How little resuscitation there is in life, after all, for one almost never gets a clear perception of the idea in an endeavor, but always mixed together with the illusions of finitude.
Let us take Hegel. How does he happen to become the great philosopher-author of seventeen volumes. Well, he probably had a pretty good head on his shoulders, was very industrious, and then he became B.A., M.A., and later professor — and now he begins to work. Now what call to life is there in this — always this triviality in the background: this is the way he makes a living. And then he probably makes money on his books — there we have it again.
To be sure, there is lofty talk that no one thinks about such things — well, maybe so, but it is the world's hypocrisy that at bottom it privately wants to have a shabby explanation of everything — and then talks in lofty tones. Make a test: place an endeavor right in front of people's noses (here in Copenhagen or wherever you want to), but a task which does not have a single illusion in it (neither money, office, honor, nor reputation), a task which, besides this, is so laborious and strenuous that one cannot speak of it as a kind of pleasure: and you will see, if people are encouraged in some way to express themselves completely openly, they will regard this man as crazy or so peculiar that he teeters on the border of insanity.
There is constant talk in the world about wanting only the truth, etc., but something else is always implied. A journal which seeks only the truth: well, this is regarded as all right if the journal has many subscribers, to seek only the truth in this way is understandable. And why? Because the great number of subscribers shows that it is earning a lot of money and that the journal must have a great influence. Think of a journalist who wants only teh truth, and consequently, if he originally had many subscribers, they steadily become fewer and fewer; at last he has so few that it is clear that he subsidizes the publication, and still he works just as diligently and industriously as anyone — and you will see that he is ridiculed or at least is regarded as odd.
Woe, woe, woe to these preachers who either are hulks who do not know how it all hangs together or are servile enough not to reveal it, fearing for their wages.
Opportunities come my way to discover this, even where I did not expect it. I can remember saying to Peter a year and a half ago: I believe I will give up being an author for good and start riding horses or something like that — and he answered (and with real earnestness): that would be the best thing to do. So purposeless, then, do my efforts seem to him. Had I become famous as an author, had I earned much money, then he would have said: You are not crazy after all.
— Kierkegaard, 1848