samuel taylor coleridge on what elegy is (1835)

“Elegy is a form of poetry natural to the reflective mind. It may treat of any subject, but it must treat of no subject for itself; but always and exclusively with reference to the poet. As he will feel regret for the past or desire for the future, so sorrow and love became the principal themes of the elegy. Elegy presents every thing as lost and gone or absent and future.”

– S. T. Coleridge, Specimens of the Table Talk of the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1835), vol 2, p. 268

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)

jiddu krishnamurti on observing ourselves in space and time

“When the observer is the observed, and the observer has always acted as though the observed is something different from himself, then he could act. But, when he realises that the observer IS the observed, all action ceases on his part… and, therefore, all effort.  And therefore there is no fear at all. This requires a great deal of inward inquiry, inward observation, step by step without coming to any conclusion.

“Why do you choose; what is the necessity of choice? If you see something very clearly (as we just now saw what freedom implied, and that the mind is only free when it can see the total) … when you see that clearly, there is no choice. It’s only the confused mind that chooses. Awareness takes place only when there is no choice, or when you are aware of all the conflicting choices, all the conflicting desires, the strains… Just to observe all this movement of contradiction… and, knowing that the observer is the observed, that therefore in that process there is no choice at all, but only watching what IS.

“And that’s entirely different from concentration. Awareness brings a quality of attention in which there is neither the observer nor the observed. When you really attend, completely attend, like now, if you are really listening, there is neither the listener nor the speaker. And that state of attention brings about an extraordinary  sense of freshness, a quality of newness to the mind…”