Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We Are Thrown into Existence Without a Rule Book

In refreshing my memory about Existentialism this morning, I came across this:

In “Repetition”, Kierkegaard's literary character Young Man asks:

“How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it? Why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?”

If you’ve read FLIGHTS OF PEGASUS and its comments, that must sound just a bit familiar.

Prize Offer! If you supply a correct answer to one or more of Young Man’s questions, I’ll send you a nice prize. The decision of the prize judge is final, and there is no appeal. . . . Hmmm, does that remind you of the subject of Young Man’s lament?


  1. I profess no knowledge of Kierkegaard or existentialism. Yet I would say to this young man...
    "you do have a choice, so make one". I would say "do not complain" as there are enough complainers about us already. I would say, you are the manager, do not look for another. And on a more contemporary note, I would say, "you've got a life...
    so, get a life."

  2. Ann, I wouldn't dare believe I understand what that loosely used and misused word "Existentialism" means, much less undertake to define it for another person. . . but it seems to me that your advice to Young Man may state the Existentialist position. The way I interpret it in this case is that you come into existence without knowing how or why you came into existence, and that must be your starting point for creating your life -- not speculation about origins and causes outside yourself. Something like that anyway!

    The Wikipedia article on "Existentialism" is probably better than some other explanations.

  3. Fleming, I would dare to run after the prize by offering an answer to one of them, but only in case you assure me that the prize would be about answers to the other ones. Can you? : )
    I am joking, of course.
    But existentialists are always great providers of good questions!

  4. Joice, there are two reasons I can't grant your clever request:

    1. Only the Management (which never tells me anything) can change the prize.

    2. I don't know the answers to any of the questions.

    So, come on an give an answer. Don't let this contest shrivel on the vine. All we have so far instead of answers is advice and negotiations.

  5. It happens that I think sometimes the negotiations part can be more fruitful, interesting and meaningful than strict answers themselves.
    How does it feel? How far is an anti-answer from an answer?
    Good morning, Fleming.

  6. Good morning, Joice, and thanks for pleasantly mystifying me as you often do when you dally with realities, and illusions within illusions.

    An anti-answer? Is that easier to understand than anti-matter? You ask how does it feel? . . . I surrender. That's how it feels.

  7. Ok, an anti-answer usually gets no prize, anyway. but it feels like!