UK Poet, Philosopher & Artist Ivor Griffiths' Official Website

Franz Kafka Metamorphosis, Raymond Chandler The Big Sleep, Toni Morrison et al.

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Other Stories, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby, Song of Solomon, and Paradise are the books I have been reading since my last post. I have enthusiastically taken on board Ray Bradbury’s advice that one must read to write. I love to read so much that the writing is constantly being postponed. I now hope to resume writing. This coincides with some LAMP development I ‘m involved in. It’s always the same.

I also read Sol Stein’s Solutions for Novelists and the excellent How to Write A Damn Good Novel II by Jame N. Frey. These two books are both beautifully written, inspiring, and motivational. James N. Frey’s text is especially lucid, for me in any event, he gets straight to the point and offers useful practical advice for the blocked (loafing?) writer.

Kafka is an interesting chap, born in Prague he wrote in German and we read the translations. The stories are good in the volume I have been reading. Metamorphosis is a story I had heard of but never previously read. I must say thet the characterisation that Kafka manages is amazing and the gentle rise in tension and unexpected ending made for a challenging read. On first impression it struck me as a study in difference, but then I extended this idea to reluctant or forced individualitiness, which in turn reminded me of the idea of “being found”, as an analogy for existence,  considered by Heidegger. In this story the family, for whom Gregor had cared selflessly, gradually turn on him after his transformation. The individual is the transformed Gregor, also favoured by Jean Paul Satre over the “herd”, is shown to be weak in the face of the established order of the family; “the chief”, Gregor’s unforgiving boss, is a metaphor for authority that intrudes suspiciously while remaining essentially unknown. The idea of an unknown and vague organisation whose authority is recognized by the populace without question is further considered in The Great Wall of China. This story follows on from Metamorphosis and is in turn followed by Investigations of a Dog. For me Investigations of a Dog is the strongest story in the collection; the idea of starvation in the face of a nameless crowd is echoed in Paul Auster’s City of Glass.

The ideas considered by Kafka in this collection, influenced as they are by Existentialism, are further developed in the ideas of Post Modernism. Science, especially in Investigations of Dog, and it’s Philosophical parent Empiricism, is sceptically analysed from the point of view of the dog when he hilariously considers the origins of food. 

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