“Unknown in China” / Memorable Fancies #1320

[“…unknown as I am even to the people next door, and how very unknown then in China.” – Franz Kafka] Walking on the Nanjing Road in the evening, east toward the river, I have a sudden comforting realization: no one in this evening’s throng will assume I know Chinese. No one will come up to me and offer trinkets, or ask if I need a taxi, or quote a favorable exchange rate for the yuan. No one will ask directions, or brag to the American outsider that there are twenty-three Starbucks in … [Read more...]

“The Refuge” / Memorable Fancies #850

[“A cage went in search of a bird” – Franz Kafka]          This one is too large, that one too small; this one too mangy, that one too tall. The cage likes the bird over there, the middle-sized one with pretty blue feathers.          The cage calls to the bird. “What?” asks the bird, suspiciously. The cage explains what it wants.          “A prison?” asks the bird, incredulously.          “A refuge,” says the cage. “No one can attack you here, behind the safety of my … [Read more...]

“The Sirens” / Memorable Fancies #444

[“The Sirens have a weapon even more terrible than their song, namely, their silence.” – Kafka]      Odysseus ties himself to the mast, but as he glides by the Sirens in his ship he does not see their lips move, suddenly realizes that the story of their singing was a lie. The Sirens’ real weapon, those agonizing females, is not their voice but their silent eyes, their condemning, judging eyes now fixed on him, opening wider, and now their mouths, twisting in silent anger … [Read more...]

“A Pleasant Afternoon” / Memorable Fancies #440

[from the Diaries of Franz Kafka, page 301: “2 August [1914]. Germany has declared war on Russia – swimming in the afternoon.”]      Thousands dead in tsunami – had a very good tuna sandwich for lunch, plenty of mayonnaise.      President severely wounded in brazen attack – had another tuna sandwich, went swimming. Pool to myself.     Talks abandoned, missiles on their way here, Newsradio says. Switched to chicken salad, found tuna suddenly boring. Pool to myself again.<END>If you liked … [Read more...]