Franz Kafka and the Kafkaesque.
The work of mine 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 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 it. Through the years this explanation has been missing.
Kafka 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.
Now – for the first time – the veil of mystery can be lifted with concern to these classical works of Modernity.
It is in fact essential for Modern Man to be aware of this technique, to be able to reflect on the picture of Modern Man. Kafka was part of the creation of THE self-conscience in 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.
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.
FK did not “believe in” Freud, but he was fascinated by him. He did not study Freud at great extent, but he had – as many – acquired an immediate understanding of his ideas, through 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 Process, 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.