Friday, May 25, 2012

Number One Hundred and Three

Du kannst dich zurückhalten von den Leiden der Welt, das ist dir freigestellt und entspricht deiner Natur, aber vielleicht ist gerade dieses Zurückhalten das einzige Leid, das du vermeiden könntest.

You have to hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world: this is something you are free to do and is in accord with your nature, but perhaps precisely this holding back is the only suffering that you might be able to avoid. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

You can withdrawn from the sufferings of the world -- that possibility is open to you and accords with your nature -- but perhaps that withdrawal is the only suffering you might be able to avoid. [Hofmann]

Commentary

If suffering is an inevitable aspect of life, then fearing and avoiding it is like fearing and avoiding life. Kafka appears to be following more a Stoic line than an Epicurean line. It's interesting to note that he says the tendency to avoid suffering in life is not unnatural, but natural; this is in keeping with the general trend of his thought in these latest aphorisms toward a complex idea of volition.

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