: "KAFKA" by
Kaj Bernh. Genell.
"Kafka" is an analysis of Kafka's novels and short stories. The book deals with the means contributing to the famous Kafka effect, or - the kafkaesque. These means are partly all technical. Thus, in this book, the author tries to show how Kafka uses a narratological split of consciousness, and a split Unconscious, to - by a rare trick - create the Kafkaesque. This Kafkaesque- in turn - generates an interrogation that scrutinizes the contemporary myth of the Freudian theory. We are in Kafka reading myths, like the Freudian, and the ones of the Symbolic and the Romantic literary schools as undertexts. This new book shows how Kafka became one of the most prominent artists to define Modernity.
Kafka och det kafkaeska [ In Swedish ]
BoD. (2019) c:a 296.00 SEK.
The book Kafka and the kafkaesque displays a distinct answer to the question regarding the uniqueness of Kafka and regarding the concept of the kafkaesque and how Kafka managed to achieve this very effect of the Kafkaeasque through his special technique.
My work is also an attempt to look for the meaning of the use of the kafkaic style.
The uniqueness of the kafkaesque is noticed by many others but here it is explained by reference to the process of creation of the kafkaesque.
Through the years this explanation has been missing. Kafka´s uses two unconscious levels in his major works.
Sholars like W. Benjamin, Th. Adorno, M. Walser and H. Hiebel have noticed the extraordinary experienced qualities of the kafka text, the strange features owned by the hero, the hero as a mere figure and the “dream-like” universe.
But I am displaying a model that can bring these features into a dynamic scheme, explained from an author´s ( albeit unconscious ) view.
It is in fact essential for Modern Man - FOR US - to be aware of this technique, to be able to reflect on the picture of Modern Man.
Kafka was part of the creation of Self-conscience of the 20ieth century, marked by a constant dialogue with Freud and his works. Self-conscience as Man knew it since St. Augustine, the Italian renaissance writers, Erasmus, Shakespeare and Montaigne and later with the secular Romantics and Hegel, swiftly in Modrnism developed into something much more complex with the appearance of Freud and the publication of the Traumdeautung in the year of 1900. And Kafka fulfilled it all. The works of Kafka appeared as a reaction to 1.) Modern times, to 2.) his own personal alienation and to 3.) Freud.
Kafka´s answer to Modernity – to the modern condition – was an astonishingly complex one, but it turned out to be very accurate and accomplished right from the very beginning. When other reactions to the modern condition, like Dada, displayed a picture of a chaotic and a rebel attitude to reason and morals, Kafka, like Rimbaud, showed a far more complex ability to encompass the soul of humans in relation to the Modern society in a universal form.
Kafka´s relation to Freud was somewhat like that of a relation of a son to the father. Thus Kafka did not acknowledge Freud´s discoveries, interpretations, methods and notions as truths. But he saw them – ironically – as facts. And in a sense they were. Freud´s views were historical facts in their deep influence on mind and society of the century. Hence Kafka used Freud as part of the Modern Myth.
Kafka did not “believe in” Freud, but he was fascinated by him. He did not study Freud at great extent, but he had – like many others – acquired a sort of immediate understanding of his ideas, through a kind of everyday osmosis.
Kafka started out as a writer of lyrical prose, short prose poems. But his dream was to write a novel, and it should be a novel like the one Flaubert ( Kafka´s literary idol ) wanted to write: a very beautiful book about nothing at all. It also seems as he wanted to develop the style of Tieck and the Romantics. So it turned out that Kafka now developed a technique for writing novels where he was extending a sole situation into a perfectly static ( i.e. nothing ) drama displaying a struggle between conscious and unconscious. Using his extraordinary ( perhaps autistic ) sensibility his technique, the kafkaic, miraculously was born in 1912 with the writing of the short story of The Verdict. He asked his fiancée Felice for the meaning of it.
Later, with the writing of the unfinished The Trial, his technique of displaying the Kafkaesque was already full-fledged. Here he – almost FORCE by his own personal and social catastrophe - introduced a pseudo plot in a kind of pseudo novel displaying a story of a split, a struggle of a conscious instance of a person, shown as a hero-figure battling this person´s OWN unconscious. As it turned out, this battle originated – caused - a second unconscious part to appear in the universe of this fiction. It seems that the hero-figure, devoid of his unconscious, HAD TO develop such an unconscious to be able to handle his surrounding world, which was his original unconscious. Here we thus are having a triadic structure and a strange meeting of two unconscious instances.
This fictional condition primarily results in a double exposure of the unconscious and secondly in a strange transcendence of the Ego, which cannot easily be reflected upon, since it has no equivalent in reality.
As a result of this kafkaic technique, which probably was unconscious (!) to Kafka himself, we are also – apart from the nausea of double unconscious, a kind of the self-consciousness of the unconscious - experiencing a very intense poetry displaying utter loneliness and in a framwork : a sad pseudo-protest against the super power of civil organization and law in general as well as a melancholy beauty of existence. The like of which never again has been created.
BEGINNING OF MY BOOK ( Kafka and the kafkaesque ( Recito, 2017 ):
"Preface - Franz Kafka a unique writer without successors.
FRANZ KAFKA lived a life of enormous psychic tension. Partly because of this a strong irony finds its place in his literary works. Kafka´s irony is of a special kind in its structural, literary form: It is based upon a refined structural split, maybe equal to the split in the tension that most probably was the origin. This split, in the works of Kafka and the consequences of the split, is what this book mainly is about.
Kafka´s authorship is very subtle, complex and it is furthermore wholly unique. There is at the same time nothing artificial in it. It is also coherent, and the beauty and truth of these literary works spring from a very rare literary sensibility and from an excellent craftsmanship. On that many agree. And the uniqueness is of such a kind, that Kafka is without actual predecessors1 and there are still no successors either, no ”school”, and there will most probably never materialize any. Kafka also, in this splendid isolation, has, as we all know, grown to become a ”concept”, a concept of his own: “It was quite a kafka scenario.”; ”Almost Kafkaesque!” ;“ It certainly was a bit kafka.”
The concept of “Kafkaesque” has been created by the Collective Mind, and in some way it has extended our way of perception. I think that the concept is vital for both the being and the understanding of our culture and maybe even a necessary one! My questions regarding this concept, which despite its frequency and importance is rather elusive regarding its actual content, are mainly two: [ 1. ]: what IS the kafkaesque? And [ 2. ]: how did Kafka DO to create this, the ”kafkaesque”? But merely in asking for the meaning of this concept, of the”kafkaesque”, I find myself almost stuck the classic paradox of analysis. Furthermore - since I am not only trying to describe this effect, but also the technique that shaped this effect, I am trying to simultaneously execute two analyses with regard to Kafka´s works, both of great complexity. These analyses are mutually dependent on each other! One should normally beware of explaining the technique by the effect, and vice versa. In trying to elucidate technique by effect, one could not possibly avoid subjectivity, and during a period of more than sixty years positive science has tried to come to grips with Kafka, without delivering any real good answers. The best answers are actually hitherto given by essayists. Though there are inspirations, as we shall see.
Part of my goal is, by trying to determine the meaning of the concept of ”kafkaesque”, of course, to eradicate mystifications. I might be successful in answering the question about the Kafkaesque by trying to answer the question: What is the kafkaic? Id est: questions about the quintessential, the entirely special with respect to Kafka´s style, the aesthetics of Kafka. I don´t think that one can achieve any deeper understanding of the Kafkaesque without a thorough reasoning around the kafkaic technique that brought it to life. Now let us take a look at an example of the use of the full grown concept, in an actual journalist discussion of it. F.R. Karl is known for his book: Franz Kafka: Representative man. I. Edwards reviews this book and is referring to an interview with the author. Here F.R. Karl emphatically claims that the word ”kafkaesque” is misused:
“SO just what does this adjective “Kafkaesque” mean? And why does Frederick R. Karl, author of an exhaustive critical biography of Franz Kafka, believe that the word is as misused as it is used? Kafka is the only 20thcentury literary figure whose name “has entered the language in a way no other writer’s has,” Mr. Karl says. But “what I’m against is someone going to catch a bus and finding that all the buses have stopped running and saying that’s Kafkaesque. That’s not.”; “What’s Kafkaesque,” he said in an interview in his Manhattan apartment, “is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behavior, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world. “You don’t give up. You don’t lie down and die. What you do is struggle against this with all of your equipment, with whatever you have. But of course you don’t stand a chance. That’s Kafkaesque.”
Is F.R. Karl right here? We are noticing that he is talking of the effect of Kafka´s work, and he only describes it by the use of simile, by use of metaphor. He mentions what he comes to think of, and he is trying to press opinion of what is Kafkaesque upon others, using his authority as a “Kafka scholar”. One might look upon the kafkaesque as a literary genre term, despite the fact that it is not at all obvious, that there is a genre at all. It seems that there is some confusion regarding the concept of kafkaesque, and as if some scientists and other authors by using it refers to the manner in which Kafka wrote, while others by using the concept are referring to the effect of the works of Kafka. By using the word “kafkaesque” some are also referring to a special kind of fictive universe, some sort of ontologic sphere, and it is as if the concept of kafkaesque could be put alongside f. ex. “supernatural”, “surreal”, “Helvetic”, “Paradisiac”. The only literary concept in use comparable in cultural importance must at the moment be “Orwellian”. Concepts referring to experiences of literary works are rarely, if ever at all, concise. The concepts of romanticism, realism, magical realism and surrealism, to take a few, have no precise definitions. We are dealing not only with ideological, cultural and psychological matters, but with tacit knowledge as well as with extremely difficult matters concerning the ontology of fiction. Perhaps the concept of “kafka” is an ongoing question in Modernity itself, that will prevail no matter how much I and others are trying to sort out the problem? I want to investigate and explain some features belonging to the very special technique, here labeled “the kafkaic”, of Kafka, and my intent is to discuss the place of his works in the literary tradition and of the Kafkaesque, refuting the not at all uncommon view of Kafka as a “magical realist”, or a “religious mystic”, or for that matter a “writer of Jewish parables”.
Kafka regarded himself as being “literature”. He often actually did not consider himself a human being. We do not exactly know why. Based on what is written in diaries and letters, we are prone to think that Kafka wrote in order to survive. But the survival should also fulfill the needs of his mind /.../
Kaj Bernhard Genell.------
In Swedish 2018):
Kafka och det kafkaeska
Kafka and judaism. pdf.