KSRK: "Reflections on Marriage"

First, to review. The Korrektiv Summer Reading Klub (KSRK) began a few weeks ago, just as Summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) was letting out. We began with a promise to finally read Magister Kierkegaard’s Stages on Life’s Way, this formidable and fat, blue and black, academic-looking paperback that has served so well and so long as a thing with which to smash spiders and on which to stand (albeit on tip-toe) to change lightbulbs.

Quintilian agreed to join us in the reading — even though he is already deep into Ratzinger’s Intro to Xianity, is viewing all extant episodes of Deadwood and the Seattle Public Library’s entire Danish film collection, not to mention writing a novel, maintaining multiple blogs, contemplating a Benedictine call, tutoring a pair of four-year-olds in Latin, and dilly-dallying with a mysterious lady classics professor from the green pastures of: Harvard University (Baby, let me follow you down … to Indiana). (Thanks for squeezing us into your schedule, O Mighty Quin!)

We then proceeded to sputter our way through “In Vino Veritas,” the first section of said fattened book. (Now I’m saying “fattened” because, already plump, the volume has been made fatter by an impressive scholarly apparatus of scrumptious footnotes and supplementary puddings and pies.) We postulated that perhaps Mr. K was having a joke on his reading public who, after feasting on Either/Or‘s delectable esthetic, would now be confronted with a painful indigestion-inducing “banquet.” Off the mark, possibly, and no doubt too simplistic, but maybe there’s something to the hypothesis. Quin suggested that maybe K had, since Either/Or, moved far enough beyond the esthetic that “he became a little more surreptitious in his dramatization.”

We compared the treatment of the Woman Question in the five speeches with that of the Jewish Question in Nazi Germany (i.e. skewed and demented, perhaps even demonic) and glanced at excerpts from K’s journals in which he complained of having trouble with “In Vino” and in which he described the speeches as all dealing with women “essentially but falsely.”

In short, we struggled. Quin even tried downing a bottle of Chianti (as one might supplement a reading of Love in the Ruins with a bottle of Early Times) to facilitate a more tangible connection to the created world. Alas, to no avail. So we leave “In Vino Veritas” to sober up with the next section, “Reflections on Marriage.”

I’m on page two and happily sailing the Kierkegaardian seas. Here’s a snippet to whet the reader’s appetite and convince ye unbelievers:

If a beginner may allow himself an observation, then I will say that the reason it seems to me to be so wonderful is that everything revolves around little things that the divine element in marriage nevertheless transforms by a miracle into something significant for the believer. Then, too, all these little things have the remarkable characteristic that nothing can be evaluated in advance, nothing worked out in a rough plan; but while the understanding stands still and the imagination is on a wild-goose chase and calculation calculates wrongly and sagacity despairs, the married life goes along and is transformed from glory unto glory, the insignificant becomes more and more significant by a miracle — for the believer. But a believer one must be, and a married man who is not a believer is a tiresome character, a real household pest.(90)

Rings true to this believer’s ears. Where is my wife? Honey, come here and read this.

To be continued ….


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    Rings true to me too.

    Hey, is DEADWOOD a good show? I thought once about writing a western that takes place there.

  2. Jonathan Potter says

    I’ve never seen it. All I know about it is it set a new record for use of the f-word and other suchlike words. Quintilian watched the entire first season and posted his comments here.

  3. Jonathan Potter says

    Gives me an idea for a new Korrektiv blog spin-off. It would be called $#&%@! and would use the f-word and other suchlike words to get the reader’s attention.

  4. I’m trying to swear of swearing.

  5. DEADWOOD is okay, but the REALLY great show to watch is The Wire. I watched the first season today, and I’m going to see if I can get through a good chunk of the second before a 2:00 appointment tomorrow. Then, then, I promise to get to those Reflections on Marriage…

  6. Quin Finnegan says

    Summer is passing quickly, though perhaps the current section of Stages does have more of an autumnal feel to it. It certainly aims at a greater maturity than that expressed by the Fashion Designer, although K’s purpose in this is probably worth some discussion as well. So the Korrektiv Summer Reading Club should convene again. I really can’t speak with authority on the subject of marriage, beyond standing around countless kitchens, ass against the counter with a drink in my hand, watching and listening for where it all went so right, or so wrong, whatever the case may be. ‘Without authority’; I think K would appreciate that. Though of course K was also (rather famously) unmarried, so perhaps I can speak with authority about an unmarried, ridiculously reflective, literary and music-loving dilettante who writes about marriage under the guise of a pseudonym. But probably not. In any event, here are a few brief notes:

    The motto at the beginning is not auspicious, to say the least. “The deceived is wiser than the not-deceived” seems like a perfectly hellish way to begin a dissertation on marriage. It certainly seems a hellish way to begin a marriage.

    The Introductory remarks run a little long, but he’s busy establishing his credibility on the subject. Sounds a little like the Fashion Designer, to be honest, and if this were a play instead of a philosophical work, I’d have to say that the author didn’t work hard enough at establishing character, for all the words he uses. I’ll still say it. The analogy with Hebrew vowels was a little hard to sort through, and if the motto at the beginning seemed an awful way to begin, with the anecdote about Jacob kissing Esau I think he’s managed to outdo himself. The final sentence is K at his Socratic best: “Every other objection is all the more welcome the more openly it is expressed, for a consistent objection is a feeler after the truth and comes very opportunely to one who has the explanation at his fingertips.” Perhaps we can manage a few – objections and explanations. More in a bit.

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