Kafka on despair, and not writing

Paul Kerschen is translating one of Kafka’s diary entries every day. From an undated 1910 entry:

If despair presents itself so surely, so tied to its object, so restrained, as if by a soldier who covers the retreat and lets himself be blown up for it, then it is not true despair. True despair always overtakes its target immediately, (at this comma it becomes clear that only the first sentence was true)

Are you desperate?

Yes? You’re desperate?

You’re running away? You want to hide?

I went past the brothel as if going past the house of a lover

Authors speak a stench

Out the train compartment window

Finally, after five months of my life in which I could write nothing that would satisfy me and for which no power will compensate me, though all were obliged to do so, I come once again to the idea of addressing myself. I have always answered whenever I really asked myself, there was always something here to blaze out of me, out of this heap of straw that I have been for five months, whose fate, it seems, is to be set alight in summer and burn up faster than the spectators can blink.

(Via Wood S Lot; the diaries site supplements The Kafka Project.)


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