October 24, 2013
Victor Eremita proposes that the reader understand parts I and II of Either/Or as parties in a dialogue; most readers in fact view II as a devastating reply to I. I suggest that part I be read as a reaction or follow-up to Kierkegaard’s dissertation. Much of part I presents reflective characters who are aware of their freedom but reluctant or unable to adopt the ethical life. The modern Antigone and the Silhouettes are sisters of Alcibiades-failed students of Socrates. I articulate and defend their modes of loving, which are significantly different from Don Giovanni’s and Johannes the Seducer’s purely aesthetic approaches to love. Such feminine love, I argue, dwells in the disputed territory between passion and action, substance and freedom, the aesthetic and the ethical. Antigone’s love is a passion she both suffers and tries to appropriate. The Silhouettes’ devotion to their beloved makes them dependent on him. I defend this dependence even though it is undoubtedly a form of despair. By appealing to Sartre’s account of love, I argue moreover that this love involves a recognition and appraisal of the beloved absent in the love exemplified by Fear and Trembling’s knight of infinite resignation.