7 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Kafka

  1. Every commentator I have read utterly misses the point of “The Trial”.
    They all fail “The Marshmallow Test” — by making up their minds too soon.
    Josef K. is a parasite upon society; he helps nobody.
    He gets what he deserves.
    He fails his trial — or his “Process”.
    Kafka himself preferred “The Process” for the title of the book.
    Josef K. invades the space of almost everyone he meets; he ignores their needs: it’s all about him.
    Why does be have no wife, no kids — or friends, parents, siblings, even a drinking buddy or 2?
    Why does he have no friends even among the folks who work in his office?
    He has 3 sexual encounters with women thru the book — & he abuses all of them.
    But the key is how he treats the couple who come to see him IN HIS JOB at the bank.
    This occurs past the middle of the book.
    He is a well-paid executive, but he utterly abandons his duties to wallow in his self-sown field of weeds.
    [I keyed in to this encounter in a 20th-Century lit survey class in 1961-2 at the University of Oregon.]
    [No — the professor, Joseph Hynes as I recall, didn’t get it — & it was not a discussion class.]
    Please, read the book again.
    Note how Josef K.’s space is invaded in the first scene.
    Then watch him invade the spaces of folks having much greater struggles than he faces.
    Kafka himself had a job in a state bureaucracy.
    He was charged with making the lives safer & better for people who worked in industry — like mills & factories.
    He traveled a lot, & he lobbied hard for these working folks.
    I suspect the model for Josef K. was some state-paid slacker in the same bureaucracy that Kafka labored in.

    1. Still, a butcher’s knife plunged into the heart and twisted twice, “like a dog,” strikes one as something more than condign punishment for such transgressions.

      1. How about just the plunge of the knife — without twists?
        How about just 1 twist — or maybe 3?
        Josef K. got a very merciful execution — & without the ugliness of a beheading, or a hanging, or a drawing-&-quartering, say.
        Why does he go so willingly along with his 2 executioners?
        Doe he have — finally — some underlying understanding of his guilt?
        Why does Kafka have Joseph K. hear one of the women he abused singing from an upper apartment while is being led to the killing spot?
        I recall from my reading of Kafka’s background that he would read parts of the book aloud to friends — & they would all have a good laugh!
        Of course, Kafka’s friends had Kafka right there — clueing them in!
        Clearly, they had some sense of the comic elements that seem to escape modern readers.
        Does Josef K. have any sense that he is a colossal narcissist?
        The recent-&-recurring, & incomprehensible-to-most-of-us spectacle of our narcissist recent president on display, some readers might be able to view Joseph K. as a true-to-life possibility.
        If read as I suggested above — that Josef K. is essentially an entitled & narcissistic burden on society — then many ironies erupt from the text.
        And aren’t ironies often mordantly … funny?

      1. Indeed, and that is the title in German.

        That is really the only word for a court trial.

        Prozess is used in some other senses like process in English, but in those cases one would usually use Verfahren, e.g. Haber-Bosch-Verfahren.

  2. Ibram X Kendi is often accused using the “Kafka trap”, given his infamous line, “denial is the beating heat of racism”. Anyone who denies being racist is simply proving him right.

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