Fragment #37* / Mondo cane – Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti y Franco Prosperi (1962)
*Fragment selected by Dani Montlleó (1)
Fragment #31 / Diaries (1910-1923) – Franz Kafka
You hesitate to answer my request, that is quite understandable, every father would do the same in the case of any suitor. Hence your hesitation is not the reason for this letter, at most it increases my hope for a calm and correct judgment of it. I am writing this letter because I fear that your hesitation or your considerations are caused by more general reflections, rather than by that single passage in my first letter which indeed makes them necessary and which might have given me away. That is the passage concerning the unbearableness of my job.
You will perhaps pass over what I say, but you shouldn’t, you should rather inquire into it very carefully, in which case I should carefully and briefly have to answer you as follows. My job is unbearable to me because it conflicts with my only desire and my only calling, which is literature. Since I am nothing but literature and can and want to be nothing else, my job will never take possession of me, it may, however, shatter me completely, and this is by no means a remote possibility. Nervous states of the worst sort control me without pause, and this year of worry and torment about my and your daughter’s future has revealed to the full my inability to resist. You might ask why I do not give up this job and—I have no money—do not try to support myself by literary work. To this I can make only the miserable reply that I don’t have the strength for it, and that, as far as I can see, I shall instead be destroyed by this job, and destroyed quickly.
And now compare me to your daughter, this healthy, gay, natural, strong girl. As often as I have repeated it to her in perhaps five hundred letters, and as often as she has calmed me with a “no” that to be sure has no very convincing basis—it nevertheless remains true that she must be unhappy with me, so far as I can see. I am, not only because of my external circumstances but even much more because of my essential nature, a reserved, silent, unsocial, dissatisfied person, but without being able to call this my misfortune, for it is only the reflection of my goal. Conclusions can at least be drawn from the sort of life I lead at home. Well, I live in my family, among the best and most lovable people, more strange than a stranger. I have not spoken an average of twenty words a day to my mother these last years, hardly ever said more than hello to my father. I do not speak at all to my married sisters and my brothers-in-law, and not because I have anything against them. The reason for it is simply this, that I have not the slightest thing to talk to them about. Everything that is not literature bores me and I hate it, for it disturbs me or delays me, if only because I think it does. I lack all aptitude for family life except, at best, as an observer. I have no family feeling and visitors make me almost feel as though I were maliciously being attacked.
A marriage could not change me, just as my job cannot change me.
Fragment #30 / On violence – Hannah Arendt (1969)
That violence often springs from rage is a commonplace, and rage can indeed be irrational and pathological, but so can every other human affect. It is no doubt possible to create conditions under which men are dehumanized- such as concentration camps, torture, famine-but this does not mean that they become animal-like; and under such conditions, not rage and violence, but their conspicuous absence is the clearest sign of dehumanization. Rage is by no means an automatic reaction to misery and suffering as such; no one reacts with rage to an incurable disease or to an earthquake or, for that matter, to social conditions that seem to be unchangeable. Only where there is reason to suspect that conditions could be changed and are not does rage arise. Only when our sense of justice is offended do we react with rage, and this reaction by no means necessarily reflects personal injury, as is demonstrated by the whole history of revolution, where invariably members of the upper classes touched off and then led the rebellions of the oppressed and downtrodden. To resort to violence when confronted with outrageous events or conditions is enormously tempting because of its inherent immediacy and swiftness. To act with deliberate speed goes against the grain of rage and violence, but this does not make them irrational. On the contrary, in private as well as public life there are situations in which the very swiftness of a violent act may be the only appropriate remedy. The point is not that this permits us to let off steamwhich indeed can be equally well done by pounding the table or slamming the door. The point is that under certain circumstances violence-acting without argument or speech and without counting the consequences-is the only way to set the scales of justice right again. (Billy Budd, striking dead the man who bore false witness against him, is the classical example.) In this sense, rage and the violence that sometimes-not always-goes with it belong among the “natural “human emotions, and to cure man of them would mean nothing less than to dehumanize or emasculate him. That such acts, in which men take the law into their own hands for justice’s sake, are in conflict with the constitutions of civilized communities is undeniable; but their antipolitical character, so manifest in Melville ‘s great story, does not mean that they are inhuman or “merely” emotional.
Absence of emotions neither causes nor promotes rationality. “Detachment and equanimity” in view of “unbearable tragedy” can indeed be “terrifying,” namely, when they are not the result of control but an evident manifestation of incomprehension. In order to respond reasonably one must first of all be “moved,” and the opposite of emotional is not “rational,” whatever that may mean, but either the inability to be moved, usually a pathological phenomenon, or sentimentality, which is a perversion of feeling. Rage and violence turn irrational only when they are directed against substitutes, and this, I am afraid, is precisely what the psychiatrists and polemologists concerned with human aggressiveness recommend, and what corresponds, alas, to certain moods and unreflecting attitudes in society at large. (…)
Fragment #28 / Walden (Diaries, Notes and Sketches) – Jonas Mekas (1969)
Fragment #27 / In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (audio original) – (Guy Debord 1978)
James Benning – ONE WAY BOOGIE WOOGIE & 27 YEARS LATER (1977/2005)