Kierkegaard’s Shadowgraphs: Inside and Outside

by Christian Parreno

You walk down the street, one house looks like each other, and only the experienced observer suspects that in that house, at midnight, everything looks quite different: an unhappy person wanders about, unable to rest; he climbs the stairs, his steps echo in the stillness of the night. We pass one another in the street, the one person looks like the other, and the other just like anyone else, and only the experienced observer suspects that, in that head, there lives a lodger who has nothing to do with the world, but lives out his lonely life confined to quiet domesticity. So the outer is the object of our observation, but not of our interest. Thus the fisherman sits and directs his attention unwaveringly on the float, yet the float does not interest him at all, only the movements down on the sea-bed. So the outer does indeed have significance for us, yet not as an expression of the inner but like a telegram telling of something hidden deep within.

Kierkegaard, Søren. ‘Shadowgraphs’ in Either/Or. London: Penguin, 2004/1843. 173