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.


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