Søren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855)
to be sick unto death is, not to be able to die--yet not as
though there were hope of life (the sickness unto death)
What is a poet? An unhappy man who conceals profound anguish in his heart, but
whose lips are so fashioned that when sighs and groans pass over them they
sound like beautiful music. His fate resembles that of the unhappy men who were
slowly roasted by a gentle fire in the tyrant Phalaris' bull-their shrieks could
not reach his ear to terrify him, to him they sounded like sweet music. And people
flock about the poet and say to him: do sing again; Which means, would that new
sufferings tormented your soul, and: would that your lips stayed fashioned as
before, for your cries would only terrify us, but your music is delightful. And
the critics join them, saying: well done, thus must it be according to the laws
of aesthetics. Why, to be sure, a critic resembles a poet as one pea another,
the only difference being that he has no anguish in his heart and no music on
his lips. Behold, therefore would I rather be a swineherd on Amager, and be understood
by the swine than a poet, and misunderstood by men.
In addition to
my numerous other acquaintances I have still one more intimate friend-my melancholy.
In the midst of pleasure, in the midst of work, he beckons to me, calls me aside,
even though I remain present bodily. My melancholy is the most faithful sweetheart
I have had-no wonder that I return the love!
Of all ridiculous
things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy-to be a man who is brisk
about his food and his work. Therefore, whenever I see a fly settling, in the
decisive moment, on the nose of such a person of affairs; or if he is spattered
with mud from a carriage which drives past him in still greater haste; or the
drawbridge opens up before him; or a tile falls down and knocks him dead, then
I laugh heartily. And who, indeed, could help laughing? What, I wonder, do these
busy folks get done? Are they not to be classed with the woman who in her confusion
about the house being on fire carried out the firetongs? What things of greater
account, do you suppose, will they rescue from life's great conflagration?
others complain that the times are wicked. I complain that they are paltry;
for they are without passion. The thoughts of men are thin and frail like lace,
and they themselves are feeble like girl lace-makers. The thoughts of their
hearts are too puny to be sinful. For a worm it might conceivably be regarded
a sin to harbor thoughts such as theirs, not for a man who is formed in the
image of God. Their lusts are staid and sluggish, their passions sleepy; they
do their duty, these sordid minds, but permit themselves, as did the Jews, to
trim the coins just the least little bit, thinking that if our Lord keep tab
of them ever so carefully one might yet safely venture to fool him a bit. Fye
upon them! It is therefore my soul ever returns to the Old Testament and to
Shakespeare. There at least one feels that one is dealing with men and women;
there one hates and loves, there one murders one's enemy and curses his issue
through all generations-there one sins.
according to the legend Parmeniscus in the Trophonian cave lost his ability
to laugh, but recovered it again on the island of Delos at the sight of a shapeless
block which was exhibited as the image of the goddess Leto: likewise did it
happen to me. When I was very young I forgot in the Trophonian cave how to laugh;
but when I grew older and opened my eyes and contemplated the real world, I
had to laugh, and have not ceased laughing, ever since. I beheld that the meaning
of life was to make a living; its goal, to become Chief Justice; that the delights
of love consisted in marrying a woman with ample means; that it was the blessedness
of friendship to help one another in financial difficulties; that wisdom was
what most people supposed it to be; that it showed enthusiasm to make a speech,
and courage, to risk being fined 10 dollars; that it was cordiality to say "may
it agree, with you" after a repast; that it showed piety to partake of the communion
once a year. saw that and laughed.
A strange thing
happened to me in my dream. I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all
the gods assembled. As a special dispensation I was granted the favor to have
one wish. "Do you wish for youth," said Mercury, "or for beauty, or power, or
a long life; or do you wish for the most beautiful woman, or any other of the
many fine things we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but only one thing!"
For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed the gods in this wise: "Most
honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing-that I may always have the laughs
on MY side." Not one god made answer, but all began to laugh. From this I concluded
that my wish had been granted and thought that the gods knew how to express
themselves with good taste: for it would surely have been inappropriate to answer
gravely: your wish has been granted.
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science