Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Retreat from Society

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief."
- from a letter by Franz Kafka to his schoolmate Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1904 (translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

20 comments:

Always On Watch said...

I don't dispute that there is truth in Kafka's cited words.

However, IMO, we also need books that uplift the spirit instead of beating us down all the time. We can dwell so often in darkness that the darkness overtakes our better nature.

Always On Watch said...

Forgot to check the comments notification box.

Gert said...

Probably the most European American band, the Killers.

Merry Winterval ;-)

-FJ said...

I think that what Kafka may be saying is that books may not be the "healthiest" source for that kind of "inspiration" you are talking about AoW. There are certain "drawbacks" to the written word, mainly those documented in Plato's "Phaedrus".

-FJ said...

Merry Christmas, Gert! ;)

Gert said...

Jon Stewart is right: in the 'War on Christmas' (Warette, more like!), Xmas is winning: it's now starting to eat into other holidays! "Halloween: stand your ground!"

-FJ said...

Let's not jump to any conclusions, Sandy Claws!

-FJ said...

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.”
- Franz Kafka

Gert said...

“Sandy Claws”, I like it, I like it!

Still, we’ll have to see what your Xmas trees think of a Michael Myers style psychopath armed with a couple of high power chainsaws! ;-)

-FJ said...

You must be talking about that "other" Killers video... I feel it in my bones. ;)

Thersites said...

Now let me step away from this computer for a while and see if I can find some joie de vivre with an ineractive live person...

Gert said...

You do realise that internet alter egos do not qualify as such, right?

Always On Watch said...

Alter egos serve several good purposes.

Just sayin'.

-FJ said...

Schizophrenia lies in the eye of the beholder.

Gert said...

Hmmm... gets complicated when you're crosseyed!

Always On Watch said...

Maybe not schizophrenia.

Maybe multiple personality! :^)

Gert said...

Quadrophenia!

Thersites said...

Indeed.

for I am the Sea.

Thersites said...

...may reign o'er me!

-FJ said...

Notice the "Freudian" slip above? I'd LOVE to think it was intentional. ;)