Some authors and great books have means of returning you to yourself; while others blaze new trails and cause seismic shifts to happen, which in turnSome authors and great books have means of returning you to yourself; while others blaze new trails and cause seismic shifts to happen, which in turn create new vistas, never thought possible. And some authors can do both of these, occasionally simultaneously.
I return to great authors and great books for both of these reasons, and I've learned that, for my part, Kierkegaard has this later ambidextrous skill in spades. With many wonderful passages to choose from, I feel compelled to offer his concluding paragraph—which amusingly hints at some of the difficult treasures that had just preceded, while also acting as a litmus test that might draw potential readers in.
“Alas, alas, alas! How fortunate that there is no reader who reads all the way through, and if there were any, the harm from being allowed to shift for oneself* when it is the only thing he wishes, is, after all, like the punishment at the hand of the men of Molbo who threw the eel into the water.”
*shift for oneself = idiom; aka, fend for oneself.
I was recently asked who I thought most influenced Kierkegaard. It's a difficult question. The first person who came to mind was Shakespeare. The next person who came to mind was Socrates. And not just the Socrates we know from Plato – he's also influenced by the Socrates we know from myth. Kierkegaard is often right there with Socrates in pure irony—not at some point in the crowd, directing it at somebody or something, but entirely in front of, outside of, beyond the crowd of humanity yet wholly engendered from it and concerned with it. Which is a similar point of view from which Shakespeare writes. OSLT.
Dixi et liberavi cor meum (I have spoken and delivered my heart.)...more