Franz Kafka on Reading: An Axe That Breaks the Frozen Sea Inside Us
Franz Kafka wrote that books should affect us as if they were a natural disaster and not, as most people say, by making us happy.
Susan Sontag used to say that writing is an instrument that allows us to cry “for those that are not us and are not our own”, and that ultimately, what lies in reading is freedom. The freedom she speaks of could be compared to what Franz Kafka described as the essence of reading: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us”.
We should read for more than simply mere entertainment, which undeniably is one of its pleasurable components and one that traces fortunate paths toward unknown places; however, we should consider reading because the world is more than the things that happen in the world. There is too much crystallization within us –products of everyday life and defense mechanisms—which can only be broken by the axe of intimate and profound reading.
Kafka, who, as Juan Villaloro points out, managed to make the world’s offices poetic, suggests we practice reading as an act that disarms us. His work demands, beforehand, the reader’s courage, which is not something that is easy to come by. But, if reading is in fact a way for us to experience all the things that we cannot experience in real life, then both in our senses and our emotions, we must be brave enough to receive that “blow to the head”, which will awaken us from our frozen lethargy, and could one day save us from something we do not even know is oppressive. Reading, hence, would be freedom.
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re 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? Good Lord, 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 us. That is my belief.
Pictorial spiritism (a woman's drawings guided by a spirit)
There are numerous examples in the history of self-taught artists which suggest an interrogation of that which we take for granted within the universe of art. Such was the case with figures like
Astounding fairytale illustrations from Japan
Fairy tales tribal stories— are more than childish tales. Such fictions, the characters of which inhabit our earliest memories, aren’t just literary works with an aesthetic and pleasant purpose. They
A cinematic poem and an ode to water: its rhythms, shapes and textures
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. - John Keats Without water the equation of life, at least life as we know it, would be impossible. A growing hypothesis holds that water, including the
Watch beauty unfold through science in this "ode to a flower" (video)
The study of the microscopic is one of the richest, most aesthetic methods of understanding the world. Lucky is the scientist who, upon seeing something beautiful, is able to see all of the tiny
To invent those we love or to see them as they are? Love in two of the movies' favorite scenes
So much has been said already, of “love” that it’s difficult to add anything, much less something new. It’s possible, though, perhaps because even if you try to pass through the sieve of all our
This app allows you to find and preserve ancient typographies
Most people, even those who are far removed from the world of design, are familiar with some type of typography and its ability to transform any text, help out dyslexics or stretch an eight page paper
The secrets of the mind-body connection
For decades medical research has recognized the existence of the placebo effect — in which the assumption that a medication will help produces actual physical improvements. In addition to this, a
The sea as infinite laboratory
Much of our thinking on the shape of the world and the universe derives from the way scientists and artists have approached these topics over time. Our fascination with the mysteries of the
Sharing and collaborating - natural movements of the creative being
We might sometimes think that artistic or creative activity is, in essence, individualistic. The Genesis of Judeo-Christian tradition portrays a God whose decision to create the world is as vehement
John Malkovich becomes David Lynch (and other characters)
John Malkovich and David Lynch are, respectively, the actor and film director who’ve implicitly or explicitly addressed the issues of identity and its porous barriers through numerous projects. Now