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.
08 June 1917
A Gypsy confronted me today, and I was in the mood for a bit of sport. Her age was difficult to tell – certainly a decade older than me. In her swirl of shawls and dangling jewellery, heavy make-up on her face, she could almost have been in disguise. She peered at me with an intense sigh, attempting – I am sure – to penetrate my own disguise.
“You are a Jew,” she said.
“And you a Gypsy,” I replied.
She seemed pleased with my response, for her professional smile became real.
“You state the obvious,” she said. “As becomes a Doktor of Laws,”
I replied. “But to your eyes, do you not state the obvious?”
“Are you going to banter with a poor old Gypsy woman, instead of barter? That would make you suspiciously like one of us.” She said this with a growl in her throat.
“The Gypsy and the Jew,” I said, feeling the challenge which I so miss. “Perhaps an opera – but I think it’s been done to death.”
“They will try to do us all unto death,” she said harshly, and turned away.
I had the fear she was going to leave me without another word, but what she did was to spit fulsomely onto the street.
“They can’t kill us all,” I said, but I knew she heard the doubt in my voice.
She slowly faced me again.
“So. Even a Doktor of Laws can have hope. That is refreshing – but foolish.” She took my hand and felt my palm roughly with her thumb, although all the while her eyes never left my face. “You are going to travel.”
“Travel is a vague word. One can go on many types of voyage.”
“And reach many destinations,” she added, still holding my hand. “If you take away my vagueness, you take away my trade.”
“Then let me pay you for your services right now.”
This transaction would make her loose my hand, which is what I wanted most of all. She had frightened me, for her eyes and face were full of truth. I know the truth. I know it when it presents itself, stark and unobscured. I search out truth endlessly, yet still can flee at its approach. As in her eyes. But she gripped me more fiercely, and pulled my hand up.
“The coin, Herr Doktor.” Her voice was now soft. “The coin can wait.”
She at last lowered her eyes and looked closely at my palm. She rubbed the lines and whorls of my skin. She touched her finger to her lips, and spread the moisture along my hand.
“Your lifeline, Herr Doktor,” she took a quick look in my eyes, “of Laws. You deceive with the youth upon your face. Is that not so?”
“If your eyes stop at the mask, then no, the years have not etched themselves deeply.”
“Not on your face, Herr Doktor of Laws.” Her grip was intense. “But on your palm…” She hissed. “You will soon embark upon that final voyage.”
She released my hand, rubbed her fingers across her sleeve.
“But you will not go in haste. There will be many stops along the way.”
Suddenly her face was full of the most beautiful smile, and her laughter was genuine.
“I see you do not complain of vagueness now.” She held out her hand. “The coin, Herr Doktor of Laws. This time I have truly earned it.”
I dug deeply into my pocket, and feared that I may have overpaid her. But, perhaps, that is not possible.
My mind confronts so many intangible truths that you sometimes seem – or is it just hope on my part – to be my only peg of reality.
Have you noticed whenever we finally believe we know the reason for something which happens, it often occurs that the real reasons are exactly the opposite.
Everything walks a line – as narrow as those upon this page – between profound revelation and mindless absurdity.
As I look through my window, the shadows cast through the trees on the next building, take the shape of a French poodle carrying a parasol.
Is even Nature absurd?
Nature is nothing but reality, only the intangible can be absurd.
As I’ve said too many times (and why do I repeat myself yet again)
you spend too much effort – and a wasted effort, for how can it be other –
on futile quest and query.
The only truth to be found is in sour milk, or pleasant fornication.
These things are real, these things exist.
Absurdity is kittens playing, or the Prime Minister’s latest speech.
These are the things we look at with amusement or contempt – we know not to expect much from either.
Quit you silly endeavours and join the world which surrounds you.
Don’t enter the world that your head surrounds.
All important answers can be found between someones legs.
(image) https: //content.etilize.com/Original/1011505126.jpg
Although it will give you no pleasure – well, ‘little’ pleasure – you are correct in all your observations.
Governments become the tools of the bureaucracies which run them.
It doesn’t matter what type of Government, from the monarchy under which you lived, to the right-wing horror of fascists which called themselves socialists, to the inept socialism pretending to be ‘for the people’. All three governments held their sway over the city where you spent your life. All three oppressed the people they ruled. All three looked after themselves first.
Writers are either writers or they aren’t.
The urge to write encircles one like a snake around its prey. Feed it and it won’t quite squeeze you to death. You can not ignore it – even at your peril. It is with you every hour of every day, ever inquisitive and (sadly) always looking for something better.
Love is a see-saw of extremes.
Every high guarantees a low. Every low reaches for a high. Every high reaches for a high. When these hills and valleys are eventually levelled, they are still desired.
Sex is highly over-rated.
The thing of it is, even rated fairly ’tis a consummation devoutly to be had. Yes – I know – you appreciate Shakespeare. On a par with Goethe, even if you can’t bring yourself to say the words.
People are just one damned thing after another.
Of course, so many people have brought you blessings that you throw up you hands to ward off the snake. Sometimes loosening its grip.
There is no castle with walls thick enough to hide against the perils of being human.
Which is why you never tried.
Except the grave, of course.
Except the grave.
(Image by Kafka)
I have filled in Kafka’s missing diaries for a two year period in my novel, Kafka In The Castle. So, a hundred years ago he was – in reality – realizing that his escape from Prague, as he stayed with his sister is a small farming community, was nearing its end. He made some trips back to Prague to try to get his leave from his employer extended. I imagine this happened on one of these trips.
07 May 1918
Max and I to a coffee house. It was not something I really wanted to do, but I have no good reason for wanting to be on my own. He would take offence. Max – although observant of my needs – becomes (it seems to me) more and more full of himself. And – although I don’t tell him this – his life is just not interesting enough to be exposed in every drop and detail. I did not miss these forays into his loves, his family, and his career, as I lived the eight months in Zurau. And, as far as I can tell, little has changed. The names, perhaps. The places of rendezvous. But the bickering simmers, and his wish for flight still bubbles to the top. Flee to the freedom of the Palestine. All this is more difficult for him, because he wants to be as truthful as he can with everyone. I confess my ears pricked up at this, as my interest (or annoyance) was engaged.
Doktor K: Being partially truthful is like being partially pregnant.
Doktor Max: A truth you’ve brought back from the farm?
Doktor K: Truth does cling to the feet – and the smell lingers.
Doktor Max: Which permeating truth do you think I should know?
Doktor K: That you can not possess a truth and it’s opposite.
08 May 1918
I have acquired a farmer’s eye for the weather. My predictions for the next day have so far been surprisingly accurate. Much to the amusement of my father. I at last possess some ability which is of worth.