Saturday, December 17, 2011

Number Seventeen

An diesem Ort war ich noch niemals: Anders geht der Atem, blendender als die Sonne strahlt neben ihr ein Stern.

This is a place where I never was before: here breathing is different, and more dazzling than the sun is the radiance of a star beside it. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

I have never been here before: my breath comes differently, the sun is outshone by a star beside it. [Hofmann]


Kafka is probably talking about Zurau; "Ort" can mean town or village, as well as place. This isn't an example of travel writing, though; he's describing his experience of the place as someone who came from elsewhere, and who remains a person from elsewhere in the new place. This is what it means to discover oneself in a new life; "new life" isn't paradise, the point of no return, or the point beyond the point of no return, but it is possible to see those places from a new life.

In the usual life, where you have been before, your breath comes in the same way, there's no glimpse of becoming and no reason to think there are any other stars but the sun.

No comments: