Israel Levin on Kierkegaard

This again from Joakim Garff’s biography of Kierkegaard, which is great, great, great. I have not, unfortunately, been able to lay my hands on a copy of Exiles (I’m #63 in the queue at the Seattle Public Library), so I’m forging ahead with what should have been the work featured in the KSRK.

Israel Levin, who had served as Kierkegaard’s secretary for years, surveyed the problem from the opposite side – absolutely from within, so to speak – but he, too, found the prospect of a Kierkegaard biography no less suspect than did Brøchner: “Anyone who wants to deal with Soren Kierkegaard’s life must take care not to burn his fingers: This is a life so full of contradictions that it will be difficult to get to the bottom of his character. He often refers to double reflections; all his own words were more than sevenfold reflection. He fought to achieve clarity for himself, but he was pursued by all manner of moods and was such a temperamental person that he often alleged things that were untrue, deceiving himself into believing that they were the truth.

I should have noted that in Garff’s book, this quotation comes on the heels of a famous quote by Kierkegaard himself, who seems to have been begging for just the sort of biography Garff has provided, and perhaps the mania and obsession experienced by many of us at Korrektiv … anyway, here’s SK himself: And therefore the day will come when not only my writings but precisely my life – the intriguing secret of all the machinery – will be studied and studied. I’ll also note that Hans Brøchner was a friend of Kierkegaard’s who provided this important sketch of SK: “”My only definite impression was of [Kierkegaard’s] appearance, which I found almost comical. He was then twenty-three years old; he had something quite irregular in his entire form and had a strange coiffure. His hair rose almost six inches above his forehead into a tousled crest that gave him a strange, bewildered look.” (Wikipedia)


  1. Rufus McCain says

    There are many books and many paths up the KSRK mountain.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    Be sure to click on the picture! Elvis Kierkegaard!

  3. Rufus McCain says

    The Garff book arrived with a thud on the front porch yesterday.

    A new meme for anyone who’d like to play along: find any book of at least 666 pages, find the sixth word on page 666 and post it here in the comments, along with your interpretation of what that might mean vis-a-vis the coming apocalypse and the number of the beast:

    In my copy of Garff, the word is:


    A key word in the Kierkegaardian lexicon. How does one become a Christian in Christendom? –was the central question SK posed at the outset of his career as an author. Becoming versus being. He who is not busy being born is busy dying. But what are we becoming? What is the world becoming? Are we going to hell in a handbasket?

    So I take this word as a warning: become … what God intended you to be and what God’s grace in Jesus Christ makes possible. Don’t become what your worst impulses and the Devil would deceive you into being.

  4. Rufus McCain says

    That’s my contribution to the Garff track of the KSRK.

    KSRK is really more an attitude of resignation in the face of Great Books rather than an actually reading club with a schedule and whatnot.

  5. Rufus McCain says

    I’m supposed to be mowing the lawn right now. Wife and kids gone on a playdate and they’ve already been gone a half hour and I’m not out there yet. Gonna have to mow fast. Or think fast. Mower out of gas. Yeah, that’s it… had to run to the gas station and fill up the can. Got a flat tire on the way. Wait. God spoke to me and told me not to worry so much about mowing the lawn. “You’ve chosen the better portion, Rufus,” sayeth the Lord.

  6. Rufus McCain says

    The Elvis picture is fantastic.

  7. Quin Finnegan says

    That’s a fine contribution, Rufus. It’s a variation on Augustine’s “Tolle et lege”, from the Confessions.

Speak Your Mind