|sketch of Soren Kierkegaard (Niels Christian Kierkegaard)|
In a rumination on the Communist era, in a recent piece in The New York Times Magazine, Karl Ove Knausgaard, the author of the infamous Min Kamp novels makes the following comment. (“The TerribleBeauty of Brain Surgery,” NYT, 1/3/16): “If there is one thing I have a weakness for, it is the Communist Era, especially the secretive culture behind the Iron Curtain, with its working class heroism, its celebration of industry, it’s massive architecture, its Tarkovsky films, its cosmonauts and its supernatural ice-hockey teams. I don’t know why it appeals to me, because in actual fact I opposed everything it represents: the veneration of the collective, the industrialization of everyday life, the monumental aesthetics. I believe in blundering man and in the provisional moment. But something about the aura of the Soviet Age attracts me, sometimes with an almost savage force.” The article is really about Knausgaard’s following a prominent British brain surgery Henry Marsh to a gig in Tirana, Albania. But this is why we read Knausgaard. Who else is going to come up with a stunning sentence like “I believe in blundering man and the provisional moment?” Who else can employ parallelism to such poetic effect? “An Open Mind,” the heading under which the piece appears in the print edition, is also a great metaphor for a piece which describes the process by which a skull is sawed open. But this is why we read Knausgaard. Almost every sentence finesses a Kierkegaardian leap which in turn requires an act of faith. The Times piece is about brains. It's a great subject for Knausgaard and it's the thing we admire him for, his brain.