Monday, July 15, 2013


Since piping is one of our thoughtless habits, one might think that people would pipe up in Josephine's audience too; her art makes us feel happy and when we are happy, we pipe; but her audience never pipes, it sits in mouselike stillness; as if we had become partakers in the peace we long for, from which our own piping at the very least holds us back, we make no sound. It is her singing that enchants us or is it not rather the solemn stillness enclosing her frail little voice?


So is it singing at all? Is it not perhaps just a piping? And piping is something we all know about, it is the real artistic accomplishment of our people, or rather no mere accomplishment but a characteristic expression of our life. We all pipe, but of course, no one dreams of making out that our piping is an art, we pipe without thinking of it, indeed without noticing it, and there are many among us who are quite unaware that piping is one of our characteristics. So if it were true that Josephine does not sing but only pipes and perhaps, as it seems to me at least, hardly rises above the level of our usual piping - yet, perhaps her strength is not even quite equal to our usual piping, whereas an ordinary farmhand can keep it up effortlessly all day long, besides doing his work- if that were all true, then indeed Josphine's alleged vocal skill might be disproved, but that would clear the ground for the real riddle which needs solving, the enormous influence she has.
-Franz Kafka, "Josephine, the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"

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