Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

I’m reading Kierkegaard’s excellent Two Ages right now, a book in which Kierkegaard offers an aesthetic interpretation of the work of Danish novelist Thomasine Gyllembourg (the book is at first a review of her work Two Ages, but also reviews other works of hers). After the review, Kierkegaard turns to critique the present age, which is what most commentators (including myself) read the book for.

I’ve just finished a part where Kierkegaard describes a fight that he witnessed, and I find it particularly humorous and difficult to imagine, especially the part where Kierkegaard describes his intervention.

I once witnessed a fight in which three men shamefully mistreated a fourth. The crowd watched with indignation; their hostile muttering began to spur them to action: some of the crowd converged on one of the assailants and threw him down, etc. The avengers thereby exemplified the same law as the assailants. If I may be permitted to interject my own incidental person, I will finish the story. I approached one of the avengers and attempted to explain dialectically the inconsistency of their behavior, but apparently it was quite impossible for him to engage in anything like that, and he merely repeated: “He had it coming. Such a scoundrel deserves three against one.” This borders on the comic, especially for the person who did not witness the beginning and then heard one man say of the other that he (the lone man) was three against one, and heard it the very moment when the opposite was the case–when there were three against him. In the first situation there was the comedy of contradiction in the same sense as “when the watchman said to a solitary person: Please break it up! Disperse!” The second situation had the comedy of self-contradiction. I gathered, however, that it was probably best for me to surrender all hope of ending this scepticism lest it be continued against me.

Kierkegaard, Two Ages (Princeton UP), pg 87.

Perhaps in the coming years we will see a new kind of superhero, who explains (dialectically) the inconsistency of bad guys’ actions.


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