Monday, October 31, 2005

KSRK: Guilty?/Not Guilty? (January 3. Midnight.)

I think this particularly entry really sets the tone for the diary. It certainly sets up the title, for it is here that Quidam accuses himself of the crime that demands a verdict. This is clear enough, as is the vocabulary and the syntax with which it is expressed, although I cannot speak to how it reads in the original Danish (I mean the language, of course, but I’ll add that the pastries here at the Top Pot are really quite good). Anyhoo, the passage begins smoothly enough, but it soon becomes rather difficult, I think, on account of the extreme psychological state that Quidam is in during the recollection of their separation, which occurred some as yet unspecified time prior to this date. If I’ve ever doubted that Kierkegaard suffered greatly on account of his decision to break off his engagement with Regine, this passage more than quashes any such protests. (I’m dispensing with my usual caution in attributing Quidam’s thoughts and feelings to K.) To begin:
When a despairing person dashes through a side street of life in order to find peace in a monastery, he does well to consider first of all whether there is something in the circumstances of his life that for the time being binds him and makes it his first duty to work at getting another person afloat if that other one can be rescued. If he has given his all to this, then, even if he was not knighted in his lifetime, he places his hope on the honor that the Middle Ages granted the scholastic when he died – to be buried as a knight.
I think most of this can be understood with relative ease. Before one decides upon a celibate life, one should first consider whether life (perhaps God through the circumstances of a person’s life) might be asking him to help another in a way that precludes the peace to be found in a monastery. Because the modes are opposed, I’m fairly certain we can adduce that by this he is indicating marriage. ’If he has given his all to this’, then he has in fact attained the same spiritual reward (or perhaps the same degree of spiritual achievement) that he could have attained by dashing down that side street to enter the monastery. (Scholastics in the Middle Ages were monks). ‘To be buried as a knight’ recalls the ‘knight of faith’ from Repetition - the married man, if I recall, who goes about his quotidian existence with the zeal of the true believer who went out to conquer the Holy Lands in the Middle Ages. (Sidenote: what is apparent to me as I reread this is how much Kierkegaard is indebted to the culture of Medieval Catholicism to establish a grounding for faith, which has me wondering again why he didn’t turn to Aquinas and the actual scholastics who most clearly articulated that faith.)
So be calm. The point is to remain as apathetic and undecided as possible.
Huh? This is most definitely not clear. The tone has shifted, and perhaps something more than the tone. Is Quidam here making an initial judgment after the recollection of the event? Is he telling himself to remain calm because he thinks he may, after all, be deserving of a knight’s burial? Should he remain ‘as apathetic and undecided as possible’ during the engagement, or does he have something else in mind? Perhaps he is even pointing ahead to what he indicates in the next sentence:
After all, I am a murderer; I do indeed have a person’s life on my conscience! But then can one justifiably take refuge in a monastery? No! Ordinarily the only thing a murderer has to wait for is his verdict; I am waiting for a verdict that will decide whether I was a murderer, for she is indeed still living.

Gulp. Clear throat. Hmmm. Let’s see now … Can we perhaps back away? Slowly, cautiously … feeling for the doorknob … Damn! It’s locked; nothing to do but take it head on; nowhere to go but forward.

Okay then …

A few questions: What does ‘after all’ mean, exactly? That he does not deserve to be buried as a knight? And if so, why not? Because he broke the engagement? Perhaps he took advantage of the engagement?

What he writes is that he is a murderer; that a person’s life is on his conscience. Well then, okay, that makes sense. Not sure what it has to do with the monastery and medieval scholastics, but this certainly explains the shift in tone. It also explains the next sentence: a monastery can’t be expected to be a refuge for murderers. He will await his verdict elsewhere; it doesn’t really matter where, but it can’t be in a monastery. But then there is more:
I am waiting for a verdict that will decide whether I was a murderer,
I thought he had admitted to being a murderer, but now he seems to be waiting for someone else to decide. And why? Because,
she is indeed still living.
Huh? What in tarnation? How can he be a murderer if she is still living? Well, he means it figuratively: he murdered her hopes, or her dreams, or who knows what. And then we read this:
Oh, how dreadful if it was an exaggeration, a momentary mood, if it was the defiance of powerlessness that drew this word from her lips and the lips of those around her!
So he doesn't mean it figuratively. This seems almost preemptive, for an exaggeration is exactly what it seems to be, and Quidam does seem to be the victim of some pretty serious mood disorder that could now be diagnosed and treated with any one of several – many, really – available psychotropic stabilizers that have shown significant success with just a few (actually quite minor) side effects. In any event, these medications were available neither to Quidam in 17somethin-er-other or to Kierkegaard in 1846, so we’ll have to proceed as we had before.

The ‘it’ in ‘how dreadful if it was an exaggeration' puzzles me somewhat. I thought it was the marking of himself as murderer, but perhaps I am mistaken. I am not sure how ‘it’ could be confused with ‘the defiance of powerlessness’ either. Nor do I understand what ‘this word from her lips’ is supposed to be. It cannot be the ‘Yes’ to the request for engagement, as it was also drawn from the lips of those around her. Perhaps it is the verdict, ‘Guilty.’ Or something like it, such as ‘Cad.’ Perhaps she (and the others) were the first ones to call him ‘Murderer.’ I just, don’t, know.
Oh, what profound sneering at life if there was no one in the whole world except me alone who took that word seriously! My mind comes up with one suspicion after another, the demon of laughter is continually knocking; I know what it wants – it wants to whirl her off like an abracadabra. Depart from me, you unclean spirit! My honor, my pride order me to believe her; my depression is on the lookout for the most secret idea therein lest I be allowed to sneak away from something. She and the others who spoke have the responsibility for having said something terrible: it is my responsibility if I do not scrupulously stick to the word. After all, I am not an observer, not a counselor for the conscience, but one acting – that is, the guilty one. Consequently, my imagination is permitted to picture her in all her misery; my depression is permitted to lecture on the application: You are the murderer. If the first thing I said to myself at the time of the separation ever comes true: she chooses the scream; I choose the pain – if it ever comes true, I do not want to know it now and cannot know if it ever comes true.
After reading this I don’t feel any closer to understanding what ‘that word’ is. What are these suspicions that his mind comes up with? By ‘my mind’ I think we can understand that he is not in control of his thoughts at this point, which is probably why he hears the ‘demon of laughter’ knocking. Putting my jocular tone aside for a moment, this really is quite frightening. Quidam is on the verge of madness here, and it seems to be taking all his energy to keep himself on the rails. Nor is that demon alone; I think it is distinct from the ‘unclean spirit’ that would have him whirl her away like an abracadabra. But why? And To where? Not to the altar, I wouldn’t think; I would think it is too late for that. But perhaps that is the answer.

He mentions his depression again, the misery he was so reluctant to foist upon another. Here the depression seems to have an upside, insofar as it somehow seems to be tool employed for analysis. He has alluded to the positive side of depression before, near the end of the entry earlier that day: “From the bitterness of depression there is distilled a joy of life, a sympathy, an inwardness, that certainly cannot embitter life for anyone.” But she is in pain, so much so that he is able to write “she chooses the scream; I choose the pain”, so that they seem to almost united in a common condition, which I think must be the misery that he had hoped to avoid giving to another (specifically, to her). I could easily be wrong about this.
Oh, that she might not die; oh, that she might not be blighted! If it is possible, God in heaven, you indeed know, it was indeed and it is my one and only desire – if it ever should be possible and it is not too late!
While I’m not entirely sure what is meant here by ‘blighted,’ these sentences do seem to indicate that it was she who initially leveled the charge of murder against him. I also wonder if there might be a threat of suicide at work here; this would help explain the extreme emotional intensity so evident in her alleged reaction and here in his recollection. Another possibility is, again, that she ‘dies’ metaphorically and is ‘blighted’ because of the broken engagement. Perhaps a broken engagement amounts to an impeachment of character – comparable, maybe, to the logic behind Josheph’s offer to Mary when he found out that she was with child. The next sentences, I think, indicate the more severe response:
I saw her on the street yesterday afternoon. How pale, how suffering, how utterly like the figure of someone who summons one to appear in eternity. This almost glazed look, this trembling in my should because death is walking over my grave. And yet I do not with to forget any of it, not any; only to the faithfulness of an alarmed imagination that returns to me what has been confided more terrible than it was, only to the memory of a troubled conscience that sets a high interest rate on guilt, only to an honesty such as that will I and dare I entrust myself! - She is dying. How loathsome that I could believe for a moment the craftiness of the understanding or almost heed the demon of laughter – abominable!
I think that by ‘death is walking over my grave,’ Quidam refers to the reflection of the blight upon her (some kind of stigmatization, at any rate). The appearance of the ‘demon of laughter’ again indicates that Quidam is on the verge of madness – perhaps because he is on the verge of believing that it is all an awful game. And I’m fairly certain that this is what Regine accused Kierkegaard of – playing an awful game with her.
And yet perhaps she was so pale only because she saw me. Perhaps! What a mean tormentor resides in this word! Is it not as when a child has tortured a butterfly long enough and when in the next moment it is about to die the child pokes at it, and the butterfly for one second again snatches at life, snatches at freedom with its wings.
A truly frightening image; all the more so in the way it resonates with the idea that this all might be a game.
But if she does die, I cannot survive her; that I cannot do. But not a moment before, lest my death give her an explanation that I would certainly sacrifice my life to keep from her. So be cold, calm, composed, unchanged. Strangely enough, when I was courting her I was anxious lest I be too intriguing; now I am compelled to be that.
Suicidal or not, game or not, there is some kind of psychological brinksmanship being played here. Here we are brought back to the state of mind that has been mentioned before: calm depression, accompanied by the deception that Quidam surrounds that depression. It must, however, be obvious to writer and reader alike that she hasn’t trained herself, from childhood, and with the most rigorous exercises. Because she hasn’t had to. Until now. And that is why I think Quidam’s tone throughout this passage is warranted, however extreme it may seem.

Help, Korrektiv!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Very, very funny feature length claymation movie. It ocurred to me while watching this that W&G have a bit of Jeeves & Wooster thing going on. Wallace is as thick as ever, and Gromit's emotive eyebrows have to work doubletime just to keep up. Lord Victor is probably my favorite of all the Aardman villains, and Lady Tottington is perhaps even more beautiful than Wendolene Ramsbottom.

Lord Victor Quartermaine: [Quartermaine's hairpiece has been sucked up in the bunvacc] I want...
[lowers voice]
Lord Victor Quartermaine: ... toupee.
Wallace: Oh, yes, of course. We take cheques or cash
Lord Victor Quartermaine: No, you idiot. My hair is in there.
Wallace: Oh, no, only rabbits in there. I think you'll find the hare is a much larger creature.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Guilty?/Not Guilty? (January 3)

Why does Kierkegaard use a doubly removed to express this experience? Perhaps these are pages out of Kierkegaard's own diary, so that with Frater Taciturnus he is imagines someone finding his account of his engagement with Regine 100 years later. In any case, from the January 3 entry.

"I have trained myself from earliest childhood; ever since I saw her and fell in love, I have carried on the most rigorous exercises before there could be any question of making a resolution. I am able at any time of the day to divest myself of my depression or, more correctly, put on my disguise, because depression simply waits for me until I am alone. If there is anyone present, no matter who it is, I am never entirely who I am. If I am taken by surprise in an unguarded moment, by talking for less than a half hour I am able to wrest this impression from anyone I have encountered in my practice. My deception is not hilarity. When it comes to depression, this is nature's own deception and therefore at once should make one suspect in the eyes of even a second-rate observer. The safest deception is good common sense, dispassionate reflection, and above all a candid face and an openhearted nature. Behind this deceptive self-confidence and security in life there is a sleepless and thousand-tongued reflection that, if the first pose becomes unsure, throws everything into confusion until the opponent does not know whether he is coming or going, and once again one attains one's security. And so deep within-depression. This is true; it stays on and continues to be my misery. But I do not want to throw this misery upon any other person. That is certainly not my real reason for wanting to marry."

A few paragraphs later he really drives the point home by writing, "I do not marry to have another person slave under my depression." It's also interesting to read this in light of Quidam's later deception at the coffee shop, There does seem to be an element of hilarity there. But perhaps I misunderstand his use of the word.

The 'dispassionate reflection' brings to mind the passage quoted by Kimball in his essay, although here it seems to be a technique worth employing rather than a step towards decadance. I'm not sure what he means by a 'thousand-tongued reflection' or the security that is attained after everything has been thrown into confusion.
"That is how things stand. With all the heroes who hover in my imagination, it is indeed more or less the case that they carry a deep and secret sorrow that they are unable or unwilling to confide to anyone. I do not marry to have another person slave under my depression. It is my pride, my honor, my inspiration to keep in inclosing reserve what must be locked up, to reduce it to the scantiest rations possible; my joy, my bliss, my first and my only wish is to belong to her whom I would purchase at any price witha my life and blood, but whom I still refuse to weaken and destroy by initiating her into my sufferings."

As for Kierkegaard's heroes, who are they that 'carry a deep and secret sorrow'? Not Socrates, certainly. Of course we shouldn't take Quidam as Kierkegaard, but perhaps K's father is a possible model? And if it's true that his depression waits until he is alone, is it possible that his 'enclosing reserve' or shut-upness has actually become a contributing factor in his depression? Tough reading.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Barton Fink

Brooklyn playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) is persuaded by his agent to move to Los Angeles to write movie scripts for Capital Pictures in Hollywood. He takes up residence in the Hotel Earle, where he develops a severe case of writer's block. A complaint to the desk clerk (Steve Buscemi) causes insurance salesman Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) to make a personal visit and soon they become friends. Charlie tries to share stories about life on the road, but is usually interrupted by Fink, who explains his desire to create a 'Theatre for the Common Man,' rather than the vulgar movie scripts he's been asked to produce for Hollywood. That Charlie is himself a Common Man and the movies a kind of Theatre seems lost on both of them. As a way out of the writer's block he seeks out the help of screenplay writer/novelist William Mayhew (John Mahoney, who does a fairly funny imitation of Faulkner) and his secretary Audrey Taylor (Judy Davis).

The movie isn't one of the Coen brothers' best, and I say that as a Coen brothers fan. Miller's Crossing is one of my favorites, and I liked The Man Who Wasn't There (seems to me that most people didn't). Barton Fink has some good moments, but neither the plot (of, say, Miller's Crossing) nor the dialogue (as in Intolerable Cruelty) is carried off all that well. Works okay as a parable about the creative process (B-movie lead into literary gold, Meadows as Barton's deepest demons), but that's only to paper over the absence of plot.

Here's a sample of the dialogue, courtesy of IMDb:

MAYHEW: Mister Fink, they have not invented a genre of picture that Bill Mayhew has not, at one time or other, been invited to essay. Yes, I have taken my stab at the rasslin' form, as I have stabbed at so many others, and with as little success. I gather that you are a freshman here, eager for an upperclassman's counsel. However, just at the moment, I have drinking to do. Why don't you stop by my bungalow, which is number fifteen, later on this afternoon, and we will discuss rasslin' scenarios and other things lit'rary.

GEISLER: Look, you confused? You need guidance? Talk to another writer.
GEISLER: Jesus, throw a rock in here, you'll hit one. And do me a favor, Fink: throw it hard.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Roger Kimball on Kierkegaard

As a way of easing my way back into Kierkegaard's writings I've been reading this essay by Kimball from the New Criterion. It's extremely good, as is everything else by him, and he selects a number of quotations that really go to the heart of the matter. Consider the following:

"In one way or another, the explosive idea that “subjectivity is truth” is the guiding theme in Kierkegaard’s thought. In an early journal entry—written in 1835, eleven years before the Concluding Unscientific Postscript was published—the twenty-two-year-old Kierkegaard decided that
What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. . . . [T]he crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, and to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die. Of what use would it be to me to discover a so-called objective truth, to work through the philosophical systems so that I could, if asked, make critical judgments about them, could point out the fallacies in each system; of what use would it be to me to be able to develop a theory of the state, . . . and constructing a world I did not live in but merely held up for others to see; of what use would it be to me to be able to formulate the meaning of Christianity . . . if it had no deeper meaning for me and for my life?
“Interpretive knowledge,” he concludes, is all well and good but “it must come alive in me and this is what I now recognize as the most important of all.”

Not included in the electronic version of the article is this quotation about 'the present age':
"A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything dow; but a revolutionary age, that is at the same time reflective and passionless, transforms that expression of strength into a feat of dialectics: it leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance.
As a description of decadence, that is hard to beat."

Black Narcissus

Five Anglican nuns move from Calcutta to start up a new convent in the Himalayas. A general has given them the house in which he used to house his concubines, at the top of a mountain and on the edge of a huge precipice. Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) is made the youngest sister superior in the order, and is assisted in the move by the government official Dean (David Farrar). The lonely and exotic place and the presence of Dean awaken memories in Clodagh of what might have been had she not become a nun, and Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) goes mad with temptation, even as she takes on some of the angst and confusion experienced by the others.

Some trivia and dialogue, courtesy of imdb: The much admired Himalayan scenery was all created in the studio (with glass shots and hanging miniatures). The backdrops were blown-up black and white photographs. The art department then gave them their breathtaking colors by using pastel chalks on top of them.

SISTER CLODAGH: "We all need discipline. You said yourself they're like children. Without discipline we should all behave like children."
DEAN: "Oh. Don't you like children, Sister?"

SISTER CLODAGH: Well I really don't know what to do.
DEAN: What would Christ have done?

GENERAL: "Do you see that crate? Sausages! They will eat sausages. Europeans eat sausages wherever they go."

PRINCE: "5am to 7am, algebra with the mathematical Sister. 8am to 10am, religion, especially Christianity with the scriptural Sister. 10am, art. 1pm to 3pm, French and Russian with the French and Russian Sisters, if any. 3pm to 4pm, physics with the physical Sister."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Søborg Slot

"In the 12th century, Bishop Eskil erected the first fortification - a closed fort with a ring wall and moat. Søborg Castle has played a role in Danish history and was Denmark's strongest fortified castle and was used as a dungeon. Make sure you also visit the big, monumental Søborg Church from 1180. It was built as a market-town church in connection with Søborg Castle."

Søborg Castle also figures tangentially in the story of King Valdemar and the history of Dannebrog. It puts popery in a good light, so perhaps we can connect it in some way to Kierkegaard's take on marriage and politics! That's a bit of a reach, to say the least, but I'll lift a good sized chunk of it anyway.
To the court of King Ottocar of Bohemia there came in the year 1205
a brilliant embassy from far-off Denmark to ask the hand of his
daughter Dragomir for King Valdemar, the young ruler of that
country. Sir Strange Ebbesoen and Bishop Peder Sunesoen were the
spokesmen, and many knights, whose fame had travelled far in the
long years of fighting to bring the Baltic pagans under the cross,
rode with them. The old king received them with delight. Valdemar
was not only a good son-in-law for a king to have, being himself a
great and renowned ruler, but he was a splendid knight, tall and
handsome, of most courteous bearing, ambitious, manly, and of ready
wit. So their suit prospered well. The folk-song tells how they
fared; how, according to the custom of those days, Sir Strange
wedded the fair princess by proxy for his lord, and how King
Ottocar, when he bade her good-by, took this promise of her:

In piety, virtue, and fear of God,
Let all thy days be spent;
And ever thy subjects be thy thought,
Their hopes on thy care be bent.

The daughter kept her vow. Never was queen more beloved of her
people than Dagmar. That was the name they gave her in Denmark, for
the Bohemian Dragomir was strange to them. Dagmar meant daybreak in
their ancient tongue, and it really seemed as if a new and beautiful
day dawned upon the land in her coming. The dry pages of history
have little enough to tell of her beyond the simple fact of her
marriage and untimely death, though they are filled with her famous
husband's deeds; but not all of his glorious campaigns that earned
for him the name of "The Victor" have sunk so deep into the people's
memory, or have taken such hold of their hearts, as the lovely queen

Came without burden, she came with peace;
She came the good peasant to cheer.

Through all the centuries the people have sung her praise, and they
sing it yet. Of the many folk-songs that have come down from the
middle ages, those that tell of Queen Dagmar are the sweetest, as
they are the most mournful, for her happiness was as brief as her
life was beautiful.

They sailed homeward over sunny seas, until they came to the shore
where the royal lover awaited his bride, impatiently scanning the
horizon for the gilded dragon's head of the ship that bore her. The
minstrel sings of the great wedding that was held in the old city of
Ribe. The gray old cathedral in which they knelt together still
stands; but of Valdemar's strong castle only a grass-grown hill is
left. It was the privilege of a bride in those days to ask a gift of
her husband on the morning after the wedding, and have it granted
without question. Two boons did Dagmar crave,

"right early in the morning, long before it was day":

one, that the plow-tax might be forgiven the peasant, and that those
who for rising against it had been laid in irons be set free; the
other, that the prison door of Bishop Valdemar be opened. Bishop
Valdemar was the arch-enemy of the King. The first request he
granted; but the other he refused for cause:

An' he comes out, Bishop Valdemar,
Widow he makes you this year.

And he did his worst; for in the end the King yielded to Dagmar's
prayers, and much mischief came of it.

Seven years the good queen lived. Seven centuries have not dimmed
the memory of them, or of her. The King was away in a distant part
of the country when they sent to him in haste with the message that
the queen was dying. The ballad tells of his fears as he sees
Dagmar's page coming, and they proved only too true.

The king his checker-board shut in haste,
The dice they rattled and rung.
Forbid it God, who dwells in heaven,
That Dagmar should die so young.

In the wild ride over field and moor, the King left his men far

When the king rode out of Skanderborg
Him followed a hundred men.
But when he rode o'er Ribe bridge,
Then rode the king alone.

The tears of weeping women told him as he thundered over the
drawbridge of the castle that he was too late. But Dagmar had only
swooned. As he throws himself upon her bed she opens her eyes, and
smiles upon her husband. Her last prayer, as her first, is for mercy
and peace. Her sin, she says, is not great; she has done nothing
worse than to lace her silken sleeves on a Sunday. Then she closes
her eyes with a tired sigh:

The bells of heaven are chiming for me;
No more may I stay to speak.

Thus the folk-song. Long before Dagmar went to her rest, Bishop
Valdemar had stirred up all Germany to wreak his vengeance upon the
King. He was an ambitious, unscrupulous priest, who hated his royal
master because he held himself entitled to the crown, being the
natural son of King Knud, who was murdered at Roskilde, as told in
the story of Absalon. While they were yet young men, when he saw
that the people followed his rival, he set the German princes
against Denmark, a task he never found hard. But young Valdemar made
short work of them. He took the strong cities on the Elbe and laid
the lands of his adversaries under the Danish crown. The bishop he
seized, and threw him into the dungeon of Soeborg Castle, where he
had sat thirteen years when Dagmar's prayers set him free. He could
hardly walk when he came out, but he could hate, and all the world
knew it. The Pope bound him with heavy oaths never to return to
Denmark, and made him come to Italy so that he could keep an eye on
him himself. But two years had not passed before he broke his oath,
and fled to Bremen, where the people elected him to the vacant
archbishopric and its great political power. Forthwith he began
plotting against his native land.

In the bitter feud between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines he found
his opportunity. One of the rival emperors marched an army north to
help the perjured priest. King Valdemar hastened to meet them, but
on the eve of battle the Emperor was slain by one of his own men. On
Sunday, when the archbishop was saying mass in the Bremen cathedral,
an unknown knight, the visor of whose helmet was closed so that no
one saw his face, strode up to the altar, and laying a papal bull
before him, cried out that he was accursed, and under the ban of the
church. The people fled, and forsaken by all, the wretched man
turned once more to Rome in submission. But though the Pope forgave
him on condition that he meddle no more with politics, war, or
episcopal office, another summer found him wielding sword and lance
against the man he hated, this time under the banner of the Guelphs.
The Germans had made another onset on Denmark, but again King
Valdemar defeated them. The bishop intrenched himself in Hamburg,
and made a desperate resistance, but the King carried the city by
storm. The beaten and hopeless man fled, and shut himself up in a
cloister in Hanover, where daily and nightly he scourged himself for
his sins. If it is true that "hell was fashioned by the souls that
hated," not all the penance of all the years must have availed to
save him from the torments of the lost.

For the rest of the story (and much, much more), go to

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

KSRK, "Guilty?/Not Guilty?" A Passion Narrative

It's no longer summer, of course, but I'll make a sortie into Kierkegaard territory again by proclaiming that I've read through the 'Advertisement several times now, and I like it. I think it's some of the better 'writing' I've read in Kierkegaard. The description of Soeborg Castle is detailed and mysterious, and I liked the account of F.T.'s fishing expedition with his friend the naturalist:
The naturalist sat absorbed completely in his work, he merely inquired casually if I had got anything, an exclamation which did nto seem to expect a reply, since with good reason he did not regard my fishing efforts as having any bearing upon science. In fact I had not found what he was after, but something altogether different. And so each of us sas at our respective ends of teh boat, each preoccupied with hsi find, he for teh sake of science, I for the sake of friendship and curiosity. Wrapped in oilskin and provided with many seals was a rosewood box. The box was locked, and when I opened it by force the key lay inside - thus it is that morbid reserve always is introverted. Int eh box was a manuscript writeen with a very careful and clear hand upon thin paper. There was orderliness and neatness in it all, and yet an air of solemn consecration as if it had been written before the face of God. To think that by my intervention I have brought disorder into the archives of heavenly justice! But now it is too late, now I crave forgiveness of heaven and of the unknown author. Undenaibly the place of concealment was well chosen, and Soeborg Lake is more trustworthy than the most solemn declaration which promises "complete silence," for the lake makes no such declaration. Strangely enough, different as happiness and administration of the lottery when distributing the prizes of fortune is extolled for being silent about the names of the fortunate ones lest their good fortune might become an embarrassment ot them; but the unfortuante who has gambled away all his fortune also desires to have his name passed over in silence.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Today is not Bob Dylan's Birthday

It's on May 24th. But here's a song I've been humming today,
an outtake from the Slow Train Coming album.

Trouble in Mind

I got to know, Lord, when to pull back on the reins,
Death can be the result of the most underrated pain.
Satan whispers to ya, "Well, I don't want to bore ya,
But when ya get tired of the Miss So-and-so I got another woman for ya."

Trouble in mind, Lord, trouble in mind,
Lord, take away this trouble in mind.

When the deeds that you do don't add up to zero,
It's what's inside that counts, ask any war hero.
You think you can hide but you're never alone,
Ask Lot what he thought when his wife turned to stone.

Trouble in mind, Lord, trouble in mind,
Lord, take away this trouble in mind.

Here comes Satan, prince of the power of the air,
He's gonna make you a law unto yourself,
gonna build a bird's nest in your hair.
He's gonna deaden your conscience
'til you worship the work of your own hands,
You'll be serving strangers in a strange, forsaken land.

Trouble in mind, Lord, trouble in mind,
Lord, take away this trouble in mind.

Well, your true love has caught you where you don't belong,
You say, "Baby, everybody's doing it so I guess it can't be wrong."
The truth is far from you, so you know you got to lie,
Then you're all the time defending what you can never justify.

Trouble in mind, Lord, trouble in mind,
Lord, take away this trouble in mind.

So many of my brothers, they still want to be the boss,
They can't relate to the Lord's kingdom, they can't relate to the cross.
They self-inflict punishment on their own broken lives,
Put their faith in their possessions, in their jobs or their wives.

Trouble in mind, Lord, trouble in mind,
Lord, take away this trouble in mind.

When my life is over, it'll be like a puff of smoke,
How long must I suffer, Lord, how long must I be provoked?
Satan will give you a little taste, then he'll move in with rapid speed,
Lord keep my blind side covered and see that I don't bleed.