Spiritual decadence

The evolution was simple. When I was still happy, I wanted to be unhappy and drove myself, using all the means that my times and my tradition made available to me, into unhappiness, yet even so I always wanted to be able to go back. In short I was always unhappy, even with my happiness. The strange thing is that the whole act, if one performs it in a sufficiently systematic way, can become real. My spiritual decadence began with a childish game, however conscious I was of its childishness. For example, I would deliberately contract the muscles of my face, or I would walk down the Graben with my arms crossed behind my head. Annoyingly puerile games, but effective. (Something similar happened with the evolution of my writing, except that later the evolution of my writing came regrettably to a halt.) If unhappiness can be forcibly induced in this fashion, then one should be able to induce anything. However much subsequent developments seem to contradict me, and however much it conflicts in general with my nature to think this, I can’t by any means accept that the origins of my unhappiness were inwardly necessary, perhaps they had some necessity of their own, but not an inward one, they swarmed in me like flies and like flies could have easily been driven away.

— Kafka, Diaries (quoted in Calasso, K.)

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