“My whole life is behind me. I see it completely, I see its shape and the slow movements which have brought me this far. There is little to say about it: a lost game, that’s all. Three years ago I came solemnly to Bouville. I had lost the first round. I wanted to play the second and I lost again: I lost the whole game. At the same time, I learned that you always lose. Only the rascals think they win. Now I am going to be like Anny, I am going to outlive myself. Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.”—Jean-Paul Sartre (via the9th) (via fuckyeahexistentialism)
I suddenly dreamt that I picked up the revolver and aimed it straight at my heart—my heart, and not my head; and I had determined beforehand to fire at my head, at my right temple. After aiming at my chest I waited a second or two, and suddenly my candle, my table, and the wall in front of me began moving and heaving. I made haste to pull the trigger.
In dreams you sometimes fall from a height, or are stabbed, or beaten, but you never feel pain unless, perhaps, you really bruise yourself against the bedstead, then you feel pain and almost always wake up from it. It was the same in my dream. I did not feel any pain, but it seemed as though with my shot everything within me was shaken and everything was suddenly dimmed, and it grew horribly black around me. I seemed to be blinded, and it benumbed, and I was lying on something hard, stretched on my back; I saw nothing, and could not make the slightest movement. People were walking and shouting around me, the captain bawled, the landlady shrieked—and suddenly another break and I was being carried in a closed coffin. And I felt how the coffin was shaking and reflected upon it, and for the first time the idea struck me that I was dead, utterly dead, I knew it and had no doubt of it, I could neither see nor move and yet I was feeling and reflecting. But I was soon reconciled to the position, and as one usually does in a dream, accepted the facts without disputing them.
And now I was buried in the earth. They all went away, I was left alone, utterly alone. I did not move. Whenever before I had imagined being buried the one sensation I associated with the grave was that of damp and cold. So now I felt that I was very cold, especially the tips of my toes, but I felt nothing else.
I lay still, strange to say I expected nothing, accepting without dispute that a dead man had nothing to expect. But it was damp. I don’t know how long a time passed—whether an hour or several days, or many days. But all at once a drop of water fell on my closed left eye, making its way through the coffin lid; it was followed a minute later by a second, then a minute later by a third—and so on, regularly every minute. There was a sudden glow of profound indignation in my heart, and I suddenly felt in it a pang of physical pain. “That’s my wound,” I thought; “that’s the bullet …” And drop after drop every minute kept falling on my closed eyelid. And all at once, not with my voice, but with my entire being, I called upon the power that was responsible for all that was happening to me:
“Whoever you may be, if you exist, and if anything more rational that what is happening here is possible, suffer it to be here now. But if you are revenging yourself upon me for my senseless suicide by the hideousness and absurdity of this subsequent existence, then let me tell you that no torture could ever equal the contempt which I shall go on dumbly feeling, though my martyrdom may last a million years!”
In June 1914, Franz Kafka found himself overwhelmed by his life. Struggling person- ally, professionally, and artistically he sat one night to compose a story in his diary of a man confronted by the Divine. In this story, never published outside of his diary, Kafka sought to measure the distance between God and the individual in a post-traditional world. The result was the story of an aborted mystical experence in which Kafka defined the post-traditional existential experience in terms of failure. In so doing, Kafka also defined the post-modern existential condition in terms of the overwhelming distance the individual feels from God.
“An angel, then!” I thought; “it has been flying towards me all the day and in my disbelief I did not know it. Now it will speak to me.” —Franz Kafka, The Diaries (June 25, 1914)
Read Matthew T. Powell’s take on Kafka’s existentialism gloomyness tha which is threaded into confines of his narratives.
Vlada and I made a pact last summer to write twice a week using prompts. This pact is being renewed this summer. Our attempts will be published here every Sunday at midnight, with prompts posted every Monday noon. If either one fails to meet the challenge, she will be subjected to humiliation in the form of a voice recording (sans background music) of any song the punisher wishes which will be posted here on tumblr and on facebook for maximum exposure (and social murder). To find out more, click on the link and follow us.
Our most recent prompt is up and I’ve posted mine for this week. Stay tuned for Vlada’s.
“People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind. Think big anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack if you help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”—Anonymous (via sexismandthecity)