How insignificant Marcus Aurelius's works, compared to those of Givenchy
July 17, 2015 10:00 PM   Subscribe

I also love him for precisely these reasons and it's refreshing that someone from the Analytic/Anglo tradition can appreciate him. Kierkegaard speaks to anyone in contemporary society and particularly those studying philosophy, psychology, and theology, all of which are fields where has has left an indelible mark. Although reading him is studying fields of abstract ideas and hypotheticals, they are always so human and intensely relevant that his work doesn't fit neatly into academia. It's also deliberately obtuse and requires the reader to really apply value and meaning to the text while searching through it but not so hopelessly dense that you aren't enriched even if you're confused. It's amazing to me that he ever existed (but exist he surely did!)
posted by koavf at 10:36 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

"This is a constant and in some ways hopeless effort at perpetually becoming what you can never fully be."

That was as a great overview*, and the above stuck out; maybe because it is so human or maybe because it anticipates a later thought from another philosopher popular with young people, "being is becoming."

*It's not a new piece (even the Kardashian hook is dated), and there doesn't appear to be any Kierkegaard news today; what prompted the FPP?
posted by notyou at 12:30 AM on July 18, 2015

There's no requirement that a post be timely, just extant. Sometimes you find something you just stumble on and want to tell people about.

Oh, and:

posted by JHarris at 12:53 AM on July 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

If the governing criterion of posting an FPP were "news" or "timeliness" or "not dated," I could go to Buzzfeed or Upworthy or Clickhole to get my tab fix.
posted by blucevalo at 5:20 AM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I could have been more clear. I enjoyed the FA and the twitter thing and I am happy that it's here. I was/am actually curious about how the man of twists and turns stumbled across it. Sorry for the derail!
posted by notyou at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Strangely though if one does come for the first time Kierkegaard late in ones philosophical development it is hard to get into it. After an undergrad degree in philosophy and a Masters I have been trying to read soem Kierkegaard for the first time and find it so frustrating to read. There are undoubtedly great insights in there but.... why is it such a dreadful chore to slog through it all. So long, so much tedium and pretension. blathering on about this and that.. argh I really can't stand it.

I have a copy of Either/Or that I would like to "have read" but can't really be bothered to read. I just wish he would get to the point.
posted by mary8nne at 7:50 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

but not so hopelessly dense that you aren't enriched even if you're confused.

thanks for that. Enriched even if confused. This pretty much sums up my life so far.

Strangely though if one does come for the first time Kierkegaard late in ones philosophical development it is hard to get into it.

Not so for me. Up until about six months ago, all I knew about was Kierkegaard was that he was "... the crazy Christian guy who invented everybody's fave atheistic philosophy". And I still haven't actually read any of stuff, just stuff about his stuff, but enough to grasp that he seemed to be a couple centuries ahead of me in my thinking. That is, one's only hope for ever grasping what's actually going down is to commit to the confusion of it. No, you won't achieve some epic of seat of post-confusion from which you can see and understand everything, but your soul will be richer for the ride.

Or something like that.
posted by philip-random at 8:54 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

[philip-random]: Not so for me.... And I still haven't actually read any of stuff, just stuff about his stuff, ....

Well the thing is, I had also thought I might like Kierkegaard based on the secondary literature but when I finally delved into the actual texts I just found them so annoying: blathering on and on, unstructured interludes about this and that, long tedious, obsfuscations. I think I prefer reading Kant! read the first 20 pages of Either /Or and then let us know if you are still into Kierkegaard.

His reading of the classic Abraham / Isaac story (in Fear and Trembling?)is one of the more concise works, and I found it quite insightful, but I still wanted to skim through so much of it. I just don't have the patience any more for this sort of thing when I guess I feel like Kierkegaard is only a minor stepping stone in the history of philosophy.

He has a broad influence but perhaps reading secondary literature is enough?
posted by mary8nne at 9:06 AM on July 18, 2015

Thank you for this post!

I think it's relevant to mention re: S.K.'s blathering on and on: He dedicated his works to the lone, individual Reader. He believed many of his works may have just one reader. And he hoped said reader would take the time to orally read aloud to herself his work, repeating each sentence, phrase, clause, and word as often as necessary for its meaning to be grasped.

A reader who doesn't wish to sludge through the first (or any) pages of Either/Or, or any of the pseudonymous works, might deeply enjoy and profit from the much shorter and straightforward essays "The Present Age" and "On the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle". At the end of his life he dispensed more or less with the philosophical cloak and dagger in his tracts "Attack Upon Christendom" and "Training in Christianity". Both are far more readable than the majority of his oeuvre, as they are written specifically for the common, plain person.

These essays and tracts are a good introduction to the thought and literary style of S.K. without much of the hip-wading, and make, in my view, diving into the rest of his works more attractive and possible.

Again, thanks for the post man of twists and turns!
posted by riverlife at 11:58 AM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have only read Fear and Trembling, but I loved it. It's dense and you have to work to unpack it, but I thought the experience was well worth my time. I think only reading his work through secondary sources would lose part of what made it valuable to me.

Also, the Kim Kierkaardashian twitter account never fails to make me laugh. Thanks for posting!
posted by chatongriffes at 2:21 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I adored Kierkegaard as a philosophy and literature undergrad, which is why I found this PhD dissertation on Kierkegaard fascinating. The author sets out to explore why so many of his readers have a uniquely passionate but also frustrated relationship with Kierkegaard. Spoiler: He's a massive fucking narcissist.
posted by stuck on an island at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2015

Good read. Thank you.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2015

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