Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Missing Kafka

I don't usually buy new books, for all the usual reasons...they can be expensive, I like recycling, I like borrowing a book from someone who has just read one and loved it and I can share it with them and mainly because I have hundreds at home lining shelves and old suitcases which I haven't quite gotten round to reading yet.

But sometimes you just can't find the book you want to read right there and then and need inspiration. This is how I came to be standing in front of a bookstores 'recommendations' section, reading the staff & public handwritten reviews and how I found myself buying two new books and shelling out the full price for both.

And this is how I discovered Kafka.

I didn't discover him in the way you might discover the answer to a question but more in the way you might discover questions you never thought of asking before.

I was delighted to read sentences a paragraph long and be perplexed by their meaning and at the same time was frustrated that I 'just wasn't getting it' - that I didn't immediately know what his point was and why I should continue reading when every end to a piece he had written didn't give me the satisfaction of what I usually read. But I also quite liked that about him. He didn't conform. He didn't even want his writing read, he had asked for it to be destroyed on his death. And much of his writing was destroyed and much is still missing...it could be out there somewhere in someones library shelf or old suitcase. But much of his writing is missing in many other ways - missing full stops....missing a narrative structure...missing plain speaking. And I, as far as being able to interpret his message, continue missing the point completely.

I wonder then, when I think I understand, if I have really understood at all.

When he says...

You are free and that is why you are lost

... I think that it is similar to when he says...

It's often safer to be in chains than to be free

...I am astonished each time he says something that I finally see as being the words that fit to certain 'truths' and at the same time wonder if they are true at all.

Its like his words seem to present an obvious subject like hopelessness but somehow raise the less obvious opposite subject of hope, like darkness and light, evil and good...they all can be a measure of the other by their existence or absence.

So the missing writing of Kafka, or what is missing in Kafka's writing could be more important than what is there, written in black and white on the page. And what we know may not be as important as what we don't know, or don't know yet. And nothing may be as important as all the questions that help us search for whats missing and keep us eternally asking, 'Why?'

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