Kafka in 1906
3 July 1883|
(now Czech Republic)
|Died||3 June 1924
Kierling, part of Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria, Austria
|Alma mater||German Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague|
“Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”)
If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without climbing it, it would have been permitted.
There are only two things. Truth and lies. Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie.
In argument similes are like songs in love; they describe much, but prove nothing.
Woman, or more precisely put, perhaps, marriage, is the representative of life with which you are meant to come to terms.
Let me remind you of the old maxim: people under suspicion are better moving than at rest, since at rest they may be sitting in the balance without knowing it, being weighed together with their sins.
How pathetically scanty my self-knowledge is compared with, say, my knowledge of my room. There is no such thing as observation of the inner world, as there is of the outer world.
The relationship to one's fellow man is the relationship of prayer, the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; it is from prayer that one draws the strength for one's striving.
Martyrs do not underrate the body, they allow it to be elevated on the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists.
There is nothing besides a spiritual world; what we call the world of the senses is the Evil in the spiritual world, and what we call Evil is only the necessity of a moment in our eternal evolution.
Sensual love deceives one as to the nature of heavenly love; it could not do so alone, but since it unconsciously has the element of heavenly love within it, it can do so.
The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite.
We all have wings, but they have not been of any avail to us and if we could tear them off, we would do so.
My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication – it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness – it is all that I have – and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well.
The indestructible is one: it is each individual human being and, at the same time, it is common to all, hence the incomparably indivisible union that exists between human beings.
Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
A stair not worn hollow by footsteps is, regarded from its own point of view, only a boring something made of wood.
Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted.
In theory there is a possibility of perfect happiness: To believe in the indestructible element within one, and not to strive towards it.
By imposing too great a responsibility, or rather, all responsibility, on yourself, you crush yourself.
The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.
Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence.
Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.
One tells as few lies as possible only by telling as few lies as possible, and not by having the least possible opportunity to do so.
We are sinful not only because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of Life. The state in which we are is sinful, irrespective of guilt.
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
The mediation by the serpent was necessary. Evil can seduce man, but cannot become man.
We are separated from God on two sides; the Fall separates us from Him, the Tree of Life separates Him from us.
One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.
Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive.
May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night air.
It is only our conception of time that makes us call the Last Judgement by this name. It is, in fact, a kind of martial law.
The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler.
Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.
If there is a transmigration of souls then I am not yet on the bottom rung. My life is a hesitation before birth.
Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.
A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it.
The experience of life consists of the experience which the spirit has of itself in matter and as matter, in mind and as mind, in emotion, as emotion, etc.
The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has yet happened.
Tyranny or slavery, born of selfishness, are the two educational methods of parents; all gradations of tyranny or slavery.
Hesitation before birth. If there is a transmigration of souls then I am not yet on the bottom rung. My life is a hesitation before birth.
You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.
It is comforting to reflect that the disproportion of things in the world seems to be only arithmetical.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.
Test yourself on mankind. It is something that makes the doubter doubt, the believer believe.
Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.
One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer.