søren kierkegaard: parable of the two artists

(click image to enlarge)

Niels Christian Kierkegaard’s portrait-drawing

of his cousin Søren Kierkegaard.

…& the following was excerpted from:

 The Parables of Søren Kierkegaard

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.

 –Søren Kierkegaard

Works of Love, pp. 156-57

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