September 17, 2010

Life in Prague: Waiting, Love

"My life is completely chaotic now. At any rate I have a job with a tiny salary of 80 crowns and an infinite eight to nine hours of work; but I devour the hours outside the office like a wild beast. Since I was not previously accustomed to limiting my private life to six hours, and since I am also studying Italian and want to spend the evenings of these lovely days out of doors, I emerge from the crowdedness of my leisure hours scarcely rested.

I am in the 'Assicurazioni Generali' and have some hopes of someday sitting in chairs in faraway countries, looking out of the office windows at fields of sugar cane or Mohammedan cemeteries; and the whole world of insurance itself interests me greatly, but my present work is dreary.

I don’t complain about the work so much as about the sluggisheness of swampy time.  The office hours, you see, cannot be divided up; even in the last half hour I feel the pressure of the eight hours just as much as in the first.  Often it is like a train ride lasting night and day, until in the end you’re totally crushed; you no longer think about the straining of the engine, or about the hilly or flat countryside but ascribe all that’s happening to your watch alone, which you continually hold in your palm (...)".
(Letter from Franz Kafka to a friend in October 1907)


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