Searching for meaning in Kafka


In October 2014, the reading group on the Guardian searched for meaning in Kafka. This provoked the following thoughts.

Kafka is writing about our living in a world that is too vast and complex for us to understand by any means at all

East Europe is a region still playing catch-up to the West. Political instability was par for the course for centuries. Kafka lived this (which I get as it’s where some my forbears are from). He sees our inhumanity in groupsi nstinctively; something not easy to grasp in relatively settled nations such as the UK. Franz contrasts this to our perceptions of ourselves as individuals. He knows both are normal behaviours. Some things don’t change much; just try dealing with the IRS – or your local tax office. We do him a disservice by calling his visions nightmare. He lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In an efficient bureaucracy such as that of Imperial Germany, he would be a stranger in a strange land even though he spoke the language. Czarist Russia would have been close enough to observe, but out of the question as a place to live.

instinctively; something not easy to grasp in relatively settled nations such as the UK. Franz contrasts this to our perceptions of ourselves as individuals. He knows both are normal behaviours. Some things don’t change much; just try dealing with the IRS – or your local tax office. We do him a disservice by calling his visions nightmare. He lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In an efficient bureaucracy such as that of Imperial Germany, he would be a stranger in a strange land even though he spoke the language. Czarist Russia would have been close enough to observe, but out of the question as a place to live.

As a title, the Process works better. It conjures up the necessary machine so we can be informed it has got too big. Some instinctively know this. At the end of the day society is just a process, functioning by the diktat of conditioning. Is that comforting?

The malevolent bureaucracies, the pitiless killing machines

Characterising how we behave when in herds. ( Human Herds 🙂 )The stray thought on Nazism is a convenient hook to hang our repudiation upon. The fact is, that behaviour is independent of labels and continues to be made real – by many darling regimes around the world. Art strays into politics, as did Hitler.

The problem many of Kafka’s characters face isn’t just that they are overwhelmed by forces beyond their control. It’s also that they are bad at helping themselves.

In the real world, most aren’t equipped to deal with things logically. Instant astonishment for those who can. Are the rest of us low-brow? Probably. Our light-weight, dull dreams are a celebration of a settled society. We’re busy assimilating this steady diet; never mind that few dare disconnect. Nothing must interrupt the manufactured flow.
Do not disturb. Digesting product. 24/7.

why does God kill so many babies, if God is the transcendental supreme?

Look for debate on this and you will find it. My thoughts were drawn to Mike Carey’s Lucifer – Evensong p94-96.

Lumen (cherub) “As if all our recorded times – all of our lives and our struggles had been a game”
Spera (fallen cherub) “He launched us and then let us go. Isn’t that what every parent does? The real performance comes after the rehearsals…. It was easy to be virtuous when Yahweh was telling you what virtue was. But now you have to define virtue for yourself.”

Just an aside but Spera is actually saying something pretty fundamental. The cradle is cracked open – the baby alarm is gone. End of closed feedback. We are free. This means responsibility for our own actions, jointly and separately. Thoughts that spark or cross-fertilise, and go into other areas which (as a writer) I’m not one to turn away from. I include Kafka (readings of The Trial and Metamorphosis and other stories) along with Philip K Dick, as influences. 

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About Terence Park

Collections: vinyl records, comic books, paperbacks; I've plenty of them all. I also do spreadsheets.
This entry was posted in History, Opinion, Review, Trivia, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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