Monthly Archives: July 2010

Kafka quotes 2

From the Diary:

Since people lack a sense of context, their literary activities are out of context too.

The metaphysical urge is only the urge toward death.

Discoveries have forced themselves on people.

Uncertainty, aridity, peace – all things will resolve themselves into these and pass away.

What an effort to keep alive! Erecting a monument does not require the expenditure of so much strength.

The life of society moves in a circle. Only those burdened with a common affliction understand each other.

We are permitted to crack that whip, the will, over us with our own hand.

Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.

There is a goal, but no way; but what we call a way is hesitation.

Knowledge of oneself is something only Evil has.

We were expelled from Paradise, but Paradise was not destroyed. In a sense our expulsion from Paradise was a stroke of luck, for had we not been expelled, Paradise would have had to be destroyed.

Religions get lost as people do.

From ‘He’:

Some deny the existence of misery by pointing to the sun; he denies the existence of the sun by pointing to misery.

He has found Archimedes’ fulcrum, but he has turned it to account against himself, clearly he was permitted to find it only on this condition.

From letters:

God doesn’t want me to write, but I – I must.
– To Oskar Pollak

I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.
– To Max Brod

I am away from home and must always write home, even if any home of mine has long since floated away into eternity.
– To Max Brod

Silence, I believe, avoids me, as water on the beach avoids stranded fish.
– To Felice Bauer

I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.
– To Ottla (sister)

Man is an immense swamp. If he is seized with enthusiasm, the effect in the general picture is as though somewhere in a corner of this swamp a little frog had flopped into the green water.

Quotes from friends:

The look in Kafka’s eyes was always a little puzzled, full of the wisdom of children and of melancholy slightly counterpointed by an enigmatic smile. He always seemed to be somewhat embarrassed.
– John Urzidil, The Kafka Problem

The fact is we all seem capable of living, because at some time or other we have taken refuge in a lie, in blindness, in enthusiasm, in optimism, in some conviction, in pessimism or something of the sort. He has never taken refuge in anything. He is absolutely incapable of lying, just as he is incapable of getting drunk.
– Milena Jesenská

He marvels at everything, including typewriters and women. He will never understand.
–Milena Jesenská

Kafka

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Waiting for the Miracle

I don’t believe you’d like it,
You wouldn’t like it here.
There ain’t no entertainment
and the judgements are severe.
The Maestro says it’s Mozart
but it sounds like bubble gum
when you’re waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Waiting for the miracle
There’s nothing left to do.
I haven’t been this happy
since the end of World War II.

Nothing left to do
when you know that you’ve been taken.
Nothing left to do
when you’re begging for a crumb
Nothing left to do
when you’ve got to go on waiting
waiting for the miracle to come.
[…]
When you’ve fallen on the highway
and you’re lying in the rain,
and they ask you how you’re doing
of course you’ll say you can’t complain —
If you’re squeezed for information,
that’s when you’ve got to play it dumb:
You just say you’re out there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

— Leonard Cohen, from ‘Waiting for the Miracle’

Just about

‘I was just about able to go on. What did this “just about” amount to? An infinity, far beyond my comprehension, like a child’s first word.’

I have never understood how it is possible for almost anyone who writes to objectify his sufferings in the very midst of suffering them; thus I, for example, in the midst of my unhappiness – my head, say, still on fire with unhappiness – sit down and write to someone: I am unhappy. Yes, I can even go beyond that and with the various flourishes I might have talent for, all of which seem to have nothing to do with my unhappiness, ring simple, or contrapuntal or a whole orchestration of changes on my theme. And it is not a lie, and it does not still my pain, it is simply a merciful surplus of strength at a moment when suffering has raked me to the bottom of my being and plainly exhausted all my strength. But then what kind of strength is it?

— Kafka, Diary (via Spurious)

A strange country

Then as K. still lay absorbed in thought, she started up and began to tug at him like a child: ‘Come on, it’s too close down here’, and they embraced each other, her little body burned in K.’s hands, in a state of unconsciousness which K. tried again and again but in vain to master as they rolled a little way, landing with a thud on Klamm’s door, where they lay among the small puddles of beer and other refuse gathered on the floor. There, hours went past, hours in which they breathed as one, in which their hearts beat as one, hours in which K. was haunted by the feeling that he was losing himself or wandering into a strange country, father than ever man had wandered before, a country so strange that not even the air had anything in common with his native air, where one might die of strangeness, and yet whose enchantment was such that one could only go on and lose oneself further. 

— Kafka, The Castle (tr. W. and E. Muir)

I wouldn’t call myself a religious man. I don’t believe in any version of God that I can come up with. Sometimes a deep appetite for prayer arises, and I pray. Where my prayer is addressed, I would not dare to say. I would not dare to try to describe where my prayer is aimed. Any opinion about this matter that I’ve ever come up with I have very little respect for. I have little respect for most of my opinions, but this one I have no respect for.

Leonard Cohen

As the world becomes more and more baffling and bewildering, one is thrown back on one’s own shabby little story. [The Book of Longing] is just my little story.

Leonard Cohen