to the ecstatic discourse
by Andrea Elizabeth
on page 40 of Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard. I am impatient to draw conclusions. So tempting are his descriptions of the aesthetic life! So winsome is his despair! Oh that I had wings like a dove to float noiselessly down into the abyss! The eye doctor anesthetized my eyes the other day to check for glaucoma. Immediately I felt such blessed relief from those tiny little localized drops that I’m sure had an extremely negligible systemic effect. That’s heaven! Unless one tries to go too soon or illicitly. I’m too much of a Camusian masochist and competitor to even want to go too soon anyway. Did Kierkegaard give up, and that’s why he died so early? And I love my family, which he chose not to have. But as he says, someone who experiences the opposite, knows the opposite of that better than one who doesn’t. I like that he talks so much about women and marriage. I have it in the back of my head that I should talk about men.
Sometimes an orphan, and I’m not, knows parents better than than those who aren’t. Nevertheless, I will say that men may not be the most devoted, as I read somewhere long ago Kierkegaard said women are, but they are the more interested. Men are more externally driven, so therefore their focus is outward. Women’s devotion is more inwardly driven and personal. It gets personal with men when something they’re interested in is in danger of being seized upon by someone else. Enough on that. I am not devoted to the topic.
The woman helping me pick out frames wanted me to go with stylish small, rimless glasses or cat-eye horn-rimmed ones like she was wearing. She gave up when I kept looking for larger, more invisible, teardrop glasses that I knew looked better with my face. She said to let her know when I’d made up my mind. Then lunchtime came and she gave me to the older gentleman I’d talked to before I was called back to have my eyes checked. When I brought him my wallflower glasses, some trapezoidal horn-rimmed glasses caught my eye. I tried them on and said, now these would be daring! He said, “you must go with those. They are much better.” But I’m not so bold! I want to be invisible! Oh, aren’t these purple ones of the same shape fun? “That designer is serious. He doesn’t mess around. Those are it. Even more than the others.” But but could I be so bold? “Yes. Definitely.” Now I have to wait 2 weeks.
Kierkegaard would say I would regret trusting or not trusting the man. I won’t know until I’ve lived with the glasses a while, but I think I trust my own judgment that the unpredicted pair will work because of the geometric proportions, which go lower on my face than my current unsatisfactory, regrettable pair do. But his commentary was fun. The fear of trusting, or not, the man comes from a disposition to believe that the other holds all the keys and one is powerless to the results. The powerlessness is inherent whether one gives the other the control over oneself or not. Regret comes from worrying about the ramifications of a wrong choice. That one is doomed to be miserable if it isn’t the ideal. Some people are so afraid of this outcome that they will run from the decision and do nothing rather than face such a life. This is placing one’s hope in the sons of men. If one’s hope is not in the sons of men nor their power over one’s happiness, if this is based on a certain response from them or others affiliated, then it doesn’t matter if the right aesthetic choice is made or not. But what about the right ethical choice (part 2 for much later)? Well that penalty is death, and if death has been destroyed…
This is not a plug for lawlessness, but in the idea that nothing can be eternally ruined. I say this in the natural, not the personal sense. But if a person can completely ruin themselves, whether or not they can utterly ruin someone else, then shouldn’t they worry about regretting the wrong choice? Not if they look to Christ, and not the other objects of choice, for salvation.
Unless love for another is salvific. But that is different than overly concerning oneself with one’s personal salvation.