But at the same time, a death that results in being represents an absurd insanity, the curse of existence—which contains within itself both death and being and is neither being nor death. Death ends in being: this is man’s hope and his task, because nothingness itself helps to make the world, nothingness is the creator of the world in man as he works and understands. Death ends in being: this is man’s laceration, the source of his unhappy fate, since by man death comes to being and by man meaning rests on nothingness.
– Blanchot, ‘Literature and the Right to Death’ (tr. Davis)
‘See here, my precious, see how I am organising for fear, see how I cannot touch those primary laboratory elements without immediately trying to put a hope together. So as of yet my inner metamorphosis makes no sense. In such a metamorphosis, I lose everything I have had, and what I have had has been myself – all that I have is what I am. And what am I now? I am: a standing in the presence of fear. I am: what I have seen. I don’t understand and I am afraid to understand, the matter of the world frightens me, with its planets and its cockroaches.’
– Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. (tr. Sousa)
Brod, who could lend a touch of kitsch to anything, described Kafka’s stay in Zürau as an ‘escape from the world into purity’. He also viewed it – he wrote to his friend – as a ‘successful and admirable enterprise’. It would be hard to find two adjectives that irritated Kafka more. He replied to Brod with a closely argued letter in which he explained that the only sensible solution he had ever reached in his life was ‘not suicide, but the thought of suicide’. If he didn’t go beyond the thought, it was due to a further reflection: ‘You who can’t manage to do anything, you want to do this?’ And here was his closest friend speaking to him of success, of admiration, of purity.
– Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. Brock)