Monday, May 28, 2012

Number One Hundred and Nine

»Daß es uns an Glauben fehle, kann man nicht sagen. Allein die einfache Tatsache unseres Lebens ist in ihrem Glaubenswert gar nicht auszuschöpfen.« »Hier wäre ein Glaubenswert? Man kann doch nicht nicht-leben.« »Eben in diesem "kann doch nicht" steckt die wahnsinnige Kraft des Glaubens; in dieser Verneinung bekommt sie Gestalt.« Es ist nicht notwendig, daß du aus dem Hause gehst. Bleib bei deinem Tisch und horche. Horche nicht einmal, warte nur. Warte nicht einmal, sei völlig still und allein. Anbieten wird sich dir die Welt zur Entlarvung, sie kann nicht anders, verzückt wird sie sich vor dir winden.

"It cannot be said that we are lacking in faith. Even the simple fact of our life is of a faith-value that can never be exhausted." "You suggest there is some faith-value in this? One cannot not-live, after all." "It is precisely in this 'Cannot, after all' that the mad strength of faith lies; it is in this negation that it takes on form."
>> There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don't even listen, just wait. Don't even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it can't do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

"It cannot be claimed that we are lacking in belief. The mere fact of our being alive is an inexhaustible font of belief."
"The fact of our being alive a font of belief? But what else can we do but live?"
"It's in that 'what else' that the immense force of belief resides: it is the exclusion that gives it its form."
>> It isn't necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don't even listen, just wait. Don't wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can do no other, it will writhe before you in ecstasy.


Our being alive gives us faith or requires faith of us, since life is not mathematical and impossible to know in advance. Likewise knowledge is a matter of faith, albeit faith grounded in certain guarantees that are lacking when it comes to things like religious belief. To the skeptical question, the one that is inclined toward disbelief or thinks it is, that there doesn't seem to be anything beyond life, that life is not a choice and hence faith, understood as a choice, can't be tied to life, the answer is that it isn't possible, on the contrary, not to believe things, and that the questioner always questions from some vantage point or implied value. The skeptic may claim to believe or value nothing, but, apart from wondering if that isn't more a belief itself than a fact, the skeptic usually claims to believe nothing because nothing satisfies his or her idea of truth, which is a value and hence believed.

Hofmann goofs, I think, when he loses the idea of madness associated with belief. Belief is prescriptive madness, insisting on something come what may. That may be the only possible certainty or ground for belief, apart perhaps from mathematics which I don't comment on either way except to say that as yet it doesn't seem that everything can be founded on mathematics. This is more or less the heart of the modernist problem with values; that values rest on affirmation only, so that, at the heart of even the most beautifully rational and ramified philosophies and systems, there is a crude, rustic, stupidly donkey-like intransigence on some point or other.

Kaiser/Wilkins marks the second half of this aphorism cancelled. Evidently Kafka is supposed to have recoiled from so Buddhistic a statement as this. I think again of the activity of narrowing the circle.

Entlarvung can also mean expose, which suggests to me an image of the world presenting itself as a seduction, stripping for you. Verzückt is like ecstasy in that it preserves the idea of being drawn out, transported. Winden is related to our word wind (as in what you do to a watch, not what blows) and can also mean writhe.

This suggests to me the idea that the world is an experience, and that we can see this all the more clearly the more we reduce the distractions of external events to a minimum. The world that most affects and matters to you, almost certainly will be the one with which you have the most to do. This is how Beckett wrote, this effect is familiar to any reader of Beckett. It is like the Buddhist idea of meditation, but Buddhists don't meditate to cause the world to throw itself at them like Potiphar's wife, naked, bare-faced, undulating seductively like a serpent. This may happen, but Buddhist teachings warn against taking this kind of manifestation seriously; you're supposed to just shine it on. Kafka here is not, I think, as Buddhistic as he might seem, because, for the Buddhist, the desire is supposedly coming from me; the lascivious writhing of the world is only the rewinding of my own desire back on myself. But I think Kafka is saying that the world does exist, does desire things, and desires you and me. He says that the world can't help itself; our stopping seems to be something like an escape, so the world rushes to us and really lays it on, trying to win us back. But where else is there to go?

1 comment:

I_ArtMan said...

shouldn't these be called parables? aphorisms are usually short.