happy birthday, simone de beauvoir

When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a colour, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man.

WALKABOUT tumblr_mb7ukzuYA71qe0eclo1_r4_500

Jenny Agutter in “Walkabout” (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)

Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity.

The young girl throws herself into things with ardour, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.

― Simone de Beauvoir,  from The Second Sex (first published in French as Le Deuxième Sexe in 1949)
If you’re interested in reading this hugely influential text, you can find it online HERE.

happy 200th birthday, søren kierkegaard

Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard. Based on a sketch by Niels Christian Kierkegaard (1806-1882)

Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard. Based on a sketch by Niels Christian Kierkegaard (1806-1882)

Hegel was the great system-maker. What others viewed as his grand achievement Kierkegaard viewed as his unforgivable crime, the attempt to rationally systematise the whole of existence. The whole of existence cannot be systematised, Kierkegaard insisted, because existence is not yet whole; it is incomplete and in a state of constant development. Hegel attempted to introduce mobility into logic, which, said Kierkegaard, is itself an error in logic. The greatest of Hegel’s errors, however, was his claim that he had established the objective theory of knowledge. Kierkegaard countered with the argument that subjectivity is truth. As he put it, “The objective uncertainty maintained in the most passionate spirit of dedication is truth, the highest truth for one existing.” … Kierkegaard, it remains to be said, is not a systematic theologian. We know what he thought of systems and system makers, of which Hegel was the prime example. There is hardly a page in his writings that does not prompt from the systematically minded reader a protest against disconnections and apparent contradictions. Like Flannery O’Connor, he shouted to the hard of hearing and drew startling pictures for the almost blind.

— Richard John Neuhaus, in Kierkegaard for Grownups (2004)