Category Archives: Kafka

The only essential thing for life is forgoing smugness, moving into the house instead of admiring it and hanging garlands around it.

Kafka

Sometimes God, sometimes nothing.

Kafka

The only essential thing for life is forgoing smugness, moving into the house instead of admiring it and hanging garlands around it.

Kafka

Nur so kann geschrieben werden, nur in einem solchen Zusammenhang, mit solcher vollständigen Öffnung des Leibes und der Seele.

Kafka

Then open yourself. Let the human person come forth. Breathe in the air and the silence.

Kafka

Writing means revealing oneself to excess.

Kafka

One’s own basic Yes

Every human being here is asked two questions of creed: first as to the credibility of this life, second as to the credibility of his goal. Both questions are answered by everyone, through the very fact of his life, with such a firm and direct ‘yes’ that it might become uncertain whether the questions have been understood rightly. In any case, it is now that one must begin to work one’s way through to this, one’s own basic Yes, for even far below their surface the answers are confused and elusive under the assault of the questions.

– Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. Kaiser and Wilkins)

The castle opens

As soon as a person appears who has something primitive about
him, so that he does not say ‘One must accept the world as it is’ [. . .]
but says ‘However the world is, I shall retain an originality which
I do not mean to alter in accordance with the world’s wishes’:
at the moment these words are heard, the whole of existence is
transformed. As in the fairy-tale, when the word is spoken, the castle
opens after being enchanted for a hundred years, and everything
comes to life: so existence turns into sheer attention.

– Kierkegaard, The Book of the Judge (quoted by Kafka in a letter to Brod)

The great horse

In amazement we beheld the great horse. It broke through the roof of our room. The cloudy sky was drifting faintly along its mighty outline, and its mane flew, rustling, in the wind.

– Kafka

I’m making a test

I’m making a test: on the balcony is a sparrow which expects me to throw some bread from the table on to the balcony, instead of which I drop the bread beside me on the floor in the middle of the floor. It stands outside and from there in the semi-darkness sees the food of its life, terribly tempting, it’s shaking itself, it’s more here than there, but here is the dark and beside the bread am I, the secret power. Nevertheless it hops over the threshold, a few more hops, but farther it doesn’t dare go and in sudden fright it flies away. But with what energy does this wretched bird abound, after a while it’s back again, inspects the situation, I scatter a little more to make it easier for it, and – if I hadn’t intentionally-unintentionally (this is how the secret powers work) chased it away with a sudden movement, it would have got the bread.

– Kafka, Letters to Milena (tr. T. and J. Stern)