Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kierkegaard on love

How is it possible to love when to do so makes us vulnerable to being hurt, rejected - or perhaps worst of all - ignored? Is it really wise to be so unsafe? Will not those who forget themselves in self-giving love be forgotten? Here is Kierkegaard's answer:

No, the one who in love forgets himself, forgets his suffering, in order to think of someone else's, forgets all his misery in order to think of someone else's, forgets what he himself loses in order lovingly to bear in mind someone else's loss, forgets his own advantage in order lovingly to think of someone else's - truly, such a person is not forgotten. There is one who is thinking about him: God in heaven. Or love is thinking about him. God is Love, and when a person out of love forgets himself, how then would God forget him! No, whle the one who loves forgets himself and thinks of the other person, God is thinking of the one who loves. The self-lover is busy; he shouts and makes a big noise and stands on his rights in order to make sure he is not forgotten - and yet he is forgotten. But the one who loves, who forgets himself, is recollected by love. There is One who is thinking of him...

- Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, ed. and trans. Howard Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995), 281. Cited in Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, 103.

The security of the divine attention makes the 'risk' of love a secure investment. Let us spend wisely.
Ten points for the Sydney suburb in the picture.

12 comments:

charlie said...

A beautiful quote.

Yet how hard it is to really forget oneself in love like that! For me, it's camel-needle hard...

The photo looks like Pittwater, but no idea which suburb. I'll try Google Earth =)...

michael jensen said...

the suburb is wiseman's ferry.

and this is a proper blog entry - quote and comment!

byron said...

I did it just for you, Michael. :-)
Though, no, not Wiseman's Ferry.

Charlie - Yes, Pittwater. But the points are still there for the suburb.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

No idea...maybe Church Point?

andrew said...

I'll put in a vote for Clareville ...

byron said...

Andrew: ten points. Well done.

andrew said...

yessss...

Drew said...

On the kierkegaard quote...

Is this the same as loving in order to forget oneself? If not, what is the difference?

byron said...

Drew - to love in order to forget onself seems to be getting the cart before the horse.

Ali said...

Thanks Byron - yes, we are often so self-absorbed, unhealthy and taking in our loving. On that note, there is a simple poem in one of my favourite books, Phantastes by George MacDonald, which has something to say about how to go on when love is lost:

O light of dead and of dying days!
O Love! in thy glory go,
In a rosy mist and a moony maze,
O'er the pathless peaks of snow.

But what is left for the cold gray soul,
That moans like a wounded dove?
One wine is left in the broken bowl! --
'Tis -- To love, and love, and love.

How does it rate in the blog world to just have a poem for all occasions? :)

Anonymous said...

Is not the Word: Love thy neighbour like thyself? Love for oneself is as important as love for an other person. What Kierkegaard describes does not sound as Love but as Mitleid. (Pity)
Many people think Kierkegaard was an important thinker. I disagree with that opinion and think the man was a fruit cake.

Gerard Kind

byron smith said...

Gerard - Welcome to commenting.

I'm no Kierkegaard expert (trying hard not to have to write about him at the moment, actually), though my supervisor wrote his doctoral thesis on self-love in its relation to love of God and love of neighbour (in the thought of Augustine of Hippo, though Augustine was really quite important for Kierkegaard's thought). If this is a topic you're interested in, I'd suggest this book based on that thesis.