Thursday, May 24, 2012

Number One Hundred

Es kann ein Wissen vom Teuflischen geben, aber keinen Glauben daran, denn mehr Teuflisches, als da ist, gibt es nicht.

There can be knowledge of the diabolical, but no belief in it, for more of the diabolical than there is does not exist. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

It is possible to know of the devilish but not to believe in it, because there is no more devilishness than exists anyway. [Hofmann]


One can only believe in what is beyond our experience. This would be a backhanded way of saying that the diabolical is entirely confined to our experience, and is not transcendent. This would also mean that believing in something, whatever that might be, means believing there is more of it than there is, or that it is greater than it is, which is a contradiction, a kind of mistake. The only way to salvage something from this that is not just a goof, as far as I can see, would be to say that believing in something means believing it can be somehow greater, whether in quantity or in quality, than it currently is. The addition of the idea of current state and possible future state would also bring this aphorism more close to the stream of thought in some of the other adjacent aphorisms. If this is the case, then that would mean devilishness can't be greater than it already is. Is Kafka saying things can't get any worse? Or is he simply saying that, devilishness being the worst, it can go no further in that direction? In that case, we would not have angelicism to believe in either, since it can't get any better. Then we would have only what could get better or worse, larger or smaller, left to believe in, which I suppose would be us.

If this is what Kafka thinks faith is, then Kafka's work is saturated with faith, obsessed with faith. In all his work, Kafka seems to want to maximize the amount of room around every particular, giving it all the leeway he can manage, in which to inflate or contract, get better or worse. His directions telescope indefinitely. Faith, in this case, would then precisely be the tendency in Kafka to reject finality and make everything as provisional as he can.

This may be the only thing in all my commentary on Kafka's aphorisms that has any actual worth.

No comments: