AN IMPERIAL MESSAGE by Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
The Emperor, so it runs, has sent a message to you, the humble subject, the insignificant shadow cowering in the remotest distance before the imperial sun; the Emperor from his deathbed has sent a message to you alone. He has commanded the messenger to kneel down by the bed, and has whispered the message to him; so much store did he lay on it that he ordered the messenger to whisper it back into his ear again. Then by a nod of the head he has confirmed that it is right. Yes, before the assembled spectators of his death----all the obstructing walls have been broken down, and on the spacious and lofty-mounting open staircases stand in a ring the great princes of the Empire--before all these he has delivered his message. The messenger immediately sets out on his journey; a powerful, an indefatigable man; now pushing with his right arm, now with his left, he cleaves a way for himself through the throng; if he encounters resistance he points to his breast, where the symbol of the sun glitters; the way, too is made easier for him than it would be for any other man. But the multitudes are so vast; their numbers have no end. If he could reach the open fields how fast he would fly, and soon doubtless you would hear the welcome hammering of his fists on your door. But instead how vainly does he wear out his strength; still he is only making his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he get to the end of them; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; he must fight his way next down the stair; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; the courts would still have to be crossed; and after the courts the second outer palace; and once more stairs and courts; and once more another palace; and so on for thousands of years; and if at last he should burst through the outermost gate--but never, never can that happen--the imperial capital would lie before him, the center of the world, crammed to bursting with its own refuse. Nobody could fight his way through here, least of all one with a message from a dead man.--But you sit at your window when evening falls and dream it to yourself.
The Vice of Surrealism
Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful. anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.
-Andre Breton, 1924
And ever since I have had a great desire to show forbearance to scientific musing, however unbecoming, in the final analysis, from every point of view. Radio? Fine. Syphilis? If you like. Photography? I don't see any reason why not. The cinema? Three cheers for darkened years. War? Gave us a good laugh. The telephone? Hello. Youth? Charming white hair. Try to make me say thank you: "Thank you." Thank you.
-Andre Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism
The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.
-Andre Breton, Second Manifesto of Surrealism
For Colonel Aureliano Buendía it meant the limits of atonement. He suddenly found himself suffering from the same indignation that he had felt in his youth over the body of the woman who had been beaten to death because she had been bitten by a rabid dog. He looked at the groups of bystanders in front of the house and with his old stentorian voice, restored by a deep disgust with himself, he unloaded upon them the burden of hate that he could no longer bear in his heart.
"One of these days," he shouted, "I'm going to arm my boys so we can get rid of these shitty gringos!"
During the course of that week, at different places along the coast, his seventeen sons were hunted down like rabbits by invisible criminals who aimed at the center of their crosses of ash.
--from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1928- )
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
"Borges and I"
Text is from Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (New York: New Directions, 1964),
The other one, the one called
Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through
the streets of
Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.
I do not know which of us has written this page.