Søren Kierkegaard, "The Rotation Method"
Starting from a principle is affirmed by people of experience to be a very reasonable procedure; I am willing to humor them, and so begin with the principle that all men are bores. Surely no one will prove himself so great a bore as to contradict me in this.I sort of think of Kanye West ("We all self-conscious / I'm just the first to admit it") as the Kierkegaard of hip hop. And I've always wanted to extend this analogy to other artists, but nothing ever really comes to mind.
At any rate, I'd like to take advantage of one of Google Books's new features and begin a feature on this blog that I'll try to keep up every Sunday, taking its title from part of the Catholic Mass. Here's this week's Liturgy of the Word:
Unfortunately, some of the crucial passages at the very end are cruelly hidden (that is, those passages after page 239—those not displayed before then aren't really of great importance, and are actually generally misogynistic). I have a slightly different translation on hand, but here is the rest of it:
At every opportunity he was ready with a little philosophical lecture, a very tiresome harangue. Almost in despair, I suddenly discovered that he perspired copiously when talking. I saw the pearls of sweat gather on his brow, unite to form a stream, glide down his nose, and hang at the extreme point of his nose in a drop-shaped body. From the moment of making this discovery, all was changed. I even took pleasure in inciting him to begin his philosophical instruction, merely to observe the perspiration on his brow and at the end of his nose.By the way, just because I've labeled this a liturgy, don't think I also take it as gospel.
The poet Baggesen says somewhere of someone that he was doubtless a good man, but that there was one insuperable objection against him, that there was no word that rhymed with his name. It is extremely wholesome thus to let the realities of life split upon an arbitrary interest. You transform something accidental into the absolute, and as such, into the object of your admiration. This has an excellent effect, especially when one is excited. This method is an excellent stimulus for many persons. You look at everything in life from the standpoint of a wager, and so forth. The more rigidly consistent you are in holding fast to your arbitrariness, the more amusing the ensuing combinations will be. The degree of consistency shows whether you are an artist or a bungler; for to a certain extent all men do the same. The eye with which you look at reality must constantly be changed…
The arbitrariness in oneself corresponds to the accidental in the external world. One should therefore always have an eye open for the accidental, always be expeditus if anything should offer. The so-called social pleasures for which we prepare a week or two in advance amount to so little; on the other hand, even the most insignificant thing may accidentally offer rich material for amusement. It is impossible here to go into detail, for no theory can adequately embrace the concrete. Even the most completely developed theory is poverty-stricken compared with the fullness which the man of genius easily discovers in his ubiquity.