“I watched these men go to and fro”

I watched these men go to and fro, always the same faces, the same movements, often it seemed to me there was only the same man.

Franz Kafka. “A Report to an Academy.”

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Thus Spake Luftmensch, Ep 2: A Sad Anecdote

Certain days have a habit of making you feel Unreasonably Happy, imbibing you with an optimistic Robert-Browningness, that Hakuna Matata kind of feeling. Today is one of those days as I walk with a Bounce in every step, giving away Free smiles to Boring strangers living their Boring lives around me. Thus I strut into my Destination, the administrative section, like the  Living Legend of Unrestrained Jollity, if ever there was one. I reach the lady I have an appointment to meet and greet her with a Beaming Gush, “Good Morning, Ma’am!”

But alas! The Lady Behind the Desk is like the genius daughter in Interstellar, she senses indications of Life, of some Form or Presence beyond her Desk, a Presence frantically waving its hands about, yelling at her warm good mornings, throwing down books and cellphones to catch her attention, but all to no Avail. She stares at her computer screen like someone Bewitched, Continue reading

“No, freedom was not what I wanted”

No, freedom was not what I wanted. Only a way out; right or left, or in any direction; I made no other demand; even should the way out prove to be an illusion; the demand was a small one, the disappointment could be no bigger. To get out somewhere, to get out! Only not to stay motionless with raised arms, crushed against a wooden wall.

“A Report to an Academy.” Franz KAFKA.

Thoughts on VERNON GOD LITTLE

220px-vernon_god_little_coverDBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little is a good read, once you get used to the language and peculiar structure of the narrative. The place-time coordinates are so haphazardly indicated that they are of no help at all. The result is you end up being caught unawares when something happens; the present situation gives no clue of the impending menace of the future. At one moment, Vernon appears to be in control (the reader too by extension), the thing that you are supposed to be hiding from is at a safe watching distance from both protagonist and reader; in the next moment, however, you are caught, exposed, like in a Kafkaesque revelation, and you realize that Vernon, with his poor eyesight and miscalculation, have all the while been subject (like Truman) to a ubiquitous Gaze, that interprets your every movement with the cold, smug finality of a reality-show jury.Thematically, the narrative strategy is quite efficient and appropriate, though it also unsettles the reader like Orwell’s 1983 does. There is neither captivity nor liberty, only an extended term of parole; You are being watched continuously, unceasingly–what the Gaze sees, it judges–if you are ‘innocent’, you will look it–unless your innocence is ‘obvious’ to the enlightened, ‘media-literate’ hoi-polloi, who can vote for your death or life as they choose, you are, by default, culpable.

CLOWNIN’ Rating: 3/5

Death and Memory in Kafka’s METAMORPHOSIS

metamorphosisThere are two kinds of death. One is when the body becomes inert and cold all of a sudden and you feel, somehow, this is death for sure. The other kind is when a person vanishes completely, out of memory, out of thought, and out of presence. Both are not always simultaneous; one precedes the other. What then, does it mean, to die? What does death do to the memory of the past? Are they like ripples on water, disturbances on the surface , submerged just as easily as they appear?

In Kafka’s novella, Metamorphosis, the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a life-size dung beetle, is perhaps, a metaphor for a nightmarish situation where memories come to life. Presence embodied. The monstrous insect is a parasitic, ugly being, with appetites and obstinacies, the seamy side of Memory, feeding on the emotional and nostalgic residue that Samsa’s self-effacing life and ‘death’ warrants from the people around him. The nagging presence of Memory is a suffocating, incriminating tyranny whose only cure is Time, with which Gregor’s sister finally confronts the monstrosity of the Presence and locks away the insect in its room. The memory becomes so persistently redundant, what remains is merely the forgetting.

The intrusion of the dead upon the living becomes a real, catastrophic menace that the lives of the rest of the characters have to be moulded accordingly. Initially, the characters give ample space for the insect, they leave Gregor’s room untouched, ‘unblemished’, so as to let his memory “creep” along the walls unrestricted. As time passes, the insect becomes just one of the memories which accumulate in the room. The “memory stuff” gradually overflow and suffocate Gregor’s space. Craving for the  attention due to him, he forgets his own debased state (that of death) as the remembrance of his erstwhile beneficial physical ‘presence’ forces him to venture out of his own room.  The recasting of roles and lives sever the bonds of nostalgia and the final breach is the act of locking him up to die among the junk of overcrowded memories.

The story is about the transformation of human presence into a parasitical, ever-demanding memory whose presence is all the more threatening because it has to be denied by the very people who mourn for it. Metamorphosis is death giving way to life, to “new dreams and good intentions”, to the bliss of amnesia.

CLOWNIN’ Rating: 4/5