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Archive for October, 2009

I think we ought to only read the kind of books that wound and stab us.  If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?  So that it will make us happy, as you write?…We would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to.  But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide.  A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us.  (Franz Kafka, Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors)

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We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.  We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life–daily and hourly.  Our answer must exist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct.  Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets before each individual.

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Equality

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