One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" (Volume II)

Finished Lambert (a relatively quick read) and have decided to continue with Musil's opus. I've  moved on to Volume II, which begins with Part III: Into the Millennium (The Criminals) and ends with (of course it never ends) From the Posthumous Papers (different from his short story collection with a similar title, these pages are "twenty chapters, continuing the previous volume, that Musil withdrew in galleys in 1938, and related drafts").

Anyway, switching between Musil's thick tome (at home) and Kafka's stories via my Kindle App (away).

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An excerpt from The Man Without Qualities:

Ulrich says: "When two men or women have to share a room for any length of time when traveling--in a sleeping car or a crowded hotel--they're often apt to strike up an odd sort of friendship. Everyone has his own way of using mouthwash or bending over to take off his shoes or bending his leg when he gets into bed. Clothes and underwear are basically the same, yet they reveal to the eye innumerable little individual differences. At first--probably because of the hypertensive individualism of our current way of life--there's a resistance like a faint revulsion that keeps the other person at arm's length, guarding against any invasion into one's own personality. Once that is overcome a communal life develops, which reveals its unusual origin like a scar. At this point many people behave more cheerfully than usual; most become more innocuous; many more talkative; almost all more friendly. The personality is changed; one might almost say that under the skin it has been exchanged for a less idiosyncratic one: the Me is displaced by the beginnings--clearly uneasy and perceived as a diminution, and yet irresistible--of a We."
     Agathe replies: "This revulsion from closeness affects women especially. I've never learned to feel at ease with women myself." 
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