KAFKA (and desani)

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KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 25, 2015 7:13 am

i am posting this here because,

- i am drunk;

-  i was at a luncheon with school friends, a reunion, and a few literary-inclined among them requested me to explain why i found kafka so venerable; so i said i would give them a link to a .doc file about kafka that i had written in 2000 for similar idiots like them (rashmun);

- and because i drank lots of beer but did not get high;

- and because kafka is my god;

- and because today is sunday.

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One of the first short stories I wrote and submitted for a creative writing class in college came back to me with the comments, 'Very Kafkaesque.' I had heard of Kafka then but hadn't read him. I thought I should. Over the course of next two weeks I read all Kafka ever wrote - The Trial, The Castle, Metamorphosis, his other short stories and his diaries. I read about his life, his loves. And then I stopped. I haven't had the mental strength to return since. But yes, I will confess, I have unconsciously searched for his descendants in all that I read after him. I could not forget him, I could not un-learn him. I have run into some of the more prominent descendants of his and I cannot claim to know all for Kafka is the father of modern literature, and By Jove! he has slept with a lot of women after his death. 
 
Kafka used language, used words to express what the Hindu sages and the Buddha used silence to express. He painted the nightmare of reason on canvas. He painted how the world was butted and bounded on all sides by reason and reason alone and how such a world appeared to him. He showed how nothing was extraordinary, nothing was surprising, and everything was happenstance in this world. He showed how cold, dark, damp, and without-feeling this world was. There isn't a single smile in all of Kafka (hard to believe as it may sound). Not a single one. He never said or wrote anywhere, in whatever he wrote, that the world was ever cold, or that it was ever dark, or that it was ever nauseating, or that living was a torture or that reason (as Vikram Chandra says in the novel I am now reading) was one of the most flagrant example of local superstitions (reason is a human construct and unnatural suggests Vikram Chandra). Kafka never said any of this. But this is what he said in every line, every page, every chapter of his books. To learn how a writer can say without saying, one should read Kafka. He said the same thing in every novel he wrote. It was his solitary obsession. It's what life did to him. When will you grow up sissy boy! When will you stop writing sissy boy! Said his father, Herman Kafka, to Kafka, once upon a time. But Kafka does not know how to do anything save write. 
 
In The Trial a man is put to trial for an offense he doesn't know of. The book describes how the man defends himself; his journeys to lawyers, to courts, to relatives. Everyone seems to know what his offense is except the accused. The accused is not interested in learning what his crime is and neither are we interested in knowing what the crime is. We don't care. We only wish to see his defense, his journey through life and Kafka shows us that. The protagonist dies like a cur at the end of the novel. In The Castle, a man tries to gain entry into The Castle and must spend his life in the small hamlet outside the gates of the castle forever seeking entry. 
 
People will tell you that you can read Kafka on many different levels - political, spiritual and the existential. But in the allegory Kafka paints for us, it does not matter what the context his. He describes life, that feeling that comes with being alive (Kafka’s protagonist, in one scene, throws up in the lawyers’ chambers for no rhyme or reason). He captures it on paper. He wrote till his last breath. That tells you something about the man and his obsessions. 
 
  
Franz Kafka had written a letter to his father in one of his short stories. Nadine Gordimer wrote a short story in which Herman Kafka, Kafka's father, writes back to his ingrate son. Why did Nadine Gordimer write that angry letter on Herman Kafka's behalf? Gordimer was finishing unfinished business. Imagine the following: Kafka is lying in a cage, starving, dying. He's a hunger artist. The cage-keeper suddenly asks for volunteers from the crowd to stone Kafka. You are in the crowd. You debate with yourself whether you'd like to pick a stone, whether you'd like to volunteer or not, to fell this sorry, pathetic artist when suddenly you see someone rush from the crowd, brush past you, throwing you off-balance, and lunge at Kafka to stone him and throttle him with his bare hands. And that man who threw you off-balance is none other than Kafka himself! When Gordimer wrote that story, she believed she was Kafka for those few moments. 
 
T. Coraghessan Boyle, American writer, at the peak of his literary career, having achieved the fame of his lifetime, writes a story about a man lost in an American garage and showroom, encountering strange yet perfectly blasé events, unsurprising events, scenes and scenarios that were expected, as if they were normal, and as if it was Kafka writing the story. The tone and theme are indistinguishable. The name of the protagonist in his short story is B. The protagonist's name in The Trial is K. (K for Kafka, B for Boyle) Boyle is the son of Kafka. It's an ode.
 
When young Marquez read The Metamorphosis, he realized that he too could write. 
 
Many of Kafka's stories were his dreams on paper. He belonged to the creed of visionary writers.
 
I read Desani very late. I was stunned when I read Hatterr. I was baffled why it had taken me so long to read him. The book lay on my bed for a week after I had finished reading it. And I would lie beside it and laugh at the ceiling. A good friend of mine would entreat me to get out of the mood but I couldn't. I entreated him to read it. He tried, he failed. Expectedly too. The book was too local, too Indian, for him. I had missed appreciating similar books he had encouraged me to read because they were too local (Llosa for instance, Joyce for instance). But I laughed and I laughed. And then I felt angry, hurt, cheated. I would never write again, I thought. Nothing more had been left to say. I was burning with a new found rage and jealousy inside. I scrounged through all the libraries looking for more Desani. I found microfiched archives of the Illustrated Weekly and ran into his short stories. 'Gypsy Jim Brazil.’ Each story made me more ecstatic and even sadder. The man was brilliant. My God! What tempo, what rhythm, what a staccato he struck, what strength, what a mercurial mind, this Desani, a straight A student, accomplished orator, Buddhist scholar, maverick in tow. Wow. 
 
Ha ha ha, goes Desani, ha ha ha, page after page, chapter after chapter. Desani's bosom is full of butterflies. And he wrote it in London when World War 2 was raging in his skies. Ha ha ha, he goes, never wavering, never faltering, sustaining the impossible mood, the impossible feeling across the length and breadth of a magnum opus of a novel, like the khata khat, khata khat of a Rajdhani Express travelling at 140 kms per hr on the broad gauge of the Eastern Railways, like the soft drone of a tabla rhythm playing in the distance. He shows, using language, using words, he shows, what the pot-bellied Laughing Buddha tried to express with his light laughter after eons and eons of meditation, that fat Buddha laughing with his big face and slapping both hands repeatedly on his belly; Desani shows us that laughter in a novel (that he himself declares is a novel in its introduction to avoid speculation). Ha ha ha, Desani goes, ha ha ha. Its demonic, satanic, the laughter, yes that too. But Desani did it. He did the impossible. He tried to capture the mood, the feeling again many decades later when he added a rather lengthy afterword to the novel, but he couldn't quite succeed. And he was Indian. Yes that too. 
 
     Wrote Desani -
 
     No peacock with sapphire fire upon't ever dances,
     As once danced once, with the rose of daybreak around, about, 
     upon and on all sides of it
     (as a sapphire set against a glowing sphere)
     And the marble (upon which the peacock alighted for a dance)
     was splendoured too by the winter sun
     And the glittering river flowed past (coursing towards the sea)
     And I had in my palm then the romance of all of Hindusthan, in
     the span of an instant!
 
Well I believe he did. He did hold the romance of all of Hindusthan in his palm for the span of an instant. All of Hindusthan, in a shimmering crystal ball, a soapy bubble ball, weightless and liquid and light and dancing and within it: minarets, damsels, princes, princesses, fakirs, muslims, sikhs, hindus, isaihs, britishers and the europoeans. All of Hindusthan, he held, for the span of just one instant, all of it, for he, G.V. Desani, the boy from Sindh, Pakistan was the true Mowgli. He was. 
 
Others, later, would believe they held it too.
 
I don't know if Desani had read Kafka when he was writing Hatterr, but to me Hatterr is one of the replies to Kafka, if not the most significant reply, if not the reply that gets pushed to the top when no one's looking, pushed and placed above those of others who have also replied to Kafka's thread. Twenty years later he would clothe his post with a foreword and an afterword and make it a whole post, an independent post, a full novel, but, in my mind, it was really not necessary and it really didn't matter. 
 

Note. It is a little known fact but Vikram Chandra was also a student of Computer Science and worked as a code-coolie during the years he was struggling to publish his debut novel. His tutor was Donald Barthelme (in fact Chandra was his protégé) and I worship Barthelme (finest American writer though he wrote only pithy short stories… so did the great Borges… so what! Desani wrote only one novel! That you are a great writer is not to be judged by your prodigious output but by just 4 lines you write! That it might take you a novel to write those 4 lines is a different matter.) 

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:32 am

i wandered to the desolate entry on G V Desani in wikipedia after posting this, as i do often, and made an edit. 




i added the first reference [1].


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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:28 am



g v desani ran away from home once too many times.  he never spoke or wrote about his parents. we have no idea about them (and as it is we have little idea about g v desani to begin with!). i want to say more but saying things like he was god, he was gita, he was lord, will have no effect on you because you, the reader, know that i worship him (and worship is an understatement here).  

desani was a great cook! he was born in kenya, spent his childhood in sindh and his formative years running away from home, (again and again) to britain. Yet he knew how to cook the choicest indian dishes! i guess he found the right recipe much later because he was described as a great cook of indian dishes by his peer-professor in U of austin and by then desani had already had spent some time in india and a nearly a decade learning buddhist meditation in south asia till he learnt the buddhist walking meditation in myanmar which gave him relief. he might have had an untreated anxiety disorder (unlikely) or a really unsettled and highly creative mind (likely) -- or, to be brutally honest, I DO NOT KNOW WHICH OF THE TWO IS TRUE.

contd...

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:47 am

i have a question. in 'The Metamorphosis' did Gregor Samsa turn into an actual cockroach or was he only imagining that he had turned into a gigantic cockroach? this question was much discussed in my english undergrad class where we studied this story as part of the course.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:49 pm

Rashmun wrote:i have a question. in 'The Metamorphosis' did Gregor Samsa turn into an actual cockroach or was he only imagining that he had turned into a gigantic cockroach? this question was much discussed in my english undergrad class where we studied this story as part of the course.
he turned into a cockroach. things should be read at a factual level. interpretations are just that -- interpretations.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:53 pm

i will return to kafka and post about the lord too here. this thread will be my watering hole.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:05 pm

brie wrote:
Rashmun wrote:i have a question. in 'The Metamorphosis' did Gregor Samsa turn into an actual cockroach or was he only imagining that he had turned into a gigantic cockroach? this question was much discussed in my english undergrad class where we studied this story as part of the course.
he turned into a cockroach. things should be read at a factual level. interpretations are just that -- interpretations.

that's what my teacher was also saying. that he turned into an actual cockroach. but you know how stubborn i am. i kept insisting that no he was only imagining that he had turned into a cockroach. this is similar to the scene in Macbeth where Macbeth says 'is that a dagger i see before me?' My interpretation was that Macbeth was only imagining that a dagger was visible before him, but in fact there was no such dagger. Both Samsa and Macbeth had become mental cases.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:39 am

Rashmun wrote:
brie wrote:
Rashmun wrote:i have a question. in 'The Metamorphosis' did Gregor Samsa turn into an actual cockroach or was he only imagining that he had turned into a gigantic cockroach? this question was much discussed in my english undergrad class where we studied this story as part of the course.
he turned into a cockroach. things should be read at a factual level. interpretations are just that -- interpretations.

that's what my teacher was also saying. that he turned into an actual cockroach. but you know how stubborn i am. i kept insisting that no he was only imagining that he had  turned into a cockroach. this is similar to the scene in Macbeth where Macbeth says 'is that a dagger i see before me?' My interpretation was that Macbeth was only imagining that a dagger was visible before him, but in fact there was no such dagger. Both Samsa and Macbeth had become mental cases.
LOLLLLLLLLL. might very well be the case!

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:31 am

(my kids left today after having been here for a week. still i found time to ruminate on kafka's works and his life today.)

i ruminated about kafka today. at one point i decided that i'd rather think of desani than kafka. thinking about kafka filled me with a sense of foreboding. no, not depression. but something else. i am not trying to pretend that i am on another astral plane reserved for artists alone and from where it is difficult to communicate with plebes like you the reader (there i just insulted you!). but maybe i am. frankly i don't know. but it was not depression (that i was filled with today) because i was never depressed in college (my encounters with depression would be in my early 40s from substance abuse and later from withdrawals from psychotropic medicines -- not trying to freak you out! it is my new-normal and i live a normal life till... i won't be leading one) 

in college i suffered from a lot of melancholia despite the fact that i was always surrounded, in an order of priority, by: books, beer, black label shots in upscale eateries, the most colourful minds and the most endearing teachers. yet the melancholia and the NYC winter would keep returning frequently and both were harsh.

i felt the same melancholia today. i will turn 50 next month. i do not need that college-mood anymore.  

i tried to recall what i had read in kafka's diaries (voluminous 2 parts). ok wait, i'll return to it in a moment:

you know, a lot of what kafka wrote is lost . he had a habit of destroying (me too though i am no writer). he stopped that habit in his early thirties or so. he had also had some of his short stories published by then. but his major works, the seminal ones (the novels and other short stories), he always kept them as work-in-progress and forbade his friend max brod (to whom he had bequeathed them) to publish them -- he had given brod instructions to destroy them after his death. well, let us understand one thing about writers here, namely, that writers do not necessarily write for an audience. of course all this is my subjective spin but since kafka is a case in point, let us confine ourselves to kafka. kafka wrote, i imagine, because,

- it was the only thing he could do,
- he wrote for himself. he was creating a web with his own saliva not to trap others but to reread his pourings and find succor and strength within it to live yet another day. he would reread and revise and reread every day and write so that he could he could live yet another day. paradoxically, rereading, revising, rereading and writing was his life

so i tried to recall what i had read in kafka's diaries (voluminous 2 parts). 

he discussed a lot of good and evil and morality in his diaries. (kierkegaard was one of his influences and i had read kierkegaard not knowing this and had immensely liked his fiction albeit verging on the religious.) obviously he was tormented by hermann kafka's expectations of him, namely that he had failed to live up to hermann's expectations despite trying and trying hard; he tried his hand at law. but that was not the only torture he suffered from. people reading kafka at a simplistic level will say that the output was entirely the result of a conflict between a dad and son. it is not true. says kafka in one aphorism in his diaries (i could not google it but reproduced verbatim):

- the world is full of suffering. you have a choice to walk away from it. but do remember that when you walk away, that is the only suffering you have eliminated (meaning there is still suffering awaiting you in your cocoon). 

his other aphorism in his diary that made my hair stand (back in college) and that i have quoted often in old sukekha-ch and that i can never forget, ran like this (i found it while googling):

The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make people stumble than to be walked upon.

and i found another comment by kafka about himself:

A picture of my existence... would show a useless wooden stake covered in snow... stuck loosely at a slant in the ground in a ploughed field on the edge of a vast open plain on a dark winter night.

please do not think kafka is seeking artistic license. he never wanted his books published. 

contd.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:44 am

orhan pamuk famously said that writers do not deserve a license to live recklessly. i may be misquoting him but what he said was (from memory) writers are normal people pursuing a normal profession and they SHOULD lead normal lives and not drown themselves in a glass of whisky and expect the word to sing paeans for the departed artist. 

orhan pamuk won the nobel prize for literature in 2006.

pamuk is saying that a writer's profession is writing and it his wont to keep doing it at intervals like that expected from anyone else in any other profession.

i don't know if pamuk is right for i am no writer and have not experienced things first-hand to suitably comment. 

but let this be recorded as one divergent voice that that runs in direct contradiction to kafka (his lifestyle) and g v desani (to his his so, so frugal pourings... i'll return to them later).

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:11 am

kafka is known, now, as the precursor of existential philosophy. truly so! 

continental philosophy is hardly a science or a philosophy. the wise among those philosophers, like sartre, had merged their philosophical pourings with the literary kind. science has usurped the space taken by continental philosophy and this happened many, many decades ago. the discipline still exists now in american colleges only for its historical significance -- the same way that greek tragedies do. continental philosophy, in american colleges, should be merged with literature. every turning point in western philosophy spawned an art form -- be it existential writers, metaphysical writers, the surrealists or the romantics. these writers were all inspired by the philosophy current then .

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:38 pm

(sorry for using your thread, but found a common theme, something I am struggling with for a few days now)

if a great artist doesn't get his due while he was living, and he kills himself out of despair, should his loved ones continue to try giving him his dues, or move on?

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:23 am

Beatrix Kiddo wrote:(sorry for using your thread, but found a common theme, something I am struggling with for a few days now)

if a great artist doesn't get his due while he was living, and he kills himself out of despair, should his loved ones continue to try giving him his dues, or move on?
my instinctive response was that one should move on! but then i realized how catastrophic it would have been had this been applied to kafka and desani*. so, no, the loved ones should try to get them published. 

* desani's short stories were published posthumously. he was shaken by the tepid response to hatterr and had lost confidence in the ability of the reading public to judge a work of art -- thus he wrote only for a nondescript tabloid like the illustrated weekly of india (illustrated's mandate to desani was to write political commentaries, which desani did in the first one or two articles, but then out gushed his short stories and there was no stopping him). during his lifetime, he had also tried to get his voluminous diaries published. they did not see the light of the day -- either he developed cold feet or publishers rejected his work. it is likely that his diaries, now with the U of texas, might get published for there is a revival of interest in desani (his books are back in print).

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:48 am

yes, desani's journals are being published!

http://scroll.in/article/733035/gv-desanis-journal-the-manuscript-diaries-of-the-first-modern-indian-writer-in-english

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:16 am

I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:51 am

Seva Lamberdar wrote:I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).
good you qualified your comments with "a short time of course." no one goes nuts from reading kafka or nietzsche. neither kafka went nuts from living kafka nor nietzsche did from living as himself (though he did exhibit mental states associated with syphilis close to his death). 

"going crazy" is a clinical disorder that -- i am not trying to amuse you --  you cannot contract from reading though your disorder may attract you to depressing literature (very rare) or drug abuse or violence or manic behaviour. and it is curable!

it very well may be that your friend was just bragging that kafka and nietzsche made him go nuts. who does not want to be seen as an iconoclast by his friends, esp., in his impressionable youth? maybe, and i type this this with an ironic smile, he was only trying to demonstrate nietzsche's -- what does not destroy you makes you stronger!

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:19 am

brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).
good you qualified your comments with "a short time of course." no one goes nuts from reading kafka or nietzsche. neither kafka went nuts from living kafka nor nietzsche did from living as himself (though he did exhibit mental states associated with syphilis close to his death). 

"going crazy" is a clinical disorder that -- i am not trying to amuse you --  you cannot contract from reading though your disorder may attract you to depressing literature (very rare) or drug abuse or violence or manic behaviour. and it is curable!

it very well may be that your friend was just bragging that kafka and nietzsche made him go nuts. who does not want to be seen as an iconoclast by his friends, esp., in his impressionable youth? maybe, and i type this this with an ironic smile, he was only trying to demonstrate nietzsche's -- what does not destroy you makes you stronger!
He wasn't bragging about going nuts, after reading Kafka and Nietzsche. It was my observation -- his acting nutty (talking about Kafka and Nietzsche all the time even after handing over the research paper to Prof. and getting drunk and being depressed more than before). Anyway this continued on his part for several months.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:33 am

Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).
good you qualified your comments with "a short time of course." no one goes nuts from reading kafka or nietzsche. neither kafka went nuts from living kafka nor nietzsche did from living as himself (though he did exhibit mental states associated with syphilis close to his death). 

"going crazy" is a clinical disorder that -- i am not trying to amuse you --  you cannot contract from reading though your disorder may attract you to depressing literature (very rare) or drug abuse or violence or manic behaviour. and it is curable!

it very well may be that your friend was just bragging that kafka and nietzsche made him go nuts. who does not want to be seen as an iconoclast by his friends, esp., in his impressionable youth? maybe, and i type this this with an ironic smile, he was only trying to demonstrate nietzsche's -- what does not destroy you makes you stronger!
He wasn't bragging about going nuts, after reading Kafka and Nietzsche. It was my observation -- his acting nutty (talking about Kafka and Nietzsche all the time even after handing over the research paper to Prof. and getting drunk and being depressed more than before). Anyway this continued on his part for several months.
that sounds more reasonable. what might look like nutty to you might be par for the course for someone else.  i take psychotropic medicines every night and drink every week and hardly exercise. i also chew gutka. sometimes i gamble at the races too and snort coke (no, not coca cola). but, trust me seva ji, i am normal.... till i am not.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:38 pm

jorge luis borges -- straight up there in the firmament of world writers of fiction -- was from argentina. though bilingual (in spanish and english), he wrote only in spanish and only short stories. his works were translated into english in the late 1950s, by when, he had received literary acclaim and fame, and he was blind. he was not born blind. he contracted blindness from reading too much kafka in his youth. lol. 

he became blind in his early teens.

kafka was a big influence on borges. between borges and kafka appeared desani who was influenced by none and who influenced none. 

i have said earlier that philosophical tracts should now be read as literature -- it is time -- for they are bereft of philosophy (science) but rich with quality prose. it is sad that we continue to treat them differently while we verily make students of literature read aristotle, socrates and descartes to learn prose. stop reading the greeks. read sartre, hegel and heidegger to understand prose (nothing gets lost in translation).  

borges is famous because his short stories carried a new, shocking style that was unfamiliar to the world of prose and because they were richly philosophical (he loved paradoxes and how they haunt us -- naturally because language is susceptible to paradoxes but they don't exist in nature and borges is a student of language). 

so what was so shocking about borges's fiction? and why did i bring philosophy into the picture? 

borges annotated a short story! i noticed it and i was shocked and fell in love despite the fact that i never believed in love at first sight. he annotated a short story with a mock-serious footnote trying to trick the reader into believing that he was reading a philosophical treatise. it was a very clever trick. no one had thought of such a transgression in fiction! the world noticed! later i read desani (who predates borges). desani too had done it in hatterr. but no one had noticed it. 

borges indulged in paradoxes in his novels. he expanded a paradox, as short as the liar's paradox (says the liar -- i am lying) into an expanded, engrossing tale. 

borges wrote about kafka (i don't know if it ever got "published"). in it he said that kafka's novel the castle is an expanded form of the zeno paradox about the tortoise. in the zeno paradox, the rabbit never reaches the finishing point of the race he has with the tortoise because the rabbit has to first cover half the distance, then half of that, then half of half of that... similarly in the castle, kafka (his protagonist K) must cover half the distance to the castle then half of that... well borges is right. K wants to enter the castle to live a life. but he must gain entry through the hamlet outside the gates of the castle's walled structures to secure an entry (where others like him, too, are awaiting entry). he lives his whole life securing an entry and dies outside the castle. it is a paradox -- he has lived and not-lived his life. 

but we know borges was wrong in identifying this particular paradox. zeno's tortoise paradox is not a paradox (there are much more elegant examples of paradoxes -- borges was familiar with all -- but borges strained a bit too hard to try explain his master's methods using his own methods). zeno's paradox is easily explained using calculus by the summation of a series containing a seemingly infinite list of numbers, or, to be simplistic, by understanding the idea of the infinitesimal which was the cornerstone of calculus. the infinitesimal, like the infinity, is the smallest quantity in math that cannot be further sub-divided and the rabbit leaps across it before the tortoise can finish explaining the paradox. 

but now that i have proven borges was wrong, we can dispense with the idea that borges was wrong -- because the idea borges wished to communicate through me has been done! how? 

how do we know that borges did not know zeno's tortoise paradox was not a true paradox? 

borges went blind in his early teens. he never visited bombay or "see" it let alone "see" remote areas of argentina. yet, borges writes a short story about one gangadeen being chased by the police in bombay and borges describes vividly and with astonishing detail, every landmark, every scene, every historical event in bombay, in that period, that gangadeen encounters in the chase! when you close the story, borges asks you a question -- have i ever visited bombay? after a long hiatus, borges thunders -- no answer is also an answer!

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:14 pm

please share your views and analysis of the garden of forking paths. i studied this story in my english course in undergrad and i remember this story had provoked a great deal of discussion and analysis in the class.


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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:35 am

Rashmun wrote:please share your views and analysis of the garden of forking paths. i studied this story in my english course in undergrad and i remember this story had provoked a great deal of discussion and analysis in the class.

i was never a big fan of the garden of forking paths (TGoFP). young rushdie was though. i understand TGoFP only through rushdie's interpretation of it. TGoFP is a fictional representation of the multiverse hypothesis in science (which evolved from the string theory that had fallen out of vogue but has regained interest after recent discoveries in science). stephen hawking is also a proponent of the multiverse hypothesis, that crudely states that at each point in time multiple universes branch out and that they all continue to exist. borges said a little bit more. he said that these universes sometimes converge, in time, by accident, and a man might murder you in one universe while he might befriend you in another. this motif appears in rushdie's debut novel grimus (which was influenced by THoFP) -- the novel has multiple universes and the protagonist, flapping eagle, encounters himself (though both are from different universes or planes) at the end of the novel. grimus actually had way too many influences and allusions, which is why rushdie called it a failed joycean tryst. 

elsewhere, young rushdie wrote that writing fiction was a form of censorship -- in fiction you have choices at each crossroad, whereas, in life, you don't always. in fiction, every choice murders the other twists and turns that the plot could have taken. he was, of course, referring to TGoFP.  

what else was discussed about TGoFP in your class? i never took a class in literature (except those that were a part of the core curriculum) so my understanding of writers like borges (or kafka) is not through critical readings in classes.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:57 am

brie wrote:
Rashmun wrote:please share your views and analysis of the garden of forking paths. i studied this story in my english course in undergrad and i remember this story had provoked a great deal of discussion and analysis in the class.

i was never a big fan of the garden of forking paths (TGoFP). young rushdie was though. i understand TGoFP only through rushdie's interpretation of it. TGoFP is a fictional representation of the multiverse hypothesis in science (which evolved from the string theory that had fallen out of vogue but has regained interest after recent discoveries in science). stephen hawking is also a proponent of the multiverse hypothesis, that crudely states that at each point in time multiple universes branch out and that they all continue to exist. borges said a little bit more. he said that these universes sometimes converge, in time, by accident, and a man might murder you in one universe while he might befriend you in another. this motif appears in rushdie's debut novel grimus (which was influenced by THoFP) -- the novel has multiple universes and the protagonist, flapping eagle, encounters himself (though both are from different universes or planes) at the end of the novel. grimus actually had way too many influences and allusions, which is why rushdie called it a failed joycean tryst. 

elsewhere, young rushdie wrote that writing fiction was a form of censorship -- in fiction you have choices at each crossroad, whereas, in life, you don't always. in fiction, every choice murders the other twists and turns that the plot could have taken. he was, of course, referring to TGoFP.  

what else was discussed about TGoFP in your class? i never took a class in literature (except those that were a part of the core curriculum) so my understanding of writers like borges (or kafka) is not through critical readings in classes.

i don't remember details. I remember i had written copious notes on the margins of the story in the printed book but then i sold the book. and this is the story:

http://www.coldbacon.com/writing/borges-garden.html

extract:

“Precisely,” said Albert. “The Garden of Forking Paths is an enormous riddle, or parable, whose theme is time; this recondite cause prohibits its mention. To omit a word always, to resort to inept metaphors and obvious periphrases, is perhaps the most emphatic way of stressing it. That is the tortuous method preferred, in each of the meanderings of his indefatigable novel, by the oblique Ts’ui Pên. I have compared hundreds of manuscripts, I have corrected the errors that the negligence of the copyists has introduced, I have guessed the plan of this chaos, I have re-established—I believe I have re-established—the primordial organization, I have translated the entire work: it is clear to me that not once does he employ the word ‘time.’ The explanation is obvious: The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pên conceived it. In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us. In the present one, which a favorable fate has granted me, you have arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost.”

“In every one,” I pronounced, not without a tremble to my voice, “I am grateful to you and revere you for your re-creation of the garden of Ts’ui Pên.”

“Not in all,” he murmured with a smile. “Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures. In one of them I am your enemy.”

Once again I felt the swarming sensation of which I have spoken. It seemed to me that the humid garden that surrounded the house was infinitely saturated with invisible persons. Those persons were Albert and I, secret, busy and multiform in other dimensions of time. I raised my eyes and the tenuous nightmare dissolved. In the yellow and black garden there was only one man; but this man was as strong as a statue . . . this man was approaching along the path and he was Captain Richard Madden.

“The future already exists,” I replied, “but I am your friend. Could I see the letter again?”

Albert rose. Standing tall, he opened the drawer of the tall desk; for the moment his back was to me. I had readied the revolver. I fired with extreme caution. Albert fell uncomplainingly, immediately. I swear his death was instantaneous—a lightning stroke.

The rest is unreal, insignificant. Madden broke in, arrested me. I have been condemned to the gallows. I have won out abominably; I have communicated to Berlin the secret name of the city they must attack. They bombed it yesterday; I read it in the same papers that offered to England the mystery of the learned Sinologist Stephen Albert who was murdered by a stranger, one Yu Tsun. The Chief had deciphered this mystery. He knew my problem was to indicate (through the uproar of the war) the city called Albert, and that I had found no other means to do so than to kill a man of that name. He does not know (no one can know) my innumerable contrition and weariness.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Thu Oct 29, 2015 8:56 am

brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).
good you qualified your comments with "a short time of course." no one goes nuts from reading kafka or nietzsche. neither kafka went nuts from living kafka nor nietzsche did from living as himself (though he did exhibit mental states associated with syphilis close to his death). 

"going crazy" is a clinical disorder that -- i am not trying to amuse you --  you cannot contract from reading though your disorder may attract you to depressing literature (very rare) or drug abuse or violence or manic behaviour. and it is curable!

it very well may be that your friend was just bragging that kafka and nietzsche made him go nuts. who does not want to be seen as an iconoclast by his friends, esp., in his impressionable youth? maybe, and i type this this with an ironic smile, he was only trying to demonstrate nietzsche's -- what does not destroy you makes you stronger!
He wasn't bragging about going nuts, after reading Kafka and Nietzsche. It was my observation -- his acting nutty (talking about Kafka and Nietzsche all the time even after handing over the research paper to Prof. and getting drunk and being depressed more than before). Anyway this continued on his part for several months.
that sounds more reasonable. what might look like nutty to you might be par for the course for someone else.  i take psychotropic medicines every night and drink every week and hardly exercise. i also chew gutka. sometimes i gamble at the races too and snort coke (no, not coca cola). but, trust me seva ji, i am normal.... till i am not.
LOL.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:38 am

Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:I knew someone in Hawaii, a short-time roommate of mine when I was studying for M.S. at UH. His major was philosophy. After he was deeply involved in the research on the works by Kafka and Nietzsche, he almost went nuts (for short time of course).
good you qualified your comments with "a short time of course." no one goes nuts from reading kafka or nietzsche. neither kafka went nuts from living kafka nor nietzsche did from living as himself (though he did exhibit mental states associated with syphilis close to his death). 

"going crazy" is a clinical disorder that -- i am not trying to amuse you --  you cannot contract from reading though your disorder may attract you to depressing literature (very rare) or drug abuse or violence or manic behaviour. and it is curable!

it very well may be that your friend was just bragging that kafka and nietzsche made him go nuts. who does not want to be seen as an iconoclast by his friends, esp., in his impressionable youth? maybe, and i type this this with an ironic smile, he was only trying to demonstrate nietzsche's -- what does not destroy you makes you stronger!
He wasn't bragging about going nuts, after reading Kafka and Nietzsche. It was my observation -- his acting nutty (talking about Kafka and Nietzsche all the time even after handing over the research paper to Prof. and getting drunk and being depressed more than before). Anyway this continued on his part for several months.
that sounds more reasonable. what might look like nutty to you might be par for the course for someone else.  i take psychotropic medicines every night and drink every week and hardly exercise. i also chew gutka. sometimes i gamble at the races too and snort coke (no, not coca cola). but, trust me seva ji, i am normal.... till i am not.
LOL.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:58 am

(bragging.) i was at lunch today with a school friend who had come down from boston and another friend who stays in kolkata. both are doctors (my older is asthmatic and is a patient of the kolkata friend of mine). my boston friend, dr. ghosh, is an associate professor in harvard, as is his wife. when i hugged him, his first question was -- brie, when are you writing your novel?

i will write about desani again tonight.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:02 am

brie wrote:(bragging.) i was at lunch today with a school friend who had come down from boston and another friend who stays in kolkata. both are doctors (my older is asthmatic and is a patient of the kolkata friend of mine). my boston friend, dr. ghosh, is an associate professor in harvard, as is his wife. when i hugged him, his first question was -- brie, when are you writing your novel?

i will write about desani again tonight.

a novel about desani?

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:32 am

Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:(bragging.) i was at lunch today with a school friend who had come down from boston and another friend who stays in kolkata. both are doctors (my older is asthmatic and is a patient of the kolkata friend of mine). my boston friend, dr. ghosh, is an associate professor in harvard, as is his wife. when i hugged him, his first question was -- brie, when are you writing your novel?

i will write about desani again tonight.

a novel about desani?
no sevaji. in case i have not mentioned earlier, the prodigious years for writers (and artists and scientists) are between the ages 20 and late 30s. there will be the rare exceptions always. you can see i am too old to write something as ambitious as a novel by that yardstick! as i explained to ghosh over lunch today (we had run into each other after school in 1999 in sasialit -- a website devoted to south asian literature and he had seen my pourings there), i stopped reading about a decade and a half ago and had committed myself to the life of a householder the day i had returned from college, and, so, i was in no position to write again (of course he would have nothing of it and we kept arguing back and forth as the beer flowed). he is a big fan of orhan pamuk (who i have not read) and he urged me to read his book (something something red) and i said i will and he said that there were no age limitations. exasperated, i told him that i belonged to the old school of artists and i had decided, when i was attracted to fiction, that i would either live single and write, or, marry and die -- i could not and cannot multitask. then we changed topic to benzodiazepines. 

but, seva ji, that does not mean i cannot write about desani. i will! hopefully tonight! you should read and comment, esp. to the post that i will write about him. but first you promise you will comment... only then will i compose.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:58 am

brie wrote:
Seva Lamberdar wrote:
brie wrote:(bragging.) i was at lunch today with a school friend who had come down from boston and another friend who stays in kolkata. both are doctors (my older is asthmatic and is a patient of the kolkata friend of mine). my boston friend, dr. ghosh, is an associate professor in harvard, as is his wife. when i hugged him, his first question was -- brie, when are you writing your novel?

i will write about desani again tonight.

a novel about desani?
no sevaji. in case i have not mentioned earlier, the prodigious years for writers (and artists and scientists) are between the ages 20 and late 30s. there will be the rare exceptions always. you can see i am too old to write something as ambitious as a novel by that yardstick! as i explained to ghosh over lunch today (we had run into each other after school in 1999 in sasialit -- a website devoted to south asian literature and he had seen my pourings there), i stopped reading about a decade and a half ago and had committed myself to the life of a householder the day i had returned from college, and, so, i was in no position to write again (of course he would have nothing of it and we kept arguing back and forth as the beer flowed). he is a big fan of orhan pamuk (who i have not read) and he urged me to read his book (something something red) and i said i will and he said that there were no age limitations. exasperated, i told him that i belonged to the old school of artists and i had decided, when i was attracted to fiction, that i would either live single and write, or, marry and die -- i could not and cannot multitask. then we changed topic to benzodiazepines. 

but, seva ji, that does not mean i cannot write about desani. i will! hopefully tonight! you should read and comment, esp. to the post that i will write about him. but first you promise you will comment... only then will i compose.
You should write whether, or not, anyone posts a comment, including myself.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:25 pm

Seva Lamberdar wrote:

You should write whether, or not, anyone posts a comment, including myself.

i want to write about desani but will not tonight -- maybe tomorrow.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by garam-kuta on Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:35 pm

the most boring thread ever.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:10 pm

i read desani twice. i read his novel in senior year in USA (1988). then, in early 90s, his hali and collected stories (HaCSS) got published -- i had read some stories in illustrated weekly but not all and not hali (a prose poem). i was in india when HaCSS got published (by now i was now a different person from what i was in college and not interested in literature). i picked up my copy from taj hotel, mumbai -- it's bookshop. 
 
so i read HaCSS when i was in my early 30s with two infant sons around.
 
as i kept flipping the pages of HaCSS (the first story was hali), i got the feeling that i was turning gold leaves with my fingers. this was desani at his real. hatterr was an experiment, for, your prose must be contrived in experiments, like a novel, by default, because you have committed yourself to a voice (or voices) and a carry. here he was unshackled and let loose. if I had thought haterr was shocking, HaCSS was sublime. HaCSS was a totally different mood.
 
desani was an expert in sanskrit, hindi, english (and possibly a few other languages like sindhi, pali, greek, latin, esperanto, lol). that he was an expert in these three languages he showed with authority in his short stories. let me digress. we are talking of an arrogant man here. he knew he had god's gift and he cared not for what mankind thought of him -- he carried his arrogance to his death-bed. desani had once walked into kushwant singh’s office when the latter was an attache and desani gave him haterr wanting a testimony to be considered for the nobel – he had dumped the book on kushwant singh’s table saying that this was far superior to the ulysses. singh showed him the door or maybe he had had him thrown out!  
 
hali is a mystical poem. i have no idea what it is about. yet it is beautiful! (i once wrote a play for a creative writing class in college -- my prof. sent it back to me with the comments, "i have no idea what you are trying to say but this play is beautiful and you must meet me tomorrow." i felt like my prof. while reading hali.) hali delves into sufi myth, hinduism, islam, to state (as i have today discovered after frantic googling), that, death (rahu) has only one antidote and it is called LOVE. i never understood all this while reading hali and i know i won't after reading it countless more times (though I still continue to reread HaCSSI don’t reread hatterr as much).
 
these are two beautiful lines from hali that i still cherish and they are two most beautiful lines of prose or poetry or prose poetry:
 
    Then he found a beloved being, the most beloved being God ever made. 
    Rooh was her name. And Rooh is dead.
 
to be contrite, what I like about prose is the style, not the substance. prose should read like music to the ears. no, not poetry. poetry is lyrical and rhyming but it is not enough (you can have music without lyrics). To recreate music you need an ensemble. you need drums, violin, harmonica. You need a rhythm and a tempo. You need a crescendo and a coda. You need all the necessary supporting structures to recreate real music. You can do it only in prose, not poetry.

desani’s short stories read like music. understand that hali was published after hatterr and while hatterr was an unparalleled comedy, hali was a tragedy. two facets of the same writer. they merge in the short stories where the writer is unfettered and without abandon. thus the music now in prose. 

here is a flagrant slip by desani where he confesses that he wants his prose to read like music (i had tried the same trick with brackets in college but desani does it with a repetitive word followed by an exclamation – bang! – and he also insists that the reader read it as music): 
 


and here with just a mere repetition of a phrase:



many of desani’s short stories read like dreams – ergo. the unlikely happens in it but you respond to it normally (you realize the absurdity of it only on waking and recounting the dream). elsewhere his stories read like a mad banter between two jabbering heads walking down a long corridor – the conversation is sensible but it is absurd -- it is a mockery of reason and rhetoric and its limitations. here is an example (there are scores) -- this one is three pages of a short story where the last page is the penultimate page:






 
elsewhere his stories have a soft, sensual touch that is the prose at its best:






yet elsewhere, the madness of his characters and his personal homage (to bach) are at display:





desani lampoons the canons of western thought in his short stories (and more extensively in hatterr) as also hindu-buddhist-sufi thought. he is the itinerant IRREVERENT writer who either happens to be a great artist or perhaps that is what makes him a great artist. 
 
desani appears once again in his diaries (that I might get to read before i die) but an extract had been published in the new yorker -- prefaced by rushdie. in that journal entry, desani's english is bereft of artifice. it is just an honest, plain diary about desani visiting india at president radhakrishna’s behest and his journey to ajanta & ellora. that diary entry lets you follow the man over 4/5 days – what a delight it was following him.

if you want to know more about desani, read HaCCS. many people find hatterr difficult to read and some scholars compare it with ulysses and FW. it is so unlike ulysess – i do not not why scholars feel compelled to compare desani with joyce (or, maybe I do because I have just compared him to kafka). anyway, people find hatterr difficult to read. fine. read HaCCS – its BETTER in my opinion. If you want to read kafka, read just the trial. after you’ve read the two, read my flash fiction that i will post in this section soon (stuff i had written long ago). and why did i make the last statement? out of arrogance of course! of the many things I have said in sulekha, I once advised someone, who wished to write, was to first burn all books she had read and then smear the ashes on her forehead and then begin to write! this is priceless advice for prospective writers (coming from someone who has published nothing) – you will write best only when you are in a stupor in which you believe you are the BEST!

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:10 pm

Brie, you seem to be quite a fan of Desani.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:24 am

Seva Lamberdar wrote:Brie, you seem to be quite a fan of Desani.
yes, it's pretty obvious.

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

Post by Guest on Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:52 am

the obligatory oblation to conclude the thread with:

http://consc.net/misc/moser.html

(this self-referential story is a paradox -- like i know i know nothing)

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Re: KAFKA (and desani)

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