Search

kafkaestblog

It is a whirlwind in here

Tag

romance

Franz Kafka Ponders Friday 13th

fridaythe13th

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in 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.

I do give him a brief recognition of Friday 13th. Kafka was not a superstitious person, and such things weighed on him lightly.

In reality, memories of the Swiss Girl he mentions (a teen he met and probably had an affair with) haunted him all his life. But pleasantly – oh, so pleasantly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13 April 1917

I almost wrote down the year as 1913. That was the year I met the Swiss girl. And I remember her joking about Friday the thirteenth, and how we had missed it by just a day. She was superstitious – Christians seem to be. I wonder what precautions she is taking today. It will be three years and seven months since I saw her. Yet some of the things we did could have happened last week. I think that memory must be made of rubber.  You can sometimes pull it toward yourself – and sometimes it snaps away like a shot. Causing as much pain.

(image)https://www.playhugelottos.com/uploads/assets/news/PlayHuge/Fridaythe13th.jpg

Advertisements

TWO BEAVERS ON THE LEFT BANK

b9316892033z-1_20150407140501_000_gqhaejp35-1-0

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise. It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river. First there were small rolling noises as the branch went through its hands, and then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’, and then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, then the beaver and I both heard noises in the water. We both saw another beaver approaching. The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and seemed to sniff each other, then they swam in different directions. This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver which approached rubbed noses once again, and made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see. However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.

But I bet they were going to meet the next day.

(image)https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/4830728e976abc86eb61c42be56b80bf12a60879/c=0-75-3000-2325&r=x408&c=540×405/local/-/media/Salem/2015/04/07/B9316892033Z.1_20150407140501_000_GQHAEJP35.1-0.jpg

Franz Kafka And Love for Valentine’s Day (from Kafka In The Castle)

((

u1_978-3-596-90598-0

Franz Kafka had many lovers in his life.  For someone supposedly distant and difficult, he was rarely without a woman more than willing to be his companion. Of course, being his companion was difficult because he was – well – Franz Kafka. Not that, as far as I know, any of them actually used the phrase .“It’s complicated.”  But it was.

Felice Bauer was, arguably, the most important love in his life. She was engaged to him twice. And, considering the relationship they had, I’m guessing she was relieved each time they broke it off.  They were ‘together’ from September 1912 to October 1917, and most of their relationship occurred through letters. Those few times they were together were not always filled with bliss.

In Kafka In The Castle, where I fill in his missing diary entries, I have him make comments about the end of their relationship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt from 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.

28 March 1917

I have many letters I should write, the principle one being to F. A chore offering little satisfaction, and less pleasure. Except for the relief of knowing it is done. I am an expert in this, since I spend most of my life dealing with chores. The sins of the office will follow me into the third and fourth decade. But what is to be done about Felice? If anything, she is enjoying our correspondence more now, than she ever has. Rarely do we go below the surface of furniture and work. Will this be this, or that be that? If we ever approach the stairway of heaven together, she will be most concerned that the carpeting upon it is expensive and durable.

04 June 1917

Sometimes – with F – a kiss could make me feel I was becoming part of her. And she into me. I retreated.

DE

(image) https://www.fischerverlage.de/media/fs/15/u1_978-3-596-90598-0.jpg

Kafka And His Very Young Love

106933578_o

Gerti Wasner

Kafka liked the ladies and he had many relationships.

While in the first year of his ‘love-of-a-lifetime’ affair with Felice Bauer (they were engaged twice but – indeed – never married) 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, and 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 who she is, and Google search even provides photos. Her name is Gerti Wastner.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.

DE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15 October 1913

Perhaps I have caught hold of myself again, perhaps I secretly took the shorter way again, and now I, who already despair in loneliness, have pulled myself up again. But the headaches, the sleeplessness! Well, it is worth the struggle, or rather, I have no choice. The stay in Riva was very important to me. For the first time I understood a Christian girl and lived almost entirely within the sphere of her influence. I am incapable of writing down the important things that I need to remember. This weakness of mine makes my dull head clear and empty only in order to preserve itself, but only insofar as the confusion lets itself be crowded off to the periphery. But I almost prefer this condition to the merely dull and indefinite pressure the uncertain release from which first would require a hammer to crush me.

 

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 fearfully when she noticed that the sanatorium doctor has been standing behind her for a little while now and watching her. Her excitement sometimes—or really all of the time—when she hears stories. I notice that I am afraid of the almost physical strain of the effort to remember, afraid of the pain beneath which the floor of the thoughtless vacuum of the mind slowly opens up, or even merely heaves up a little in preparation. All things resist being written down. If I knew that her commandment not to mention her were at work here (I have kept it faithfully, almost without effort), then I should be satisfied, but it is nothing but inability. Besides, what am I to think of the fact that this evening, for a long while, I was pondering what the acquaintance with W. had cost me in pleasures with the Russian woman, who at night perhaps (this is by no means impossible) might have let me into her room, which was diagonally across from mine. While my evening’s intercourse with W. was carried on in a language of knocks whose meaning we never definitely agreed upon. I knocked on the ceiling of my room below hers, received her answer, leaned out of the window, greeted her, once let myself be blessed by her, once snatched at a ribbon she let down, sat on the window sill for hours, heard every one of her steps above, mistakenly regarded every chance knock to be the sign of an understanding, heard her coughing, her singing before she fell asleep.

 

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

Postcards From The Past Without Pictures

ww1postcards02

 

Dear Eustice:

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 that whenever we finally believe we know the reason for something which happens, it often occurs that the real reasons are exactly the opposite of what we supposed. 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?

Yours,

Margot
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Dear Margot:

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 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 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, not the one which your head surrounds. All important answers can be found between someones legs.

Yours,

Eustice

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Dear Eustice:

Ideas and questions are what make us more than the rutting animals you seem to exemplify. I do not claim that I shall ever reach Plato’s perfect bed, but neither would I wish to remain in your oft-used and no doubt soiled one. We are meant (I am quite certain of this) to strive to new understanding, new revelations about ourselves and our place in this world. The sole function of our body is to be a vehicle for transporting our mind, and keeping it alive. My `quest and query’ as you put it (and, by the way, did you steal that phrase – it sounds like the title of one of those pretentious little magazines you read) is both proper and noble. I really do wish you would utilize the gifts given you, and not waste so much time in idle and – it must be said – repetitious pursuits.

Yours,

Margot

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Dear Margot:

One of life’s meaner tricks is to allow us all a different set of beliefs. Cows, cats and dragonflies are content with their uniform outlook on life. Their needs are simple (if keeping alive can be called simple), and they eat, drink, keep warm, and yes, cheerfully reproduce with little thought of anything else. If you wish to assume there are greater endevours in this existence, then you should also assume that only saints and angels can fathom them, and not spend so much time on a chore for which you are not equipped. Grand thoughts may be fine for the likes of Plato, but my perfect bed will have three beautiful partners in it, who are completely willing to whatever I suggest. I think if you study our bodies more closely, you will see what it really is their function to produce. You could do with stimulation to more than just your mind.

Yours,

Eustice.

P.S. Moira sends her love

 

DE

(image) http://www.nzeldes.com/Miscellany/images/WW1Postcards02.jpg

Wild Beavers Play An Age-Old Game In Nature

beavers-007

(image) https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/11/25/1290710571034/Beavers-007.jpg

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.

It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river. First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands. Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’. And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the water.

We both saw another beaver approaching. The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and seemed to sniff each other. They then swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see. However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore. For me an experience of a lifetime.

DE

Romance To Be Found On The Night Train

(image)

I http://northamericabyrail.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/0662-UPPER-LOWER-BERTHS-SET-UP-FOR-NIGHT-USE-IN-CANADIAN-NATIONAL-SLEEPING-CAR-ST.-HYACINTHE-ON-DISPLAY-AT-THE-RAILROAD-MUSEUM-OF-CALIFORNIA-1024×667.jpg

The night train goes between Halifax and Montreal, and Montreal and Halifax. You can’t get there from here in daylight . . . by train. The train chug chug chugs out of Halifax early afternoon, and out of Montreal early evening. The two pass somewhere in Quebec. Arrival in Montreal is early morning (breakfast time) and in Halifax early evening (supper time).

Although I’ve had some association with trains for decades (the father of a next-door childhood friend was even the conductor on a train) I came to my pleasure and interest in trains from my first trip to Europe. Both in Great Britain and the continent I had great times on the trains (much due to the scenery I had never seen). It was really after that first trip that I travelled with any seriousness by train in Canada. And, as I said, any travel from east to west must include the night train to Montreal.

I have been blessed in that I have never had to ‘sit up’ on this trip (though, these days, even that is not too bad). I’ve had berths (upper and lower) and compartments (these days – again – even with their own shower). And I love the dome cars, sitting for hours even after dark. It is a grand sensation travelling though the darkened forests, with often no more than moon light and stars. And the red and green signal lights of the track itself.

Back ‘in the day’ I even almost had a Night train romance. This was in the upper berths, where nothing more than a curtain flap and a zipper kept the sleepers private. One usually undressed while supine upon the mattress, sloughing off one’s outer clothes. On one particular journey to Montreal, in the dark of that Quebec landscape, across the narrow aisle was a beautiful teen-aged gal, not many years younger than myself. And she indicated ‘interest’, with smiles and giggles and some gentle teasing of undress. However, she travelled with her (I presume) parents, safely ensconced in the lower berths. And Daddy looked as if he a) would brook no nonsense and – more to the point – b) could take care of three of me.  The sweet lass keep appearing from behind her curtain with smiles and gestures, but finally realized that an athletic leap from my side to hers was neither safe nor wise. We arrived in Montreal as pure as we set out.

*Sigh* & Alas

DE

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑