The Diaries of Franz Kafka (kafka_diaries) wrote,
The Diaries of Franz Kafka

My visit to Dr. Steiner

My visit to Dr. Steiner.

A woman is already waiting (up on the third floor of the Victoria Hotel at Jungmannsstrasse) but insists that I go in before her. We wait. The secretary comes with promises. Down the corridor I catch a glimpse of him. Immediately afterward he comes up to us with half-extended arms. The woman explains that I was the first to come. I walk behind him now, as he directs me into his room. His Kaiser gown, which on lecture evenings seems mopped black (not mopped, but rather radiant in its own blackness) is now by daylight (at 3 in the afternoon) dusty and even spotted, especially on the back and shoulders. In his room I try to show my humility, which I can’t feel, by looking for a ridiculous place for my hat; I put it on a small wooden rack for lacing boots. In the center a table, I sit with a view of the window, he on the left side of the table. Some papers on the table, with a few drawings recalling one of the lectures on occult physiology. A small volume of annals in natural philosophy tops a short pile of books, other books lie around elsewhere. You can’t look around now, for he keeps seeking to hold you with his gaze, and if he fails at it once, you must look out for the gaze’s return. He begins with a few loose sentences: So you are Dr. Kafka? Have you been interested long in Theosophy? But I press forward with my prepared speech: I feel as if a large part of my being is drawn to Theosophy, but at the same time I have the greatest fear of it. I’m afraid of it bringing a new confusion, which would be terrible for me, seeing as my present unhappiness consists of nothing but confusion. The nature of the confusion is this: my happiness, my abilities and any possibility of using them have always lain in literature. And here I have even experienced states (not many) which in my opinion lie very close to the clairvoyant states that you describe, Herr Doctor, in which I lived entirely within each idea, but also fulfilled each idea, and in which I felt myself not only at my own bounds but at the bounds of all humanity. Only the ecstatic peace which may be unique to the clairvoyant was missing from these states, though not quite entirely. I leave out of this that I have not written my best work in these states. — Currently I can’t devote myself entirely to these literary pursuits, as I should, and for various reasons. Apart from my family situation, I couldn’t live from literature alone because of the slow development of my work and its particular character; in addition, my health and my character prevent me from devoting myself to a life that is uncertain at best. So I have become an office worker at a social insurance institute. Now these two professions could never tolerate one another and accept a shared fortune. The least good fortune in one is a great misfortune in the other. If I have written something good one evening, the next day in the office I am on fire and can’t get anything finished. This back-and-forth is getting steadily worse.

In the office I fulfill my duties outwardly, but not my inner duties, and each unsatisfied inner duty turns into an unhappiness which never stirs out of me. And to these two endeavors, never to be balanced, shall I now add Theosophy as a third? Will it not disturb them on both sides and itself be interrupted from both? Will I, presently such an unhappy person, be able to carry these three to a conclusion? I have come, Herr Doctor, to ask you this, for I feel that if you consider me capable of it, I too can really take it upon myself.

He listened very attentively, without seeming to attend to me in the least, entirely devoted to my words. He nodded from time to time, which for him seemed to be an aid to strict concentration. At the beginning a silent cold disturbed him, it ran out of his nose, he kept working at it with his handkerchief deep in his nose, a finger on either nostril

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