Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rorschach Tests

I may just quit writing for awhile, and instead merely post Kierkegaardian parables, throw them out like inkblots, and let the interpretations be your own. That, after all, is what Kierkegaard would want.

Consider this one, for example. The only guidance I would offer is to point out that "the literary world" of Kierkegaard's day, would be the MSM of our own.

If I tried to imagine the public as a particular person...I should perhaps think of one of the Roman emperors, a large, well-fed figure, suffering from boredom, looking only for the sensual intoxication of laughter, since the divine gift of wit is not earthly enough. And so for a change he wanders about, indolent rather than bad, but with a negative desire to dominate. Every one who has read the classical authors knows how many things a Caesar could try out in order to kill time. In the same way the public keeps a dog to amust it. That dog is the sum of the literary world. If there is someone superior to the redst, perhaps even a great man, the dog is set on him and the fun begins. The dog goes for him, snapping and tearing at his coattails, allowing itself every possible ill-mannered familiarity--until the public tires, and says it must stop. That is an example of how the public levels. Their betters and superiors in strength are mishandled--and the dog remains a dog which even the public despises. The levelling is therefore done by a third party; a non-existent public levelling with the help of a third party which in its insignificance is less than nothing, being alread more than levelled.... The public is unrepentant, for it is not they who own the dog--they only subscribe. They neither set the dog on any one, nor whistle it off--directly. If asked they would answer: the dog is not mine, it has no master. And if the dog had to be killed they would say: it was really a good thing that bad-tempered dog was put down, every one wanted it killed--even the subscribers.
And simply picking up on, not the conclusion, but the beginning of that parable (no other connection is necessary, except perhaps Kathleen Norris' study of acedia), one more parable:

The gods were bored, and so they created man. Adam was bored because he was alone, and so Eve was created. [From that moment on] boredom entered the world, and increased in proportion to the increase in population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored together; then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored en famille; then the population of the world increased, and the peoples were bored en masse. To divert themselves they conceived the idea of constructing a tower high enough to reach the heavens. This idea is itself as boring as the tower was high, and consitutes a terrible proof of how boredom gained the upper hand.... I desire no disciples; but if there happened to be someone present at my deathbed, and I was sure that the end had come, then I might in an attack of philanthropic delirium, whisper my theory in his ear, uncertain whether I had done him a service or not.

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