Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Great Earthquake

Yesterday's post (of which I am actually proud of) was always going to be a hard one to follow, and today has been "one of those days", but the hero parade does not stop just because I had a busy, hectic, or shitty day. However, this post, and the one following it (two in one day!) are probably going to be brief, and are certainly going to be too brief for the subjects they contain.
The fellow above is one Soren Kierkegaard, born this day 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark. I read a lot of Kierkegaard when I was in college, and I read a 800 page biography of him about two years ago, therefore a pithy blog post is not going to come close to doing his life and work justice. Especially one written, by me and by me in a rush. I will say that, at its root, Kierkegaard's thought is mostly much too complex for my pudding like brain, and we disagree on one VERY important idea, i.e. the existence of a god, but it is the existentialism of his philosophy that attracted me.
His "Diary of a Seducer" is a fabulous read, and "The Sickness Unto Death" in which he deals with despair is (or at least the parts I understand) outstanding as well. I read a great deal of his journals with delight, and even understood what he meant by having a "great earthquake" that shook him loose from his moorings, and led to a great deal of his writings. In his case, it was the breaking off of his engagement with Regina Olsen that propelled him upon the path that he eventually blazed in modern philosophical thought, might was not quite as "great", and does not seem to have led to any pinnacle of great modern thinking, but it was an earthquake nonetheless, and probably necessary for me to have at that time in my life.
Like Sartre, and Heidegger, I glory in Kierkegaard as a philosopher, but I cannot follow him in his "leap of faith" as a religious thinker. It is the point where our paths diverge, but while on the same path as him, I learned (and continue to learn, I hope, a lot). One of the most quoted passage from his writings comes from his journal entry for August 1st, 1835, when a 22 year old (think on that for a second) wrote, "The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." Pretty deep stuff, and very deep stuff for a 22 year old man to be pondering, but that is what he was the great ponderer.
So, for writing all of those pages to ponder upon, and for being a source to turn to when faced with my own existential crisis, Soren Kierkegaard (May 5th, 1813-November 11th, 1855, at the age of 42), you are my (250th) hero of the day.

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