“In the stories which Kafka left us, narrative art regains the significance it had in the mouth of Scheherazade: to postpone the future. In The Trial postponement is the hope of the accused man only if the proceedings do not gradually turn into the judgment.” – The patriarch himself is to benefit by postponement, even though he may have to trade his place in tradition for it. “I could conceive of another Abraham-to be sure, he would never get to be a patriarch or even an’ old-clothes dealer-, an Abraham who would be prepared to satisfy the demand for a sacrifice immediately, with the promptness of a waiter, but would be unable to bring it off because he cannot get away !I being indispensable; the household needs him, there is always something or other to take care of, the house is never ready; but without having his house ready, without having something to fall back on, he cannot leave-this the Bible also realized, for it says: ‘He set his. house in order.’ ” This Abraham appears “with the promptness of a waiter.” Kafka could understand things only in the form of a gestuS, and this gestus which he did not understand constitutes the cloudy part of the parables. Kafka’s writings emanate from it. The way he withheld them is well known. His testament orders their destruction. This document, which no one interested in Kafka can disregard, says that the writings did not satisfy their author, that he regarded his efforts as failures, that he counted himself among those who were bound to fail. He did fail in his grandiose attempt to convert poetry into doctrine, to turn it into a parable and restore to it that stability and unpretentiousness which, in the face of reason, seemed to him to be the only appropriate thing for it. No other writer has obeyed the commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image” so faithfully. “It was as if the shame of it was to outlive him.” With these words The Trial ends. Corresponding as it does to his “elemental purity of feeling,” shame is Kafka’s strongest gesture. It has a dual aspect, however. Shame is an intimate human reaction, but at the same time it has social pretensions.
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Benjamin. Illuminations http://ift.tt/1h6COMR

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