27 May 2013

Of All Wishes, Which Is the Best?

Søren Kierkegaard, from Either/Or, quoted in Parables of Kierkegaard, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 125:
Something wonderful has happened to me. I was caught up into the seventh heaven. There sat all the gods in assembly. By special grace I was granted the privilege of making a wish. "Wilt thou," said Mercury, "Have youth or beauty or power or a long life or the most beautiful maiden or any other glories we have in the chest? Choose, but only one thing." For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed myself to the gods as follows: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose this one thing, that I may always have the laugh on my side." Not one of the gods said a word; on the contrary, they all began to laugh. From that I concluded that my wish was granted, and found that the gods knew how to express themselves with taste; for it would hardly have been suitable for them to have answered gravely: "Thy wish is granted."