Where he knew every stone – since he built it himself.
Source: Michelangelo’s Secret Room
For some reason, this observation (from – perhaps – an unreliable observer from one of my short stories) has been the most popular post of the last couple of years. Yes – even beating out Kafka. So I’ll give it another turn
“Circles are the answer.
“Just look at any circle and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, no one else is to know about the circles. They must be very stupid if they can’t see something so obvious.
“Yet, you get hints, don’t you – all the time out there. And in your own life – the way things happen so you never get anywhere. Never change.
“The earth, of course, and the sun – well, that’s something you can see. Either way you look at it, the one goes around the other in a big circle that takes in the whole sky. And the earth and the sun and the moon are round – all circles in their own right. So you have circles which are going around in circles, if you get my meaning.
“And if you look further – reach out into the universe as far as you can go – they tell us that everything is going around everything else. Smaller circles and elongated circles which take in such large distances that numbers become forgotten.
“Now, this means that everything, eventually, comes back upon itself. The beginning is really the end. That’s what most people would think – and that’s where they make their mistake.
“You see, things don’t start by beginning – they start by ending. It’s the end which comes first in a circle, so, instead of going back to where it started, it comes back to its end.
“That explains it.”
“…you can also pour a ganache over it for a more decadent dessert, or pile on some whipped cream and fresh berries. ”
This cake calls for a whopping cup of basil! Sprinkle confectioners sugar and fresh basil or berries to garnish. See more at PBS Food.
Source: Basil Chocolate Cake
I follow Franz Kafka in my Kafka In The Castle, filling in his lost diary entries. I have him only where he really was, imagining his days. For a number of months he lived, with his sister, Ottla, in the village of Zürau, a couple of hours by train (in those days) outside of Prague. So, if I could actually see out my ice-covered window, past my ice-drooping fir tree, I might see him passing by.
Excerpt from Kafka In The Castle:
05 March 1918
Ice storms the last two days.
It clatters into the chimney, which is quite a startling noise if one happens to be up the stairs, and going about ones usual business. The rattle and ruckus of the ice is an abrasive encounter. More so even than when it beats upon your face as you go along the road. At least there it is expected, and you can be muffled against its intrusion.
Ottla saw to my protective gear, although she did not want me to go out.
Procured, from somewhere, a wide-brimmed hat. Swathed me in scarves up to the eyes. Insisted I put on an outer leather jacket, from which the ice drops merrily bounced. But, she had nothing to offer to assist in the walking. It was, as far as I can compare, like walking through a field of fine salt.
It is not even accurate to say that I slide, for it was actually the ice underfoot which did the sliding. I would find my foot being grabbed and held. I’m sure it was what walking through purgatory would be like.
We may have made a horrible mistake by unnecessarily making our consumer electronics devices smart—and removing generations of future use in the process.
An excerpt from my novel More Famous Than The Queen. My main character – so famous he is just known by initials – is at the funeral of Princess Diana.
The casket reaches the Sacrarium. ST leaves his thoughts behind to follow the service, listen to the words, and sing along with the hymns.
Although he has no fondness for opera and operatic song, ST finds the soprano’s voice pleasant, and drifts along with the Latin text: “Dies illa, dias irae … Day of wrath, day of calamity and woe.” He finds Elton John’s presentation bizarre yet sincere.
The rest of the service proceeds around him, but he only stands and sits by following the motion and noise of those fore and aft. Perhaps it is his deficient attention span, perhaps it is jet lag (he did not get any rest yesterday), but, much as he did as a child on Sunday, ST slips into a revere.
He wonders where Diana is.
If the whole context of this service is correct, and her Spirit Everlasting is afloat in some other world, does she have the slightest interest in these proceedings? Do you care what is on the plate after you have eaten the meal?
Is it – as he hopes – an all new wonderful adventure?
ST is returned to the present by the familiar words of The Lord’s Prayer. He is actually reciting “Give us this day our daily bread” before he realizes what he is doing.
Stopped in place and time.
He could be a child again (perhaps he is) wondering what `trespasses’ are. He could be the aware young man, wondering why God would have a penchant to lead us into temptation. And he could be as he now is, wondering if this was the only way for a troubled young woman to be delivered from evil.
ST is fully attentive to the final hymn, and The Commendation of the Dead to the Lord.
He suspects it is an all-or-nothing package: that Diana and Jesus and God are present and appreciative to what is happening around him; or that he and everyone else are just singing and praying to the empty rafters. He fears his faith has skidded to the unstable foundation of hope.
The cortege prepares to leave the Abbey. Although the choir sings as the procession slowly moves to the west end of the church, it is really silence which hangs over this vast array of people. Again the casket with its ruptured body wend their way down the aisle, the flower arrangement an almost dull glow in this final, sombre setting.
“Weeping at the grave creates the song.”
Or so the song goes.
Then there is the final minute.
The minute of silence.
Observed by the Nation.
Observed by ST.
Observed -perhaps- as a minute’s pause in the enormous expanse of Eternity by a dead princess.
Contrary to popular belief, Kafka had a very full love life. He was rarely without a lady friend during any part of his life. When one left, another soon took her place.
The following is a part of a letter he wrote to Felice, the woman he was engaged to – twice. It is fair to say that she was long-suffering. The sentiments Kafka expresses might have given her second thoughts. Perhaps that is partly why there were two engagements.
Think what one will about Kafka’s romantic abilities, he was a chick magnet. Right to the end. After his funeral, his last lover had to be restrained from leaping into his grave to be with him.
11 November, 1912
I am now going to ask you a favor which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it:
Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you? … Franz
While Kafka was in the first year of his ‘love-of-a-lifetime’ affair with Felice Bauer, he met “The Swiss Girl”. In his diaries, she was only referred to as W. or G. W. They were together for ten days in a spa on Lake Garda.
She was a Christian. He was thirty, she was eighteen. However, the relationship (apparently sexually consummated) made a great impression on him for the rest of his life.
Research over the years finally revealed her name is Gerti Wasner. However, very little else (as far as I can find) is known about her.
Where did her life lead after an encounter with Kafka?
Here are some of Kafka’s actual diary entries about the incident.
20 October 1913
I would gladly write fairy tales (why do I hate the word so?) that could please W. and that she might sometimes keep under the table at meals, read between courses, and blush f
22 October 1913.
Too late. The sweetness of sorrow and of love. To be smiled at by her in the boat. That was most beautiful of all. Always only the desire to die and the not-yet-yielding; this alone is love.
Translated by Joseph Kresh
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and Kafka, I’ll add a bit from my novel, Kafka In The Castle
27 February 1917
A letter from F. I am beginning to think that we do not really see the people in front of us. F. has changed from a vibrant companion to a banal drudge. But, of course, she has not really changed. She is neither of these things, but rather a combination. She is a person living through her life, and what I see reflected are my wants and fears. I want F. to share my tiny house, but I am ever fearful she might say yes.
04 June 1917
Sometimes – with F – a kiss could make me feel I was becoming part of her. And she into me. I retreated.
05 June 1917
Had I not retreated, I would have given up myself. This is what is expected from love. My thoughts and emotions would be continually extracted. I have no way to replenish them, so I would eventually be hollowed out. And I would collapse.
05 July 1917
I will meet Felice – it is what she wants. It is what must be done. She is coming to Prague, and will no doubt fit in perfectly. My parents approve of her – more, I suspect, than they approve of me. She’ll be insulted by this tiny house – it will be found wanting and crude. Some of those annoying qualities she hints about me.
Last month, Prince Harry announced that he and his wife, Meghan will be stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family. Now with the transition process in place, some of Harry’s roles are being passed on to other members of the House of Windsor. And one reported move could see Princess Anne make royal…