“If ‘literally’ is really here to stay, at the very least, people could be encouraged to correctly misuse the word.”
Every word first looks around in every direction before letting itself be written down by me.
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.
You are at once both the quiet and the confusion of my heart.
Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall.
What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense.
Nor is it perhaps real love when I say that for me you are the most beloved; love is to me that you are the knife which I turn within myself.
This is the problem: Many years ago I sat one day, in a sad enough mood, on the slopes of the Laurenziberg. I went over the wishes that I wanted to realize in life. I found that the most important or the most delightful was the wish to attain a view of life (and—this was necessarily bound up with it—to convince others of it in writing) in which life, while still retaining its natural full-bodied rise and fall, would simultaneously be recognized no less clearly as a nothing, a dream, a dim hovering. A beautiful wish, perhaps, if I had wished it rightly. Considered as a wish, somewhat as if one were to hammer together a table with painful and methodical technical efficiency, and simultaneously do nothing at all, and not in such a way that people could say: “Hammering a table together is nothing to him,” but rather: “Hammering a table together is really hammering a table together to him, but at the same time it is nothing,” whereby certainly the hammering would have become still bolder, still surer, still more real, and, if you will, still more senseless.
Franz Kafka’s signature in a letter to Milena Jesenská. It reads:
Franz wrong, F wrong, Yours wrong/ nothing more calm, deep forest.
Prague, July 29, 1920.
Letters to Milena. Franz Kafka, trans. Philip Boehm. New York: Schocken Books, 1990.
Kafka and Jesenská met twice: once in Vienna for four days, and in Gmünd for one. Kafka gave her his diaries at the end of his life.
It’s entirely conceivable that life’s splendor surrounds us all, and always in its complete fullness, accessible but veiled, beneath the surface, invisible, far away. But there it lies, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If we call it by the right word, by the right name, then it comes. This is the essence of magic, which doesn’t create but calls.
Please — consider me a dream.
People are sewn into their skins for life and cannot alter any of the seams, at least not with their own hands
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.