Posted in Politics

World War One Starts and Kafka goes for a Swim

My own writing might give some credence to that analogy which equates an historian’s brain to a dung heap by implying that if you leave it long enough, something will grow. Indeed, with ego foreover going off on tangents before getting to the point, the analogy might also be applied to the linguist’s brain and it has just been noticed that when I say “an”, instead of “a”, historian, it really is because the “h” is elided.

Be that as it may, this time around it was an article by  Robert Minto that started to turn the dung heap into something more substantial. The process began when I read that a line in Kafka’s journal on August 2, 1914 began with “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Minto then says that this has been used as “an illustration of Kafka’s self-absorption and unworldliness.” However, my immediate thought was what was he supposed to do? After all, it is hardly likely that troops had immediately been deployed to Lake Slapy, or wherever else he might have been going for a swim.

Still, Kafka is a good starting point and it doesn’t become more Kafkaesque than Jonathan Jones when he contends “everything we know about Obama suggests he is far too good a person”, while coming to the conclusion that the man who has just left the White House knows just how ineffectual the new incumbent president is and that “soon we won’t be worrying about Trump. We will be deriding his incompetence”. No mention, of course, of the fact that under the watch of this “good person” the illegal murders, the wars, the drones, and the number of innocent people killed throughout the world never stopped.

Still, our unworldly pseudo journalist does at least get something right when he says that, like the smiling Obama, “we can all go surfing” , while suggesting that we should defer doing so until we realise that we shouldn’t worry about Trump, because he is incompetent. Yes, Trump is incompetent, but do the people in the Middle East and elsewhere really care if the bombs being dropped on them are courtesy of an incompetent, or a competent US Commander in Chief?  Still, “we can all go surfing” and might it not be that rather than being unworldly Kafka actually realised on this Kafkaesque planet our options are rather limited?

A planet where children in the Yemen are killed courtesy British hardware, where Palestine is stolen from the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are a threat to peace, a world where Israel, that oxymoronic Jewish democracy, which exists on that stolen land, possesses nuclear weapons, but instead of admitting it tries to convince the whole planet that Iran, a country with no nuclear bomb, is a  threat to world peace. Now onto the stage comes Trump and the Kafkaesque theatrics, the histrionics, the hyperbole, the hype, the hypocrisy, and the high-noon drama will continue, as will the wars, environmental destruction, and mass murder, under the watch of the man with a slightly smaller brain than the previous incumbent in the White House….., but then nothing has really changed, or has it? ……. and now I am going for a swim!

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There are a lot of poor bastards out there being used and abused; it is just not cricket "old bean". Something tells me that ignorance is not bliss, but is, in fact, simply ignorance and in the global village we cannot look the other way.

2 thoughts on “World War One Starts and Kafka goes for a Swim

    1. Thanks for the comment and it had me at least looking up Reiner Stach, and giving your article some bottom up attention. Moreover, I have also decided to re-read “Der Prozess” after some forty years.
      It also led me to thinking about Camus’ “Meursault” and his going for a swim after hearing about his mother’s death.
      And if it is not all thanks to the “dung heap”, there is a lot to be said for going of on a tangent instead of trying to understand this rather kafkaesque charade as anything other than farcical.
      David Harvey’s ‘Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism’ puts it all into some perspective.

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