Category Archives: Franz Kafka

Open ground

The gale blows me sideways along with the birds, branches and grasses. The sleet makes no distinctions either: it whips into us all. Odd decision to take a walk in this weather, yet I feel as much a part of the landscape as ever. No longer a thing among things, but placed under the same conditions as things, walking on the same open ground.

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Kafka: A heavy downpour. Stand and face the rain, let its iron rays pierce you; drift with the water that wants to sweep you away but yet stand fast, and upright in this way abide the sudden and endless shining of the sun.

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Illuminations

We cycle up the coast towards Holme, chain our bikes to a tree and walk on a sandy path through the woods. S. stops here and there to open her wildlife book and identify some plant or insect. We chat without paying attention to our surroundings, the wood opens up, and suddenly we find ourselves before a wide-open view: on one side the sea and sky a vast sheet of whites and blues, on the other scrapes and grassy dunes stretching inland.

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No story, rather those moments when you’re stopped on your path and made to see where you are with new eyes – as when you work on a problem until it seems insoluble and the answer comes to you in a flash: it was obvious all along, why couldn’t I see it!

Or those passages in novels in which the story gathers itself into fleeting moments of clarity and illuminates itself. I daydream of a book containing only such passages – something like Stephen Hero’s book of epiphanies, or a collection of Woolf’s ‘little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark’.

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‘Wait, be quiet, still and solitary’, wrote Kafka. ‘The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.’ Here I am, the world seems to say, if only you could see me.