the moment in Either/Or II


       “It is quite true that there is a misunderstanding among many people that confuses what is esthetically beautiful with what can be presented with esthetic beauty. This is very easily explained by the fact that most people seek esthetic satisfaction, which the soul needs, in reading, in viewing works of art, etc.; whereas there are relatively few who themselves see the esthetic as it is in existence, who themselves see existence in an esthetic light and do not enjoy only the poetic reproduction.

       But an esthetic representation always requires a concentration in the moment, and the richer this concentration is, the greater the esthetic effect. In this way, and only in this way, the happy, the indescribable, the infinitely rich moment – in short, the moment – gains its validity. Either this is a predestined moment, as it were, that sends a shudder through the consciousness by awakening the idea of the divineness of existence, or the moment presupposes a history. In the first case, it takes hold by surprising one; in the second case, it certainly is a history, but the artistic representation cannot linger on this, at best can only suggest it and then hasten on to the moment. The more it can put into it, the more artistic it becomes. Nature, as some philosopher has said, takes the shortest path; it could be said that it takes no path at all, that in one stroke it is all there at once, and if I want to lose myself in gazing at the arch of heaven, I do not need to wait for the countless heavenly bodies to form, for they are all there at once. But the way of history, just like the way of the law, is very long and arduous. So art and poetry intervene and shorten the way for us and delight us in the moment of consummation; they concentrate the extensive in the intensive. But the greater the significance of that which is to advance, the slower the course of history; but the more significant also the course itself, the more it will be evident that all that is the goal is also the way.”


pg. 133  Either/Or part II (Judge William)

Søren Kierkegaard

Princeton Press, translated by Howard & Edna Hong



About Michael Johnson

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