From the standpoint of literature my fate is very simple. My feeling for the representation of my dreamlike inner life has made everything else trivial, and these other things have withered horribly and do not stop withering. Nothing else can ever satisfy me. But my strength for that representation cannot be counted on at all, perhaps it has already vanished forever, perhaps it actually will come over me once again, though the circumstances of my life are not favorable to that end. And so I waver, I fly incessantly to the peak of the mountain, but I can barely stay on top for an instant. Others waver as well, but in lower regions, with greater powers; if they risk falling, they are caught up by the kinsman who walks beside them for that purpose. But I waver up there; it is not death, alas, but the eternal torments of dying.
—Franz Kafka, Tagebücher, 546.
Tag Archives: Quote
Our Greatness is Also Our Lack of Compassion
To be harmful with what is best in us.— At times, our strengths propel us so far forward that we can no longer endure our weaknesses and perish from them. We may even foresee this outcome without wishing to have it otherwise. Thus we become hard against everything in us that desires consideration, and our greatness is also our lack of compassion.
Such an experience, for which we must pay in the end with our lives, is a parable for the whole effect of great human beings on others and on their age: precisely with what is best in them, with what only they can do, they destroy many who are weak, unsure, still in the process of becoming, of striving; and thus they are harmful. It can even happen that, everything considered they are only harmful because what is best in them is accepted and absorbed by those alone whom it affects like a drink that is too strong: they lose their understanding and their selfishness and become so intoxicated that they are bound to break their limbs on all the false paths on which their intoxication leads them astray.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Aph. 28
The End of the World
“A fire broke out backstage in theater. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”
—Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life; Diapsalmata.