The task I have assigned myself

It is the thought, not the incidentals of expression, that essentially makes an exposition unpopular. . . . Socrates was the most unpopular man in Greece because he said the same thing as the simplest person but meant infinitely much by it.  To be able to stick to one thought, to stick to it with ethical passion and undauntedness of spirit, to see the intrinsic duplexity of this one thought with the same impartiality, and at one and the same time to see the most profound earnestness and the greatest jest, the deepest tragedy and highest comedy – this is unpopular in any age for anyone who has not realized that immediacy is over.  But neither can what is essentially unpopular be learned by rote

This, then, is the task I have assigned myself: an unhappy love affair in which love is dialectical in itself (that is, there is no external obstacle to the love affair being happy) and in the crisis of infinite reflection acquires religious aspect.  It is easy to see how different this task is from any other unhappy love affair; it is easy to see if one looks at both parts at the same time – otherwise one will perhaps not see either of them.  Stages on Life’s Way, 415-416 (parenthesis added).

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