Kierkegaard Passages

No time of life is so beautiful as the early days of love when with every meeting, every glance, one fetches something new home to rejoice over.

(Diapsalmata, Either/Or, vol. 1)

Life has become a bitter drink to me, and yet I must take it like medicine, slowly, drop by drop.

(Diapsalmata, Either/Or, vol. 1)

He cannot become old, for he has never been young; he cannot become young, for he is already old.

In one sense of the word he cannot die, for he has not really lived; in another sense he cannot live, for he is already dead.

He cannot love, for love is in the present, and he has no present, no future, and no past; and yet he has a sympathetic nature, and he hates the world only because he loves it.

He has no passion, not because he is destitute of it, but because simultaneously he has the opposite passion.

He has no time for anything, not because his time is taken up with something else, but because he has no time at all.

He is impotent, not because he has no energy, but because his own energy makes him impotent.

(Unhappiest Man, Either/Or, vol. 1.)

Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose. . .Nowadays not even a suicide kills himself in desperation. Before taking the step he deliberates so long and so carefully that he literally chokes with thought. It is even questionable whether he ought to be called a suicide, since it is really thought which takes his life. He does not die with deliberation, but from deliberation.

(The Present Age, p. 33)

A public is neither a nation, nor a generation, nor a community, nor a society, nor these particular men, for all these are only what they are through the concrete; no single person who belongs to the public makes a real commitment. . .

A public is everything and nothing, the most dangerous of all power and the most insignificant: one can speak to a whole nation in the name of the public, and still the public will be less than a single real man, however unimportant. . .

The public is the fairy story of an age of understanding, which in imagination makes the individual into something even greater than a king above his people; but the public is also a gruesome abstraction through which the individual will receive his religious formation -- or sink.

(The Present Age, pp. 70-71)

It is said that two English noblemen were once riding along a road when they met a man whose horse had run away with him and who, being in danger of falling off, shouted for help. One of the Englishmen turned to the other and said, "A hundred guineas he falls off." "Taken," said the other. With that they spurred their horses to a gallop and hurried on ahead to open the toll-gates and to prevent anything from getting in the way of the runaway horse.

In the same way, though without that heroic and millionaire-like spleen, our own reflective and sensible age is like a curious, critical and worldly-wise person who, at the most, has vitality enough to lay a wager.

(The Present Age, pp. 89-90.)

The dialectic of faith is the finest and the most extraordinary of all; it has an elevation of which I can certainly form a conception, but no more than that. I can make the mighty trampoline leap whereby I cross over into infinity; my back is like a tightrope dancer's, twisted in my childhood, and therefore it is easy for me. One, two, three -- I can walk upside down in existence, but I cannot make the next movement, for the marvelous I cannot do -- I can only be amazed at it. Indeed, if Abraham, the moment he swung his leg over the ass's back, had said to himself: Now Isaac is lost, I could just as well sacrifice him here at home as ride the long way to Moriah -- then I do not need Abraham, whereas now I bow seven times to his name and seventy times to his deed. This he did not do, as I can prove by his really fervent joy on receiving Isaac and by his needing no preparation and no time to rally to finitude and its joy. If it had been otherwise with Abraham, he perhaps would have loved God but would not have had faith, for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself; he who loves God in faith reflects upon God.

This is the peak on which Abraham stands. The last stage to pass from his view is the stage of infinite resignation. He actually goes further and comes to faith. All those travesties of faith -- the wretched, lukewarm lethargy that thinks: There's no urgency, there's no use in grieving beforehand; the despicable hope that says: One just can't know what will happen, it could just possibly be -- those travesties are native to the paltriness of life, and infinite resignation has already infinitely disdained them.

(Fear and Trembling, III 87 - III 88)

Knight of Faith

Here he is. The acquaintance is made, I am introduced to him. The instant I first lay eyes on him, I set him apart at once; I jump back, clap my hands, and say half aloud, "Good lord, is this the man, is this really the one -- he looks just like a tax collector!"

But this is indeed the one. I move a little closer to him, watch his slightest movement to see if it reveals a bit of heterogeneous optical telegraphy from the infinite, a glance, a facial expression, a gesture, a sadness, a smile that would betray the infinite in its heterogeneity with the finite. No! I examine his figure from top to toe to see if there may not be a crack through which the infinite would peek. No! He is solid all the way through. His stance? It is vigorous, belongs entirely to finitude; no spruced-up burgher walking out to Fresberg on a Sunday afternoon treads the earth more solidly.

He belongs entirely to the world; no bourgeois philistine could belong to it more. Nothing is detectable of that distant and aristocratic nature by which the knight of the infinite is recognized. He finds pleasure in everything, takes part in everything, and every time one sees him participating in something particular, he does it with an assiduousness that marks the worldly man who is attached to such things. . . Sunday is for him a holiday.

(Fear and Trembling, III 89 - III 90)

Now let us meet the knight of faith. . .he infinitely renounces the love that is the substance of his life, he is reconciled in pain. But then the marvel happens; he makes one more movement. . .for he says: Nevertheless I have faith that I will get her -- that is, by virtue of the absurd, by virtue of the fact that for God all things are possible. . .Consequently, he acknowledges the impossibility, and in the very same moment he believes the absurd, for if he wants to imagine that he has faith without passionately acknowledging the impossibility with his whole heart and soul, he is deceiving himself and his testimony is neither here nor there, since he has not even attained infinite resignation.

(Fear and Trembling, III 96 - III 97)

But this movement I cannot make.

(Fear and Trembling, III 99)