After a great seminar with the RealMcNeilley, I was informed that for the second time this week I had read the wrong text. Daisy Dolls and Metamorphosis are still fresh in my mind yet T.S. Eliots’ Wasteland still demands to be read, to which I respond: “No”. It would be nothing short of a miracle if I could finish another text with the onslaught of work I still have ahead of me. So if you’re reading this thinking “There is no point in him writing this…”, I will counter your argument with the timeless rhetoric of “YOLO”.
Let me start by saying that either this novella or Frankenstein is my favorite text of the year. My reasoning behind it isn’t for love of allegory or symbolism and descriptive language. No, it is simply because both stories elicited a strong emotional response. Man tears were not shed this time, but I did immediately toss the book from my bed in frustration (Spoilers, I did not dent my wall, that would be childish). Kafka’s absurd tale makes the reader feel tormented and persecuted through narration from Gregor’s mind. As Gregor, we experience his pain, frustration, but worse of all we feel undeserved self-guilt (callback to Freud). In my last essay I argued that Victor Frankenstein was one of the most human, yet most monstrous characters we’ve read, but that title now belongs to The Samsa Family. Let me briefly explain why, and also explain how they beat out a woman who boils a cat.
One of my favorite quotes (I have no idea, nor a desire, to recall who said it to me) goes something like this “If you kick around a dog long enough, it’ll eventually begin to ask itself what it did wrong.” That expression is Gregor Samsa in a nutshell. The young man feels so much love and compassion for a family that demonstrates so little gratitude, and next to no sympathy in return. He is willing to be the breadwinner and sole benefactor for his family (despite his own self-interests), who reciprocate this by turning their backs on him when he needs them most. The ending of the novella completely defies any kind of structure or expectation of a story arc. There is no dignified resolution for Gregor. His family becomes the unworthy inheritor of his due resolve.
The text is not the most bizarre novella I’ve read (That award goes to Daisy Dolls), but it is the most emotionally complex and confusing. It defies any form of human compassion, and that’s what really irritated me the most. Where’s the love, or the Eros? Who the hell are these people? No, what are they? Some would argue that art should not be valued by the emotional response it evokes. Many advocates of surrealism would say it is a cheap ploy, but screw em’. Some would also argue an important and vital factor of art is provocation, and this story certainly left a lasting emotional resonance. I thankfully doubt that this resonance will disperse before our Seminar on it (It’s 3 weeks away). Hopefully my title was provocative enough to make you give enough of a damn to read this long rant, and you don’t feel any resentment for my embellishment. If you do, good. I know that feel, bro.
So yeah, if any wants to talk about Kafka Tuesday I’m your guy.