Selections from the Writings of Kierkegaard 83
to make unrequited lov^e and death correspond to one an- other, and providing one is serious enough to stick to his thought â€” and so much seriousness one ought to have â€” for the sake of the joke.
Of course this phrase of unrequited love being death orig- inated either with a woman or a womanish male. Its origin is easily made out, seeing that it is one of those categorical outbursts which, spoken with great bravado, on the spur of the moment, may count on a great and immediate applause ; for although this business is said to be a matter of life and death, yet the phrase is meant for immediate consumption â€” like cream-puffs. Although referring to daily experience it is by no means binding on him who is to die, but only obliges the listener to rush post-haste to the assistance of the dying lover. If a man should take to using such phrases it would not be amusing at all. for he would be too despicable to laugh at. Woman, however, possesses genius, is lovable in the measure she possesses it, and is amusing at all times. Well, then, the languishing lady dies of love â€” why certainly, for did she not say so herself? In this matter she is pa- thetic, for woman has enough courage to say what no man would have the courage to do â€” so then she dies ! In saying so I have measured her by ethical standards. Do ye like- wise, dear fellow-banqueters, and understand your Aristotle aright, now ! He obser\^es very correctly that woman can- not be used in tragedy.^' And very certainly, her proper sphere is the pathetic and serious divertissement, the half- hour face, not the five-act drama. So then she dies. But should she for that reason not be able to love again? Why not? â€” that is, if it be possible to restore her to life. Now, having been restored to life, she is of course a new being â€” another person, that is, and begins afresh and falls in love for the first time : nothing remarkable in that I Ah, death, great is thy power ; not the most violent emetic and not the most powerful laxative could ever have the same purging effect !
The resulting confusion is capital, if one but is attentive and does not forget. A dead man is one of the most amus-
'Poeties, chap. 15.