søren kierkegaard: parable of the two artists
March 12, 2010 § Leave a Comment
(click image to enlarge)
Niels Christian Kierkegaard’s portrait-drawing
of his cousin Søren Kierkegaard.
…& the following was excerpted from:
The Two Artists
What is the difference between requiring love of the
neighbor and finding lovableness
in the neighbor?
…Suppose there were two artists, and the one said, I have
travelled much and seen much in the world, but I have sought
in vain to find a man worth painting. I have found no face
with such perfection of beauty that I could make up in my mind
to paint it. In every face I have seen one or another little fault.
Therefore I seek in vain.” Would this indicate that this artist
was a great artist? On the other hand, the second one said,
“Well, I do not pretend to be a real artist: neither have I
travelled in foreign lands. But remaining in the little circle of
men who are closest to me, I have not found a face so insig-
nificant or so full of faults that I still could not discern in it
a more beautiful side and discover something glorious. There-
fore I am happy in the art I practice. It satisfies me without my
making any claim to being an artist.” Would this not indicate
that precisely this one was the artist, one who by bringing a
certain something with him found then and there what the
much travelled artist did not find anywhere in the world, per-
haps because he did not bring a certain something with him!
Consequently the second of the two was the artist. Would it
not be sad, too, if what is intended to beautify life could only
be a curse upon it, so that art, instead of making life beautiful
for us, only fastidiously discovers that not one of us is beauti-
ful. Would it not be sadder still, and still more confusing, if
love also should only be a curse because its demand could only
make it evident that none of us is worth loving, instead of
love’s being recognized by precisely by its loving enough to be
able to find lovableness in all of us, consequently loving
enough to be able to love all of us.
Works of Love, pp. 156-57