‘What I really need is to get clear about what I am to do*, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find my purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth that is truth for me**, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die. Of what use would it be to me to discover a so-called objective truth, to work through the philosophical systems so that I could, if asked, make critical judgments about them, could point out the fallacies in each system; of what use would it be to me to be able to develop a theory of the state, getting details from various sources and combining them into a whole, and constructing a world I did not live in but merely held up for others to see; of what use would it be to me to be able to formulate the meaning of Christianity, to be able to explain many specific points — if it had no deeper meaning for me and for my life? And the better I was at it, the more I saw others appropriate the creations of my mind, the more tragic my situation would be, not unlike that of parents who in their poverty are forced to send their children out into the world and turn them over to the care of others. Of what use would it be to me for truth to stand before me, cold and naked, not caring whether or not I acknowledged it, making me uneasy rather than trustingly receptive. I certainly do not deny that I still accept an imperative of knowledge and that through it men may be influenced, but then it must come alive in me, and this is what I now recognize as the most important of all. This is what my soul thirsts for as the African deserts thirst for water. This is what is lacking, and this is why I am like a man who has collected furniture, rented an apartment, but as yet has not found the beloved to share life’s ups and downs with him. But in order to find that idea—or, to put it more correctly—to find myself, it does no good to plunge still further into the world. That was just what I did before. The reason I thought it would be good to throw myself into law was that I believed I could develop my keen- ness of mind in the many muddles and messes of life. Here, too, was offered a whole mass of details in which I could lose myself; here, perhaps, with the given facts, I could construct a totality, an organic view of criminal life, pur- sue it in all its dark aspects (here, too, a certain fraternity of spirit is very ev- ident). I also wanted to become an acteur [actor] so that by putting myself in another’s role I could, so to speak, find a substitute for my own life and by means of this external change find some diversion. This was what I needed to lead a completely human life and not merely one of knowledge, so that I could base the development of my thought not on—yes, not on something called objective—something that in any case is not my own, but upon something that is bound up with the deepest roots*** of my existence [Existents], through which I am, so to speak, grafted into the divine, to which I cling fast even though the whole world may collapse. This is what I need, and this is what I strive for.
* How often, when a person believes that he has the best grip on himself, it turns out that he has embraced a cloud instead of Juno.
** Only then does one have an inner experience, but how many there are who experience life’s different impressions the way the sea sketches figures in the sand and then promptly erases them without a trace.
*** How close does man, despite all his knowledge, usually live to madness? What is truth but to live for an idea? When all is said and done, everything is based on a postulate; but not until it no longer stands outside him, not until he lives in it, does it cease to be a postulate for him. (Dialectic—Dispute)
‘But that takes stamina, and it is not possible to harvest immediately what one has sown. I will remember that philosopher’s method of having his disciples keep silent for three years; then I dare say it will come. Just as one does not begin a feast at sunrise but at sundown, just so in the spiritual world one must first work forward for some time before the sun really shines for us and rises in all its glory; for although it is true as it says that God lets his sun shine upon the good and the evil and lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust, it is not so in the spiritual world. So let the die be cast — I am crossing the Rubicon! No doubt this road takes me into battle, but I will not renounce it. I will not lament the past — why lament? I will work energetically and not waste time in regrets, like the person stuck in a bog and first calculating how far he has sunk without recognising that during the time he spends on that he is sinking still deeper. I will hurry along the path I have found and shout to everyone I meet: Do not look back as Lot’s wife did, but remember that we are struggling up a hill.’
p.9-10. – [JP V 5100 (Pap. I A 75) August 1, 1835 – Early Journal Entries]
The Essential Kierkegaard, Soren Kierkegaard, [edited by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, 2000].