Franz Kafka

Reality, free will or the speed of light? One’s got to give, because quantum mechanics says you can’t have them all. Yet the theorems are true.

ERWIN SCHRÖDINGER called entanglement the “defining trait” of quantum theory but Einstein could not bring himself to believe in it at all, thinking it proof that quantum theory was seriously buggy. The idea that particles can be linked in such a way that changing the quantum state of one instantaneously affects the other, even if they are light years apart, is what Einstein referred to as the “spooky action at a distance.”   From New Scientist  “The idea  was a serious blow to our conception of how the world works. In 1964, physicist John Bell of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, showed just how serious. He calculated a mathematical inequality that encapsulated the maximum correlation between the states of remote particles in experiments in which three “reasonable” conditions hold.” Complicated stuff.

If I’m Schrodinger’s Cat, according to Quantum Theory,  I am 1) alive  and 2) dead and decaying, yet if a person were to open the box I will be one or the other, dead or alive but not both. Fritz Perls was “ahead of his time” when he wrote that in dreams we are every aspect of the dream; we are the person driving the car, we are the road, we are the car going down the road, we are the tree that the car runs into. Complicated stuff. Yet oddly true in many dreams.  If it’s true in quantum, and true in dreams, is it true in our awake life?

Franz Kafka grasped this concept, evidenced by his often quoted phrase:  “I am a memory come alive.”  Memory is something that happens in the past and is brought forward only as a thought,  yet he places it in the presence and gives it life and all the  meaning of a real existence, that is to say, it is his being and identity. Like the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat he is both alive and dead and decaying, and knew it.

Of  “Reality, free will or the speed of light? One’s got to give, because quantum mechanics says you can’t have them all,” Kafka writes of this in the aphorism: “Before the Law.” Before the Law is quantum theory: That the door is always open for example, that man does have  free will in reality, and  in conjunction with the speed of light (timelessness) where there is no free will, (because timelessness has no time, there is no will. ) In his final and unfinished book, The Castle, K lives with free will even while he remains connected to the Castle (speed of light);  tenuous at times, but always connected one way or the other. What the castle did effected K, what K did seemed  to have an effect on  the Castle which is  consistent with the theory of entanglement.  K had  free will,  but for the Castle to express free will  that was possible only through an emissary when he traveled to the village.

The Castle is his unfinished but elegant road map that charts out man’s free will, and his connection to a greater being.  It was his explanation and perception of a kabballah  that he saw around himself.  To make the narrative even more interesting, in reference to Kafka and quantum,  if we take Carl Jung’s  theory that a house is a metaphor for ourselves, our depth and personality that means the castle, in the book is a metaphor for Kafka, his life, his depth, and in quantum speak, it’s a metaphor for his timelessness self.  Kafka in all his entirety was the surveyor who wandered around the village, he was the the village, the inn and the castle, and each aspect was a different aspect of his quantum authenticity.

The following headline came up in the “news” today:

“9-11 whistle-blower Susan Lindauer’s case confirms we live in Gulag Amerika.”

Gulag Amerika?

” That’s the Patriot Act for you. Welcome to the New America.  Franz Kafka would be appalled”

No,  I’m not going to link the nasty thing into my blog. If I give it a name I empower it and I want no part in that.  It’s truly pitiful when a person charged with accepting bribes and or blood money resorts to throwing down the persecution card. For some reason, (let’s call it arrogance) she seems to think she’s better than everyone else and above the law, that  if the judge  knew it was her, surely the charges would be dropped.  She writes: “Worst by far, after omitting confirmations of my identity from their reports to Judge Mukasey, they sought to imprison me indefinitely and forcibly drug me with Haldol, so that I would be “cured” of believing what all three agencies at the Justice Department recognized to be fully truthful.”


How odd then that the charges were dropped because she was unfit to stand trial, not because she was deemed innocent.  Yet still she capitalized on this and wrote a book about being singled out and persecuted? Get real lady, and get a real job where you don’t have to misquote a book about persecution in the bitter attempt to bring legitimacy to your arrogant albeit transparent  desire to peddle conspiracy theories.

Dear Ms. Lindauer, your self-righteous attitude makes me ill.

Please do not evoke the name Kafka, and compare yourself to the persecuted.

If his sisters received the same treatment as you, they would not have died in misery.  This is the face of persecution- three women who were indeed arrested without having done anything wrong, thrown into the gulag and died a terrible death in the gas-chambers of hell. We call it Terezin, God calls it evil. I wonder if Ms. Lindauer is a Holocaust denier as well.

The BBC has a story that the letters Kafka wrote to his sister and saved by her daughters will be on display at Oxford, and in doing so, apparently will be part of the effort to sure up their German credentials.    From the story: ” the proposed partnership with Marbach, the University of Oxford will strengthen its position as an important centre for studies of German and Jewish literature and culture.”  I would hope that the letters would be displayed because of the historical context, regardless of the  diversity goalpost. But….no doubt this academic moment will be added to the long list of   ‘The Uses of Kafka.”

It occurred to me while reading this little news story, that if all the banned works of all the banned writers, artists, musicians, scientists, journalists, and so on -( and- it’s a very long list- ) were brought together under one roof, there would be no roof on the planet big enough to house them.

That says something very important and not to be forgotten, yet we seem on the verge of forgetting.  We are already on the downward slide watching the rise of anti-Semitism,  especially in the U.K.  Give it a new name with new attributes to disguise it, but even with its 21st century garb and modifiers, it is the same old problem.  The cold reality is, we aren’t born with these prejudices, it has to be taught.  I feel like asking is  it the drinking water? Surely, it must be!  Pathetic really.  The answer is this: there is no building big enough to house this mess caused by intolerance, furthermore, no such building would ever be built, no matter how much it should be built, because to do so would we would have to admit the problem existed beyond the German borders and beyond the war.  God forbid we should have to look at that. I need to look no further than the U.N. to realize that we are absolutely unlearning  everything we should have learned.

Publisher Comments:

I have only one request,” Kafka wrote to his publisher Kurt Wolff in 1913. “‘The Stoker,’ ‘The Metamorphosis,’ and ‘The Judgment’ belong together, both inwardly and outwardly. There is an obvious      connection among the three, and, even more important, a secret one, for which reason I would be reluctant to forego the chance of having them published together in a book, which might be called The Sons.”Seventy-five years later, Kafka’s request is-granted, in a volume including these three classic stories of filial revolt as well as his own poignant “Letter to His Father,” another “son story” located between fiction and autobiography. A devastating indictment of the modern family, The Sons represents Kafka’s most concentrated literary achievement as well as the story of his own domestic tragedy.Grouped together under this new title and in newly revised translations, these texts — the like of which Kafka had never written before and (as he claimed at the end of his life) would never again equal — take on fresh, compelling meaning.

The Stoker, Metamorphosis, The Judgment: The past, the present, the future- albeit out of order?

I’ve had interesting dreams about his sons, three if I include the legacy dream; as to whether or not the dreams are about these three sons, I don’t know.   I never gave them a name or was told a name, but one is young, not matured and is sad because he can’t find his mother, while the other two are mature, confident and happy. Someday to publish and laugh about the dreams; but I have to admit, I do not know, at least consciously, why whatever it is that they have in common would fall in the category of a secret, or what the secret actually is. At least I don’t think I know!

What do I know?
I have to answer everything, potentially: to say otherwise would not be true. And so the process begins: unless it’s something I accidentally fall into- like when I accidentally became obsessed with studying the kaballah- I never seem to have the confidence or strong enough will to just go do something: I have to chart it and plan it and make lists. Laying out and analyzing all my dreams will be like that, including the dreams about his legacy and sons.  >As for the secret that so pleased the author and was withheld from his publisher,  I can say and with absolute certainty, that I am the young man in The Stoker,  and  I can also say that that isn’t the secret because in 1913 he had not yet thought of transforming fiction into reality, I being the reality. That would come later… (And that’s another conversation entirely.) … But there is wisdom to be found, and a triage: The first son living under an arrogant and rude father suffers humiliation and commits suicide;  the second son, Gregor,  also lives under the influence of an arrogant and course father, suffers humiliation, and instead of instantly killing himself,  he suffers alienation, slow starvation, and a long drawn out agonizing death; the third son, however,  is spared, sent to America and saved from a future humiliation.  I don’t know why Kafka would have thought that this triage was a secret, except he perhaps did not want to hope in the event the hope could not bear witness.

Michael Stein has written an honest and commendable  response to  Butler’s anti-Israel, anti-Zionism lecture. (below)

As to “who” should own Kafka? The actual Art can be kept from the public, but ideas can’t be  confiscated, burned or killed, – and they can’t be owned.  Like seeds thrown to the wind, ideas will float around and land some place, take root and sprout new ideas and new seeds.     As a German writer, there is no greater honor than  to be housed with the best writers of German literature; this means Goethe.  It may not be “home” for Kafka but being with Goethe is as close as it gets, and if Marbach includes what was stolen, it will have a greater purpose that even Israel will approve.  Rather than hire Israeli lawyers in the effort to win the right to bid on Max’s  trove, (which will become public to everyone at some point of time anyway) at this point of perpetual trials, the lawyers and the Marbach Archives should invest their time and money into  recovering and making public the work confiscated by the Nazi’s; and while they’re at it, they should go back to search Dora’s apartment and recover what the Nazis missed. All this work should be housed together because only when it’s complete  and together will the complete story be told.

As to the ‘use of Kafka,’ the law is the law and it’s time for the Nazis to return everything they stole, and admit what they stole, when, where and why. It would be excellent if Marbach was forefront in this effort and chronicled the process. I’m thinking of  “Menachem and Fred,” two survivors who wrote their memoirs and then produced a film which received a Peace Award last year.  The lawyers and the courts, in restoring Kafka to the open air, could learn much by emulating these two brave men and their families.  I spoke with Fred in private away from the crowd and also from a Q&A group after a showing of the film.  I cried.  I also found closure.

From the Czech article, The Uses of Kafka,” written by Michael Stein:

“Franz Kafka never had the fortune, whether good or bad, of being just a writer. During his lifetime he hardly published anything and had a firm principle against making his living with his pen. After his death it became even worse. He went from being a one-man Jewish oracle to a 20th Century prophet of doom, from a spiritual guide to a poster boy of neurotic failure – with the fiction he labored over being placed alongside letters and apocryphal conversations as mere pieces of evidence in the court of interpretation.

As modern as ever, the Kafka of the 21st Century is more like IKEA, a huge do-it-yourself store where you can furnish your intellectual arguments to your heart’s content. The lecture that American post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler gave February 4 to launch the London Review of Books’ winter series – “Who Owns Kafka?” – is a case in point.

The lecture is presumably centered on the long-running trial Israeli trial over the ownership of a trove of Kafka manuscripts and the papers of his friend Max Brod, who left the documents to his secretary and lover Esther Hoffe at his death in 1968. Upon Hoffe’s death in 2007 Israel’s National Library contested her will to leave the papers to her two daughters, claiming them by the terms of Brod’s will. The complexity of the case has all too predictably proven to be prime breeding ground for the much abused term “Kafkaesque.”

On February 25 the inventory of documents was revealed as including a manuscript of “Wedding Preparations in the Country” among other short stories as well as some of Kafka’s diaries and letters, along with Max Brod’s as yet unpublished diaries. Asking the question of who will, or even should, own this literary treasure plunges one back into an interminable labyrinth that neither lawyers nor literary scholars seem equipped to decide.

Though Butler’s lecture is titled with a question she doesn’t offer much of an answer to it. Quite the opposite in fact. The lecture was advertised with a description saying that she “proposes a reading of Kafka’s parables that quarrels with both sides of the legal case . .” Somehow I don’t see either legal team calling her in as an expert witness. (more…)

Another excerpt from an article on Kafka’s manuscripts:

But Israel’s National Library contests the will, claiming all of Brod’s estate and Kafka as a cultural asset of the Jewish people. Aviad Stollman, the library’s Judaica Collection Curator, says Brod, an avid Zionist, would certainly not want to see his most prized possessions sold to an archive in Germany. “Max Brod wanted his estate to end up here at the library. The natural place for it is here along with the archives of his fellow writers and friends from the Prague circle,” he said. Hoffe’s daughter Eva declined comment. Her lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said she wants the writings preserved under the best preservation conditions, at the German Literary Archive. “Brod believed in post-war Germany which he visited many times,” Feldman pointed out. “As to Kafka – he may have been Jewish but he was no Zionist.’

link to Reuters:

`As to Kafka – he may have been Jewish but he was no Zionist.’

At least Feldmann admits Kafka was Jewish.

Can this overly bold retort, “he’s no Zionist” be blamed on politics, or should it be laid it at the feet of greed?  Franz was a Zionist. period.  To deny that would be to assert that he wasn’t the author of  The Trial, Metamorphosis and The Penal Colony.  If his Zionist position wasn’t clear upon his death, he certainly would have been very clear as the rise of Nazism fueled antisemitism. That he watched the Nazis murder his family and friends from heaven not land,  does nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering; indeed it reinforced in him the dream of a Jewish homeland.

That Israel has a right to exist and to flourish as a Jewish Homeland? Kafka’s spine is steel, his spirit steadfast;  of that there can be no doubt.