Feb 28, 2011

The Principal Rule

Above all, read the N.T. without a commentary. Would it ever occur to a lover to read a letter from his beloved with a commentary!

In connection with everything which qualitatively makes a claim of having purely personal significance to me, a commentary is a most hazardous meddler.

If the letter from the beloved were in a language I do not understand — why, then I learn the language — but I do not read the letter with the aid of commentaries by others. I read it, and since the thought of my beloved is vividly present and my purpose in everything is to will according to her will and wishes, I understand the letter all right. It is the same way with the Scriptures. With the help of God I understand it all right. Every commentary detracts. He who can sit with ten open commentaries and read the Holy Scriptures — well, he is probably writing the eleventh, but he deals with the Scriptures contra naturam.

That is, while reading the letter you are occupied with yourself and your relation to the beloved, but you are not objectively occupied with the beloved's letter, that this passage, for example, may be interpreted in ten ways — oh, no, the important thing for you is to begin to act as soon as possible. Besides, should it not mean something to be the lover, should it not give you what the commentators do not have? Everyone is the best interpreter of his own words, it is said. And next comes the lover, and in relation to God the true believer. Pereat the commentators!

— Kierkegaard

Feb 20, 2011

From Diogenes of Sinope


This contains almost the entire selection of anecdotes about Diogenes of Sinope, attributed to him by Diogenes Laërtias.

The categories are:
- On begging
- Where are the real men?
- Diogenes' Virtue Thought Excessive by Others
- Conqueror of Men
- Thou Art Dust
- The Reversal of Values
- Life and Death the Same
- Live Simply
- Stop Being a Hypocrite
- Vanity of the Virtuous
- On the Complacency of the Old
- Sucking-up, aka Sycophancy and Flattery
- Chastising Effeminacy
- Mocking Gods, Beliefs, Rituals, and Cherished Values
- Idiot Philosophers
- Diogenes' life as a slave
- Diogenes' writings

Diogenes was successful in promoting his views, because people thought he was a comical madman, a simpleton-cum-jester. Plato called him "Socrates gone mad". He was laughed at, because people thought a philosopher must have dignity and social respect, and live with pomp, respect and class. They couldn't see that this was a dire irony on the entire notion of what a philosopher was.

Thus, the contrast between how Diogenes actually lived, and the ridiculously decadent norms of Ancient Athens society, was extreme. The contrast took on an absurd character, and was indeed comical. His contemporaries couldn't seriously believe that one who lived in a truly virtuous, honest way, would be so plain and gauche.

It is always comical when animals try to modify their animality by disguising it, namely, shitting in porcelain vases with flowery decals, gorging themselves on expensively produced food prepared in complex ways and served on exquisitely designed platters, fucking in a high-class, modish chamber on soft mattresses, pillows and cushions, and snarling at each other in complicated language; but twice as comical is the effect when they are contrasted with another animal who lives as a very simple animal without pretences or affectations, and who also speaks the truth. It's extremely comical. The former have all the semblance of nobility and of being advanced organism - but none of the substance - while the simple, garish animal is utterly transformed by his intelligence, simplicity, and truthfulness.

This, plus his resilience and moral strength, accounts for Diogenes' ability to "force" his views on everyone like an ubiquitous chatterbox, without being killed.

— Kelly Jones

Feb 10, 2011


"Authority" does not mean to be a king or to be an emperor or general, to have the power of arms, to be a bishop, or to be a policeman,* but it means by a firm and conscious resolution to be willing to sacrifice everything, one's very life, for his cause; it means to articulate a cause in such a way that a person is at one with himself, needing nothing and fearing nothing. This infinite recklessness** is authority. True authority is present when the truth is the cause. The reason the Pharisees spoke without authority, although they were indeed authorized teachers, was precisely that their talk, like their lives, was in the power of seventeen finite concerns.

*In margin: This is the conception of immanental authority, not the paradoxical conception of authority.

**In margin: Those with authority, therefore, always address themselves to the conscience, not to understanding, intelligence, profundity — to the human being, not to the professor.

— Kierkegaard

Feb 9, 2011

When Asceticism is Not

The Displacement of the Whole of Christianity

Christianity was degraded into becoming a state religion. At the same time Christianity thereby became a doctrine — and asceticism arose. Asceticism is situationless* renunciation. When Christianity battled and suffered persecution, asceticism in this sense was not needed.

*In margin: N.B. And again the consequence of this was meritoriousness, super-meritoriousness, also, that there were extraordinary Christians and ordinary Christians.

Feb 3, 2011

The Public / Private Conundrum

I have recently been accused on crossing the boundaries of the private/public, by publishing private emails without permission. In the final analysis, the accusation is based on the indignation they feel that one individual relies on their own thought and judgment, rather than another person's.

But thinking about the private/public concept is also stimulating and relevant.

The animal's interpretation of private/public has this meaning:

Private: what I really prefer.
Public: what I'd have others believe I prefer.

That is, the animal's concept is hypocrisy and falseness.

The spiritual man's interpretation of private/public has this meaning:

Private: what I suffer in my relationship to truth, willingly, that I do not tell others about, because it is mine to bear alone, and confiding in others is a refusal to bear it at all;
Public: what I let others know about for their benefit.

The animal believes there really is such a division, to protect his ego. It divides his own mind into compartments of honesty and falseness (he keeps his honesty hidden, and therefore makes everything to himself false). He has no real faith in anything, because when he speaks, he lies. That means he must also doubt his own inner thoughts, because he hears them in the same way that he hears his own speech.

The spiritual man creates a division between what he demands of himself, and what he requires of others. That division is the private/public concept. He sets a lower standard for others, but he will still not lower it as they would want him to. Thus, the standard is essentially unified, because his standard, and the lower standard he sets for others out of mercy for them, are both part of the same continuum. This means the spiritual man's concept of private/public is not divisive at all: it is all of one nature. He doesn't compartmentalise his mind.

Yes, I am disappointed in those who have attacked me for disrespecting their concept of private/public, because I thought some should have known better. But it is part of my spiritual trial, so I burden myself with it and hope to learn to have that apostolic division from the animal realm - to learn that I cannot have communion with any other being.

Kelly Jones