Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Life and the Writer

For Kafka (and not just him of course) there is a life - a force of life - that emerges only in and through writing, written words are the only possible lightning rod which can conduct this life. And so what is ordinarily called Life - the commonly accepted objects of desire: family, property, social events - are sacrificied for that strange supernumerary life that swims only in writing. Does not Kafka, for example, sacrifice Felice as a real flesh and blood woman for Felice the addressee of the letter - a proper name, a kabbalistic formula to open the writing machine.

It is a familiar image, perhaps: the writer rivetted myopically to the page and to the flights of language at the expense of his diet or clothing or his calendar, none of which matter.

But in Kafka, the received objects and signs of Life - family, work, money etc - recede from the other, writerly life to such an extent that they appear, not just as objects of indifference but objects of puzzlement, enigma, hieroglyphs which, as such, are then reincorporated into the writing. That is, in the work everyday life returns in just this way as something uncanny, inscrutable, without any self-evidence, insurmountable. 

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