Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Journals Of Kierkegaard 1834-1854


Do you sometimes have trouble sleeping? Do you dream in colour? Have you ever had the feeling that the life you're living is not the one you're meant to be living? That your destiny might lay elsewhere? That fate might have other plans for you? When you're reading Kierkegaard do you ever have a problem with him?

Cited as being the father of Existentialism, Kierkegaard rang the bell for melancholia but I suspect he was no less happy than most other men. 'I can say of my sorrow,' he wrote 'What the Englishman says of his house: my sorrow is my castle.' Which is quite a witty line if you think about it and one that he was no doubt amused and pleased by.
I think it's a truism that what Kierkegaard did was to get to the core of it as in what is man's individual purpose in the world? What is the point of his existence? The distinction he made was of that between the individual man and mankind - and it was an important distinction. Whilst political systems at that time were a dialectical relationship between the individual and the community in the representative individual, Kierkegaard didn't care for being merely represented so he sought his own system.

He recognised that culture was his enemy and so too that religion as represented by the Church was not his friend but for all that he was irrevocably tangled up in Christianity. To be fair, when reading Kierkegaard we need to consider the age in which he was living for not only was it before the Internet was invented (I know, it's hard to imagine there could have been a world before the Internet, but try) but it was before the exploration of space was even considered, before the World Wars, before the rise of Fascism and Communism, and so on and so forth. Christianity and God was all there really was as ways of understanding the world. Like the good Christians Kierkegaard wanted us to be, we have to forgive him for his lack of religious, philosophical, scientific or political instruments. But still...

To Kierkegaard, Christianity was God's thought but had little to do with such things as Christmas and Christmas puddings and the perception of it as preached by Ministers to the masses. Rather, it was all to do with becoming a moral character, a witness to the truth, to be willing to suffer for the truth and to be ready to give up worldly wisdom. It was all to do with loving one another.
He wasn't seeking to reform the doctrine of the established Church but to reform us all because the lives of his fellow men - in his eyes - were wretched. Salvation was only to be found in the spiritual and those in most need of it were the poor.

If God, as John Lennon once surmised, is merely a concept by which we measure our pain then using that as a methodology, Kierkegaard was in agony.

On reading The Journals Of Kierkegaard as edited and translated by Alexander Dru, it left me wondering: Does anyone give a flying fuck about Kierkegaard nowadays?
Thought not.
Me neither.

One last thing: Christianity as represented by the established Church these days is like a gift-wrapped box sitting in the corner, trying to look like a present for mankind. It's like the bottle that Alice drinks from in Alice's Adventures In Wonderland but rather than saying 'Drink me', the label on the box says 'Open me'. So you open it up and what's inside? Tony fucking Blair, soaked in the blood of a million dead but still wearing his convictions rather than his heart on his sleeve, grinning maniacally and repeating ad nauseam "I'd do it again, I'd do it again..." And then there's another box in another corner but labelled 'Islam', and there's something just as horrific moving around inside of that one that's trying its utmost to get out...
                                                                                                                                                                              John Serpico                                                                                                                              

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