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Kafka’s Confusion

February 8, 2007

Via the amazing Diaries of Franz Kafka 1910-1923 site, an account of Kafka’s visit to one Dr. Steiner, a disciple of theosophy who Kafka heard speak a few days before this entry.

I feel as if a large part of my being is drawn to Theosophy, but at the same time I have the greatest fear of it. I’m afraid of it bringing a new confusion, which would be terrible for me, seeing as my present unhappiness consists of nothing but confusion. The nature of the confusion is this: my happiness, my abilities and any possibility of using them have always lain in literature. And here I have even experienced states (not many) which in my opinion lie very close to the clairvoyant states that you describe, Herr Doctor, in which I lived entirely within each idea, but also fulfilled each idea, and in which I felt myself not only at my own bounds but at the bounds of all humanity. Only the ecstatic peace which may be unique to the clairvoyant was missing from these states, though not quite entirely. I leave out of this that I have not written my best work in these states. — Currently I can’t devote myself entirely to these literary pursuits, as I should, and for various reasons. Apart from my family situation, I couldn’t live from literature alone because of the slow development of my work and its particular character; in addition, my health and my character prevent me from devoting myself to a life that is uncertain at best. So I have become an office worker at a social insurance institute. Now these two professions could never tolerate one another and accept a shared fortune. The least good fortune in one is a great misfortune in the other. If I have written something good one evening, the next day in the office I am on fire and can’t get anything finished. This back-and-forth is getting steadily worse.

I am reminded of the words of Kierkegaard:

What I really need is to come to terms with myself about what I am to do, not about what I am to know, except insomuch as knowledge must precede every act. It is a matter of understanding my destiny, of seeing what the Divinity actually wants me to do; what counts is to find a truth, which is true for me, to find that idea for which I will live and die.

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