Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Existence, Existentialists and Existentialism

It took me a long time to realize that I was more interested in existence than existentialism or any particular existentialist. I was never able to get into the role of a Kierkegaard or Heidegger scholar, largely because I lacked the necessary discipline and curiosity to become knowledgeable about their lives and works.

This is much clearer in the case of my more recently discovered interest in the duende. It's clear that I will never be a Lorca scholar—it's way too late for that. Perhaps it's the difference between, to borrow Jonathan Mayhew's phrase, wanting to know what Lorca knew, and wanting to know what Lorca knew. That's probably not clear. Lorca seems to have understood something about the source of inspiration, something which is as important for a poet as the ground of existence is for a philosopher. That's what I want to know. I don't really care what was on Lorca's mind as such.

The scholar (a practitioner of a perfectly respectable occupation) does not seek the same insight as the poet or philosopher under study. I find that I do. I want to know what Kierkegaard and Heidegger knew, or just might have known, about existence. I don't want to know a whole bunch of things about them.

I am aware that this is a somewhat quaint affectation.

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