Kafka quotes

In this love you are like a knife with which I explore myself. (Letter to Milena)

The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked upon.

The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has yet happened.

One of the first signs of the beginnings of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate.

A cage went in search of a bird.

Self-control is something for which I do not strive. Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence.

His weariness is that of the gladiator after the combat; his work was the whitewashing of a corner in a state official’s office.

Previously I did not understand why I got no answer to my question; today I do not understand how I could believe I was capable of asking. But I didn’t really believe, I only asked.

The way is infinitely long, nothing of it can be subtracted, nothing can be added, and yet everyone applies his own childish yardstick to it. ‘Certainly, this yard of the way you still have to go, too, and it will be accounted unto you.’

It is only our conception of time that makes us call the Last Judgment by this name. It is, in fact, a kind of martial law.

Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god.

In the struggle between yourself and the world, back the world.

One must not cheat anyone, not even the world of its victory.

Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it.

Sensual love deceives one as to the nature of heavenly love; it could not do so alone, but since it unconsciously has the element of heavenly love within it, it can do so.

Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie.

A belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light.

Humility provides everyone, even him who despairs in solitude, with the strongest relationship to his fellow man, and this immediately, though, of course, only in the case of complete and permanent humility. It can do this because it is the true language of prayer, at once adoration and the firmest of unions. The relationship to one’s fellow man is the relationship of prayer, the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; it is from prayer that one draws the strength for one’s striving.

‘It cannot be said that we are lacking in faith. Even the simple fact of our life is of a faith-value that can never be exhausted.’ ‘You suggest there is some faith-value in this? One cannot not live, after all.’ ‘It is precisely in this “Cannot, after all” that the mad strength of faith lies; it is in this negation that it takes on form.’

The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.

Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.

Kafka

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