Franz Kafka, From The Blue Octavo Notebooks
November 6. Like a path in autumn: scarcely has it been swept clear when it is once more covered with dry leaves.
A cage went in search of a bird.
November 7. (Early morning in bed, after an evening spent gossiping.)
The main thing, when a sword cuts into one’s soul, is to keep a calm gaze, lose no blood, accept the coldness of the sword with the coldness of a stone. By means of the stab, after the stab, become invulnerable.
This is a place where I never was before: here breathing is different, and more dazzling than the sun is the radiance of a star beside it.
November 9. To Oberklee.
If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without climbing it, it would have been permitted.
November 10. Bed.
Do not let Evil make you believe you can have secrets from it.
Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony.
A good deal of agitation. (Blüher, Tagger.)
November 12. Long time in bed, resistance.
As firmly as the hand grips the stone. But it grips it firmly only in order to fling it away all the further. But the way leads into those distances too.
You are the task. No pupil far and wide.
From the true antagonist illimitable courage is transmitted to you.
Grasping the good fortune that the ground on which you are standing cannot be larger than the two feet covering it.
How can one be glad about the world except if one takes one’s refuge in it?
Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.
There is a goal, but no way; what we call a way is hesitation.
Doing the negative thing is imposed on us, an addition; the positive thing is given to us from the start.
A cart with three men in it was slowly going uphill in the dark. A stranger came towards them and called out to them. After some brief exchange of words it turned out that the stranger was asking to be given a lift. A place was made for him to sit and he was helped up. Only when they were driving on did they ask him: ” You were coming from the other direction and now you’re going back?” – “Yes,” the stranger said. “First I was going in your direction, but then I turned back because darkness had fallen earlier than I expected.”
You complain about the stillness, about the hopelessness of the stillness, the wall of the Good.
The thornbrush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.
November 21. The unfitness of the object may cause one to overlook the unfitness of the means.
When one has once accepted and absorbed Evil, it no longer demands to be believed.
The ulterior motives with which you absorb and assimilate Evil are not your own but those of Evil.
The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the master’s whiplash.
Evil is whatever distracts.
Evil knows of the Good, but Good does not know of Evil.
Knowledge of oneself is something only Evil has.
One means that Evil has is the dialogue.
The founder brought the laws from the lawgiver; the faithful are meant to announce the laws to the lawgiver.
Is the existence of religions evidence of the impossibility of the indvidual’s being permanently good? The founder tears himself free from the Good, becomes incarnate. Does he do it for the others’ sake or because he believes that only with the others can he remain what he was, because he must destroy the world in order not to be compelled to love it?
In a certain sense the Good is comfortless.
Anyone who believes cannot experience miracles. By day one does not see any stars.
Anyone who does miracles says: I cannot let go of the earth.
Distributing belief rightly between one’s own words and one’s own convictions. Not letting a conviction escape like steam in the very moment when one becomes aware of it. Not shifting on to the words the responsibility imposed by the conviction. Not letting convictions be stolen by words, harmony between the words and convictions is still not decisive, nor is good faith. Such words can always ram such convictions in, or dig them up, according to the circumstances.
Utterance does not in principle mean a weakening of conviction – that would not be anything to be deplored – but a weakness of conviction.
Self-control is something for which I do not strive. Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence. But ifI do have to draw such circles round myself, then it will be better for me to do it passively, in mere wonderment and gaping at the tremendous complex, taking home with me only the refreshment that this sight gives e contrario.
The crows maintain that a single crow could destroy the heavens. There is no doubt of that, but it proves nothing against the heavens, for heaven simply means: the impossibility of crows.
Martyrs do not underrate the body, the allow it to be elevated on the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists.
His exhaustion is that of the gladiator after the fight, his work was the whitewashing of one corner in a clerk’s office.
Franz Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks, The third notebook