Autodidact: self-taught

Nov
08
2012

Kafka

by V. L. Craven

‘Description of a Struggle’ by Franz Kafka
-01- All day in the office, evenings at a party, at night in the streets, and nothing to excess. A way of life so natural that it borders on the excessive!
-02- From these words I imagined that my acquaintance suspected in me something which, although it wasn’t there, made me nevertheless rise in his estimation by his suspecting it. … Who knows, this man [ … ] might be capable of bestowing on me in the eyes of the world a value without my having to work for it.
-03- I had to restrain myself from putting my arm around his shoulders and kissing him on the eyes as a reward for having absolutely no use for me.
-04- I promptly stood up straight as though I had been pulled up by the hair.
-05- I walk on, unperturbed. But since, as a pedestrian, I dreaded the effort of climbing the mountainous road, I let it become gradually flatter, let it slope down into a valley in the distance. The stones vanished at my will and the wind disappeared.
…Because I love pinewoods I went through woods of this kind, and since I like gazing silently up at the stars, the stars appeared slowly in the sky, as is their wont. I say only a few fleecy which a wind, blowing just at their height, pulled through the air…
Opposite and at some distance from my road, probably separated from it by a river as well, I caused to rise an enormously high mountain whose plateau, overgrown with brushwood, bordered on the sky. I could see quite clearly the little ramifications of the highest branches and their movements. This sight, ordinary as it may be, made me so happy that I, as a small bird on a twig of those distant scrubby bushes, forgot the let the moon come up. It lay already behind the mountain, no doubt angry at the delay.
-06- Feeling that this required an answer, I put my hand in the hip pocket of my trousers as though I were looking for something. Actually, I wasn’t looking for anything, I just wished to change my appearance in order to show interest in the conversation.

The Metamorphosis
001. Gregor tried to suppose to himself that what had happened to him might some day also happen to the chief clerk. There was no denying that anything was possible.

The Trial
-01- ‘What are your papers to us?’ cried the tall warder. ‘You’re behaving worse than a child. What are you after? Do you think you’ll bring this fine case to a speedier end by wrangling with us, your warders, over papers and warrants? We are humble subordinates who can scarcely find our way through a legal document and have nothing to do with your case except to stand guard over you for ten hours a day and draw our pay for it. That’s all we are, but we’re quite capable of grasping the fact that the high authorities we serve, before they would order such an arrest as this, must be quite well informed about the reasons for the arrest and the person of the prisoner. There can be no mistake about that. Our officials, so far as I know them, and I know only the lowest grades among them, never go hunting for crime in the populace, but as the Law decrees, are drawn toward the guilty and must then send out us warders. That is the Law. How could there be a mistake in that?
-02- And you should be far more reticent, nearly everything you have just said could have been implied in your behaviour with the help of a few words here and there, and in any case does not redound particularly to your credit.
-03- Then K. remembered that he had not noticed the Inspector and the warders leaving, the Inspector had usurped his attention so that he did not recognize the three clerks and the clerks in turn had made him oblivious of the Inspector. That did not show much presence of mind, and K. resolved to be more careful in this respect.
-04- … I am never serious, and therefore I have to make jokes do duty both for jest and earnest.
-05- He gave a long-drawn shout: ‘Joseph K.,’ less loud indeed than he had threatened, but with such explosive force that it hung in the air a moment before gradually spreading through the room.
-06- …he did not want to be beholden to anyone or to initiate anyone even remotely in his affairs.
-07- A phonograph which had seen long service in a better quarter of the town began stridently to murder a tune.

‘Wedding Preparations in the Country’
001. The lady…now looked at him. She did so indifferently, and she was perhaps, in any case, only looking at the falling rain in front of him or at the small nameplates of firms that were fixed to the door over his head. Raban thought she looked amazed. “Well,” he thought, “if I could tell her the whole story, she would ceased to be astonished. One works so feverishly at the office that afterwards one is too tired even to enjoy one’s holidays properly. But even all that work does not give one a claim to be treated lovingly by everyone; on the contrary, one is alone, a total stranger and only an object of curiosity. And so long as you say ‘one’ instead of ‘I’, there’s nothing in it and one can easily tell the story; but as soon as you admit to yourself that it is you yourself, you feel as though transfixed and horrified.”
002. Then it seemed to Raban that he would get through the long bad time of the next fortnight, too. For it was only a fortnight, that was to say, a limited period, and even if the annoyances grew ever greater, still, the time during which one had to endure them would be growing shorter and shorter. Thus, undoubtedly, courage would increase. “All the people who try to torment me, and who have now occupied the entire space around me, will quite gradually be thrust back by the beneficent passage of these days, without my having to help them even in the very least. And, as it will come about quite naturally, I can be weak and quiet and let everything happen to me, and yet everything must turn out well, through the sheer fact of the passing of the days. And besides, can’t I do it the way I always used to as a child in matters that were dangerous? I don’t even need to go to the country myself, it isn’t necessary. I’ll send my clothed body. If it staggers out of the door of my room, the staggering will indicate not fear but nothingness. Nor is it a sign of excitement if it stumbles on the stairs, if it travels into the country, sobbing as it goes, and there eats its supper in tears.”
003. “…I shall make them angry if I try to pacify them. Oh, if I could only make them thoroughly angry in the attempt to pacify them.”
004. There was the omnibus; he quickly climbed into the empty compartment, sat down by the windowpane behind the driver’s box, and hunched his back into the corner, for he had done all that was necessary. For if the driver is asleep, he will wake up toward morning; if he is dead, then a new driver will come, or the innkeeper, and should that not happen either, then passengers will come by early morning train, people in a hurry, making a noise. In any case one can be quiet, one may even draw the curtains over the windows and wait for the jerk with which the vehicle must start.
005. …it was really wasting one’s time to stand about here in this hall, looking at the rain, but if one spent the time, besides, in chatter, one was wasting it double.
006. Now Raban had believed for some time that nothing other people said about his capabilities or opinions had been able to affect him, on the contrary, that he had positively abandoned the position where he had listened, all submissively, to everything that was said, so that people were now simply wasting their breath whether they happened to be against him or for him.
007. …books are useful in every sense and quite especially in respects in which one would not expect it. For when one is about to embark on some enterprise, it is precisely the books whose contents have nothing at all in common with the enterprise that are the most useful. For the reader…will be stimulated by the book to all kinds of thoughts concerning his enterprise. Now, however, since the contents of the book are precisely something of utter indifferent, the reader is not at all impeded in those thoughts, and he passes through the midst of the book with the,. As once the Jews passed through the Red Sea…
008. Then it seemed to Raban that he would get through the long bad time of the next fortnight, too. For it was only a fortnight, that was to say, a limited period, and even if the annoyances grew ever greater, still, the time during which one had to endure them would be growing shorter and shorter. Thus, undoubtedly, courage would increase. “All the people who try to torment me, and who have now occupied the entire space around me, will quite gradually be thrust back by the beneficent passage of these days, without my having to help them even in the very least. And, as it will come about quite naturally, I can be weak and quiet and let everything happen to me, and yet everything must turn out well, through the sheer fact of the passing of the days.
And besides, can’t I do it the way I always used to as a child in matters that were dangerous? I don’t even need to go to the country myself, it isn’t necessary. I’ll send my clothed body. If it staggers out of the door of my room, the staggering will indicate not fear but nothingness. Nor is it a sign of excitement if it stumbles on the stairs, if it travels into the country, sobbing as it goes, and there eats its supper in tears.”
009. The lady…now looked at him. She did so indifferently, and she was perhaps, in any case, only looking at the falling rain in front of him or at the small nameplates of firms that were fixed to the door over his head. Raban thought she looked amazed. “Well,” he thought, “if I could tell her the whole story, she would ceased to be astonished. One works so feverishly at the office that afterwards one is too tired even to enjoy one’s holidays properly. But even all that work does not give one a claim to be treated lovingly by everyone; on the contrary, one is alone, a total stranger and only an object of curiosity. And so long as you say ‘one’ instead of ‘I’, there’s nothing in it and one can easily tell the story; but as soon as you admit to yourself that it is you yourself, you feel as though transfixed and horrified.”
010. “…I shall make them angry if I try to pacify them. Oh, if I could only make them thoroughly angry in the attempt to pacify them.”
011. There was the omnibus; he quickly climbed into the empty compartment, sat down by the windowpane behind the driver’s box, and hunched his back into the corner, for he had done all that was necessary. For if the driver is asleep, he will wake up toward morning; if he is dead, then a new driver will come, or the innkeeper, and should that not happen either, then passengers will come by early morning train, people in a hurry, making a noise. In any case one can be quiet, one may even draw the curtains over the windows and wait for the jerk with which the vehicle must start.
012. …it was really wasting one’s time to stand about here in this hall, looking at the rain, but if one spent the time, besides, in chatter, one was wasting it double.

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