Monday, December 19, 2011

Number Twenty-One

So fest wie die Hand den Stein hält. Sie hält ihn aber fest, nur um ihn desto weiter zu verwerfen. Aber auch in jene Weite führt der Weg.

As firmly as the hand grips the stone. But it grips firmly only in order to fling it away all the further. But the way leads into those distances too. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

As firmly as a hand holding a stone. Held, however, so firmly, merely so that it can be flung a greater distance. But there is a path even to that distance. [Hofmann]


No matter how far you throw the rock, you can't throw it so far away from you that you can't go find it again. The last line represents a way back, the kind that so often appears in Kafka's stories and which gives inconclusive freedom of action to his characters. You can throw this, whatever it is, very far away from yourself, but there's nothing to prevent you from going and getting it again. Do you want more limits than there are?

You firmly grasp things in order to throw them away from you. You can do it, but that doesn't necessarily change much. It's not as if you'd thrown your rock into a bottomless pit, or over an unclimbable, uncrossable wall. So it remains available to you, like a part of you, even if you reject it.

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