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English, Kierkegaard Soren, Love Letters, Philosophy

Diary of a seducer – Soren Kierkegaard

The Flatbush Avenue Project, 1974 — Paul Kopelow

The Flatbush Avenue Project, 1974 — Paul Kopelow

Sua pasion’ predominante
é la giovin principiante.
[This predominant passion
is the youthful beginnal.]
Don Giovanni aria n° 4.

The sixteenth

How beautiful it is to be in love; how interesting it is to know that one is in love. This, you see, is the difference. I can become furious at the rought that she disappeared before me the second time, and yet in a certain sense I am glad of it. The image I have of her hovers indefinitely somewhere between her actual and her ideal form. I now have this image before me, but precisely because either it is actuality or actuality is indeed the occasion, it has a singular magic. I feel no impatience, for she must live here in the city, and at this moment that is enough for me. This possibility is the condition for the proper appearance of her image-everything will be enjoyed in slow drafts.

And should I not be calm, who can regard myself as a favorite of the gods, I, whose lot was the rale good fortune of falling in love again. This is something that cannot be elicited by skill or study-it is a gift. But if I have succeeded in stirring up an erotic love again, I do want to see how long it can be sustained.

I coddle this love as I never did my first. The opportunity falls to one’s lot rarely enough-therefore the point is truly to utilize it if it does come along, for it is dismaying that it is no art to seduce a girl but it is a stroke of good fortune to find one who is worth seducing. -Love is full of mysteries, and this first falling in love is also a mystery even though a minor one. Most people rush ahead, become engaged or do other stupid things, and in a turn of the hand everything is over, and they know neither what they have won nor what they have lost. Two times she has appeared before me and has disappeared; that means she will appear more often. When Joseph had interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he added: But the fact that you dreamed twice means that it will be fulfilled soon.’

Yet it would be interesting if one could discem somewhat ahead of time the forces whose emergence forms the content of life. At present she is living in all her tranquil peace; she does not have even an inkling of my existence, even less of what is going on within me, to say nothing of the assurance with which I gaze into her future, for my soul is demanding more and more actuality, and it is becoming stronger and stronger.

If at first sight a girl does not make sudr a deep impression on a person that she awakens the ideal, then ordinarily the actuality is not especially desirable; but if she does, then no matter how experienced a person is he usually is rather overwhelmed. I always advise the person who is not sure of his hand, his eye, and his victory to venture the attack in this first state, in which, precisely because he is overwhelmed, he has supranatural powers-for being overwhelmed is a curious mixture of sympathy and egotism. He will, however, miss out on an enjoyment, for he does not enjoy the situation since he himself is wrapped up in it, hidden in it. Which is the more beautiful is difficult to decide-which is the more interesting is easy. It is however, always best to come as close as possible to the line. This is the real enjoymen! and what others enjoy I do not know for sure. Mere possession is very little, and the means such lovers use are usually paltry enough; they do not even reject money, power, alien influence, sleeping potions, etc. But what pleasure is there in love if absolute abandon is not intrinsic to it, that is, from the one side-but ordinarily that takes spirit, and such lovers generally do not have that.”

………….

Mozart Don Giovanni (4)

“Shortly after he had left Cordelia, he received from her a couple letters that he sent back unopened. These were among the letters Cordelia turned over to me. She herself had broken the seal, and I take the liberty of making a copy of them. She has never spoken of their contents to me, but whenever she mentioned her relation to |ohannes she used to recite a little verse, from Goethe as far as I know-a verse that seemed to mean something different to her according to the difference of her mood and the varied diction conditioned thereby.

Gehe,

Verschmiihe

Die Treue,

Die Reue

Kommt nach

( Go,

Scorn

Faithfulness,

Regret

Will follow)

The letters read as follows:

Johannes,

Never will I call you “my Johannes,” for I certainly realize you never have been that, and I am punished harshly enough for having once been gladdened in my soul by this thought, and yet I do call you “mine”: my seducer, my deceiver, my enemy, my murderer, the source of my unhappiness, the tomb of my joy, the abyss of my unhappiness. I call you “mine” and call myself “yours,” and as it once flattered your ear/ proudly inclined to my adoration, so shall it now sound as a curse upon you/ a curse for all eternity.

Do not look forward to my planning to pursue you or to arm myself with a dagger in order to provoke your ridicule! Flee where you will, I am still yours; go to the ends of the earth, I am still yours.

Love a hundred others, I am still yours-indeed, in the hour of death, I am yours.

The very language I use against you must demonstrate to you that I am yours. You have had the audacity to deceive a person in such away that you have become everything to me, so that I would rejoice solely in being your slave.

Yours I am/  yours, yours/ your curse.

Your Cordelia

Johannes,

There was a rich man; he had great flocks and herds of livestock large and small. There was a poor little maiden; she possessed but a single lamb, it ate from her hand and drank from her cup. You were the rich man, rich in all the glories of the world; I was the poor one who possessed only my love. You took it, you delighted in it. Then desire beckoned you, and you sacrificed the little that I possessed-you could sacrifice nothing of your own. There was a rich man; he possessed great flocks and herds. There was a poor little maiden, she possessed only her love.

Your Cordelia

Johannes,

Is there no hope at all, then? Might your love never awaken again? That you did love me, I know, even though I do not know what it is that makes me sure of it. I will wait, however long the time is for me; I will wait, wait until you are tired of loving others. Then your love for me will rise again from its grave; then I will love you as always, thank you as always, as before, O ]ohanes, as before! johannes, is your heartless coldness toward me, is it your true nature?

Was your love, your rich love, a lie and a falsehood are you now yourself again!

Have patience with my love; forgive me for continuing to love you. I know that my love is a burden to you, but there will still come a time when you will come back to your Cordelia.

Your Cordelia! Hear this imploring word!Your Cordelia.

Your Cordelia

Even though Cordelia did not possess the admired range of her Johannes, it is clear that she was not without modulation. Her mood is clearly impressed upon every one of the letters, even though she was somewhat lacking in clarity of exposition. This is especially true of the second letter, where one suspects rather than actually understands her meaning, but for me this deficiency makes it very moving.”

The Seducer’s Diary was originally published in “Either/Or” Part I

“In the vast Iiterature of love, The SeducerD’si arl is an intricate curiosity-a feverishly intellectual attempt to reconstruct an erotic failure as a pedagogic success, a wound masked as a boast,” observes John Updike in his foreword to Soren Kierkegaard’s narrative. Either/Or, Kierkegaard’s first major work, was a bulky, two-volume collection of papers ostensibly found by the editor,”Victor Ermita” (“Victor Hermit”).

This work, a chapter from Kierkegaard’s first major volume, Either/Or, springs from his relationship with his fiancée,Regine Olsen. Kierkegaard fell in love with the young woman, ten years his junior, proposed to her, but then broke off their engagement a year later. This event afected Kierkegaard profoundly

Olsen became a muse for him, and a flood of volumes resulted.
His attempt to set right, in writing, what he feels was a mistake in his relationship with Olsen taught him the secret of “indirect communication.” The Seducer’s Diary, then, becomes Kierkegaard’s attempt to portray hirnself as a scoundrel and thus make their break easier for her.

Young Kierkegaard, first saw Regine when she was fourteery in May of 1837, at a party of schoolgirls in the home of the widowed mother of another girl Bolette Rordan whom Kierkegaard was pursuing. According to the lightly fictionalized account in the “Quidam’s Aary” section of Stages on Life’s Way (1845), Kierkegaard began to spy on the girl frequenting a pastry shop along the route where by Regine went to her music lessons:

I never dared sit by the window, but when I took a table in the middle of the room my eye commanded the street and the opposite sidewalk where she went, yet the passersby could not see me. Oh, beautiful time; Oh, lovely recollection; Oh, sweet disquietude; Oh happy vision, when I dressed up my hidden existence with the enchantment of love!
Yet she is not mentioned in his joumal until nearly two years after the first meeting: “Sovereign of my heart, ‘Regina”‘ kept safe and secret in the deepest corner of my breast.”

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Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. He is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.

For a complete bibliography, see Søren Kierkegaard bibliography

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