SKC Workshop

Cassandre Caballero

(Université de Picardie Jules Verne, France and University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

"The Figure of Don Giovanni in Søren Kierkegaard: A Dance to the Rhythm of Anxiety"

In “The Immediate Erotic Stages or the Musical-Erotic,” a chapter found in the first part of Either/Or, Kierkegaard, under the pseudonym “A,” gives an esthetic depiction of the figure of Don Giovanni. The author praises Don Giovanni’s success in seducing 1003 women without even saying a word. Indeed, his ability to seduce does not find its power in language, but in bodily communication, that is, in his look, his smile or his posture. Being a “sensual genius,” Don Giovanni does not need to think about what he does, and he never reflects upon himself or the women he loves. He seduces the way others breathe, and here lies the ingenuity of his bodily immediacy. A states that because Don Giovanni is a figure of pure immediacy, he needs to be studied using a lens that will not undermine his genius. For A music is the medium of immediacy and abstractness, and he therefore argues that it is in Mozart’s opera that Don Giovanni is the best depicted. This specific opera is the perfect unity between the idea and the corresponding form. However, I will argue that despite what he implies under the name A Kiekegaard has left some clues that urge his reader to slowly question Don Giovanni as a figure of pure immediacy. I hope to show that the author, even though he refuses to make a psychological study of the seducer, encourages his reader to engage in such examination. As a response to him, I will question the esthetic description of Don Giovanni with some psychological concepts found in Concept of Anxiety and Sickness Unto Death.

This SKC Workshop is organized in collaboration with the Institut français du Danemark