For no reason at all i picked up the book Feast of Love today. It’s a great book, one of my favorites. Here are two quotes from it. The first is an interesting story about Kierkegaard. The second just nails the sadness and self-reflection of Charles Baxter, the main character and narrator.
Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher fell in love with an attractive girl, Regine Olsen, and then he had concluded that they would be incompatible, that the love was mistaken, that he himself was so complex and she was simple, and he contrived to break the engagement so as to give the appearance that it was the young lady’s fault, not his.
He succeeded in breaking the engagement, in never marrying her. Cowardice was probably involved here. Kierkegaard wished to believe that the fault lay with the nature of love itself, the problem of love, its fate in his life. From the personal he extrapolated to the general. A philosopher’s trick. Regine married another man and moved away from Copenhagen to the West Indies, but Kierkegaard, the knight of faith, carried a burning torch for her, in the form of his philosophy, the rest of his days. This is madness of a complex lifelong variety. He spent his career writing philosophy that would, among other things, justify his actions toward Regine Olsen. He died of a warped spine.
For some reason it give me great pleasure to read of someone who, out of bitterness of letting his love get away, spent an entire career postulating that love & God can’t be spoken of and are thus dying. Just think what the religion and philosophy worlds might have been had he just gone through with the marriage. Oh, but then again, he literally did not have any backbone.
Now, here’s the 2nd…
What’s agitating about solitude is the inner voice telling you that you should be mated to somebody, that solitude is a mistake. The inner voice doesn’t care about who you find. It just keeps pestering you, tormenting you – if you happen to be me – with homecoming queens first, then girls next door, and finally anybody who might be pleased to see you now and then at the dinner table and in bed on occasion. You look up from reading the newspaper and realize that no one loves you, and no one burns for you. The workings of nature are mysterious, but they do account for a certain amount of despair among single persons, the irrelevance you sometimes feel.
Just so you know, he (Charles) does end up with someone at the end. So, the world is just and it does end well (for him at least).