Last Christmas (Kafka and His Precursors)

Episode Notes

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If I am not mistaken, the heterogenous pieces I have listed resemble Kafka; if I am not mistaken, not all of them resemble each other. This last fact is what is most significant: Kafka’s idiosyncracy is present in each of these writings, to a greater or lesser degree, but if Kafka had not written, we would not perceive it; that is to say, it would not exist. The poem “Fears and Scruples” by Robert Browning prophesies the work of Kafka, but our reading of Kafka noticeably refines and diverts our reading of the poem. Browning did not read it as we read it now. The word “precursor” is indispensable to the vocabulary of criticism, but one must try to purify it from any connota­tion of polemic or rivalry. The fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.
— Jorge Luis Borges, Kafka and his Precursors

Now I know what a fool I’ve been, but:
if you kissed me now, I know you’d fool me again!

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
but the very next day, you gave it away.

This year, to save me from tears,
I’ll give it to someone special.
— Carly Rae Jepsen, Last Christmas

Let us consider a life in which repetitions abound: my life, for in­stance. I never pass the Recoleta cemetery without remembering that my fa­ther, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents are buried there, as I shall be; then I remember that I have remembered the same thing many times before; I cannot stroll around the outskirts of my neighborhood in the solitude of night without thinking that night is pleasing to us because, like memory, it erases idle details; I cannot lament the loss of a love or a friendship without reflecting how one loses only what one really never had; each time I cross one of the southside corners, I think of you, Helena; each time the air brings me the scent of eucalyptus I think of Adrogue in my childhood; each time I recall fragment of Heraclitus, “You cannot step into the same river twice,” I admire his dialectical skill, for the facility with which we accept the first meaning (“The river is another”) covertly imposes upon us the second meaning (“I am another”) and gives us the illusion of having invented it.
— Jorge Luis Borges, A New Refutation of Time

We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march, so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language! Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries, glimpsed and lost to view, will have their time again.
— Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia