Chapter 2: To Define Is to Confine - Existence Has No Boundaries
I am not in favor of all these five “existentialists”- in quotes - because I am not even ready to call them existentialists. Kierkegaard never really lived, or if you call his life, life, then it was worse than death. He came out of his house only once a month, and the house was not much, just a small room. His father, seeing that his son seemed to be a little crazy - continuously reading and writing - tried to read his books, and threw them away because he could not manage to figure out what Kierkegaard wanted to say. And he goes on and on about nothing, much ado about nothing.
Kierkegaard never got married. One foolish woman was in love with him.must have been foolish, because he was an ugly man in the first place, and a strange type, eccentric, who lived in the darkness of his room. Once a month he had to go out because his father, before he died, had put money in the post office and made an arrangement that every month Kierkegaard could draw a certain amount. He knew that Kierkegaard was not going to earn any money; he would simply die in his room, so his father sold everything and deposited it in the post office. That’s why Kierkegaard had to go out once every month; the first day of the month he would go out.
He lived in Copenhagen, and the whole town waited because it was a rare opportunity - Kierkegaard coming out of his room. The children used to follow him to the post office; it was almost a procession. And he had written a book, Either Or, which had just been published and that had become his nickname in Copenhagen. So the children would be shouting “either-or” - that was his real name to them - “Either-or is going to the post office!”
It was a great insight on the part of the children to name this man Either-or, because he was exactly that. That’s why he could not marry the woman, because he continued to think: either-or. All the favorable points for marriage, and all the unfavorable points for marriage all balanced out. He could not decide. The woman waited for three years, but he said, “Forgive me, I cannot decide. It is still either-or.”
Now, this man, who had never loved, who had not a single friend, who had not in any way contacted nature, who never communed in any way with existence.. If he feels life is meaningless, no wonder - it has to be meaningless. But he is projecting his feeling of meaninglessness on everybody.
And then came these four other so-called existentialists. I am calling them so-called because they had no communion with existence at all. The only way to have communion with existence is silence; and they didn’t know the language of silence - how could they commune with existence? So what were they doing? They were exposing the lie that the religious people have imposed on humanity. And it was a lie.
The meaning that religious people have given to human life is arbitrary. These people are exposing the arbitrariness of the religious people’s meaning - but that does not mean that life is meaningless. It simply means that the meaning that was given to life up to now is found invalid:
God is not the meaning of life.
Life beyond death is not the meaning of life.
Jesus Christ is not the meaning of life. But that does not mean that life has no meaning.