…Do you despair?

Yes? You despair?

You run away? You want to hide?…November 3. This morning, for the first time in a long time,

the joy again of imagining a knife twisted in my heart…

… The onlookers go rigid when the train goes past…

…In the newspapers, in conversation, in the office, the impetuosity of language often leads one astray, also the hope, springing from temporary weakness, for a sudden and stronger illumination in the very next moment, also mere strong self confidence, or mere carelessness, or a great present impression that one wishes at any cost to shift into the future, also the opinion that true enthusiasm in the present justifies any future confusion, also delight in sentences that are elevated in the middle by one or two jolts and open the mouth gradually to its full size even of they let it close much too quickly and tortuously, also the the slight possibility of a decisive and clear judgement, or the effort to give further flow to the speech that has already ended, also the desire to escape from the subject in a hurry, one’s belly if it must be, or despair that seeks a way out for its heavy breath, or the longing for a light without shadow- all this can lead one astray…

…To be pulled in through the ground-floor window of a house by a rope tied around one’s neck and to be yanked up, bloody and ragged, through all the ceilings, furniture, walls and attics, without consideration, as if by a person who is paying no attention, until the empty noose, dropping the last fragments of me when it breaks through the roof tiles, is seen on the roof…

…I fell asleep in the underbrush. A noise awakened me. I found in my hands a book in which I had previously been reading. I threw it away and sprang up. It was shortly after midday; in front of the hill on which I stood there lay spread out a great lowland with villages and trees and ponds and uniformly shaped, tall, reed-like hedges between them. I put my hands on my hips, and at the same time listened to the noise…

…I can’t understand it and can’t believe it. I live only here and there in a small word in whose vowel (“thrust” above, for instance) I lose my useless head for a moment. The first and last letters are the beginning and end of my fishlike emotion…

…I occupied myself chiefly with the whore whose head was hanging down, Max with the one lying beside her on the left. I fingered her legs and then for a long time pressed the upper parts of her thighs in regular rythem. My pleasure in this was so great that I wondered. That for this entertainment, which was after all really the most beautiful kind, one still, had to pay nothing. I was convinced that I (and I alone) deceived the world. Then the whore, without moving her legs, raised the upper part of her body and turned her back to me, which to my horror was covered with large sealing-wax-red circles with paling edges and red splashes scattered among them. I now noticed that her whole body was full of them, that I was pressing my thumb to her thighs in just such spots there were these little red particles -as though from a crumbled seal- on my fingers too…

…The millionaire in the motion picture “Slaves of Gold.” Mustn’t forget him. The calmness, the slow movement, conscious of its goal, a faster step when necessary, a shrug of the shoulder. Rich, spoiled, lulled to sleep, but how he springs up like a servant and searches the room into which he was locked in the forest tavern…

…December 4. Viewed from the outside it is terrible for a young but mature person to die, or worse, to kill himself. Hopelessly to depart in a complete confusion that would make sense only within a further development, or with the sole hope that in the great account this appearance in life will be considered as not having taken place. Such would be my plight now. To die would mean nothing else than to surrender a nothing to the nothing, but that would be impossible to conceive, for how could a person, even only as a nothing, consciously surrender himself to the nothing, and not merely to an empty nothing but rather to a roaring nothing whose nothingness consists only in its incomprehensibility…

…10 o’clock, November 15. I will not let myself become tired. I’ll jump into my story even though it should cut my face to pieces…

…In the bank I immediately telephone Bohemia. I want to give them the story for publication. But I can’t get a good connection. Do you know why? The office of the Tagblatt is pretty close to the telephone exchange, so from the Tagblatt it’s easy for them to control the connections as they please, to hold them up or put them through. And as a matter of fact, I keep hearing indistinct whispering voices on the telephone, obviously the editors of the Tagblatt. They have of course, a good deal of interest in not letting this call go through. Then I fear (naturally very distinctly) some of them persuading the operator not to put the call through, while others are already connected with Bohemia and are trying to keep them from listening to my story. “Operator,” I shout into the telephone, “if you don’t put this call through at once, I’ll complain to the management.” My colleagues all around me in the bank laugh when they hear me talking to the operator so violently. Finally I get my party. “Let me talk to Editor Kisch. I have an extremely important piece of news for Bohemia. If you don’t take it, I’ll give it to another paper at once. It’s high time.” But since Kisch is not there I hang up without revealing anything…

…The broom sweeping the rug in the next room sounds like the train of a dress moving in jerks…

…These predictions, this imitating of models, this fear of something definite, is ridiculous. These are constructions that even in the imagination, where they alone in sovereign, only approach the living surface but then are always suddenly driven under. Who has the magic hand to thrust into the machinery without its being torn to pieces and scattered by a thousand knives?…

…The anxiety I suffer from all sides. The examination by the doctor, the way he presses forward against me, I virtually empty myself out and he makes his empty speeches into me, despised and unrefuted…

…The tremendous world I have in my head. But how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces. And a thousand times rather be torn to pieces than retain it in me or bury it. That, indeed, is why I am here, that is quite clear to me…

…I’ll write down all the relationships which have become clear to me in the story as far as I now remember them. This is necessary because the story came out of me like a real birth, covered with filth and slime, and only I have the hand that can reach to the body itself and the strength of the desire to do so…

…I , only I, am the spectator in the orchestra…

Franz Kafka, Diaries 1910-1913,” 1965

All words by Franz Kafka – All music by György Kurtag

May. The Feeling. – Scene at the Station : October 9. I occupied myself – Adagio, Con Slancio, Risiluto, Jelek (Signs) III : July 9. The invention of the devil – Hommage à Domenico Scarlatti : July 6. Began a little – Triosonata in E-Flat Major, BWV 525: No. I : July 21. Don’t Despair – Thistle : May. His gravity – Hommage à Christian Wolff (Half-asleep) – July 9. Nothing written – Furious Chorale : November 14. It seems so dreadful – Study to “Hölderlin” – February 27. In the bank – The Carenza : October 30. This craving – Vivo – 24 Mins

Image – ‘Brod,’ college by Richard Evans, paper, guitar string, wax, nail, 2011

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