Love holds the potential for political change

“Loving people is the only thing worth living for.” – Søren Kierkegaard

I believe that all kinds of discrimination, hate and suffering can only be destroyed by love.

In her book All About Love: New Visions, the philosopher Bell Hooks (or, as she prefers, bell hooks) defines love as the will to extend or expand oneself for the purpose of allowing the spiritual self to flourish—including the selves of others. According to the existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, love is edifying. Love is a verb; it does something. But that is not all! In a letter to his then-fiancée Regine Olsen, Kierkegaard wrote, “Freedom is the element of love.”

Love requires freedom. Or only free people can love.

I propose an understanding of freedom as being with friends. Freedom is the manifestation of a complete or meaningful relationship. Every relationship always assumes something that is not oneself. Love cannot therefore be reduced to self—love is, rather, an external force that arouses joy.

Seen in this light, I believe that a will to love—fundamentally—tries to overcome the devastating sadness that comes in the face of exploitation, discrimination, abuse of power, violence and death.

Works of Love, Kierkegaard argues that only love is edifying.Not anger. In connection with the religious injunction to love your neighbour as yourself, he emphasizes that the term neighbour does  not refer to your race, your gender or your nation, but all people. Anyone, he writes. All people should be loved as equals (not necessarily loved equally).

That is, treated equally. Treated with the same respect and rights.

With Kierkegaard’s call to love all human beings as equals, he turns love into a political concept that destroys the damning group identity politics of the time. Love possesses such a liberating potential. It confirms the wisdom of Hannah Arendt, when she said that evil is the result of our thoughtlessness, our reluctance to think well and thoroughly.

Mindlessness is associated with a lack of attention, an inability to love.

Love is the vitality with which all critical thinking begins. It’s like a friendly bond that can make you and me wiser. That which is part of life in all its complexity: everything that breathes, shits and dies.

Love can only flourish when we—all of us—recognize that none of us own life, but rather, that it is on loan. It is the manifold powers of life that we cherish, not our ego, race or territory.

Love holds the potential for political change. It happens when all people are loved, as equals.

The rites of play

“Play, not work, is the end of life. To participate in the rites of play is to dwell in the Kingdom of Ends. To participate in work, career, and the making of history is to labor the Kingdom of Means.” – Michael Novak, The Joy of Sports (1976)

Byung-Chul Han is a Korean-born professor of philosophy and cultural studies at the University of the Arts in Berlin as well as a popular contemporary social analyst. During the last two decades, he has published numerous book-length essays dissecting contemporary society. Han uses several catchy terms to define contemporary society, including  burnout, tired, positive, pornographic, intimate, transparent, control and information society to name a few.

His essays draw a dualistic map, that is good vs. bad, and the distinction can, at times, have an either–or character, for example, seduction versus porn, knowledge versus information, negative versus positive, consumers versus users, etc. In his newest book, titled The Disappearance of Rituals, Han turns to rituals to overcome the erosion of community. As symbolic acts, Han suggests that rituals can bring closure. Han also looks to rituals to “stabilize life” and make “life last.”

According to Han, closure and stability are needed because everything has been “colonized by the economic.” He observes that “in consuming emotions we do not relate to things but to ourselves. What we seek is emotional authenticity. Thus, the consumption of emotions strengthens the narcissistic relationship with ourselves.” Thus, the corrosion of community is related to narcissism. 

Han illustrates the ever-present narcissism that can be found even in so-called positive movements or slogans that focus on change: change yourself by doing this, change the world by buying or consuming this product. The problem is two-sided: to walk around in a vegan t-shirt or shoes requires money, and second, all that matters is the symbolic value. However, having a Buddha statue in your garden does not really bring people together or bring you any closer to having true insight. The problem is that some symbols have become shallow. They don’t “establish relations, only connections.” 

Han doesn’t use the concept of authenticity in an existential way but sees it as a neoliberal concept of production. “You exploit yourself voluntarily in the belief that you are realizing yourself.” Or, when everyone “is producing him- or herself in order to garner more attention … the compulsion of self-production leads to a crisis of community.” The crisis is characterized by “echo chambers,” where people mainly hear the voices of those who share their beliefs and opinions.

Thus, communication without community is compulsive and narcissistic, whereas rituals consist of narrative processes.” Another way of describing the corrosion of communities is that contemporary rituals have become “as-if-rituals,” in other words, shallow. 

The rituals that Han refers to aim to stabilize identity, to make one “at home in the world.” He refers to the Hungarian writer Péter Nádas who describes a village with an ancient pear tree at the centre, which for Han is an example of “a ritually closed place”. Under the pear tree the villagers gather and contemplate silently. In his work, Nádas unfolds a collective consciousness that “creates a community without communication.”  

Han is aware that his ideas are closely related to modern-day nationalism, but with the help of Hegel, he claims that the “spirit is a closure, an enclosing power which, however, incorporates the other” but without changing the culture that Han sees as something original, fixed and even sacred. For the same reason, he postulates that societies seek closure, or a clear identity, which for him is a “society of rules,” where such “rules rest on agreement.” Yet he doesn’t explore the difficulties in establishing rules in societies inhabited by narcissistic cultural, racial, gender, and other group identities. He paints his critique with broad strokes and, equally vaguely, states: “We must defend an ethics of beautiful forms.” 

The kind of rituals that Han proposes are rituals of closure, for example, religious festivals. For the same reason, he claims that culture unfortunately has been made profane. For Han, “culture is a form of closure, and so founds an identity.” 

I would disagree with him and claim that a closed cultural identity is a fiction. Cultures change, yet Han is persistent, for instance, when he sees danger in Deleuze’s and Guattaris’s concepts of becoming and rhizome. Unlike the two French philosophers, Han operates with a metaphysics of being. Again, I would disagree with Han by suggesting that the problem of today is related to an idealized or normative notion of being, and the result is that most people seek the same thing and do the same thing to gain attention, prestige and status or to gain followers and likes (cf. the echo chambers). There is a lack of critical thinking because people would rather feel protected and at home, that is, identified. Finally, when Deleuze and Guattari speak about becoming, it is never about the point from which something originates (e.g., cultural identity) or the point at which it arrives. Their concept of becoming is closer to “play,” which Han leans toward at the end of his book, perhaps to overcome the risk of appearing too nostalgic in his urge for rituals.

In Homo Ludens (1955), Johan Huizinga summarizes play as “free activity … an activity connected with no material interest … a voluntary activity.” Play is intrinsically valued. Later, with the Enlightenment, play was contrasted with work. Work was serious, play was unserious—a waste of time. Still, some philosophers suggest otherwise—and here Han could have improved his book by consulting more recent literature about sport and philosophy. 

Yet, to gain closure in Han’s argument, readers might be curious about what play can offer. “Thinking has the character of play” because there is no thinking without eros—or joy and freedom, I would add. 

Play is related to seduction, and with this concept, Han succeeds in tying play to rituals as something exterior, something that is repeated as when Kierkegaard’s seducer turns up at the same place every day in Cordelia’s life. Seduction also requires dwelling or time as duration because it requires a secret—a transparent person is never seductive—because all narratives are fed by a secret story. That secret might even be related to why so many people play, or watch other people play which, according to Novak (see epigraph), might have something to do with play being real, honest, and true.

Thus, what is the secret that brings people together? Play, rituals, seduction. 

After reading a few of Han’s books, you know what to expect: more of the same. To his credit, he adds a little extra each time to stimulate new readers. In this book, it is rituals and play, although he could have spent more time exploring these concepts, especially the latter. 

Still, Han’s books can awaken an appetite for a more critical approach to society—for both students and critically orientated citizens. 

Finn Janning, PhD, philosopher and writer – review first published in Metapsychology

Blandt de råbende var mødre!

I gamle dage hed det politisk korrekthed. I dag hedder det wokeism eller cancel culture. Fælles for alle er en ekstrem påstået moralsk korrekthed, der sjældent giver plads til tvivl, usikkerhed eller nuanceringer. 

Senest har Information brugt fodbolden, som en anledning til at plædere for moralske korrektioner. Under overskriften ”Det er tid til at ændre fodboldkulturen”, reducerer lederskribenten fodboldkulturen til én bestemt ting: noget moralsk forkastelig. 

Eksemplet lyder: ”Fisse, kusse, Schmeichel er en mur!” råbte de danske roligans tidligere denne sommer, når landsholdsmålmand Kasper Schmeichel leverede gode redninger i Parken under EM i fodbold. Blandt de råbende tilskuere var børn, unge og helt almindelige familiefædre og -mødre. Det er svært at forestille sig de samme mennesker råbe noget lignende i en hvilken som helst anden sammenhæng, fodbolden.”

Eksemplet er velvalgt, idet de jo ikke giver nogen mening. To – måske stødende – ord for det kvindelig kønsorgan, råbes sammen med efternavnet på en målmand. Jeg kan på ingen måde se sammenhængen eller relevansen – altså sammenhængen mellem en målmands evner og kønsorganer. 

Sangen ville heller ikke blive bedre, hvis navne for det mandlige kønsorgan var anvendt, eller frugter, grøntsager, bildele, etc. Sætningen er meningsløs. Men mere praktisk tydeliggør den muligvis, at det mest af alt handler om at sige noget sammen – i fællesskab.

Forargelsen er dog stor hos Information, der ser ”helt almindelige familiefædre” blandt de syngende – hvordan ser en almindelig familiefar ud? Og sågar mødre, skriver de. Mødre er som bekendt kvinder, og kvinder er som bekendt mere woke, end mænd (i hvert fald i Information). 

Kiggede lederskribenten lidt mere indgående på kulturbegrebet, ville vedkommende bemærke, at kultur er noget foranderligt. Ingen kultur er ukrænkelig og original. Fodboldkulturen udvikles, den ændres. Det sker blandt andet, når fans bliver gjort opmærksom på noget upassende i deres opførsel. Det kunne eksempelvis være, at de bliver bevidste om, hvad de synger. Og at det sårer nogen.

Filosoffen Søren Kierkegaard sagde, at livet leves forlæns, mens forstås baglæns. Ole Fogh Kirkeby sagde, jeg ved først, hvad jeg mener, når jeg har hørt mig selv sige det (eller synge det). Os andre dødelige, ynder at sige, at vi tager ved lære. 

Jeg er sikker på at næste gang en dansk målmand skal motiveres, er kønsorganer ikke en essentiel del af peptalken. Ikke fordi ordet kusse eller fisse per defintion er problematisk – selvom de er det for nogle – men fordi det ikke giver mening. Ordene skærper ikke målmandens opmærksomhed.

Er Informations leder et eksempel på tidens herskende cowboy-moral, hvor mange skyder før de tænker?

Denne tendens peger i retning af manglende kritisk nysgerrighed, empati og forståelse for andre menneskers eksistensvilkår.  

Hvordan kan ”helt almindelige familiefædre og -mødre” have en større lyst til at være sammen om noget, selvom dette noget måske ikke er videre meningsfuldt, sågar formår at krænke enkelte? Skyldes det, at vi lever i et samfund, hvor fællesskabet er blevet en kliche? Skyldes det, at vi lever i et opportunistisk konkurrencesamfund, hvor der er gået sport i hvem, der kan være mest moralsk (læs: hvem kan ophøje sig selv, ved at fordømme de andre mest nederdrægtigt)? Skyldes det, at vi slet ikke er så åbne og tolerante, som vi bilder os ind; skyldes det, at vi ikke bryder os om ”de andre”, især når de ikke lige mener, tænker og føler som os selv. Måske det skyldes, at ingen lytter til hvad de selv (eller andre) siger, som handlede det blot om at sige noget?

Kulturændringer – som reelt hele tiden sker – forudsætter kritiske, ansvarlige og bevidste borgere. Modsat tidens moralske skråsikkerhed, forudsætter læring en kritisk perspektivisme og nysgerrig ydmyghed. Det vil i praksis sige, en løbende nuancering af ens egne antagelser om korrekthed. Det kunne være forestillingen om eksistensen af ”den almindelige familiefar”, eller ”mødrene”. 

Hvad nu, hvis vi i stedet for at observere hinanden med det formål, at dømme og forbyde de andre, observerede hinanden, fordi vi bekymrede os om hinanden, fordi vi gerne vil hjælpe andre mennesker med at blive bedre – ligesom de fleste af os håber, at de andre vil hjælpe os med at blive bedre? 

Filosofi besidder dette aspirerende element. 

Det er i bund og grund det, som er en stor del af fodboldkulturen går ud på: at hjælpe ens hold. Gode intentioner er selvfølgelig aldrig nok, men fodboldkulturen er på mange måder mere kærlig, empatisk og respektfuld, end eksempelvis den aktuelle danske politiske kultur, hvor nogle – helt bogstaveligt – gramser på eller befamler dét, som andre blot synger om. 

Det er altså ikke svært, at forestille sig noget lignende og værre, andre steder end i fodbolden, selvom lederskribenten netop påstår dette. 

I bedste Aristoteles-stil kunne jeg spørge: Hvem ville du helst lade passe din børn: En netop tilbagevendte konservativ politiker, eller en rød og hvidklædt fodboldfan, der engang sang kusse?

To Love Everyone as Equals

Imagine you were Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish existentialist. Then there would be nothing confusing about the remark: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

In a letter to his fiancée, Regine Olsen, Kierkegaard wrote, “Freedom is the element of love.”

Love presupposes freedom.

All those who are free can love.

Freedom is liberation from something that is obstructive: hatred or ignorance.

The rest in Sisyphus Magazine

Freedom is the element of love

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and the so-called “father of existentialism” was born today, May 5 in 1813. To celebrate, I drink a bottle of champagne and share this essay which, recently, was published in the Wild Roof Journal.

A man in his late fifties enters a tattoo shop in Barcelona. He shows up unannounced with his new girlfriend. They are both a little bit drunk.

“Can you write her name on my arm?” he asks the young female tattoo artist who was busy tattooing me. 

Before waiting for an answer, he rolls up the sleeves of his grayish sweatshirt. “Here,” he says, pointing to a vacant spot of bare skin close to his wrist. I notice that his arm already carries four other female names. Three of them are crossed out. 

“I need you to cross out the last one and add her name,” he says, as he points to his partner. Her. 

The tattooist looks at the man’s arm, looks at the lady, and says, “Lucky you!” 

Is she being ironic? 

She observes, “Before he didn’t have room for you; now he does.”

Love and Freedom Are Bound Together 

This episode makes me think of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who once wrote in a letter to his fiancée, Regine Olsen, “Freedom is the element of love.” This statement encapsulates the two most important features of a life worth living: freedom and love. 

You’re free to do almost whatever you want as long as you’re willing to take all the consequences. It goes without saying that you’re never free to violate or harm anyone, deliberately, which also has nothing to do with love. Love is edifying, as Kierkegaard writes wrote in Works of Love (1847). 

For Kierkegaard, love is the metaphysical foundation of life; it is what is. Yet, combined with freedom, love can take many forms: friendships, parents, lovers, etc. 

Regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation, what is important when it comes to love is there; it exists. We are all free to experience the possibilities of love, but doing so in our own way. Looking at Kierkegaard through the recollection of this episode, I believe it illustrates—or at least encourages me to reflect on—something more general about society than whether a few people like ink or not. 

For example, many people in today’s achievement-oriented society who suffer from insecurity, anxiety, stress, or burnout do so because they feel alone. They basically lack the experience of real and honest contact with other people. Often even with themselves, as when Wittgenstein defines a philosophical problem with being lost. 

Isn’t showing a new acquaintance, a potential lover, that your arm already carries the names of four other women a way of showing honesty? A way of trying to facilitate real contact? Create a space where love can flourish, despite it all?

If I am right, then there was nothing sad about it for him or her. Quite the contrary, being unconnected with other lives leads to sadness. Unfortunately, many people live behind what resembles a firewall that falsely protects our vulnerability or fear of losing face while, at the same time, prevents us from connecting with other people. It’s like a veil between the world, you, and me. 

Are we being too  polite to be honest?

Many, would probably feel embarrassed if they had to cross out a name on their arm, especially if they hadn’t learned from their first, second, and third mistakes, but just kept on adding name after name. Still, they would only be embarrassed because they would look at themselves through the ideals or norms of others, especially those people with whom they might hope to be identified. This, I believe, illustrates how the existential and political tend to become indistinguishable. For instance, in today’s identity-political sphere, many tend to criticize or oppose other people, thoughts, or forms of life, not because of critical thinking but due to prejudices. Knowing how easy it is to fall outside in a society where people tend to shoot before they ask, or even think (if they think at all), firewalls eventually emerge. 

Freedom, therefore, also becomes a question of power. As Byung-Chul Han has shown in What Is Philosophy? (2019), “Violence and freedom are the two end points on the scale of power.” Although there is a tendency among philosophers to leave power to political scientists and organizational theorists, power addresses existential questions. 

For instance, whether those subjected to power follow their own desire while doing so, or whether they follow the desire of the powerful as if it were their own, or whether they even anticipate the desire of the other. Thus, regardless of how trite this may sound, I believe that many people lack the courage and creativity to live the life they want (again, I am thinking of any kind of life that doesn’t deliberately harm anyone). If we are afraid of losing our good standing among people who don’t actually tolerate any diversion from their own ideals, we are not free, and therefore—following Kierkegaard—not capable of loving. The kind of firewall that I refer to is mainly constituted by powerful norms and ideals of our current achievement-focused society that constantly forces us to live in a particular way. 

For example, many young people today feel a pressure to attain an unrealistic body image, often only achieved through plastic surgery or synthetic enhancement. Or how we may feel forced to develop certain competences or express warranted opinions (typically only those that already fit into or enhance our “human capital”). The result of this capitalization of life is that we drain ourselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. We not only fail to live up to all the ideals but also to forgive ourselves for not being able to do so. We have lost our direction in life playing the power-game of others.

To Become Free 

Returning to the opening episode, we must understand that instead of one true love, some people might experience several. Similarly, instead of claiming that there only exists one right way of living a life worth living, there are several. If Western philosophy teaches us anything, it is that we are always placed in the middle, trying to do our best, exploring and testing life. That is testing our freedom and desires, like asking whether our desire to do this or that really is our desire, or whether we’re just being seduced, forced, or manipulated.

According to Kierkegaard in his letter, love and freedom cannot be separated. Feeling loved and being capable of love make a person free. A simple example could be how most people feel free when they are together with their loved ones. Together with friends, we can turn off our protective firewall. 

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau opens The Social Contract (1762) with the claim: “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” Despite the power of this sentence I don’t believe we are born free; on the contrary, as a father of three, I have noticed that we are all born helpless and impotent. Still, to some extent, I agree with Rousseau. Instead of cultivating a capacity for critical thinking and compassion in our children, most future citizens are institutionalized in a way that chains them mentally. For the same reason, I agree with Rousseau when he goes on to say: “Those who think themselves masters of others are instead greater slaves than they.” They, the masters, maintain a self-constraining system, yet they do so because they seduce themselves into believing that the systematic status and prestige they have reflects how good they are at living a life worth living. But it doesn’t. 

To become free in an existential sense requires more than stripes on the shoulder, a high salary, or being born in a privileged part of the world. It requires first of all an acknowledgement and respect towards the world we are born into, its norms and ideals, but also an empathic yet critical capacity to question these norms and ideals, the structure behind them, perhaps even to change them. In my book A Philosophy of Mindfulness (2018), I defined freedom as a combination of having the courage to stand against all that which limits, controls, or even destroys our lives, combined with the imagination to create space for alternative lives. It’s a mixture of resistance and inventiveness. Or, to put it even more simply, a mixture of saying both “no” and “yes.” The reason why I don’t believe that we are born free is related to the fact that in order to know what is important, we will have to have tested, explored, or experimented with life. With age, most people know when to say “no”; however, they only know so because they become conscious of what to affirm or say “yes” to. 

Love All People as Equals 

Reflecting on the couple entering the tattoo parlor, I propose that we might see them as a couple that, despite their setbacks, imagines a world where love is still possible. They still know what is important, what to affirm: love.

Another way of confirming that freedom and love are the main ingredients of a life worth living could be by postulating that egocentrism is the exact opposite of freedom. I say so because I only believe we can become free together. Saying this, I am aware that some may suggest that the man entering the tattoo parlor is being egocentric in the act of getting a tattoo of each woman’s name. However, such an assumption would require that we see the tattoo as a symbol of more than it is, for example, a kind of ownership or possession which is a part of our habitual capitalist mindset. On the other hand, the tattoo might be nothing more than a faithful confirmation of the strength of love. Of course, the tattoo—-especially in this situation with so many names—-can make us think of the person as naive, romantic, or too spontaneous, and yet, it is also an affirmation that emphasizes what connects those names on his arm: love. 

Love is everywhere the same, although it always expresses itself differently. 

Kierkegaard illustrated this strength in Works of Love (1847)where he elaborated on the biblical sentence “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” stressing that “thy neighbor” does not refer to your people, nation, gender or sexual orientation, but all people. We should love all people as equals.

Now this is something that very few of us are capable of, but even more sadly, loving everyone as equals (not equally) is something that many of us don’t even strive to accomplish. Capitalism has made us lazy in a comfortable way, either by avoiding any kind critical scrutinization of our own pre-existing biases, or by assuming that all problems can be overcome through consumption. On the contrary, love teaches us to become worthy of what happens. It’s hard work but nothing is more enriching and liberating. 

Kierkegaard, in my opinion, doesn’t present us with an abstract ideal of love; rather, he confronts our confusion and limitations, which can be extremely powerful in a time where many are so self-conscious of their own way of thinking (often anchored solely in their race, gender or sexuality) that they become resistant to alternative perspectives. 

Perhaps this more humble approach to life could lead to a more caring educational mission: How can we teach people today what makes them capable of loving all people tomorrow? 

Love is all inclusive

This reflection of love, freedom, and tattoos has become more political than intended. However, and perhaps I am being too romantic or naive as well, I do believe that love belongs in a political context as well. The power of love transforms not only our lives but also societies by overturning the cultures of domination and repression because they have nothing to do with love. For example, when we are dominated or dominate someone, we are never free. Violence and coercion are lifeless. In other words, those who misuse power (not those in power per se) do so because they are not free. A parent hitting his or her child might claim that he or she did so “out of love”, although it is just an act of violence. 

Love is all inclusive. Or as Kierkegaard said, we should love everyone as equals, not favoring our own gender or religion. Our human history is full of violence, discrimination and killing of women for being women, killing and discriminations of different races, religions or thoughts solely for being different. Human history is one where far too many only like the stranger as long as he or she thinks exactly like them. Thus, there are many reasons to be angry, and anger often comes with a clearer vision, just as there is a lot of needed fuel in it, and yet in order to build or construct a better future, only love can do the work. Love cares for everyone and everything. It was there before we were born, and it will be here once we are gone. Love is what links each name together, not just the one on the man’s arm, but all names in human history. 

Love is not hierarchical, nor does it moralize. The tattooist illustrated this. She didn’t moralize as if she represented a higher and more lucrative position of unquestionable “good”. Instead she was open, not just because they were potential paying customers, but due to her capacity to empathize with them. 

The couple in the tattoo parlor shared a belief in love. Not in the sense that life is without difficulties and suffering. It is; but rather that it’s love that helps us overcome these setbacks, never revenge or hate. 

Love, therefore, is not an abstract ideal but something we all experience and notice if we pay attention. It is like pointing out what all football fans share regardless of their favorite team, which is a love of the game; what all languages share, which is the ability to communicate, make connections, and dialogue; what all people share regardless of national origin, which is that they live on this planet; or what all of us share regardless of gender, race, and sexual preference, which is that we need sunlight to live and that we all breathe the same air. 

If we can love all people as equals, then we would also be capable of seeing why all people should be treated with the same respect, trust, care, and justice. There is no love without mutual respect and equality. However, and this is why I have been using this little episode about the man and women as my point of departure; if I cannot encounter two drunk people in a tattoo parlor without feeling better than them, pitying them or any other kind of sad behavior that would illustrate my embedded prejudices, how should I then make myself available for those who live lives far more different.

Is love bulletproof then? Without answering directly, I would claim that the mistakes we make in love can be crossed out. We can go on living because they initially emerged from a free, honest, and nondiscriminating relationship to and with life. It’s an honest mistake. The man in the tattoo parlor doesn’t hide his previous relationships. On the contrary, he brings (or she brings him) to make another affirmation of love. It is like an ethical confirmation; despite all the discrimination, greed, and violence in today’s world, we must “go on” affirming what matters. Daily.

You know when you’re in love. Or to put it differently: if you’re doubting, you’re not in love.

The last thing I heard the tattooist ask the man as I left the store was, “Are you sure?”

“Do I look like I am doubting?”

 It was her saying those last words. 

Quiero saber qué es el amor

“Quiero saber qué es el amor”, cantó la banda de rock británico-estadounidense Foreigner en los años ochenta. Estaban lejos de ser originales. Por el contrario, el amor ha sido elevado, cuestionado, estereotipado, usado y mal utilizado desde el comienzo de la existencia humana. En la cultura popular, el concepto de amor se ha trivializado hasta el punto de que podríamos sorprendernos cuando, a veces, nos enamoramos de todos los clichés y el sentimentalismo. Aunque la banda de rock puede no ser original, todavía plantea una pregunta universal.

Lee el resto de mi texto “Kierkegaard y el concepto del amor como fuerza política” que presenté en al Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador.

Kierkegaard: Love, literature & life

“Loving people is the only thing worth living for.” – Søren Kierkegaard

I will be participating in the “Ciclo de conferencias ‘Europa en la cultura'” held at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador.

The conference takes place next week.

Tuesday the 10th of December, I will be given a talk on “Kierkegaard and the concept of love as a political force.”

“Everything I do I do with love, and so I also love with love,” Kierkegaard writes in Either-Or.

***

The following two days, the 11th and 12th respectively, I will be organizing two seminars or lectures on “Philosophy, literature and a new therapeutical approach to life.

During these seminars, I will relate my thoughts to philosophers such as Deleuze, Weil, Murdoch and Wittgenstein to both problematize our current achievement society, as well as proposing possible escape routes. To strengthen my argument, I will–briefly–refer to artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Karl Ove Knausgård, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf and Roberto Bolaño.

If you happen to be in Quito, Ecuador, you’re welcome!

Kierkegaard: A Responsible Philosopher?

Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) is without a doubt the greatest Danish philosopher. The father of existentialism. In a very simple way, he lived his philosophy. After all, to exist means not only to be alive and breathing but also to “stand out.” 

I always visualized existentialism as a vibe board, where a particular life stands out in an ocean of other lives. The image is romantic but it fits with Kierkegaard. He stood out. 

To the world he is known for setting the tone for such themes as fear, guilt, and anxiety, but also for choosing the choice, freedom, and love. In Denmark, his name is spoken with a certain amount of reverence because it can be difficult not to be seduced by his vision of life and poetic style, but also because he was radical. For example, Kierkegaard was openly critical of democracy when he elevated the individual above the crowd. In fact, he would not see imprisonment in isolation as one of the worst forms of punishment, because the truth emerges, undisturbed, between the individual and God. 

For Kierkegaard, I suggest, it all comes down to four important concepts: the self, truth, freedom, and one’s relationship to God.

Read the rest of the essay in Erraticus

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