Home » (Quotes) » Two Passages. Of Returning to the Concrete.

Two Passages. Of Returning to the Concrete.

[The knight of faith] drains the deep sadness of life in infinite resignation, he knows the blessedness of infinity, he has felt the pain of renouncing everything, the most precious thing in the world, and yet the finite tastes just as good to him as to one who never knew anything high, because his remaining in finitude would have no trace of a timorous, anxious routine, and yet he has this security that makes him delight in it as if finitude were the surest thing of all.  And yet, yet the whole earthly figure he presents is a new creation by virtue of the absurd. He resigned everything infinitely, and then he grasped everything again by virtue of the absurd. He is continually making the movement to infinity, but he does it with such precision and assurance that he continually gets finitude out of it, and no one ever suspects anything else. It is supposed to be the most difficult feat for a ballet dancer to leap into a specific posture in such a way that he never once strains for the posture but in the very leap assumes the posture. Perhaps there is no ballet dancer who can do it—but this knight does it.

—Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

‘I begin to wish,’ said Louis, ‘for night to come. As I stand here with my hand on the grained oak panel of Mr. Wickham’s door I think myself the friend of Richelieu, or the Duke of St. Simon holding out a snuff-box to the King himself. It is my privilege. My witticisms “run like wildfire through the court.” Duchesses tear emeralds from their ear-rings out of admiration—but these rockets rise best in darkness, in my cubicle at night. I am now a boy only with a colonial accent holding my knuckles against Mr. Wickham’s grained oak door. The day has been full of ignominies and triumphs concealed from fear of laughter. I am the best scholar in the school. But when darkness comes I put off this unenviable body—my large nose, my thin lips, my colonial accent—and inhabit space. I am then Virgil’s companion, and Plato’s. I am then the last scion of one of the great houses of France. But I am also one who will force himself to desert these windy and moonlit territories, these midnight wanderings, and confront grained oak doors. I will achieve in my life—Heaven grant that it be not long—some gigantic amalgamation between the two discrepancies so hideously apparent to me. Out of my suffering I will do it. I will knock. I will enter.’

—Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Louis is not yet the knight of faith. Not yet.


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