied that accepting his teaching means: I give my word.
And then he lives on. He lives filled by this thought alone, venturing his life for it; and his life is the proof that he believed. He did not have a few proofs and thereupon he believed and then began to live. No, just the opposite.
This is called venturing, and without venturing faith is an impossibility. Relating oneself to spirit means to be up for examination;** to believe, to will to believe, means to change one's life, to be up for examination; the daily examination is the tension of faith. — Yet one can preach about this to cowardly, effeminate, unspiritual natures until the end of the world — they do not grasp it, they do not want to grasp it. They actually think it is all very well for someone else to stick his neck out and then they attach themselves to him — and make assurances. But to venture out — no thanks!
**In margin: This comes from the fact that man is a synthesis of physical-psychical and spirit. But "spirit" establishes the division — whereas in every case the soft character wants to haul along the baser side of life and have its consent. This explains the anxiety about "venturing". The unspiritual man always wants "probability". But "spirit" will never concede it. "Spirit" is the examination: Will you relinquish probability, will you deny yourself, forsake the world, etc.
But with regard to becoming a Christian there is a dialectical difference from Socrates which must be remembered. Specifically in the relationship to immortality — a person relates himself to himself and the idea — no further. But when a man chooses upon an if to believe in Christ — that is, chooses to wager his life upon that, then he has permission to address himself directly to Christ in prayer. Thus the historical is the occasion and still also the object of faith.
But all unspiritual natures turn the matter around. They say: To wager everything upon an if is a kind of skepticism; it is fancifulness, not positivity. It is because they will not "venture". And this is the unspiritual crowd which Christianity has taken in tow and which has finally done away with Christianity.
[In margin: About Myself]
Yet it is a blessing, an indescribable benefit to me, that I was as mentally depressed as I was. If I had been a naturally happy person — and then experienced what I experienced as an author, I believe a man necessarily would have gone mad. But I knew still more frightful anguish within, where I actually suffer.
What happened then? An amazing thing, which is not all over yet, has occurred up to a certain point and will, I believe, go on happening, the amazing thing that precisely this external hullabaloo has lured my mental depression out of its hiding place, already has saved me from it to some extent, and will do it even more thoroughly! O depth of wisdom, how inscrutable are your ways. O God, but yet all fatherliness and grace!
Another foolish objection to me and my life (and many of the persons involved are partly guilty inasmuch as they themselves understand that it is not true) is that I remain apart from life and that this precisely is not religiousness since true religiousness engages actively in life.
O, you fools or hypocrites; how do I remain apart from life? In such a way that literally not one single person here at home is so conspicuously at the front of the stage. No, to live apart from life is to run with the flock, to be in the "crowd", thereby gaining obscurity but also influence and power.
How do I remain apart from life? In such a way that I have created a body of writing hard to match. In such a way that when the rabble raged and domineered I was the only one who dared to act. I remain apart from life in such a way that I am recognized by every child, am a stock character in your plays, my name is a byword, my life is a daily sacrifice in order, if possible, religiously to tie a knot, and to get religiousness introduced again.
But why then this talk that I remain apart from life? Well, I will tell you. It comes from the fact that in spite of all my work I have no earthly reward, I am not applauded at public gatherings, which I do not attend, but am insulted in the streets, where I am active; it comes from not fashioning my life in a way appropriate to a cabinet appointment; it comes because people detect that I am a fool, a fool — who fears God!
O, you sanctimonious people with your love which does not set you apart from life — no, your love of self would prevent that! O, you sanctimonious people with your practicality that takes an active part in life — or hastily takes hold of the advantages! O, you sanctimonious people with your eagerness which does not have the imagination to withdraw from life — indeed, your cowardice would rather hurry you back into the herd, the animal herd, away from the place where earnestness lives: being the single individual. O, you sanctimonious people with your patriotism which forbids you to be callous to the woes and welfare of the country. Well, thanks for that, you have saved Denmark, saved it from being a country and made it a provincial market town, the promised land of pettiness and mediocrity, saved it from belonging to history in the future; for you no doubt are of the opinion that your two-bit exploits, your silly speeches at public gatherings, your names will go down in history — but before that happens everything, everything in life will have to be radically turned upside down so that "history" deals with what formerly was consigned to "oblivion". But maybe that is what you are working toward, to turn everything upside down, so that "history" becomes "oblivion," and the exceptional is forgotten; "oblivion" will become "history," and "oblivion" will carry historically all that along with it, all of you and your speeches and your seventeen amendments to the sixteenth section concerning nothing.
There is something dreadful about seeing individuals rushing into this mutual insuring, which does not, as does other insurance, cover shipwrecks, but which, the mutual insuring itself, is a commune naufragium. How many, many there are who already are devoid of all concepts, for whom all that counts is that there is a majority for something, to such a degree that they feel utterly unrepentant when this is the case! Let there be a majority for prostitution as a virtue and murder as right, and so it is.
And "strict Christians" as they are called, run to these meeting places and participate in the voting. Well, it is true that they sometimes have a little amendment, a little amendment to improve the monstrous evil which has gained complete victory — which is even more insane than trying to put out a fire with water from a sprinkling bottle! And when it is all done, when they have "saved their conscience" by improving and correcting the evil a little bit — that is, by making it even worse if they do anything at all — then they vote with the rest and worship — Christianly! — the majority! But they see through the whole odious practice. — Well, thanks for that. In private conversations they babble tirelessly about how wretched and low the whole thing is, but there where by energetic action — that is, by pulling out unconditionally, not to keep silent, no, but to stand as a tormenting reminder, mistreated, of course, that God is present — there they ballot and worship — Christianly! — the majority!
[In margin: the concept "complicity"]
In an age of moral disintegration such as ours, the concept of "complicity" must be very strongly accentuated. It is so easy to say that one participates out of zeal and earnestness and also tries in one's small way to counteract what is wrong; that is, one permits the total corruption to stay in power and at best promotes a little amendment. Thereby one profits by standing in well with the corruption, since on the whole one participates in it and also flatters himself by imagining that he is better than the age.
The matter is quite different. The totality in which I participate is, of course, far more important than my little amendment within the corruption.
Therefore the one who participates is responsible for the whole.
But this means acting decisively, means exposing oneself to danger, dedicating oneself to the patient suffering of seeming to achieve nothing at all (for at first the service of pure idea has the appearance of standing completely outside, whereas the tiniest amendment immediately "achieves" much), like a man drowned in the crowd.
In all critical times there is much villainy on the part of individuals who are somewhat aware of the real basis of the whole trouble, but instead of acting decisively and suffering, desisting completely from action, they convert their awareness into an amendment and as mentioned, by a blameworthy compounding of wrong and right, profit in two ways.
[In margin: Peter]
Unfortunately it is to be feared that Peter has become such a figure now. He has always been something of a nit-picker, lately quite devoid of ideas, but now it seems almost as if a light has dawned for him, that he wants to find success as the coryphaeus of mediocrity, triviality, and heartiness. He has needed diversion, it is true; I can understand that he is tired of living out there in the country with a sick wife — but such diversion! To run around to every meeting and speak everywhere — of course, heartily and earnestly "to counteract". In the assemblies of the Friends of the Peasants to maintain: I am not a member of the Peasant Party — instead of acting by staying away. — He is intelligent, is well informed, but he dissipates himself in inconsequential gadding about and taking part in everything. It is ominous that he stays with Christian Lund, for he no doubt will become Christian's ideal! Form-reduplication, which is character-consistency, is beyond his existential energy; he cannot pull himself out of a situation, thereby acting and expressing qualitative opposition and difference; he remains in it, maintaining that he does not agree, just as at a convention he delivered a criticism in which he maintained that it was no criticism.
Even the chosen apostle, and thus everyone without exception, is qualitatively different from the God-man in this way — the apostle must be constrained; the God-man is the only one who has pure ideality and therefore voluntarily does the maximum.
If someone were to say: "Yes, it is very easy for you to be so altruistic, to serve the truth so purely, if you will, you who have independent means," I would answer: Well, there is some truth to that. At the same time I have a particular view of existence. As soon as I do not have the means to do it in this way, I will unassumingly undertake an activity where I work for a living. If I need so much that I must work the whole day, well, then I will admit about myself: I regard it as my task to work for my living. If I do not need so much, then I will see to it I get a little extra time and a bit of spare money so that I can serve the truth, even if on a far smaller scale.
One thing I decidedly do not want: I will not have any confusion about whether I am working for my own advantage or for the truth.
In my opinion the tragedy of the world is simply this — human shortsightedness, many times well meaning, has thought somewhat along these lines: if on the whole you want the truth, then if once in a while a little consideration of your own advantage infiltrates, if at times a slightly tainted expedient sneaks in, it is of little consequence, and besides, that is how the world is, every practical man knows that, and I cannot remake the world.
O, you impatient, shortsighted one. No, remake the world, you certainly cannot. Well, then do what you can, live in quiet obscurity, working for your own living. Such a person at least does no harm. But if you want to work for the truth, then ponder before God exactly by what standard you are able to do it. Let it be according to a modest standard, in God's name, but promise God and yourself and hold to it that you will unconditionally use the purest means according to the standard.
The other is nothing but impatience and shortsightedness, and it has done irreparable harm.
The Shrewd and the Sensible — The Good and True
Take a fraction of the good or of the true — this is the shrewd and sensible way to be a success in the world. Take the good or true whole, and the exact opposite occurs and you run completely counter to the world.
I have an example of that.
I have considered inserting "her" [in margin: see enclosure] in an enigmatic dedication to the writings about my work as an author. It cannot be done now, for other reasons; for no matter how enigmatic it is, it nevertheless will be easily understood, and therefore I not only have no guarantee at all that it will be respected, but there is the strongest probability that a newspaper will pick it up and mention her name, and then everything is stirred up again and I perhaps will have done incalculable harm. But I would like very much to do it because I would also like to have it all in order, if possible, before my death.
Yet there is another matter I want to explain now. Assuming that I did do it, what then? Well, it would not have been shrewd and sensible. Why not? Because it aims too high. The story is now forgotten; I was a scoundrel, but now that is forgotten and everything is all right again in that respect; it should not be stirred up again. Yes, but I was not a thorough scoundrel; the whole affair has a far deeper meaning. It would be futile, that is precisely the trouble, and that is also why such a step would be unwise. That is, it would be so lofty that it would seem to be an attempt to rip people out of their cozy routines for a moment by explaining everything and having everything explained; and that would annoy them, and thus one would run counter to them.
My Misfortune With My Contemporaries, Why I am Misunderstood
My trouble is that I have taken away illusions.
Instead of spending sundry thousands to support a life of writing like this, instead of exerting myself so strenuously, I should have gotten a professorial appointment at a good salary (then I would have been understood by all the job-holders — that is, by nearly all I would be understood, maybe not my philosophemes, but I would be understood to be a "serious" and reputable man) and accomplished little but promised much (thus I would have been understood by other professors and scholars). Then I also would have been assured of being understood by the students — since I would be examining them, which is very advantageous and helps in getting them to speak favorably about a person, since he is now, for better or worse, the authorized teacher. (Instead, as a nobody, I have lived practically as one of their companions.)
I should have lived in professorial seclusion in "cliques"; then I would have had a great reputation and also would have had the security of belonging to the great aggregate of public officials who stick together according to the law that when one suffers, all suffer (instead I have lived as a single individual in whose fate not a single one participates).
This is the enormous illusion which actually has abolished Christianity. One can get completely dizzy staring into the dreadful confusion of concepts which in this way has arisen with regard to what is Christian.
In brief, the confusion is this, but it is continued from generation to generation by millions upon millions: they enter into Christianity all wrong. Instead of entering as an individual, one comes along with the others. The others are Christians — ergo, I am, too, and am a Christian in the same sense as the others are.
It makes me think of old Socrates. He was concerned with what it is to be human, for in his age to be a human being was comparable to what it is to be a Christian nowadays. The individual qua individual was not a human being — but since the others are human beings, I am also.
But that confusion was still nothing compared to this one in Christendom, because being a Christian should be the most mature and most self-conscious decision.
My need of Christianity is very great (because of my sufferings and my sins and my appalling inward turning) — and therefore I am not understood. And for that reason, too, I frequently have even been fearful of making another person's life too earnest; that is why I am so careful.
In these times the majority of people (thousands upon thousands) are automatically Christians simply by being human beings. The greatest possible exception to this would be a demon who with the aid of Christianity aspired to become a human being. He might advantageously revise the illusions in established Christendom.
The reason I have always spoken of myself as being without authority is that I personally have felt that there was too much of the poetic in me, furthermore that I feel aided by something higher, and also that I am put together backwards, but then, too, because I perceive that the profound suffering of my life and also my guilt make me need an enormous measure of Christianity, while at the same time I am fearful of making it too heavy for someone who may not need so great a measure. Of course, neither the God-man nor an apostle can have such a concern — but then I am just a poor human being.
Someone less flawed than I, with just as deep an impression of Christianity as I have — well, I would put that down clearly in his favor. With me it is another matter, for it is (granted all sorts of other things connected with intellectual gifts and other qualifications) "not because of my virtue" that I have so deep an impression of Christianity. If someone had been the greatest of sinners — if one may put it that way — and was the best interpreter of Plato, the former factor is inconsequential, makes no difference at all. This is not the case with Christianity. Such a person ought to remember with humility that he has a qualification which very well may have helped him to a deeper understanding of Christianity, but a qualification which is not directly a plus but a plain minus.
Just this alone, what suffering my inward turning creates in my life! Born for intrigue, with rare talents in this area — and then to be placed solely in the service of the idea. What a diversion if I had been turned outward; as it is now, I dissipate all my intrigue dissipating the intrigues of others, but with almost cunning cruelty keep myself from using even the slightest shrewd means.
Julius Müller said it very well: "By creating man, God theomorphizes — precisely therefore man does not anthropomorphize when he supposes God as a being resembling man. If one were subjectively compelled to regard everything which man pronounces about God in accordance with his essence as mere anthropomorphism, then God could not have made man more unqualified to know him than by creating him in his image."
Text for a Lenten Sermon
For this I shall use the words of the Passion story: Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place. And then show that this is the treason of all "Christendom" — it knows Christianity, is informed about it, but by means of this becomes treasonable.
In addition, every single human being has a constant inclination toward this treason: to be satisfied with knowing the place — the betrayer also knew the place.
Stilling may be very close to creating an extremely calamitous confusion regarding Christianity.
What preoccupies him is really somewhat erotic, although this perhaps is minor; it is mainly a pride which par tout wants to realize the idea of remaining unmarried, loyal to his [deceased] wife.
He is suffering under this now, a kind of frightful self-tormenting, he says.
But for God in heaven's sake, what does that have to do with Christianity! Is it Christianity which forbids him to marry? It lets him do it seven times if he so wishes.
There is a confusion here. He now talks incessantly about Christianity striking him as being the most appalling self-torment etc. But this actually is devious talk. In a deeper sense he is not concerned with Christianity; he is tormenting himself with a fixed idea: I want to and I do not want to. He will not admit this — and so it is Christianity that is supposed to be causing all these sufferings, Christianity which in fact says: You are utterly, utterly free — get married!
Being unable at present to explain, at least openly, the true context, that it is his relation to his dead wife, his desire to marry, and his vacillating resolve not to, which cause the torment, there is a danger that in order to give vent to his feelings he will automatically transfer it all to Christianity, as if this were what preoccupied him and as if this were the most appalling self-torment.
I told him this most earnestly, showed him that he is turning everything upside down, told him that he should get married, that the whole conflict essentially has nothing at all to do with Christianity. I talk very seldom with him.
But it can get to be calamitous. For it is part of suffering of this nature to feel the urge for an outlet, even one contrived, and then, it is part of the cunningness of suffering of this nature to grab at something entirely different and to unload itself by talking about that, as if it were that which made one suffer.
This would be extremely unfair to Christianity.
His life otherwise is very confused. He does in fact concern himself somewhat with Christianity, but it must also be research, must yield a scholarly contribution, a historical view. Imagine oneself in such a situation — instead of keeping the most rigorous regiment, concentrated solely on himself, he devotes himself to the subject of atheists in order to describe them. Alas, first of all, silence! The only thing to do in a situation like that is to say to all reflections: Hold your tongue. But he does not have an authentic personal concern for himself; that always should be the reflective benefit of thinking. Thus he never actually begins to live personally, at least in a more profound sense.
But we will go on hoping. If the man really would, what potential he has! But he demonstrates precisely what it means not to be instructed and disciplined in Christianity any more, demonstrates the need for, if not the monastery, something similar to it. A Church institute would help him.
In my representation rigorousness is a dialectical factor in Christianity, but clemency is just as strongly represented; the former is represented poetically by pseudonyms, the other personally by myself. This is the need of the present age, which has taken Christianity in vain. But it is something entirely different if a despairing person has nothing to say about Christianity except that it is the cruelest self-torment. In order to put an end to playing fast and loose, I had to introduce rigorousness — and introduced it simply to provide movement into Christianity's clemency. This is my understanding of Christianity and my task. If I had understood only its frightful rigorousness — I would have kept silent. This is what Johannes de Silentio has already called attention to, that in such circumstances one must be silent and at least demonstrate that he loves other men — by being silent, because merely negative outcomes, at least dreadfully negative outcomes, are not to be communicated. Such a thing is not communication, no, it is an assault, a betrayal, a character deficiency, which is determined at least to have the deplorable satisfaction of making others just as unhappy and confused as one is himself.
My "misfortune" is really that I am naturally equipped with sheer intellectual elegance and that I presuppose others to have the same. For a time I actually did not notice anything; I buried myself in my work, practiced and developed dance steps, and did not perceive that in doing this I was getting too intellectual for the world, where everything centers on animal health, brazen straightforwardness, and meanness. Therefore, I had to miss out on all the advantages.
Take a situation with Christian VIII, he "the King," and he, the King, who had such high pretensions of intellect and elegance.
Fine, the first time I spoke with him I said: "The situation here is far too cramped and limited; as a rule an author is told: If you want to earn more you should work harder. For a long time know I have been reduced to the situation: You must see to it that you work less, for you can no longer afford to work so hard." Elated, His Majesty smiled graciously.
Thanks for that. If I had been king, I would never have allowed anything like that to be said to me or promptly joined in the levity. I would first of all have answered earnestly: "My God, is that really so; do you not at least want to be publicly reimbursed out of public funds for your expenses." Only then would I have the advantage as King when I joined in the laughter. Otherwise the King, too, actually is satirized. It is an utterly satirical situation to be King of a country so small that an author (that is, not a man who makes a hobby of writing), a substantial author, can truthfully speak that way.
To be sure, Christian VIII was an extraordinarily cultured man, but in money matters he was demoralized both by his own financial straits and the hounding of foreign creditors.
Incidentally, the reply I imagined myself giving if I had been king would have been inconsequential, for I would have answered, "No." But it makes a devil of a difference to interpose this royal twist.
On the other hand, I would have liked that reply for another reason, because the King thereby would demonstrate that he was aware of such a situation and there would at least be a bit more serious tone about the sacrifices I have made and am making.
But here again is my elegance — which will be the ruination of me. The rabble rage at me, bourgeois mediocrity and the job-mentality secretly smirk at my impracticality — I myself, religiously turned inward, perceive the meanness with sharper eyes than anyone else, deal with the matter in my inner being with an earnestness that far surpasses the clergy's understanding — but as soon as I speak of it I am transformed into a trenchant wit — and everybody laughs along with me.
Yes, as I have always said: the relationship to spirit is an examination. And here once again is an examination: I get a dreadful insight into the selfishness and worldliness of others, something I would not do if I were flatly earnest or even critical — whereas now I am sure to find out how they themselves judge a life which contains more than sufficient to make them aware of the presence or absence in them of any spirit and earnestness of a more profound nature. The facts of my life are sufficiently clear.
They say that one must not detect in a dancer that he is breathing heavily. I have followed this rule spiritually. And since I do not breathe heavily, do not look extremely earnest, am not given to lamentations — well then the whole thing is a lark. The conclusion drawn is just as stupid as saying: The dancer is not breathing heavily — ergo, he has not made a leap at all; he has remained motionless on the ground. The difference is simply that in the one case any bartender can check directly and immediately on the physical facts; on the other — anyone who is not personally possessed of spirit and earnestness will not be able to see it either. Therein is the examination. "Spirit" always negates directness and immediacy — for this reason only "spirit" can become aware of "spirit".
[In the margin: About myself]
If I had had enough assets to continue being an author all my life, I would no doubt have become too sarcastic and light-headed and would have done wrong.
If I could have forced myself into a purely ascetic existence, then meritoriousness would surely have appeared and spoiled it.
Now the situation is as lenient as possible, and all this about founding a school and the like is prevented. Awareness has been prompted — and so I withdraw and go in under more ordinary rubrics.
In my opinion this also is fine, besides being the supporting truth in the whole situation. It certainly was not I who went out into the world with a fixed and finished theory about Christianity's collision with the world. On the contrary, with a rather complete idea of the inner collisions with respect to becoming and being a Christian, it was my idea to present this, to show that just as collision with the world was unavoidable in an earlier time, so now on the other hand the labor of inwardness with respect to becoming and being a Christian must be engaged in with greater intensity, so there would, after all, be some similarity. I was totally unaware of the collision of Christianity with the surrounding world.
What happens — the surrounding world helps me to discover it, yes, obliges me to discover it. What rigorousness I do stress is actually only the reduplication of what the contemporary age has done to me; the contemporary age punishes itself through me. It would be difficult to present Christianity more leniently than I, arrogating nothing to myself; a more altruistic disinterested author Denmark has hardly ever had — and then this treatment, and then that we are all Christians, 1,000 Christian pastors, all of whom keep silent, while rabble barbarism and jabbering were literally all that flourished in Denmark. The steadiness and the reassurance in the whole thing is that there is no exaggeration; yes, in connection with the way I have been treated in this Christian land, I from my side have truly kept the situation very moderate. I am really not a partisan, but I express the ratio between the contemporary age and a Christian striving. The rigorousness becomes greater in proportion to the way the striving is treated; it is the age which judges itself.
The Principal Rule
Above all, read the N.T. without a commentary. Would it ever occur to a lover to read a letter from his beloved with a commentary!
In connection with everything which qualitatively makes a claim of having purely personal significance to me, a commentary is a most hazardous meddler.
If the letter from the beloved were in a language I do not understand — when, then I learn the language — but I do not read the letter with the aid of commentaries by others. I read it, and since the thought of my beloved is vividly present and my purpose in everything is to will according to her will and wishes, I understand the letter all right. It is the same way with the Scriptures. With the help of God I understand it all right. Every commentary detracts. He who can sit with ten open commentaries and read the Holy Scriptures — well, he is probably writing the eleventh, but he deals with the Scriptures contra naturam.
In margin of previous:
That is, while reading the letter you are occupied with yourself and your relation to the beloved, but you are not objectively occupied with the beloved's letter, that this passage, for example, may be interpreted in ten ways — oh, no, the important thing for you is to begin to act as soon as possible. Besides, should it not mean something to be the lover, should it not give you what the commentators do not have? Everyone is the best interpreter of his own words, it is said. And next comes the lover, and in relation to God the true believer. Pereat the commentators!
Every striving which does not apply one-fourth, one-third, two-thirds, etc. of its power to systematically working against itself is essentially secular striving, in any case unconditionally not a reforming effort.
Reduplication means to work against oneself while working; it is like the pressure on the plow-handles, which determines the depth of the furrow — whereas working which does not work against itself is merely a superficial smoothing over.
What does it mean to work against oneself? It is quite simple. If the established, the traditional, etc., in the context of which a beginning is to be made, is sound, thoroughly sound — well, then apply directly what has to be applied; in any case there can be no talk or thought of reforming, for if the established is sound, then there is nothing, after all, to reform.
Conversely, to the same degree that the established, consequently there where one's striving begins, is corrupt, to the same degree it will become increasingly necessary dialectically to work against oneself, lest the innovation resulting from direct action is itself corrupted the minute it succeeds, and thus is not maintained in its heterogeneity.
Again the difference between the direct and the inverted. Working or striving directly is to work and strive. The inverted method is this: while working also to work against oneself.
But who dreams that such a standard exists, and that I use it on such a large scale! Understood I will never be. People think I am involved in a direct striving — and now they believe that I have achieved a kind of break-through! O, such ignorance! The publication of Either/Or was a huge success; I had it in my power to continue. What is the origin of all the problems in my striving, I wonder if it is not in myself? It is public knowledge that not one single person has dared to oppose me. But I have done that myself. What a wrong turn on my part, if my striving was to be direct, to publish Two Upbuilding Discourses after Either/Or instead of letting Either/Or stand with its glittering success, continuing in the direction which the age demanded, only in slightly reduced portions. What a counter-effort against myself that I, the public's darling, introduce the single individual, and finally, that I plunge myself into all the dangers of insults!
But such things can only be understood by someone who himself has risked something essentially similar. Someone else cannot conceive it or believe it.
R. Nielsen is actually confused about this, for he considers my striving to be direct striving.
On the subject of pilgrimages, Gregory of Nyssa says most excellently: "One does not come closer to God by changing's one's place." Oh no, it is all too clear that this is done only by changing oneself.
When I think back on it now, it is wonderful to think back upon that stroke of a pen with which I hurled myself against rabble-barbarism!
And this was my mood when I took that step. I thought of stopping writing with Concluding Postscript, and to that end the manuscript in its entirety was delivered to Luno. Grateful, unspeakably grateful for what had been granted to me, I decided — on the occasion of that article in Gœa — to take a magnanimous step for "the others". I was the only one who had the qualifications to do it emphatically, the qualifications along these lines: (1) Goldschmidt had immortalized me and saw in me an object of admiration, (2) I am a witty author, (3) I have not sided with the elite or with any party at all, (4) I have a personal virtuosity for associating with everybody, (5) a shining reputation which literally did not have one single speck of criticism or the like, (6) I altruistically used my own money to be an author, (7) I was unmarried, independent, etc.
So, religiously motivated, I did it. And look, this step was determinative for my continuing to write! And what significance it has had, how I have learned to know myself, learned to know "the world", and learned to understand Christianity — yes, a whole side of Christianity, and a crucial side, which very likely would not have occurred to me at all otherwise, and except for that the situation for coming into the proper relation to Christianity myself perhaps would not have been my fortune, either.
But what a range: an established consummate reputation as an author, and then suddenly almost beginning all over again!
The spontaneous believer cannot maintain that for reason and for every third person who is not a believer the content of faith is the absurd, and that in order to become a believer everyone must be alone with the absurd.
The spontaneous believer in his immediacy is not integrated, cannot have a redoubling [Fordoblelse] within himself, has no room for it. When he talks to another, he well-meaningly, enthusiastically, presents the absurd in the most superlative of superlatives — and hopes this way to convince the other directly.
What is lacking is the tension of the dialectical. To understand that for reason it is the absurd, to talk about it in this way quite calmly to a third party, granting that it is the absurd, maintaining the stress that the other must regard it as the absurd — and then still believe it. At the same time it naturally follows that for the believer it is not the absurd.
But the spontaneous believer cannot take himself out of direct continuity with others; he cannot maintain that what for him is the surest thing of all, eternal salvation, is and must be for others the absurd.
From this arises the unholy confusion in speaking about faith. The [immediate] believer is not dialectically consolidated as "the single individual," cannot endure this double vision — that the content of faith, seen from the other side, is the negative absurd.
This is the tension, the tension of the life of faith, in which one is to keep himself. But everywhere the tendency is to present faith directly. An attempt in this direction is science or scholarship, which wants to comprehend faith.
The Calamity of Christianity in Christendom
There has not been one single objection to Christianity, not even from the most raging rationalist and the most scandalized, to which the "real Christian" cannot calmly answer: yes, it is so.
But the fact of the matter is: those people in Christendom who want to be Christians are coddled, are spoiled by having and getting Christianity on conditions all too cheap, and therefore they are not able to resist.
My Curious Situation with Respect to Martensen
There are certainly a few who see a bit more deeply into the matter; but according to the tradition of sorts being passed from mouth to mouth, the difference between Prof. Martensen and me is that he wants to vindicate reflection with respect to faith, reflecting on the faith, and I am against it.
Curious! Now look what I have written. I began writing with just about the same level of scholarly education as the professor (perhaps with somewhat less German erudition but with a bit more Greek).
In many forms and under several pseudonyms, a whole pseudonymous literature is chiefly concerned with illuminating the question of faith, with discerning the sphere belonging to faith, with determining its distinction from other spheres of the intellect and spirit, etc. And how is all this done? By dialectic, by reflection. I venture to claim that it would be hard to find an author who has been so devoted to reflecting on faith — although certainly not speculating unceremoniously on particular dogmas; for I "reflected", yes, I thought (and that was, after all, reflection) that the first thing to be done was to clear up the whole question of faith. I venture to claim that in my writings the dialectical qualifications of specific points are set forth with an accuracy such as has not been known before. And then to be charged with this: not wanting to reflect about faith.
Take Prof. Martensen. He has written a dogmatics. Fine. In it he treats all the points and questions usually treated in dogmatics (about Scripture, the Trinity, creation, preservation, redemption, reconciliation, angels, devils, man, immortality, etc.). But there is one point he slides over quite easily, the point about the relation of faith to reflection.
This, you see, is calling men to reflection on the faith — in contrast to my striving.
But the point is: I have worked and accomplished something on this point — but no one has time to read such things. Martensen has maintained and protested — that is something for everyone to run around with. My full and detailed writings — well, they put people off, they run away from them; Prof. Martensen's winged assurances, they run around with them — es gehet vom Munde zu Munde.
In margin: I will not discuss other promoting factors that are in Prof. Martensen's favor: he is a professor, has an important office, has a velvet front- or stomach-piece, is a knight — while I am a nobody, have put out money on my own writing. Would that someone or other would spend just half an hour reflecting earnestly on this; then maybe he would arrive at some other thoughts about my striving.
[In margin: About Theophilus Nicolaus]
This is what comes when bungling stupidity takes sides directly opposite to an artistic design.
Johannes Climacus himself declares that he does not have faith. Theophilus Nicolaus portrays the believer.
He does not perceive at all that to be consistent he has to assume that everything Johannes Climacus says proves nothing, since he himself says he does not have faith, is not a Christian.
But Theophilus Nicolaus has no inkling of this. He plunges in bona fide.
How tragic to live in such a limited setting that there is virtually no one who has an eye for a profoundly executed artistic design.
What daily toil, enormous effort, almost sleepless dialectical perseverance it costs me to keep the threads straight in this subtle construction — such is not for others at all. I am identified automatically with my pseudonyms, and some nonsense is concocted which — of course — many more understand — yes, of course!
Apart from the fact (1) that it really is nothing but brashness (except that he perhaps realizes this himself) and (2) that it is a silly imitation of what he has heard about metamorphoses and stages in the development of a life, he has gotten the bright idea that The Corsair is the first stage — apart from this, there is still the psychological oddity that he manifests the Merkwürdighed of the comic as the first stage. As a rule the comic is at the end — comedy quite properly concludes Hegel's Esthetics, and an Aristophanes certainly would feel strange if he were advised to make his life as comic poet the first part — and then become "earnest". Generally speaking, the gibberish which G. introduces into the world with his personal life is of interest in the clinical task assigned to me: Copenhagen in moral disintegration.
As a writer, I have never banned the comic; it was utilized in an auxiliary way by the pseudonyms, who, of course, quite consistently would find it ridiculous to be allowed to reach a new stage, inasmuch as the comic is a territorial designation for the highest. From the beginning I myself was an upbuilding author. In the pseudonyms the comic is, if anything, too high a stage, since it is something demonic.
Personal Remarks about Myself
Humanly speaking, it could be said that my trouble is that I have been brought up so rigorously in Christianity.
From the very beginning I have been in the power of a congenital mental depression. If I had been brought up in a more ordinary way — well, it stands to reason that I then would hardly have become so melancholy — then I probably would have undertaken earlier to do everything to shake off this depression which almost prevented me from being human, to do everything to break it or be broken myself.
But familiar as I was in the very beginning with the Christian concept of the thorn in the flesh, that such things are part and parcel of being Christian — I discovered that there was nothing to be done, and in any case my depression found acceptance in this entire outlook.
So I reconciled myself religiously to it — humanly speaking, it has made me as unhappy as possible: but on the foundation of this pain developed an outstanding intellectual life as an author.
I accepted this life, the torment was frightful — but the satisfaction was all the greater: I can never adequately thank God for what has been granted me.
But then — then it was my fate to be an author — in Denmark. Such an author-existence in any other country would have been the path to wealth — in Denmark it cost me money. Insults were poured on me, almost everything was done to make my life unbearable to me, make me do nothing — but this author-existence which was and is my possibility was a satisfaction to me, and I could never thank Governance sufficiently, for the more opposition there was, the richer the productivity.
But — it costs money (yes, the situation is practically insane, to the hilarity of the market town where I live, exposed to insults, pursued by envy) and I can no longer afford it.
I would gladly accept an appointment — but there comes my depression again to create problems. No one has any idea of how I suffer and the scale on which I am placed outside the universally human. This has to be rescinded if I am to be able to live together with people as one holding a position.
Yet one thing remains: that I can never adequately thank God for the indescribable good he has done for me, far more than I expected.
The Turn the World Is Taking
As I demonstrated in the last section of the review of Two Ages, the punishment will conform to the guilt, and for this very reason [the punishment will be] to have no government, so that the tension but also the forward step will necessarily be that everyone must himself learn in earnest to be master, to guide himself without the supportive indulgence of having leaders and rulers (which was an amelioration, but rejected by the generation). Thus the step forward will be religious, and the tension will be that everyone must carry within himself the ambivalence of realizing that Christianity conflicts with the understanding and then still believe it. This is the signal that the age of immediacy is over. Just as in the "Psychological Experiment" Quidam is no spontaneously unhappy lover (he himself perceives that the matter is comic and yet tragically clings to it by virtue of something else, but therefore with a constant split, which is the sign that immediacy is over), so also with the religious.
In my association with others maybe I was wrong in always turning the ill-treatment I suffered into witty conversation; duping them that way (this easily could hide a profound contempt for men as well) may also lead them astray.