Anodyne



[Cimabue - Virgin Enthroned]


We shall take our time -- after all, there is no need to hurry. By going slowly, one sometimes does indeed fail to reach the goal, but by going too fast, one sometimes passes it. We shall discuss this somewhat in Greek fashion. If a child who has received a gift of a little money -- enough to be able to buy either a good book, for example, or one toy, for both cost the same -- buys the toy, can he use the same money to buy the book? By no means, for now the money has been spent. But he may go to the bookseller and ask him if he will exchange the book for the toy. Suppose the bookseller answers: My dear child, your toy is worthless; it is certainly true that when you still had the money you could have bought the book just as well as the toy, but the awkward thing is that once it is purchased it has lost all value.

Would not the child think: This is very strange indeed. And so it was also once, when man could buy freedom and unfreedom for the same price, and this price was the free choice of the soul and the surrender of the choice. He chose unfreedom, but if he were to approach the god and ask whether he could make an exchange, the answer presumably would be: Undeniably there was a time when you could have bought what you wanted, but the curious thing about unfreedom is that once it is purchased it has no value whatsoever, even though one pays the same price for it.

I wonder if such a person would not say: This is very strange indeed.

--Kierkegaard -- Philosophical Fragments