The Queen has taken up residence in Windsor Castle after leaving Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty has moved to Windsor following crisis talks as the government decides how best to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. It is understood that if the situation continues to worsen, she will be placed into quarantine at Sandringham alongside the Duke of […]
In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries. There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record.
Franz Kafka had his famous conflict with his father. He even wrote a book about it. For The Ides of March, I imagine how Kafka pictured the will, and the actions of his father. Beware.
15 March 1917
Had I been born into a different family – with other parents – I would be a different person. I was doomed from my first breath to have the father I have. My life is shaped beyond the reach of my choice.
I have lived so much of my life defending myself, that I marvel I have advanced at all. It is difficult to have achievements while continually looking over your shoulder for a knife in the back. Harder still, when you have to stop periodically, reach awkwardly around, and pull out the blades embedded there from childhood.
Cut and bloodied fingers make it painful to pick up the life spread before you.
But, my father is not always content to stand behind. From any alley – indeed, from any room, across any table – my father can charge at me with an outstretched lance, or a sword held high to come chopping down across my neck, with the full intent of severing my head from my body.
That he often strikes blindly makes his attack no less destructive.
‘Italy Stay Strong’: What The Coronavirus Emergency Means for a Hotel in TrentinoTrentino, with its beautiful mountains and valleys, thrives on tourism. And yet, even local tourism bureaus have suspended their marketing activities; hotels and restaurants are temporarily shutting down. The first hotel to take this difficult decision was Pineta Nature Resort. Pineta is located in the tiny village of Tavon, in Val di Non, a valley famous for its apples, castles, lakes, canyons, hiking and biking trails; it’s about half an hour from Trento, the regional capital, an hour from Madonna di Campiglio and the Brenta Dolomites. The hotel itself looks like a charming mountain village, with its cluster of Alpine-style buildings and chalets overlooking the mountains, currently topped with snow.
“I wish to state before this assembled multitude;
“Before this packed house;
“Before this captive audience;
“That I have every right
“(As much as each of you)
“To be here and represent my interests,
“And my associations,
“Because I am a member in every day,
“Even as the nights which are too cold
“And the elevators, as they so often do – stop.
“You look askance.
“Indeed, you look at me in That manner
“The corners of your eyes are full of mistakes!
“Which proves to me beyond and above
“To heaven even,
“Even to the very Golden Gates
“Where the various saints
“Hang to the golden bars
“And swing to and fro in the Celestial breezes
“That cause clouds to scud across the sky,
“And there is barely time to think of a reply.”
I don’t know the cause, but this blog from last year is getting a lot of views. Perhaps The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are on the move.
~ Was it in vain?
~ That you took My name.
~ They crucify me like there’s no tomorrow.
~ There is no tomorrow.
~That’s OK for You to say.
~ I know.
~ But, down here, I don’t get a break.
~ Don’t you think there’s a reason for that?
~ You mean because they don’t understand me?
~ Perhaps more because they do.
~ Hey, I’m looking after Your country.
~ You have other sheep to tend to.
~ But I’m King of the World.
~ You have a big fall in front of you.
~ Oh, I’m protected. I have more money than God(haha).
~ The eye of the needle is narrow indeed.
~ I’m no fool. I’ll get off and walk.
~ There is no one other to walk in your shoes.
~ You know, we even look alike.
In my novel, The Fifth Corner Of The Earth (which I class as a contemporary history) five people, decedents of five people through the centuries, must come together to decide whether it is time to end the Earth – the proverbial End Times. But this time, one of those chosen is a woman. And women’s power is described.
She went along the hallway, turned down a longer, narrower corridor, and came to her brother’s room.
She knocked on the door, but when there was no reply, she called again.
“Please, Atropos. Come in.”
She lifted the latch and walked into the darkened room. She went down a few steps, and crossed the stone floor, until she came to the thick wool rug which covered the area beneath the bed. Her brother stretched his hand along the bedclothes.
“It is almost time for you to leave?”
“In the half hour.”
“You’ve been troubled.” He sat higher in the bed. “How are you feeling now?”
“That’s supposed to be my question.” She laughed nervously.
“I feel as I am – closer to death.” Markos pulled at the bedclothes. “We must not pretend anything different.”
“There’s always the chance – ”
“You’re talking to your brother – your younger brother to whom you have taught so much. Of course I know of `chance’.”
Markos started to cough, and doubled over as the sound filled the room.
“You see.” He forced a laugh. “As if on cue.” He held up his hand as she came closer. “They would have to give me new lungs, to do any good now. There is no place for `chance’.”
“Do you want a drink?” She reached for the pitcher of water.
“I want to talk.” As he again sat up, he pointed past the water on the table. “Get it for me, please.”
She stretched and took the black envelope in her hand. As she gave it to Markos, the sun insignia on the back glowed in the dimness of the room.
“Thank you, Atropos.” He lay it on the covers in front of him. “And thank you for the honour of asking my council.”
“Markos, I – ”
“It means a lot to me.” He held up her hand to stop her words. “You still have confidence in the advice I can give.”
“Of course I have – ”
“Ah, my sister.” He spoke slowly. “The dead and near dead have one thing in common. They no longer need to be humoured.” He touched her hand. “I don’t want to be a weight on your mind when you’re away.”
“How can I stop thinking about you?”
“I don’t ask that.” He smiled. “I hope I’m always in your thoughts. That’s how I’ll keep alive.”
“You feel too much, sometimes, Atropos. Is that part of being a woman?”
“I don’t know.” She forced a smile.
“I think it is.” He pushed one of the pillows more firmly beneath him. “I think it’s because you can bring life into existence – you can actually feel a soul develop inside you. Women have a touch of God within them because of that.”
Markos hesitated, his breathing more laboured. He looked at his sister intently, his eyes hot from fever.
“Men will always envy you that power. We envy you the power to create life, and the feelings it must give.” He smiled abruptly. “Our duty done, we really become quite superfluous.”
“You surprise me.” Atropos spoke softly.
“What have I got to lose by letting you know of my primordial envy? My fears and inferiority mean nothing at death’s door.” He looked away. “I no longer dread you will turn them against me, and look upon me with contempt.”
“Markos. I would never have done that.”
“I am like all humans, Atropos. I have doubt of my own worth held within me like an insoluble capsule. Your words can’t dissolve it – even the knowledge of death leaves it untouched.” He stroked his chest. “Death just puts it in perspective.”
“I don’t feel that way.”
“No, you don’t.” His hand stopped moving. “And I suspect the others whom you are soon to meet are spared this most human failing.” He closed his eyes. “I want to make certain you understand. We humans are forced to carry this sense of worthlessness around like a curse. Remember that when you decide about us.”
“But where does it come from?”
“That question … ”
Markos turned his head. He opened his eyes, and looked out at the blue sky framed by the small window. Sunlight would soon be streaming through.
“I am not going to live long enough to answer that question.” He looked back at her. “Come closer.”
“What is it?” She leaned over the bed.”
“Don’t worry about me.” He clasped her hands in a strong grip. “I’m prepared for what it to happen to me – and accept it. Tell me you do the same.”
“I know you are going to die.” She searched for words. “I’m not sure I can accept it.”
“Then believe me, my honest sister, when I say I am content.” Markos stared at her face. “Tell me that my death will not cloud your mind on your journey.”
“I’ll keep you in my mind and heart.” She momentarily lost her breath. “Always. My sadness won’t distract me.”
Markos sighed, and his hands relaxed. He then picked up the envelope which had fallen beside him, and handed it to her.
She took it, then bent and kissed him.
“Good bye, Markos.”
“God guard you, Atropos.”
In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.
Of the people described in this entry: Max is Kafka’s best friend; F. is his fiancee; The Swiss Girl was a first love; Ottla is his sister.
07 March 1918
Dreamed I had another life. At the same time I had this one.
My additional life may not have always been what I chose, but it was always better than what I have.
At the Sunday dinner, Max was my father, and Ottla was my mother – although our ages remained the same. Sometimes my wife was the Swiss girl, sometimes it was F’s best friend. And sometimes it was Ottla.
I would still see my father in this other life, but only when I went into his store to make some purchase. He was as mean and gruff as ever.
I always shortchanged him.