On Luther’s early writings: ‘the mighty shades, attracted by murder and blood, that step from an invisible world into the visible one’ — Pascal.
Uncertainty, aridity, peace — all things will resolve themselves into these and pass away.
Description of inexplicable emotions. A.: Since that happened, the sight of women has been painful to me, it is neither sexual excitement nor pure sorrow, it is simply pain.
There are possibilities for me, certainly; but under what stone do they lie?
Carried forward on the horse —
Youth’s meaninglessness. Fear of youth, fear of meaninglessness, of the meaningless rise of an inhuman life.
Thürheim, II, 35, 28, 37: nothing sweeter than love, nothing pleasanter than flirtation; 45, 48: Jews.
What joy! Some man, a shadow, a companion, is always at my side, I don’t know who it is. Really have no time to turn around, to turn sideways.
My place is down below, I can find no other solution, F. simply happens to be the one through whom my fate is made manifest; I can’t live without her and must jump, yet — and this F. suspects — I couldn’t live with her either. Why not use tonight for the purpose, I can already see before me the people talking at the parents’ gathering this evening, talking of life and the conditions that have to be created for it — but I cling to abstractions, I live completely entangled in life, I won’t do it, I am cold, am sad that a shirt collar is pinching my neck, am damned, gasp for breath in the mist.
A young man on a beautiful horse rides out of the gate of a villa.
8 March. A prince can wed the Sleeping Beauty, or someone even harder to win too, but the Sleeping Beauty can be no prince.
It happened when Grandmother died only the nurse was with her. She said that just before Grandmother died she lifted herself up a little from the pillow so that she seemed to be looking for someone, and then peacefully lay back again and died.
I dived down and soon everything felt fine. A small shoal floated by in an upwards-mounting chain and disappeared in the green. Bells borne back and forth by the drifting of the tide — wrong.
The general argument: I am completely lost in F.
Nevertheless, it is true that I could wait. But I cannot wait in double hopelessness…
Only this everlasting waiting, eternal helplessness.
6 May. My parents seem to have found a beautiful apartment for F. and me; I ran around for nothing one entire beautiful afternoon. I wonder whether they will lay me in my grave too, after a life made happy by their solicitude.
The horror in the merely schematic.
Yesterday the white horse appeared to me for the first time before I fell asleep; I have an impression of its first stepping out of my head, which was turned to the wall, jumping across me and down from the bed, and then disappearing. The last is unfortunately not refuted by the fact of my having begun the story.
Dance on, you pigs; what concern is it of mine?
It is of course only the beginning, always on the beginning. But as I stand here in my misery, already the huge wagon of my schemes comes driving up behind me, I feel underfoot the first small step up, naked girls, like those on the carnival floats of happier countries, lead me backwards up the steps; I float because the girls float, and raise my hand to command silence. Rose bushes stand at my side, incense burns, laurel wreaths are let down, flowers are strewn before and over me; two trumpeters, as if hewn out of stone, blow fanfares, throngs of little people come running up, in ranks behind leaders; the bright, empty, open squares become dark, tempestuous, and crowded; I feel myself at the farthest edge of human endeavour, and, high up where I am, with suddenly acquired skill spontaneously execute a trick I had admired in a contortionist years ago — I bend slowly backwards (at that very moment the heavens strain to open to disclose a vision of me, but then stop), draw my head and trunk through my legs, and gradually stand erect again. Was this the ultimate given to mankind? It would seem so, for already I see the small horned devils leaping out of all the gates of the land, which lies broad and deep beneath me, overrunning the countryside; everything gives way in the centre under their feet, their little tails expunge everything, fifty devils’ tails are already scouring my face; the ground begins to yield, first one of my feet sinks in and then the other; the screams of the girls pursue me into the depths into which I plummet, down a shaft precisely the width of my body but infinitely deep. This infinity temps one to no extraordinary accomplishments, anything that I should do would be insignificant; I fall insensibly and that is best.
Dostoyevsky’s letter to his brother on life in prison.
We couldn’t bear it at home even a moment. We knew that they would look for us. But despite its being evening we ran away. Hills encircled our city; we clambered up them. We set all the trees to shaking as we swung down the slope from one end to the other.
‘Don’t you want to join us?’ I was recently asked by an acquaintance when he ran across me alone after midnight in a coffee-house that was already almost deserted. ‘No, I don’t,’ I said.
It was already past midnight. I sat in my room writing a letter on which a lot depended for me, for the letter I hoped to secure an excellent post abroad. I sought to remind the acquaintance to whom I was writing — by chance, after a ten-year interval, I had been put in touch with him again by a common friend — of past times, and at the same time make him understand that all my circumstances pressed me to leave the country and that in the absence of good and far-reaching connexions of my own, I was placing my greatest hopes in him.
‘Certainly. There can be no doubt of it. Speaking in confidence, our leadership is bad. We must pay for all sorts of old sins. This of course is not the time to talk of it, everybody must look out for himself now. We are indeed face to face with final collapse. Our visitors may be here by this evening. It may be that they won’t even wait until evening but will arrive here in half an hour.’
There are certain relationships which I can feel distinctly but which I am unable to perceive. It would be sufficient to plunge down a little deeper; but just at this point the upward pressure is so strong that I should think myself at the very bottom if I did not feel the currents moving below me. In any event, I look upward to the surface whence the thousand-times-refracted brilliance of the light falls upon me. I float up and splash around on the surface, in spite of the fact that I loathe everything up there and —
In the dim light, still at a great height, I had judged it badly, an angel in bluish-violet robes girt with gold cords sank slowly down on great white silken-shining wings, the sword in its raised arm thrust out horizontally. ‘An angel, then!’ I thought; ‘it has been flying towards me all the day and in my disbelief I did not know it. Now it will speak to me.’ I lowered my eyes. When I raised them again the angel was still there, it is true, hanging rather far off under the ceiling (which had closed again), but it was no living angel, only a painted wooden figurehead off the prow of a ship, one of the kind that hangs from the ceiling in sailors taverns, nothing more.
The hilt of the sword was made in such a way as to hold candles and catch the dripping tallow. I had pulled the electric light down; I didn’t want to remain in the dark, there was still one candle left, so I got up on a chair, stuck the candle into the hilt of the sword, lit it, and then sat late into the night under the angel’s faint flame.
5 July. To have to bear and to be the cause of such suffering!
They agreed that I was right, there was nothing, or not much, that could be said against me. Devilish in my innocence.
The children, uninterested, sat around his table like flies — I am more and more unable to think, to observe, to determine the truth of things, to remember, to speak, to share an experience; I am turning to stone, this is the truth.… I shun people not because I want to live quietly, but rather because I want to die quietly.
—Franz Kafka, from diaries 1910-1923, edited by Max Brod