“This perversion of the truth, familiar to the artist though it was, always unnerved him afresh and proved too much for him. What was a consequence of the premature ending of his fast was here presented as the cause of it! To fight against this lack of understanding, against a whole world of nonunderstanding, was impossible.” ~ Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist
Kafka was a tortured soul. One could question, was this nature or nurture derived? As a boy, taught early to denounce his religious heritage and to be raised by a father who couldn’t be pleased, the latter seems a good answer.
I read a bit of Kafka years ago; I’m not even certain if it was for class or my interest. I read quickly, without absorption, and was happy to be away from his world when there were no more words upon the page. These days, I’ve become intrigued by Kafka, but knew not where to start. Friday night, while picking up books around libraryland, I spied R. Crumb’s Kafka. Two days later, I’ve added, A Hunger Artist, Amerika, & Letters To My Father, to my GoodReads list.
I shall not expound on theories when I’ve not read the work, but A Hunger Artist is rather intriguing from the POV that Kafka held great disdain for his person. According to David Zane Mairowitz’s commentary in R.Crumb’s Kafka, Kafka felt great inadequacy physically. He had an almost unnatural disdain; an alienation from his own self which he tried to make as small as possible as a part of nature.
Granted, this is conjecture since I’ve not done my homework beyond reading Mairowitz’s words. It doesn’t seem a farfetched analogy considering Kafka wrote a work in which a man awakes as a giant bug in Metamorphosis. How a man, who finds himself on display, in a cage, fasting for 40 days, shall be a true testament to the inner psyche of an artist who, too, felt a need to become small. That said, am I being too literal, and the hunger was for something beyond the garbage we often call substance.
Sorry, the witching hour has gonged long ago, and I fear I’m talking in circles. Perhaps the brain just needs to sleep; perhaps I need to disassociate with what I’ve read this weekend between Kafka, McCarthy & a fun bit about Marx via Rius (more about this later).
It is intriguing, though, don’t you think, when you stumble upon what you thought you knew only to trip into a completely different well… ~