Ever Present Past

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In revenge, however, my memory of the past has closed the door against me more and more. I could have returned at first, had human beings allowed it, through an archway as wide as the span of heaven over the earth, but as I spurred myself on in my forced career, the opening narrowed and shrank behind me; I felt more comfortable in the world of men and fitted it better; the strong wind that blew after me out of my past began to slacken; today it is only a gentle puff of air that plays around my heels; and the opening in the distance, through which it comes and through which I once came myself, has grown so small, that, even if my strength, and my will power sufficed to get me back to it, I should have to scrape the very skin from my body to crawl through.

Franz Kafka
A Report to an Academy (1917)
Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories

Illustration by Saul Steinberg (1975)

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