Reply
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text



Rune_Kristoffersen wrote:
I couldn't agree more with you guys, the bug is supposed to be metaphorical, or maybe that was Kafka's initial idea when he wrote the story, but then he got trapped in the character of the cockroach and that's where he made it physical, if you remember in the very beginning of the story, it's very unreal, almost to the point that you dont understand what the guy tried to do, and then he starts to modify the conduct of Gregor and turn him into a bug, making him act like one, but the changes are very subtle, its actually BRILLIANT!! ( I'm a Kafka fan, in case you didn't notice, LOL).
And i would like to know what 's you opinion (Llana and Choisya) about Gregor even looking like a bug, totally repulsive to the sight of his family, he still tries to be liked by his father. And thats when he blows it, he gets his father throw apples to him.
I hope you excuse my lousy English.




Your English is good, Rune_Kristoffersen. Where are you from?
I think your last question is interesting. I think you're suggesting that it's odd and touching that Gregor has the guts to imagine he can still be liked...as a bug.

In the "Question # 2" thread for Metamorphosis here, we just suggested that you can read Gregor's being a bug as a metaphor for depression. If I do that, I can think of his situation this way: When someone's really depressed, he eventually tires even his closest friends and family out. They just _can't_ stand his situation anymore, and this limitation is based in biology: The guy is _depressed_, and empathy for that situation runs out. The depressed one might not want to accept the divide. He wants to bridge the gap--he wishes people could understand him anyway. The poignant part is that biology really _has_ built a gap that's unbreachable.



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


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Yes, Rune's English is absolutely fine:smileyhappy:

Ilana: As someone who was hospitalised for depression, had ECT etc I can relate to what you say about depression here - yes, you 'tire' your closest friends and relatives. You are a Jekyll & Hyde - the person you once were is no more and friends/relatives cannot or do not want to relate to this new person. In turn you try to relate to past things and people but you cannot. The experience of deep, clinical depression eventually changes you and you find it increasingly difficult to relate to the life you had before. You feel your 'bugness' as it were and part of it remains with you, so you either sink (die) or swim in this new milieu.



IlanaSimons wrote:


Rune_Kristoffersen wrote:
I couldn't agree more with you guys, the bug is supposed to be metaphorical, or maybe that was Kafka's initial idea when he wrote the story, but then he got trapped in the character of the cockroach and that's where he made it physical, if you remember in the very beginning of the story, it's very unreal, almost to the point that you dont understand what the guy tried to do, and then he starts to modify the conduct of Gregor and turn him into a bug, making him act like one, but the changes are very subtle, its actually BRILLIANT!! ( I'm a Kafka fan, in case you didn't notice, LOL).
And i would like to know what 's you opinion (Llana and Choisya) about Gregor even looking like a bug, totally repulsive to the sight of his family, he still tries to be liked by his father. And thats when he blows it, he gets his father throw apples to him.
I hope you excuse my lousy English.




Your English is good, Rune_Kristoffersen. Where are you from?
I think your last question is interesting. I think you're suggesting that it's odd and touching that Gregor has the guts to imagine he can still be liked...as a bug.

In the "Question # 2" thread for Metamorphosis here, we just suggested that you can read Gregor's being a bug as a metaphor for depression. If I do that, I can think of his situation this way: When someone's really depressed, he eventually tires even his closest friends and family out. They just _can't_ stand his situation anymore, and this limitation is based in biology: The guy is _depressed_, and empathy for that situation runs out. The depressed one might not want to accept the divide. He wants to bridge the gap--he wishes people could understand him anyway. The poignant part is that biology really _has_ built a gap that's unbreachable.


Frequent Contributor
LizzieAnn
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

This metaphor of the bug standing for depression does make sense to me (finally!). Both to how others tire of it and how the sufferer himself becomes - more & more withdrawn, not wanting to eat, not taking care of him, and finally being unable to care for himself; yet, as you say wanting to be understood and loved.



IlanaSimons wrote:


Rune_Kristoffersen wrote:
I couldn't agree more with you guys, the bug is supposed to be metaphorical, or maybe that was Kafka's initial idea when he wrote the story, but then he got trapped in the character of the cockroach and that's where he made it physical, if you remember in the very beginning of the story, it's very unreal, almost to the point that you dont understand what the guy tried to do, and then he starts to modify the conduct of Gregor and turn him into a bug, making him act like one, but the changes are very subtle, its actually BRILLIANT!! ( I'm a Kafka fan, in case you didn't notice, LOL).
And i would like to know what 's you opinion (Llana and Choisya) about Gregor even looking like a bug, totally repulsive to the sight of his family, he still tries to be liked by his father. And thats when he blows it, he gets his father throw apples to him.
I hope you excuse my lousy English.




Your English is good, Rune_Kristoffersen. Where are you from?
I think your last question is interesting. I think you're suggesting that it's odd and touching that Gregor has the guts to imagine he can still be liked...as a bug.

In the "Question # 2" thread for Metamorphosis here, we just suggested that you can read Gregor's being a bug as a metaphor for depression. If I do that, I can think of his situation this way: When someone's really depressed, he eventually tires even his closest friends and family out. They just _can't_ stand his situation anymore, and this limitation is based in biology: The guy is _depressed_, and empathy for that situation runs out. The depressed one might not want to accept the divide. He wants to bridge the gap--he wishes people could understand him anyway. The poignant part is that biology really _has_ built a gap that's unbreachable.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text



LizzieAnn wrote:
This metaphor of the bug standing for depression does make sense to me (finally!). Both to how others tire of it and how the sufferer himself becomes - more & more withdrawn, not wanting to eat, not taking care of him, and finally being unable to care for himself; yet, as you say wanting to be understood and loved.





you underline a nice point there: that Gregor grows increasingly sick as the roleplay goes on.



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


Contributor
azarin-sadegh
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-22-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

I read this book, for the first time, when I was 15 years old and it changed my life forever.

The holes you are referring to, for me, is our own deception to find a meaning to life. I guess if you believe in a kind of religion or faith, it can fill it up for you with something, but if you are a believer in human-God, then this hole is like a huge black hole defining absence of God.

I think a good book, without these holes cannot exist. A good book is supposed to start our own reflection as son as we read the last line of it.

I think, during all his life, Kafka saw himself as this vermin, comparing with his strong amazing father. He never realized the true importance of his own talent and this is Kafka’s tragedy.
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text



azarin-sadegh wrote:
I read this book, for the first time, when I was 15 years old and it changed my life forever.

The holes you are referring to, for me, is our own deception to find a meaning to life. I guess if you believe in a kind of religion or faith, it can fill it up for you with something, but if you are a believer in human-God, then this hole is like a huge black hole defining absence of God.

I think a good book, without these holes cannot exist. A good book is supposed to start our own reflection as son as we read the last line of it.

I think, during all his life, Kafka saw himself as this vermin, comparing with his strong amazing father. He never realized the true importance of his own talent and this is Kafka’s tragedy.




I'm excited to see this reply, Azarin-sadegh. I see you saying that Kafka wrote ambiguous texts because he felt similar ambiguity in his life: the lack of an understandable or viable God. At the same time, he felt hounded by merely human authority (Dad) which was not God but acted like God.



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


Contributor
azarin-sadegh
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-22-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Through reading most of Kafka’s books, I think that he had real issues with the concept of God and religion. But being raised in a Jewish family and Jewish tradition, (it means considering himself as minority, foreigner, stranger, never belonging to where he was,..), and being raised by a strong father that he loved and he feared at the same time, I guess he always felt having sinned just because of doubting this God and his father’s faith. And worst of all he knew for sure that he would never be able to reach to that comfort zone where he could become his father.

I think he always lived somewhere between fear and despair. Fear of being crashed by his father/God and the huge weight of emptiness of any kind of purpose, feeling almost like a vermin.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Great post azarin-sadegh. More, more!



azarin-sadegh wrote:
Through reading most of Kafka’s books, I think that he had real issues with the concept of God and religion. But being raised in a Jewish family and Jewish tradition, (it means considering himself as minority, foreigner, stranger, never belonging to where he was,..), and being raised by a strong father that he loved and he feared at the same time, I guess he always felt having sinned just because of doubting this God and his father’s faith. And worst of all he knew for sure that he would never be able to reach to that comfort zone where he could become his father.

I think he always lived somewhere between fear and despair. Fear of being crashed by his father/God and the huge weight of emptiness of any kind of purpose, feeling almost like a vermin.


Contributor
beshockley
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-09-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Some big holes in the text for me that really left me anticipating or wanting more.

1. His lack of description to his audible sounds or communication. He just kind of leaves it there early that he speaks and understands himself, can understand others, and yet he is rendered unintelligible to the others. WHY?
I am looking for his voice is be too high, too low, squeaking, chirping, sharp, or just anything.

2. The outcome of the head clerk’s confrontation. I keep waiting for the authorities to show up, his family to hide him or cover up the incident, or even for the story to disclose the scene where the head clerk relates his horror. Instead the story just goes on without any further reference to this major opening theme/scene.

I am amazed at how little he actually conveys with this story. Less is more is obviously.




IlanaSimons wrote:
Question 1: Holes in the Text

Our story opens on one of the most famous lines in literature:
"As Gregor Samsa awoke from unsettling dreams one morning, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin."

It is important that this word is translated as “vermin,” and not, as it sometimes is, as “cockroach,” “insect,” or “bug.” Kafka wanted the word to be slightly abstract. Why do you think he wanted an open-ended word here?

A starter idea:
The theorist Wolfgang Iser described the “gaps” that exist in a book. Good literature, Iser said, does not fill in all the details; the resulting “gaps” are the prod for a reader’s imagination. Well-modeled “gaps” can propel us to think in dynamic, new ways. In Kafka’s deadpan narration and minimalist physical descriptions, he leaves us plenty of “gaps.” Describe some places in which he opens up new territory for the reader’s thinking. How does he do it?

How does Kafka pull off his absurdist voice or his humor?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 12-26-200612:06 PM




Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text



beshockley wrote:
Some big holes in the text for me that really left me anticipating or wanting more.

1. His lack of description to his audible sounds or communication. He just kind of leaves it there early that he speaks and understands himself, can understand others, and yet he is rendered unintelligible to the others. WHY?
I am looking for his voice is be too high, too low, squeaking, chirping, sharp, or just anything.

2. The outcome of the head clerk’s confrontation. I keep waiting for the authorities to show up, his family to hide him or cover up the incident, or even for the story to disclose the scene where the head clerk relates his horror. Instead the story just goes on without any further reference to this major opening theme/scene.

I am amazed at how little he actually conveys with this story. Less is more is obviously.





lack of sound. neat observation. it's as if we read the story from inside an isolation chamber.



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


Contributor
azarin-sadegh
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-22-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

You are absolutely right. I think that this silence should be considered as one important part of the tragic situation of Gregoir Samsa. There is actually this huge silence in the whole story, not because he doesn’t want to talk, or to scream…but just because he can’t. How a vermin is supposed to talk? How a vermin is supposed to sound? Or worse…shouldn’t a scared vermin try to do his best to stay mute, by fear of being crashed?

This is the definition I found on web for vermin:
“Vermin is a term given to animals which are considered by humans to be pests or nuisances, most associated with the carrying of disease. Disease-carrying rodents and insects are the usual case but the term can also apply to larger animals, on the basis that they exist out of ecological balance with their environment.”

Gregoir Samsa/ Frantz Kafka was carrying a kind of disease that 80+ years later, we are still trying to define it, by giving it a name, by making it part of our common knowledge, …to, finally, feeling relieved, safe, in a world where vermins don’t exist.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Thanks Azarin - very insightful. Another aspect of this silence might be the depression that Gregor and Kafka were suffering from. As a one-time sufferer myself I know that chronic depression can plunge you into a catatonic state wherein you feel (are) unable to move or to speak. Kafka may have been trying to express these feelings by projecting them onto the bug/vermin. The 'disease' of chronic depression is also characterised by a feeling of worthlessness, where you may well feel like a 'nuisance'. Incidentally, I feel the words bug or insect to be most applicable when referring to Metamorphosis because I feel that a rat is not only larger but instils more fear. It is also much easier to crush a bug or an insect than to crush a rat - which may even fight back!




azarin-sadegh wrote:
You are absolutely right. I think that this silence should be considered as one important part of the tragic situation of Gregoir Samsa. There is actually this huge silence in the whole story, not because he doesn’t want to talk, or to scream…but just because he can’t. How a vermin is supposed to talk? How a vermin is supposed to sound? Or worse…shouldn’t a scared vermin try to do his best to stay mute, by fear of being crashed?

This is the definition I found on web for vermin:
“Vermin is a term given to animals which are considered by humans to be pests or nuisances, most associated with the carrying of disease. Disease-carrying rodents and insects are the usual case but the term can also apply to larger animals, on the basis that they exist out of ecological balance with their environment.”

Gregoir Samsa/ Frantz Kafka was carrying a kind of disease that 80+ years later, we are still trying to define it, by giving it a name, by making it part of our common knowledge, …to, finally, feeling relieved, safe, in a world where vermins don’t exist.


New User
ajax
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Building on Azarin's fine post about Kafka and religion, I think there are multiple interpretative lens through which to view Kafka's alientation. All of them are present in the story simultaneously, sometimes converging, sometimes taking more center stage. I'd say that the main levels of Kafka's alienation (all contributing to his "vermin" condition) are: 1) personal or biographical (relationship with the powerful father--he was also the only boy in the family--he had 3 sisters); 2) ethnic--Jewish family but not conservative-- the family was trying to blend in to the Czech upper middle class and did not emphsize their Jewishness. On the other hand they spoke German at home, which differentiated them from Czech speakers in Prague. So the family (and Franz)was different in a few ways.; 3) National--Czech was a minority population within the larger Austro-Hungarian Empire; 4) Religious--Judeao-Christian guilt of original sin and the fall of mankind via Adam/Eve's poor choices; 5) existential--the absurdity of existence in a world devoid of God or meaning (the slaughters of WWI as historical context here, which also lies behind the post war rise of Dada and surrealism). Viewing the story with all these in mind adds richness and depth. Details also take on new meaning--for example, his father throwing apples at Gregor which imbed into his back works on multiple levels--a physical rejection by his father (may also relate to the fact that Kafka was a vegetarian, something that his family probably also found weird),but it's not so much of a stretch to see the apples in a symbolic sense (associated with guilt due to the fall of man in the garden).
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Yes--good point that the apples are a sign of guilt. And Kafka rewrites traditional images of God.
The apple scene inverts Eden:
Here Gregor the child is innocent enough, but God the Father shows his vengefulness over the difference between father and son. The apples don't represent knowledge as much igonrance--the gap between two heads that just can't understand each other.




ajax wrote:
Building on Azarin's fine post about Kafka and religion, I think there are multiple interpretative lens through which to view Kafka's alientation. All of them are present in the story simultaneously, sometimes converging, sometimes taking more center stage. I'd say that the main levels of Kafka's alienation (all contributing to his "vermin" condition) are: 1) personal or biographical (relationship with the powerful father--he was also the only boy in the family--he had 3 sisters); 2) ethnic--Jewish family but not conservative-- the family was trying to blend in to the Czech upper middle class and did not emphsize their Jewishness. On the other hand they spoke German at home, which differentiated them from Czech speakers in Prague. So the family (and Franz)was different in a few ways.; 3) National--Czech was a minority population within the larger Austro-Hungarian Empire; 4) Religious--Judeao-Christian guilt of original sin and the fall of mankind via Adam/Eve's poor choices; 5) existential--the absurdity of existence in a world devoid of God or meaning (the slaughters of WWI as historical context here, which also lies behind the post war rise of Dada and surrealism). Viewing the story with all these in mind adds richness and depth. Details also take on new meaning--for example, his father throwing apples at Gregor which imbed into his back works on multiple levels--a physical rejection by his father (may also relate to the fact that Kafka was a vegetarian, something that his family probably also found weird),but it's not so much of a stretch to see the apples in a symbolic sense (associated with guilt due to the fall of man in the garden).





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


New User
ajax
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Thanks, I agree that Kafka re-writes and reverses the traditional religious symbol here. It seems to work on mutliple levels, as effective symbols do. Clearly, the apples are a traditional Christian symbol of man's disobedience to God the father so having his own father throw them at Gregor reinforces this idea of guilt associated with disobedience. From a biographical perspective, it also relates to Kafka's father's opposition to his son's choice of seeking knowledge via literature rather than going into business. So in some senses Kafka is paying the price in guilt and rejection for his own quest for knowledge, seeking his own path, just as mankind sought his own path, much to his peril. The fact that the apples remain fixed in his back stresses the inability of Gregor (and Kafka) to escape the guilt caused by the pursuit of his own selfhood...they remain literally as a constant pain in the back.
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Nice!
Kafka would appreciate your pun: a "pain in the neck." or "a chip on your sholder."
I don't know if you've yet seen the David Foster Wallace article that a couple of us refered to elsewhere in this club. David Foster Wallace argued that Kafka's humor hinges on turning mundane phrases into physical realities. E.g.: "I woke up feeling inhuman" turns into a story in which a guy _actually_ wakes up as a bug. Kafka's humor rides on a sort of slapstick gesture--in which a term or cliche is made physically real.
great comments, Ajax



ajax wrote:
Thanks, I agree that Kafka re-writes and reverses the traditional religious symbol here. It seems to work on mutliple levels, as effective symbols do. Clearly, the apples are a traditional Christian symbol of man's disobedience to God the father so having his own father throw them at Gregor reinforces this idea of guilt associated with disobedience. From a biographical perspective, it also relates to Kafka's father's opposition to his son's choice of seeking knowledge via literature rather than going into business. So in some senses Kafka is paying the price in guilt and rejection for his own quest for knowledge, seeking his own path, just as mankind sought his own path, much to his peril. The fact that the apples remain fixed in his back stresses the inability of Gregor (and Kafka) to escape the guilt caused by the pursuit of his own selfhood...they remain literally as a constant pain in the back.





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


New User
okupos
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

The reason for leaving out the specific type of insect that Gregor becomes is because it is unimportant. Naming the type of insect would have distracted the reader from the point that Kafka wishes us to focus on-- that Gregor has metamorphosed, the change and its meaning are the key to the text. I have read that Kafka himself insisted that no insect be depicted on the cover of the original publication as he felt it would ruin the story.

Finally your concept of "gaps" which you attribute to Iser is quite like the gaps which Umberto Eco describes in The Role of the Reader. All stories contain these spaces which the reader then may fill in as they please or as is logically implied by what text there is. As far as other gaps in the story I am unable to think of many which seem truly important to the story save what came before the story began. What was Gregor's life like before he woke up as an insect? From the little Kafka does tell us it seems reasonable to assume that Gregor's transformation was abrupt physically, but gradual in terms of his inner and outer life. The former is obvious and by the latter I mean that he was living and ever increasingly insignificant life-- a bug's life. The only other gaps in the text which come to mind are the father acquiring a job-- he simply has one at some point after the transformation of Gregor and the borders, who merely appear and the process of their arrival is left unexplained, but both are unimportant.
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

Nice comment.
Another way to think of "gaps" in communication is to think that every single move we make from word to word or sentence to sentence contains some gap in meaning that a speaker might or might not consciously imply.

A good term for this is "parataxis." Parataxis is when one sentence follows another without a conjunction...but with a relationship implied.
So I might say. "I'm going to the park. I like it there." A listener fills in the "gap" between those two sentences with a word like "because."
The meanings with which we fill in silences can be any number of things. The speaker doesn't necessarily imply just one piece of filler. So...language is full of gaps--all those pieces of meaning that aren't fully implied or conveyed, but which we stuff in there, in order to understand each other.
Minimalist prose like Kafka's is full of these sorts of silences and gaps, giving a reader freedom to insert her meaning.




okupos wrote:
The reason for leaving out the specific type of insect that Gregor becomes is because it is unimportant. Naming the type of insect would have distracted the reader from the point that Kafka wishes us to focus on-- that Gregor has metamorphosed, the change and its meaning are the key to the text. I have read that Kafka himself insisted that no insect be depicted on the cover of the original publication as he felt it would ruin the story.

Finally your concept of "gaps" which you attribute to Iser is quite like the gaps which Umberto Eco describes in The Role of the Reader. All stories contain these spaces which the reader then may fill in as they please or as is logically implied by what text there is. As far as other gaps in the story I am unable to think of many which seem truly important to the story save what came before the story began. What was Gregor's life like before he woke up as an insect? From the little Kafka does tell us it seems reasonable to assume that Gregor's transformation was abrupt physically, but gradual in terms of his inner and outer life. The former is obvious and by the latter I mean that he was living and ever increasingly insignificant life-- a bug's life. The only other gaps in the text which come to mind are the father acquiring a job-- he simply has one at some point after the transformation of Gregor and the borders, who merely appear and the process of their arrival is left unexplained, but both are unimportant.





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


New User
leoo
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

I feel like I understand your sons ambivalence. It's easy to see Samsa as a representation of Kafka (an alienated office clerk with an overbearing father), but in what sense is Samsa an everyman? Did Kafka remoretly intend him to be?
New User
leoo
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 1: Holes in the Text

The concept of a "disease-bearer" is interesting, but does the German "Ungeziefer" have exactly the same connotation as the English "vermin."
Users Online
Currently online:4 members 259 guests
Recent logins:
Please welcome our newest community members: