Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kierkegaard's Works of Love - Part II - Love Builds Up

Kierkegaard is adamant in his case for the equality of love. Love is so central because it is that aspect of reality and eternity in which there is no basis for exclusion (when love is present all may participate). SK is certainly a great talent and it could perhaps be questioned the extent to which such a talented articulation can be in the service of a radical accessibility.
In any event SK begins the second part of his Works of Love with a reflection on language. Language allows for transference, that is that the same thing spoken can mean many things (nothing new). The phrase 'build up' is a term that scriptures can make ever new with meaning for when understood spiritually it is always present whenever love is present. And so when things are said, even if they are contrary and opposite, if they are done in love they do not tear each other down but work together in building up.

There is no word in the language which builds up in and by itself, and there is no word in the language which cannot become edifying and which in being said cannot build up if love is present.
Love creates the condition for particular spiritual meaning regardless of the form of language.
From the beginning to the end the discourse is on love . . . Love is the ground; love is the building; love builds up. To build up is to build up love, and it is love which builds up.
What is being created here? Or is this a description of that which creates? There is no creation or creating without love. The towers to heaven are 'air-castles' for SK. Air-castles are all that human endeavor can accomplish. This is clarified in the extent to which a human, the lover, may participate in up building.
Therefore when the discourse is about the works of love in building up, it must mean either that the lover implants love in the heart of another person or that the lover presupposes that love is in the other person's heart and precisely with this presupposition builds up love in him - from the ground up, insofar as in love he presupposes it present as the ground. One of the two must exist for building up. But I wonder whether or not one person can implant love in the heart of another person. No, this is a more-than-human relationship, a relationship unthinkable between man and man; in this sense human love cannot build up.
It must be emphasized that the presupposition is also 'in-love'. SK describes this an act of self-constraint. There is no confidence in the self to create love.
A teacher presupposes that the pupil is ignorant. A disciplinarian presupposes that the other person is corrupted. But the love, who builds up, has only one mode of progression - to presuppose love. . . . For love can and will be treated in only one way - by being loved forth. . . . The lover has indeed done nothing; he has only presupposed that love was fundamentally present. The love works quietly and earnestly, and yet the powers of the eternal are in motion.
But this does not mean that the lover is inconsequential to the relationship.
The more perfectly the lover presupposes love to exist, the more perfect is the love which he loves forth.
But the ground is never laid finitely.
This opening chapter of the second part is intriguing and spurring. SK admittedly at times talks about this 'in theory'. This is the realm of the spiritual, of the invisible. Throughout this work SK is not concerned that any discernible difference is made in the external or material world (yes those with a political ear raise your flags!). However, I believe this is because no desirable change can be made in the material world if one does not become spiritual. And then according to SK the change is infinite (even if nothing changes. Is this perhaps related to the misappropriated Pauline admonition to 'remain as you are'? Any change of infinite significance will only occur when participation in the spiritual is understood and entered into. Just thoughts. Open to criticisms or clarifications.

1 comment:

Irish said...

This is great!