Grunewaldstrasse 13 Berlin January 12, 1924
My demons are nowhere in evidence. I have slipped away from them. This moving to Berlin was magnificent, now they are looking for me and can't find me, at least for the moment.
At the age of forty, I have finally achieved my ideal of an independent life, and to a degree, through the love of Dora and Robert, I've also become the sort of paterfamilias figure that I always dreamed of becoming, but never believed possible.
I've given considerable thought to your questions regarding my personality and its effect upon my education, my law career, and my life as a creative artist. I must say that your projected biography strikes me as being a trifle premature, however, I will try to analyse those factors which upon reflection appear significant. Rather than attack your inquiries in a coldly chronological fashion, I have used excerpts from my diaries and previous letters, in an attempt to reach for a higher order of subjective truth:
I am a clear case of somebody whose powers have been channeled in the direction of writing. When my body realized that writing was to be my most productive bent, all my strength flowed into that activity and ceased to nourish whatever capacity I may have had for enjoying sex, food, drink, philosophical reflection, and above all music. My taste for all these things began to atrophy.
I was not really free to choose my profession. I knew that, compared with my main object, everything would be just as meaningless as it had been at school; so what I had to do was to find a profession, provided it were not too shaming to my vanity, that would leave me as indifferent as possible. The obvious one was law. This basic feeling on my part was only strengthened by small aberrations due to vanity or senseless hope, like a fortnight spent on chemistry or six months on German studies. So my choice fell on law, which meant that during the last few months before the exams, at great cost to my nerves, I lived exclusively on a kind of intellectual sawdust which thousands of others had already chewed over before me. In a certain way I actually liked it, as I liked the Gymnasium and afterwards my life as an official, since it fitted my situation perfectly well. At all events, I showed a great prescience, for even as a small child I foresaw well enough what study and a job were going to mean to me. I expected no salvation from them - I had long given up any such hope.
My life consists, as in fact it always has done, in attempting to write. Most of the attempts have been unsuccessful, but if I did not write I should be lying in the dust and might as well be swept out of doors... My whole way of life is geared to writing, and if I change it in any respect it is in the hope of writing better - for time is short, one's powers are feeble, the office is a place of horror, home is full of noise and if one can't live in a nice, straightforward manner, one must somehow wriggle through with dodges and subterfuges.
All I want to do is to write, to write furiously all the night through. And if this should end in death or madness, as I have long felt it must, than that too is what I want.
I need solitude for my writing; not "like a hermit" - that wouldn't be enough- but like a dead man.
My life has been filled with futile activities: first the study of law, then the office, and then various other futile pursuits which I took up later, such as gardening and carpentry... These subsequent additions are like the behavior of a man who throws a needy beggar out of his house in order to play the benefactor all by himself, transferring alms from his right hand to his left.
IN UTERO FALSIFICATION
God doesn't want me to be a writer. But I have no choice.
GET UP AND DO IT AGAIN. AMEN!
Tomorrow I shall begin writing again, and I shall go at full tilt: for I know that if I don't write I shall be thrust out from among the living without mercy.
DIE GRUNDLAGE FUR EIN GIFTIG UND TALENTIERT PROGRAMM (THE BASIS FOR A POISONOUS AND TALENTED PROGRAM)
I hate everything which doesn't relate to literature. Conversations bore me to death. Literature possesses me like a devil. I don't have "literary interests": literature is what I'm made of.
CODA: AN ARTICLE OF FAITH
This tremendous universe that I have in my head - but how can I free myself and set it free without being torn to pieces? Yet I would a thousand times rather do that than keep it confined or buried within myself. This is what I am here for, I have no doubt whatsoever of that.
Max, I'm sure you suspected that I'd be naturally unflattered by your intended biography of me, but I do hope that some of the above material will prove useful to your project. Certainly, I expect the finished product to reflect our own lofty goals for art, because one should only read the kinds of books that bite and sting... a book should be an ice-pick to break up the frozen sea within us.