I ordered my horse to be brought from the stables. The servant did not understand my orders. So I went to the stables myself, saddled my horse, and mounted. In the distance I heard the sound of a trumpet, and I asked the servant what it meant. He knew nothing and had heard nothing. At the gate he stopped me and asked: “Where is the master going?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “just out of here, just out of here.
Out of here, nothing else, it’s the only way I can reach my goal.”
“So you know your goal?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, “I’ve just told you. Out of here – that’s my goal.”
A Little Fable
“Alas,” said the mouse, “the world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when at last I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into.”
“You only need to change your direction,” said the cat, and at it up.
For we are like tree trunks in the snow. In appearance they lie sleekly and a little push should be enough to set them rolling.
No, it can’t be done, for they are firmly wedded to the ground.
But see, even that is only appearance.
Shyness, modesty, timidity are accounted noble and good
because they offer little resistance to other people’s aggressive impulses.
(Above excerpts from “Franz Kafka – The Complete Stories”, Edited by Nahum N. Glazer, Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir, Schocken Books, New York, 1971.)
“My dear Ransom,
I wish you would not keep relapsing on to the popular level.
The two things are only moments in the single, unique reality.
The world leaps forward through great men
and greatness always transcends mere moralism.
When the leap has been made our ‘diabolism’
as you would call it becomes the morality of the next stage;
but while we are making it, we are called criminals, heretics, blasphemers…”
“How far does it go?
Would you still obey the Life-Force
if you found it prompting you to murder me?”
“Or to sell England to the Germans?”
“Or to print lies as serious research in a scientific periodical?”
“God help you!” said Ransom.
* * * * * * * * * * *
It looked at Ransom in silence and at last began to smile.
We have all often spoken –
Ransom himself had often spoken –
of a devilish smile.
Now he realized that he had never taken the words seriously.
The smile was not bitter, nor raging, nor, in an ordinary sense, sinister;
it was not even mocking.
It seemed to summon Ransom, with horrible naivete of welcome,
into the world of its own pleasures,
as if all men were at one in those pleasures,
as if they were the most natural thing in the world
and no dispute could ever have occurred about them.
It was not furtive, nor ashamed, it had nothing of the conspirator in it.
It did not defy goodness, it ignored it to the point of annihilation.
Ransom perceived that he had never before seen anything
but half-hearted and uneasy attempts at evil.
This creature was whole-hearted.
The extremity of its evil had passed beyond all struggle
into some state which bore a horrible similarity to innocence.
It was beyond vice as the Lady was beyond virtue.
There was another pause.
“Come,” said Weston at last,
“there is really no use in continuing this cross-examination.
You keep on asking me questions I can’t answer;
in some cases because I don’t know the answers,
in other because you wouldn’t understand them.
It will make things very much pleasanter during the voyage
if you can only resign your mind to your fate and stop bothering yourself and us.
It would be easier if your philosophy of life
were not so insufferably narrow or individualistic.
I had thought no one could fail to be inspired
by the role you are being asked to play:
that even a worm, if it could understand, would rise to the sacrifice.
I mean, of course, the sacrifice of time and liberty, and some little risk.
Don’t misunderstand me.”
“Well,” said Ransom, “You hold all the cards, and I must make the best of it.
I consider your philosophy of life raving lunacy.
I suppose all that stuff about infinity and eternity means
that you think you are justified in doing anything
– absolutely anything –
here and now,
on the off chance
that some creatures or other descended from man as we know him
may crawl about a few centuries longer in some part of the universe.”
That is the way I got to know Mr. Kinsella:
engaging him in conversation about the theater business.
I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to,
no one, that is, who really wants to listen.
When it does at last dawn on a man
that you really want to hear about his business,
the look that comes over his face is something to see.
No, I do it for my own selfish reasons.
If I did not talk to the theater owner or the ticket seller,
I should be lost, cut loose, metaphysically speaking.
I should be seeing one copy of a film
which might be shown anywhere at any time.
There is a danger of slipping clean out of space and time.
It is possible to become a ghost
and not know whether one is in
downtown Loews in Denver or surburban Bijou in Jacksonville.
From all this saddening data
Brother Juniper contrived an index for each peasant.
He added up the total for victims
and compared it with the total for survivors,
to discover that the dead were five times more worth saving.
It looked almost as though the pestilence had been directed
against the really valuable people in the village of Puerto.
And on that afternoon
Brother Juniper took a walk along the edge of the Pacific.
He tore up his findings and cast them into the waves;
he gazed for an hour upon the great clouds of pearl
that hang forever upon the horizon of that sea,
and extracted from their beauty a resignation
that he did not permit his reason to examine.
The discrepancy between faith and the facts
is greater than is generally assumed.