Friday, August 15, 2008

Before the Law - Kafka

This is a Andy Warhol portrait of Kafka and it's great achievement is to show a smile on Kafka's face. Sometimes we forget that Kafka is funny and it has been said that he used to read some of his writings to his friends laughing.
He wrote many little texts that are great.
Here is one of them and I've chosen it because it's available in English on the WWW kingdom - I read translations even of some Americans authors what makes difficult to put some excerpts I would like to share - and because it seems to me that it shows a little bit of the the situation of those who are striving to raise mental health problems.
But I hope that it does not end the way this text does.

"BEFORE THE LAW stands a doorkeeper. To this door-keeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be allowed in later.
"-It is possible," says the doorkeeper, "but not at the moment."
Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper laughs and says:
"-If you are so drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the least of the door-keepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him."
These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, with his big sharp nose and long, thin, black Tar-tar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door. There he sits for days and years. He makes many at-tempts to be admitted, and wearies the doorkeeper by his importunity.
The doorkeeper frequently has little interviews with him, asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, as great lords put them, and always finish with the statement that he cannot be let in yet. The man, who has furnished himself with many things for his journey, sacrifices all he has, however valuable, to bribe the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts every- thing, but always with the remark:
"-I am only taking it to keep you from thinking you have omitted any- thing."
During these many years the man fixes his attention almost continuously on the doorkeeper. He forgets the other doorkeepers, and this first one seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law. He curses his bad luck, in his early years boldly and loudly, later, as he grows old, he only grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since in his yearlong contemplation of the doorkeeper he has come to know even the fleas in his fur collar, he begs the fleas as well to help him and to change the doorkeeper's mind. At length his eyesight begins to fail, and he does not know whether the world is really darker or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. Yet in his darkness he is now aware t of a radiance that streams inextinguishably from the gateway of the Law. Now he has not very long to live.
Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a ques-tion he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man's disadvantage.
"-What do you want to know now?" asks the doorkeeper; "you are insatiable."
"-Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man, "so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance?"
The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words roars in his ear:
"-No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.""


susan said...

I really liked this, and never saw the Warhol painting of Kafka.

i feel a kinship with Kafka. Sometimes, too much for my liking lately I feel like Gregor Samsa. Such is the nature of depression.

I also know what it must have taken him to ask as he lay dying to destroy all the manuscripts. I have asked my best friend to wipe the hard drive from my computers and destroy my novels when I am no longer here as well.

Ana said...

Warhol has so many works that we don't know!
Destroying... don't do it. I'm sure you have great things to share.
that's the good thing about Blogs:
now it's online baby! You cannot destroy them any longer!
I have also thought about destroying...
I have already destroyed all my drawings from a decade. :(
I also feel like giving "format" command on the hard drive.
Sometimes I would like to have a job that has nothing to do with it all.
Waking up in the morning, going to some place do something you hate with people you dislike, come back home, watch TV and sleep.
I have already lived like this.
It's terrible.
You feel like as if you've done nothing.
But when you are not satisfied with what you've wrote or draw is also feel terrible.
But there are few moments when you're in heaven for you achieved something you've liked.
That's what make us... KEEP GOING!
Thank you for the comment Susan!