On the Power of Music: Kafka


'' Prayer and art are passionate acts of will. Someone wants to transcend and develop the normal possibilities of the will. An art like prayer is a hand outstretched out of darkness and seeks a touch of grace to transform it into a gift-giving hand. Prayer means returning to the miraculous rainbow that lies within itself between exhaustion and death, so that in the fragile little cradle of its own existence it can bring its eternal brilliance to bed. ''


Of music Nietzsche, one of the famous thinkers who considered his unique power “Life would be a mistake without music,” he said. . Two generations later, another writer with a gloomy genius and a talent for enlightenment with powerful dark expressions. Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924) talks on art and music with his young hiking friend and ideological interlocutor Gustav Janouch sheds light on the harmonious voice of music and spirits today.

During a walk in the summer of 1922, the talk comes to music – a subject that seventeen-year-old Gustav passionately wants to study, but his father forbids Gustav anything related to music. On this situation, Kafka says to his young friend:

“Music is the voice of the soul, the direct voice of the subjective world.”

In a later conversation, Gustav with his mentor ''The Music of Silence'' In sharing his short story, Kafka explains how music captivates the soul:

“Everything that lives is in flux. All living things emit sound. But we perceive only part of it. We do not hear the blood circulation, the growth and decay of our body tissue, the sound of our chemical processes. But our delicate organic cells, brain fibers, nerves and skin are filled with these inaudible sounds. They vibrate in response to their surroundings. This is the foundation of the power of music. We can release these deep emotional vibrations. To do this, we use musical instruments where the determining factor is their inner sound potential. That is, it is not the strength or tonal color of the voice that is decisive, but its latent character, the intensity with which the power of music affects the nerves.

In another conversation, he considers the parallels and differences between music and poetry. It's something Patti Smith will think about nearly a century from now. Kafka tells Gustav:

“Music creates new, more subtle, more complex, and therefore more dangerous pleasures… But poetry aims to illuminate, intellectualize, purify, and therefore humanize the wild nature of pleasures. Music is a product of sensory life; poetry disciplines and elevates it.

Feeling much more than a human can feel, Kafka continues with these words;

“Music for me is more like the sea… I am strong, I am astonished, I am enchanted and yet I am afraid, very afraid of its eternity. I am actually a bad sailor.”

Yet for Kafka, the magnitude of the depression is perhaps the most accurate measure of the intensity of his love. Once in one of the beautiful and heartbreaking love letters "I don't want to know what you're wearing" he wrote, “This is so confusing to me that I can't cope with life,” he says. Like our relationships, music is our greatest learning experience.

When Gustav laments his father's veto over music and wonders if owning his own life gives him the right to go against his father's wishes and follow his passion, Kafka answers the question by turning it into a broader meditation on why artists make art:

“Using your own head is the easiest way to lose it … Of course, I'm not saying anything against your music work. On the contrary! … The only strong and deep passion is those that can stand the test of the mind… Behind every art is passion. That's why you struggle and suffer for your music… But in art, that's always the way. To win, one has to throw one's life aside.”

Simone Weil

In another conversation, he revisits the issue and compares the sacrifices of art to religious devotion. In a thought that evokes Simone Weil's persistent assertion that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity [and] is the same as prayer to the highest degree” – and what else is art if not generosity? highest degree? Der ve – Kafka tells Gustav:

“Prayer and art are acts of passionate will. One wants to transcend and develop the normal possibilities of the will. Art like prayer is a hand outstretched in the dark seeking a touch of grace to transform it into a gift-giving hand. In the fragile little cradle of one's own existence, prayer is throwing oneself into the miraculous rainbow that lies between being and dying, to be completely consumed within, to bring its eternal radiance to bed.

In different styles or in another plane of existence, music replaces the most important and inexplicable experiences of man. The mysterious arrangement of the notes evokes in the mind of the listener sometimes the ghost of these experiences, sometimes even the power of experiences with all the power of life. Music has an important place in expanding this field as it reflects our experiences.

Music helps with everything we can't explain. When the indescribable needs to be expressed, it comes to the aid of our emotions, just as Shakespeare put down the pen and asked for music. So what will be the last resort if music is not enough? Silence !

Music is also the greatest of all arts, the liveliest, because it is the most abstract and pure. Away from time and space, I wish that we find the right direction, that it penetrates the hardest heart with its soft tones, that it cheers up and, as Nietzsche said, elevates us.


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