What with life and all I am starting to fall just a little behind in my Kierkegaard reading schedule. I was hoping to keep the pace around two volumes a month. While I am almost finished volume two of Either / Or I am not excited about pushing myself further behind the eight ball. The second volume is picking up. Part of the interest is the way my mind continues to move about with regards to Kierkegaard’s own authorship. What does Kierkegaard himself mean by what he has Judge William say? A terrible question I know but what is wonderful is that despite all the layers that have been revealed with respect to Kierkegaard’s intention and life (including his own reflections) there a remains a movement, a dialectic, inherent within his authorship that continues to aid his project. I can only imagine the way these pseudonyms aided in his own process of understanding and development. I am glad we are give access to the process.
About half way through this volume there is a great section on choice which in many ways frames the whole notion of ‘either/or’. The aesthetic mode is about immediacy (no choice) or multiplicity (also no choice) but ethics becomes the beginning, the first choice; not the choice between ethics and aesthetics but the choice that there is a choice. In any event here are a few excerpts I enjoyed.
Think of the captain on his ship at the instant when it has to come about. He will perhaps be able to say, ‘I can either do this or that’; but in case he is not a pretty poor navigator, he will be aware at the same time that the ship is all the while making its usual headway, and that therefore it is only an instant when it is indifferent whether he does this or that. So it is with a man. If he forgets to take account of the headway, there comes at last an instant when there no longer is any question of an either/or, not because he has chosen but because he has neglected to choose, which is equivalent to saying, because others have chosen for him, [that] he has lost his self.
. . .
For me the instant of choice is very serious, not so much on account of the rigorous cogitation involved in weighing the alternatives, not on account of the multiplicity of thoughts which attach themselves to every link in the chain, but rather because there is danger afoot, danger that the next instant it may not be equally in my power to choose.