It’s spring and I am here in Denmark. Not Copenhagen this time, Roskilde, at the beautiful Hotel Prindsen, where, I understand from Peter Tudvad, Kierkegaard probably stopped to eat on his way to Jutland in the summer of 1840! The hotel actually dates back to the 17th century. I’m here for the annual conference of the PsyArt Foudation. The PsyArt Foundation is a really cool group of which I am now a member by virtue of having paid my conference registration fee. There’s a great group of people here, very international. There are scholars and psychotherapists from Iran, Hungary, Israel, the Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and France (to name just a few of the countries represented), as well as from the U.S., and, of course, Denmark.
The conference is being sponsored jointly by the PsyArt Foundation and Roskilde University. It was organized, at least in part, however, by Bent Sørensen from Aalborg University. Bent very thoughtfully provided his cell number to all the conference participants. That came in handy this morning when I woke up after the session at which I was scheduled to present my paper had actually started. I’d already missed the bus from the hotel to the university and I had not yet showered or dressed. “No worries,” Bent said, cool as a cucumber. “I’ll move your presentation to the end of the session. Just get a cab over here as quickly as you can.” I made it and the presentation was well received despite the fact that I had not yet even had a cup of COFFEE!
My presentation was not actually about Kierkegaard, so I won’t tell you about it here. It is part of a larger book project that I’ll start on as soon as I finish with Fear and Dissembling. There was a presentation on Kierkegaard at the conference though. It was by Rainer Kaus from the Psychology Dept. of the University of Cologne. The title was “Søren Kierkegaard’s Concept of Existence.” Here is the abstract:
“Kierkegaard’s thesis on truth and existence is complex. His major focus is on subjectivity as the bearer of truth. For Kierkegaard, subjectivity is put into the polarity of reason and sacrifice and culminates in a radical turning-away from the official doctrine of Christianity, represented by the institutionalized church and its teachings. Kierkegaard’s presentation of the development of the concept of the subject’s interiority and its existence in the world evidenced a high degree of seduction by linguistically aesthetic means. The central question remains whether, in the face of dwindling religiosity and the institutional erosion of all churches, as well as the confusing diversity of all the psychoanalytic perspectives (which, in turn, are seeking a unity), Kierkegaard still has something essential to contribute in the twenty-first century.”
I was unfortunately unable to hear the presentation, but I understand from other participants that it was good. Another scholar, Murray Schwartz, from Emerson College in Amherst, MA, told me that he is going to mention Kierkegaard in his presentation “Jonathan Lear as Psychoanalytic Interpreter,” so Kierkegaard seems very popular with this crowd. If you are looking for new venues for presenting your work, you should consider submitting a paper to the PsyArt Foundation for next year’s conference. It’s going to be in Ghent, Belgium. That could be a nice ghetaway, don’t you think?