Language

Adorno and repudiation

Theodor Adorno, for instance, argues that Kafka's parables signify not "through expression but its repudiation";

[Ziarek 177]



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Benjamin's theory of translation

Benjamin's theory of translation not only illuminates but perhaps is in turn informed by Kafka's parables. Can we say that Kafka's works already include their own intralinear translation? (In his "The Task of the Translator," Benjamin suggest that most of the great works of art do so.) Such a statement of course cannot mean that Kafka's parables lay special claim to completeness but rather that they initiate the process of violent transformation, which brackets the norms of the common language and questions the mastery of the native speakers.

[Ziarek 187]



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Boredom is the threshold to great deeds

We are bored when we don't know what we are waiting for. That we do know, or think we know, is nearly always the expression of our superficiality or inattention. Boredom is the threshold to great deeds--Now, it would be important to know: What is the dialectical antithesis to boredom?

[Arcades Project 105]



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Collectors are beings with tactile instincts

Possession and having are allied with the tactile, and stand in a certain opposition to the optical. Collectors are beings with tactile instincts. Moreover, with the recent turn away from naturalism, the primacy of the optical that was determinate for the previous century has come to an end. Flaneur. The flaneur optical, the collector tactile.

[Arcades Project 206]



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Nietzsche, Language, metaphoricity

By accepting the necessity of language's "truthlessness," Nietzsche argues, one can transform deception into artistic creation: Langauge, in its inherent metaphoricity, infuses life with the aesthetic spirit, establishing poetic license, not truth or validity, as the ruling principle of existence.

[Gray 455]



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Sickness?

Kafka's word presents a sickness of tradition.

An emptiness of tradition. Also, the "word" here is singular - like the biblical Word (LOGOS), or like a signifier.

[a sickness of tradition]



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The Starting Point

This must be my starting point, that the Parables--and Benjamin--participate in some sort of "pre-diffferance," where instead of constant deferrment, we get a stop, a singularity, a standstill, in the face of the lack of truth/signified.

[the metaphysical concept of truth separate from the mechanism of signification]



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The concept of truth distinct and separate from the process of signification

Consequently, in Politzer's reading, skepticism about ordinary language remains in complicity with the affirmation of truth "inaccessible to ordinary verbalization." With the emphasis on the inaccessible transcendental or on the emptiness of traditional exemplary forms, this strain of Kafka criticism in fact perpetuates both the notion of linguistic skepticism and the concept of truth distinct and separate from the process of signification.

[Ziarek 178]



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Wisdom

Wisdom connects language to meaning?

"Decay" - useful in this context: the presence of what is no longer present. Yet in this case, there never was anything. Only the hope that there would be.

[products of its decay]



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he sacrificed truth for the sake of clinging to its transmissibility

Kafka's real genius was that he tried something entirely new: he sacrificed truth for the sake of clinging to its transmissibility, its haggadic element. Kafka's writings are by their nature parables. But it is their misery and their beauty that they had to become more than parables. They do not modestly lie at the feet of the doctrine, as the Haggadah lies at the feet of the Halakah. Though apparently reduced to submission, they unexpectedly raise a mighty paw against it.

[Illuminations 144]



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the impossibility of finishing

The "tower of Babel" does not merely figure the irreducible multiplicity of tongues; it exhibits an incompletion, the impossibility of finishing, of totalizing, of saturating, of completing something on the order of edification, architectural construction, system and architectonics. What the multiplicity of idioms actually limits is not only a "true" translation, a transparent and adequate interexpression, it ais also a structural order, a coherence of construct. There is then (let us translate) something like an internal limit to formalization, an incompleteness of the structure.

[Derrida, quoted in Ziarek 195]



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the materials used in building a house

The fragments of the Passagen-Werk can be compared to the materials used in building a house, the outside of which has just been marked in the ground or whose foundations are just being dug. ... Next to the foundations we find the neatly ;iled excerpts, which would have been used to construct the walls; Benjamin's own thoughts would have provided the mortar to hold the building together.

[Tiedemann 931]



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the metaphysical concept of truth separate from the mechanism of signification

Reading "failure" in Kafka's parables in a way directly opposite to Politzer (and to the majority of Kafka criticism) Benjamin argues that Kafka's focus on the circulation of linguistic transport of meaning eventually aims to destroy the metaphysical concept of truth separate from the mechanism of signification.

[Ziarek 179]



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translation exists in a more "exalted' state

Thus, the property that is most blatant in a translation, the slippage between symbol and symbolized, revels something about the original. It is for this reason that Benjamin claims that the translation exists in a more "exalted' state than the original. History unfolds in a linguistic realm of contiguous fragments.

[Oksiloff 174]



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whether it is possible to build, write, interpret

This paralysis thematized in Kafka's text raises again a question whether it is possible to build, write, interpret when we already know "that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible" (PP, 11). Walter Benjamin argues, however, that this failure of the transcendental purpose is not an impasse but a liberating force in Kafka's prose...

[Ziarek 200]



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