{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

K for Kafka

One problem that we encounter while reading Kafka is that we can not mark any single line or a paragraph by the sheer merit of its brilliance, the words are simple as black and white, and sentences usually unkempt running into paragraphs and his characters going through day-light nightmares. For the first time, I was more disinterested than baffled. Gregor became an insect in the first line and Joseph K was arrested in the first sentence, what else do you expect next? After the 'main' action had happened, we are allowed to enter to a world which we dread and gaze with flicking eyes at first, and then with eyes that have recently lost their lids.

After you have roamed through and touched its pillars you have a inscrutable urge to write about this spooky building, its like a virus you want to propagate, which has been considered ill even by those who are infected by it and a word of dread is usually put into the ears of every passer by of that doomed castle. Writing about Kafka and writing about Kafka's creation sometime seem to converge at a lonely room in the same building with white walls and dark floors where Kafka made Gregor to crawl for pages, we wonder if he too had crawled on the same floor or we are all crawling while trying to climb up the white walls and falling off our weight. We wonder and wonder, and we crawl and crawl.

The most interesting thing about writing about Kafka is a dual effect you go through. Its like not getting the write word or right sentence or the right expression to express, and getting a sense of dark failure and fear ahead, and at the other moment realizing that it is what Kafka is all about. To write, to re-write, to destroy, to search and find nothing but feeling of great misery passing or a strong smell of impending danger of void and an excessive obsession to scrutinize Kafka, the scrutiny that Kafka pursued all his life with greatest zeal that borders on boredom. The world of Kafka is not weak but the inhabitants are frail and falling, not because of some crime of their own but the collective crime of being the part of all this, probably that's why we call such a rich world, dark and fearful. What we reject to be nonexistent and hyper-ugly and only tend to shamefully view from corners of eyes, Kafka see with full blown eyes, without the fear of burning them but with the fear of its dreadful existence, and thus Kafka shows us what he sees so clearly, so passionately, so solitarily. And sometimes what we consider normal and everyday, unfolds deep dangers when handed over to Kafka's pen and ink.

Being a fellow spectator with Kafka is a difficult job, much difficult than being the part of the world which, people say, Kafka has created, but, which actually exists. When you read about the characters penned by Kafka, you have a feeling that if you talk to that person he will deny every bit of it, and if you talk to him for long, probably he will accept every thing. These are the things which at times we know but never be able to put in words, and Kafka does that for us. These might be the things that can suit to anybody but we will keep denying them till our death, only if no Kafkas were ever born.


Alok said...

Man! You write like Kafka himself. totally inscrutable ;-)

Even though he rarely uses big, obscure or ambgiguous words and phrases, reading Kafka is difficult because his style is a perfect antithesis to what we expect from a novel. story doesn't proceed through gradual accumulation of knowledge, all kinds of actions are continually thwarted by inexplicable forces, and he also deviates away from the traditional narrative arc. this creates problem for the conventional reader who expects some kind of "progress" in either plot or character through the story but it is this denial on the part of kafka to provide these things is what makes him unique.

god I sound like a confused reader myself!! :-)

anurag said...

Ya, Alok, it is quite amazing how Kafka using simple words and sentences to bring such a complex effect. Last night when I was reading 'The Trail', where K. goes to justice court for the first time, the ambiance ( of the market and houses before the court building) that Kafka has created are simple and can be thought of as any other market place but since Mr K. is walking through them, it sounds really different. Every glare and glance at K. speaks more about K. and it seems to suggest that K. has entered some other world which is outwardly same as any ordinary world. The way he finds out his way to the courtroom seem to suggest that whatever way he may have used, he would have ended there only. As you said, all this makes Kafka unique.

Man, I write like Kafka, I am jumping with horror and joy :))