Saturday, July 21, 2007
Variant translations: If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence... Someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence, certainly never.
"The Silence of the Sirens" (October 1917) -Franz Kafka