(urth) Soldier: Hegesistratus the Lame Lycanthrope

Matthew King automatthew at gmail.com
Tue Apr 4 10:08:34 PDT 2006

On Apr 4, 2006, at 4:18 AM, Iorwerth Thomas wrote:

>> From: "Chris" <rasputin_ at hotmail.com>
>> Now that you mention it though, the bit about whistling when he  
>> loses just
>> like he whistles when he wins stirs up some memory I can't quite  
>> recall.
>> Isn't there some statement or other that the (Christian) man of faith
>> always
>> hopes for the best, but nonetheless is never disappointed if he  
>> doesn't
>> happen to get it, treating each with a sort of happy equanimity?
> It _sounds_ like some elements of Kierkeguaard, but it may not have  
> been
> original to him.
> -Iorwerth

The whistling bit reminds me particularly of the Knight of Faith in  
Kierkegaard's _Fear and Trembling_.   I don't recall any exact  
analogues, but a specific passage does come to mind, which I'll paste  
below.  Terminology note:  By "knights of infinity" in the second  
paragraph, SK is referring to what he more usually calls the Knight  
of Infinite Resignation.  An example of the KoIR is Agamemnon,  
sacrificing his daughter for the good of the cause.  His counterpart  
Knight of Faith is Abraham, offering up his son for no good reason  
other than a personal request, BUT with the full and absurd  
expectation that he will receive Isaac back (Paul says by  
resurrection, though that turned out to be unnecessary in this case).


Toward evening he walks home, his gait is as indefatigable as that of  
the postman. On his way he reflects that his wife has surely a  
special little warm dish prepared for him, e.g. a calf's head  
roasted, garnished with vegetables. If he were to meet a man like- 
minded, he could continue as far as East Gate to discourse with him  
about that dish, with a passion befitting a hotel chef. As it  
happens, he hasn't four pence to his name, and yet he fully and  
firmly believes that his wife has that dainty dish for him. If she  
had it, it would then be an invidious sight for superior people and  
an inspiring one for the plain man, to see him eat; for his appetite  
is greater than Esau's. His wife hasn't it–strangely enough, it is  
quite the same to him.

. . . Most people live dejectedly in worldly sorrow and joy; they are  
the ones who sit along the wall and do not join in the dance. The  
knights of infinity are dancers and possess elevation. They make the  
movements upward, and fall down again; and this too is no mean  
pastime, nor ungraceful to behold. But whenever they fall down they  
are not able at once to assume the posture, they vacillate an  
instant, and this vacillation shows that after all they are strangers  
in the world. This is more or less strikingly evident in proportion  
to the art they possess, but even the most artistic knights cannot  
altogether conceal this vacillation. One need not look at them when  
they are up in the air, but only the instant they touch or have  
touched the ground–then one recognizes them. But to be able to fall  
down in such a way that the same second it looks as if one were  
standing and walking, to transform the leap of life into a walk,  
absolutely to express the sublime in the pedestrian–that only the  
knight of faith can do–and this is the one and only prodigy.

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