Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Dreidel by Franz Kafka

A philosopher was wont to hang around where children played.  And he saw a boy, who had a dreidel.  So, he waited in ambush.  The second the dreidel started to spin, the philosopher followed it, intending to catch it.  That the children screamed and tried to keep him away from the toy did not bother him.  He had caught the dreidel, and as long as it kept spinning, he was happy.  But only for a blink of an eye.  He then threw it to the ground and walked away.  He believed that the knowledge of every triviality--even that of a self-spinning dreidel, for instance--sufficed for the knowledge of the general.  Therefore, he did not trouble himself with the big problems--that seemed to him too uneconomical.  If the most trivial triviality was known, then everything was known, therefore, he troubled himself only with the self-spinning dreidel.  And every time the preparations for the spinning of the dreidel were made, he had hope that it would succeed, and as the dreidel spun itself, in the breathless chase after the toy, the hope for certainty emerged as something palpable.  But then he held the stupid piece of wood in his hand, he felt sick and the angry cries of the children, which he had not heard until now and which suddenly penetrated his ears, drove him off.  He wobbled like a dreidel ineptly whipped.

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