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IlanaSimons
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Registered: ‎10-20-2006
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In The Penal Colony

Some questions for this story:
Is torture here a metaphor for something?
How does this story help us understand the Kafkaesque?



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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LizzieAnn
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Re: In The Penal Colony

This may sound off-the-wall, but this story reminded me of some of the action movies of the 80s - part futuristic & part throwback, kind of like "Mad Max." I also couldn't get thoughts of Nazi Germany out of my mind while reading this, or even of the Azetcs or other ancient civilizations. A strict code - blind obedience - no trials - punishment - execution/sacrifice. It was creepy in a different way than the other Kafka stories I've read so far.

It's illogical in that no matter what the crime, it's punishable by torture and death. Any infraction - and boom. No defense allowed - a real tyranny. The destruction of the machinery may stand for the destruction of that way - way the punishers are punished. Justice is enacted, the old way is eliminated, and a new way comes forth.

I don't understand the point of the Traveler's coming, unless it's to bear witness. He also doesn't allow the other to men to join him and leave the penal colony. Could it be the new way isn't truly better? Just different? And the Traveler is part of the controlling entity - going home to "live off the fat of the land"?
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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IlanaSimons
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Re: In The Penal Colony



LizzieAnn wrote:
This may sound off-the-wall, but this story reminded me of some of the action movies of the 80s - part futuristic & part throwback, kind of like "Mad Max." I also couldn't get thoughts of Nazi Germany out of my mind while reading this, or even of the Azetcs or other ancient civilizations. A strict code - blind obedience - no trials - punishment - execution/sacrifice. It was creepy in a different way than the other Kafka stories I've read so far.

It's illogical in that no matter what the crime, it's punishable by torture and death. Any infraction - and boom. No defense allowed - a real tyranny. The destruction of the machinery may stand for the destruction of that way - way the punishers are punished. Justice is enacted, the old way is eliminated, and a new way comes forth.

I don't understand the point of the Traveler's coming, unless it's to bear witness. He also doesn't allow the other to men to join him and leave the penal colony. Could it be the new way isn't truly better? Just different? And the Traveler is part of the controlling entity - going home to "live off the fat of the land"?




Hi LizzieAnn,
I certainly also see Nazi Germany and Hollywood versions of torture in this story. It seems like Kafka's saying something about the aesthetics of torture. There's something Quentin-Tarantino'esque here: We're so proud of the ways we can be violent that we overlook the inhumanity of the act.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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beshockley
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Re: In The Penal Colony

I am still voiceless after reading this story several days ago.

This story deeply disturbs me, and is really the only story of his that has.

I want to say so much about the impression this story gives me, and yet can not seem to find a starting point. I can only say it struck me to my core, and I am not even sure with what; but to try and convey it will require copious amounts of time and words.

Oh well, maybe I am not ready for this story.
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donyskiw
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Re: In The Penal Colony

I had some of that same unsettling feeling that beshockly spoke of after reading this story. I made a point of reading a fluffy home decorating magazine before bed to ward off bad dreams.

I think the torture is a metaphor for something going on in Kafka's mind. I got the impression he was deeply frustrated by a situation he couldn't change or control and he created this story out of it. Maybe the machine breaking and the old Commandant and his ways being overthrown were a way of Kafka's realizing that he was making a victim out of himself. But his frustration of the moment was very real and he wanted to express it. The Kafkaesque is never very clear and its a bit humorous and odd in a black way at the same time.

Denise
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ELee
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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What was he thinking?

Denise wrote:

"I think the torture is a metaphor for something going on in Kafka's mind."

I absolutely agree. One of the things about ITPC that I find intriguing is that Kafka used the “written word” as the method of torture/execution, physically “writing” the sentence of the accused repeatedly on his flesh and blood until he expires. For the officer, the condemned man’s guilt is unquestionable, thereby requiring no defense and being communicated to the accused only by “knowing it on his body”. (This communication is also secured by the fact that the man does not speak or understand the officer’s language.) Neither can the traveler “see” or “read” the word pattern/template that will become the written sentence. The written words must be felt to the point of no feeling (death).
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donyskiw
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Re: What was he thinking?

I don't think that it was the writing that killed the condemned. It was the the spike through the forehead at the end. And I think that "conversion moment" that happened at the six hour point? I think that was the condemned simply going into shock from pain, blood loss, and trauma.

The volume I'm reading is the Everyman's edition of Kafka's Collected Stories. The more I read, the more I think that Kafka would intertwine something horrible, like torture, with something that is psuedo-horrible, like standing in line at the DMV for an hour, and come up with a story. We'd come out of the DMV office with our driver's licenses and bad moods, he'd come out with his license and this story idea. Now, I'm sure that what was going on in his world fed into that but there's stuff we could draw on from our worlds, too, if we already had a mindset that looked for it like his did.

Denise
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IlanaSimons
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Re: What was he thinking?

very cool comment: That an artist is the person who's able to turn the mundane into something extraordinary.
It's neat to think of a fork in the road--of optimism vs. pessimism. Kafka turned the mundane into utter terror. Someone like Bronte is able to turn love (which aint ever that good anyway, really) into something uncommonly sparkly.



donyskiw wrote:
I don't think that it was the writing that killed the condemned. It was the the spike through the forehead at the end. And I think that "conversion moment" that happened at the six hour point? I think that was the condemned simply going into shock from pain, blood loss, and trauma.

The volume I'm reading is the Everyman's edition of Kafka's Collected Stories. The more I read, the more I think that Kafka would intertwine something horrible, like torture, with something that is psuedo-horrible, like standing in line at the DMV for an hour, and come up with a story. We'd come out of the DMV office with our driver's licenses and bad moods, he'd come out with his license and this story idea. Now, I'm sure that what was going on in his world fed into that but there's stuff we could draw on from our worlds, too, if we already had a mindset that looked for it like his did.

Denise





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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donyskiw
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Re: What was he thinking?

Oh, she did, didn't she? I want to discuss Jane Eyre! I thought we were going to when I saw it as the icon for the British Classics discussion and I've reread most of it while waiting for my Moby Dick volume to arrive.

Denise



IlanaSimons wrote:
very cool comment: That an artist is the person who's able to turn the mundane into something extraordinary.
It's neat to think of a fork in the road--of optimism vs. pessimism. Kafka turned the mundane into utter terror. Someone like Bronte is able to turn love (which aint ever that good anyway, really) into something uncommonly sparkly.



donyskiw wrote:
I don't think that it was the writing that killed the condemned. It was the the spike through the forehead at the end. And I think that "conversion moment" that happened at the six hour point? I think that was the condemned simply going into shock from pain, blood loss, and trauma.

The volume I'm reading is the Everyman's edition of Kafka's Collected Stories. The more I read, the more I think that Kafka would intertwine something horrible, like torture, with something that is psuedo-horrible, like standing in line at the DMV for an hour, and come up with a story. We'd come out of the DMV office with our driver's licenses and bad moods, he'd come out with his license and this story idea. Now, I'm sure that what was going on in his world fed into that but there's stuff we could draw on from our worlds, too, if we already had a mindset that looked for it like his did.

Denise





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IlanaSimons
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Re: What was he thinking?



donyskiw wrote:
Oh, she did, didn't she? I want to discuss Jane Eyre! I thought we were going to when I saw it as the icon for the British Classics discussion and I've reread most of it while waiting for my Moby Dick volume to arrive.


We didn't jump right to Janey because she'd been recently done at B&N. But I'm sure we'll cycle back to her at some point.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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donyskiw
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Re: What was he thinking?

Yeah! I know she had been done recently, in fact, they ran that discussion twice. I didn't take part the second time.

Denise
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