Let's try and do something worthwhile for a change.
Lately I've been reading Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard and it came to me how relevant this book is for any discussion about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Apart from the obvious titular similarity and the fact the book opens with a Kierkegaard quote, its whole theme of the incomunicability of the death of the American Dream and the futility of Thompson's own threnody matches perfectly with Kierkegaard's foray in the outward speechlessness of the faithful, the inability to relate one's story to others.
What do you think about this? I'm partial to the idea it was something Thompson meant to convey.
What about you? Recount times in which you made autonomous connection between works of literature.
I think he's referring to the inability to properly convey via words how it feels to be faithful - he talks about Abraham and his test of faith, the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, and he begins Fear and Trembling by retelling the story five times, each different from the other, from a "Christian man"'s point of view to showcase the intrinsic difficulty in understanding such a personal, deep action.
I admit the evangelical side of Christianity didn't readily come to my mind, I hope the later parts of the book take it into account.
Certainly Thompson was familiar with Kierkegaard, but beyond co-opting the title I'd be very careful about making other leaps. He's coming from journalism after all, so the pull toward superficiality in this work is undeniable. He's writing under duress and a deadline.
I believe that Kierkegaard completely misrepresented faith in Fear & Trembling and that it's one of his worst books. I don't know why it's the most discussed when Sickness Unto Death is far more interesting.
Why did Kierkegaard choose Abraham? Because Abraham was the first and therefore he was alone, which goes with Kierkegaard's pet-theory that faith is a task "for the individual", when the Creed speaks of the "Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints".
He misconstrues faith by putting too much emphasis on the individual and too little emphasis on God. The truth is that faith is a gift from God, and the experience of faith is as a light from above enlightening the intellect and bringing with it peace, joy, power, hope, and love. It is not a leap into the dark fraught with angst and despair. He makes an analogy of faith with the faith a lover might have for a beloved who he can never be with, where he "believes", despite the absurdity of it, that in some way, perhaps in the next world, he will be united with his beloved. Supposedly this is an act of faith. This is deeply flawed for two reasons: 1. you can't have faith in something that is false. The faith comes directly from God, and is therefore infallibly true. You do not choose what to have faith in, what you have faith in is revealed to you and is merely accepted on your part. He makes faith out to be purely subjective where the subjective ego decides for itself what it wants to believe in and then makes the "leap". The truth is that faith has an objective content and that its first principle is God who reveals, not the individual who believes. 2. faith is not absurd. Faith is an act above reason, not contrary to reason. An act above reason is one where the intellect must humble itself and be quiet. An act contrary to reason is the self-mutilate itself. To imply that God would require us to mutilate our intellect's, which He created, borders on blasphemy, but really is just the result of confusion. Faith enhances the intellect by leading it beyond itself. It does not destroy it.
That is true and my hunch may very well be completely unsubstantied, but I still find it worthwhile to make this kind of connections between books - I think it is a much better (or at least, more interesting) criterion to understand and think about literature than say, going about it chronologically or per genre. It unlocks a wealth of possible histories, of possibilities and alternative meanings. Deleuze's best legacy.