Monthly Archives: September 2010

When asked what he did – according to his friend, John Urzidil, Kafka never answered ‘I am a writer’ but always ‘I work for an insurance company’.

— Hugh Haighton, from the Introduction to Janouch’s Conversations with Kafka

Like K., we alternate between flashes of lucidity and bouts of torpor, sometimes mistaking one for the other, with no one having the authority to correct us.

– Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. G. Brock)


For what I was doing I was doing neither for Molloy, who mattered nothing to me, nor for myself, of whom I despaired, but on behalf of a cause which, while having need of us to be accomplished, was in its essence anonymous, and would subsist, haunting the minds of men, when its miserable artisans should be no more.

— Beckett, Molloy

The Castle’s communication

The murmur, the song that issues audibly from the phone as soon as any receiver is lifted in the village, is the Castle’s only acoustic manifestation. It is indistinct and, moreover, non-linguistic, a music composed of words gone back to their source in pure sonic matter, prior to and stripped of all meaning. The Castle communicates with outside world through a continuous, indecipherable sound.

— Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. G. Brock)

The invisible

The invisible has a mocking tendency to present itself as the visible, as if it might be distinguished from everything else, but only under certain circumstances, such as the clearing away of mist. Thus one is persuaded to treat it as the visible – and is immediately punished. But the illusion remains.

— Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. G. Brock)


It is entirely conceivable that 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. This is the essence of magic, which does not create but summons.

— Kafka, Diaries (tr. M. Greenberg)

An endless Sunday

An endless, dreary Sunday afternoon, an afternoon  swallowing down whole years, its every hour a year. By turns walked despairingly down empty streets and lay quietly on the couch. Occasionally astonished by the leaden, meaningless clouds almost uninterruptedly drifting by. “You are reserved for a great Monday!” Fine, but Sunday will never end.

— Kafka, Diaries (tr. M. Greenberg)