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Re: [kafka-list] Digest Number 52

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  • William Morris
    Mark writes: If the artist wants to find his truth, he must destroy himself. Suffering is the only possible way for man to redeem his true self (sounds like
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2003
      Mark writes:

      "If the artist wants to find his truth, he must destroy himself.
      Suffering is
      the only possible way for man to redeem his true self (sounds like
      Dostovesky!). It is both the perogative and curse of the hunger artist
      (and
      Kafka, vis a vis his writing) that he is driven to follow this path to
      its
      inevitable conclusion."

      I think that this is true, but I want to highlight that I think that Kafka
      was deeply conflicted about this attitude.

      This is basically a restatement of some of what James says, but anyway:

      Suffering doesn't automatically lead to art. In fact, the hunger artist is
      a pathetic creature---not because he ends up consuming himself, or because
      the crowds eventually ignore him, but because the reason that he's fasting
      is because he never really found anything that he wanted to eat. In other
      words, it's not so much a matter of artistic choice, but rather a
      fetishization of his condition (the condition of not being able to eat).

      ~~William

      BTW, "A Country Doctor" is my favorite Kafka story. I'd be totally up for
      discussing it after this discussion trickles out.




      --- kafka-list@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      >
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      >
      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      >
      > There are 2 messages in this issue.
      >
      > Topics in this digest:
      >
      > 1. A Hunger Artist
      > From: James Hanley <JPHanley2001@...>
      > 2. Re: A Hunger Artist
      > From: "Mark Ponce" <marcusSP@...>
      >
      >
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      >
      > Message: 1
      > Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 19:38:43 -0800 (PST)
      > From: James Hanley <JPHanley2001@...>
      > Subject: A Hunger Artist
      >
      >
      > Hey Laura, and anyone else out in Kafkaland!
      > I read the piece, and thought about it. I decided I would also take an
      > interpretation of it upon first reading, and run with it. I like the
      > religious implications, Laura, but I took another approach. How is
      > this:
      > The hunger artist is someone we all know. He is the one in the
      > friendship that must ALWAYS be the victim. There is never going to be a
      > day when the hunger artist is truly happy. He will never find the food
      > that he likes. (I see the other friends who allow a hunger artist to
      > continue on this path, as the onlookers who will watch and fuel his need
      > to be more of a victim.) The forty days, while a very relevant
      > religious term, could also apply to the breaking point in the friendship
      > when one person must confront the hunger artist (which I think is a
      > fitting name for those who choose to make victimization their art form)
      > and let him or her know that the jig is up.
      > Just another interpretation. It helped me mainly because I'm so
      > terrifyed of being that person who is always needing to be the weaker
      > friend who needs consolation. I dunno. Just a thought.
      > As a little response to your interpreatation Laura, I would like to say
      > that one of my favorite readings in the Catholic liturgy is the one on
      > Ash Wednesday. It discusses how we Catholics must not fast visibly. We
      > must not be overt with our religious practices, because they are only
      > important to US. I think this is a very relevant idea with the hunger
      > artist since he is not doing it for himself. He is the phaisee who
      > paints his face white while fasting...almost literally. I enjoy that
      > interpretation, and look forward to re-reading it with that in mind.
      > Pakey
      > PS I have the title of that other short piece. It is actually part of
      > his VERY short works. Shouldn't take too long to look at. Passers-by.
      > In fact, I'm just going to include it here and anyone who wants to can
      > look it over.
      > Passers-by
      > When you go walking by night up a street and a man, visible a long way
      > off - for the street mounts uphill and there is a full moon - comes
      > running toward you, well, you don't catch hold of him, not even if he is
      > a feeble and ragged creature, not even if someone chases yelling at his
      > heels, but you let him run on.
      > For it is night, and you can't help it if the street goes uphill
      > before you in the moonlight, and besides, these two have maybe started
      > that chase to amuse themselves, or perhaps they are both chasing a
      > third, perhaps the first is an innocent man and the second wants to
      > murder him and you would become an accessory, perhaps they don't know
      > anything about eachother and are merely running home to bed, perhaps
      > they are night birds, perhaps the first man is armed.
      > And anyhow, haven't you the right to be tired, haven't you been
      > drinking a lot of wine? You're thankful that the second man is now long
      > out of sight.
      > Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir
      > There ya go. If anyone wants to talk about it, it is by far my favorite
      > Kafka, and I'd love to hear someone else's opinion.
      >
      >
      >
      > ---------------------------------
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      > Yahoo! Tax Center - File online, calculators, forms, and more
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      >
      > Message: 2
      > Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 00:49:29 -0500
      > From: "Mark Ponce" <marcusSP@...>
      > Subject: Re: A Hunger Artist
      >
      > Here is a brief summation of one interpretation I ran across.
      > It is not my words, but an edit that I put together to throw a little
      > light
      > on the subject.
      >
      > "The Hunger Artist" has been interpreted by some as a parable of the
      > author's spiritual quest as well as of his realtionship with the
      > insenstive
      > world around him; his main theme being: alienation.
      >
      > He suffers in his cage, the symbol of his lack of freedom, but he
      > prefers to
      > starve for the eventual attainment of spiritual freedom rather than
      > accept
      > any of the pseudo-salvations of the realm of the "butchers"- or the
      > world
      > around him. (It is interesting to note that Kafka was a life-long
      > vegetarian, the very opposite of a butcher.) He pits two equally
      > justified
      > forces against each other: the yearning for spiritual nourishment of the
      > hunger artist against the elemental affirmation of life by the many. One
      > force pushing in the direction of spiritualization and beyond; the other
      > one
      > pulling back toward the animalistic sphere.
      >
      > In his diary, Kafka referred to these opposing forces as "the assualt
      > from
      > above" and the one "from below". He explained his desire to escape from
      > the
      > world in terms of "the assualt from above". All of Kafka's stories are
      > permeated and deal with this opposition. The hero's loathing for regular
      > food and his desire to fast to unprecedented perfection are the workings
      > of
      > this force and pull him from earthly life. The wild animals' and the
      > panther's taking his place represent life-affirming forces. The audience
      > moves between the two opposing forces but it doesn't have the capability
      > of
      > either the hunger artist or the panther. Their fate is mere passivity.
      >
      > The sum total of truth (his art) and life are the same at all times, but
      > one
      > goes on at the expense of the other. By living, man gets in his own way
      > as
      > regards the fulfillment of his art, his search for truth. It is true
      > that
      > NOT eating eventually takes the hunger artist's physical life, but from
      > the
      > debris of this life there flows a new, spiritualized life unknown to
      > others.
      > If the artist wants to find his truth, he must destroy himself.
      > Suffering is
      > the only possible way for man to redeem his true self (sounds like
      > Dostovesky!). It is both the perogative and curse of the hunger artist
      > (and
      > Kafka, vis a vis his writing) that he is driven to follow this path to
      > its
      > inevitable conclusion.
      >
      > marcusS
      > ** How about "A Country Doctor" (but only after this discussion has
      > taken
      > it's full course).
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "James Hanley" <JPHanley2001@...>
      > To: <kafka-list@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 10:38 PM
      > Subject: [kafka-list] A Hunger Artist
      >
      >
      > >
      > > Hey Laura, and anyone else out in Kafkaland!
      > > I read the piece, and thought about it. I decided I would also take
      > an
      > interpretation of it upon first reading, and run with it. I like the
      > religious implications, Laura, but I took another approach. How is
      > this:
      > > The hunger artist is someone we all know. He is the one in the
      > friendship
      > that must ALWAYS be the victim. There is never going to be a day when
      > the
      > hunger artist is truly happy. He will never find the food that he
      > likes.
      > (I see the other friends who allow a hunger artist to continue on this
      > path,
      > as the onlookers who will watch and fuel his need to be more of a
      > victim.)
      > The forty days, while a very relevant religious term, could also apply
      > to
      > the breaking point in the friendship when one person must confront the
      > hunger artist (which I think is a fitting name for those who choose to
      > make
      > victimization their art form) and let him or her know that the jig is
      > up.
      > > Just another interpretation. It helped me mainly because I'm so
      > terrifyed
      > of being that person who is always needing to be the weaker friend who
      > needs
      > consolation. I dunno. Just a thought.
      > > As a little response to your interpreatation Laura, I would like to
      > say
      > that one of my favorite readings in the Catholic liturgy is the one on
      > Ash
      > Wednesday. It discusses how we Catholics must not fast visibly. We
      > must
      > not be overt with our religious practices, because they are only
      > important
      > to US. I think this is a very relevant idea with the hunger artist
      > since he
      > is not doing it for himself. He is the phaisee who paints his face
      > white
      > while fasting...almost literally. I enjoy that interpretation, and look
      > forward to re-reading it with that in mind.
      > > Pakey
      > > PS I have the title of that other short piece. It is actually part of
      > his
      > VERY short works. Shouldn't take too long to look at. Passers-by. In
      > fact, I'm just going to include it here and anyone who wants to can look
      > it
      > over.
      > > Passers-by
      > > When you go walking by night up a street and a man, visible a long way
      > off - for the street mounts uphill and there is a full moon - comes
      > running
      > toward you, well, you don't catch hold of him, not even if he is a
      > feeble
      > and ragged creature, not even if someone chases yelling at his heels,
      > but
      > you let him run on.
      > > For it is night, and you can't help it if the street goes uphill
      > before
      > you in the moonlight, and besides, these two have maybe started that
      > chase
      > to amuse themselves, or perhaps they are both chasing a third, perhaps
      > the
      > first is an innocent man and the second wants to murder him and you
      > would
      > become an accessory, perhaps they don't know anything about eachother
      > and
      > are merely running home to bed, perhaps they are night birds, perhaps
      > the
      > first man is armed.
      > > And anyhow, haven't you the right to be tired, haven't you been
      > drinking
      > a lot of wine? You're thankful that the second man is now long out of
      > sight.
      > > Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir
      > > There ya go. If anyone wants to talk about it, it is by far my
      > favorite
      > Kafka, and I'd love to hear someone else's opinion.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ---------------------------------
      > > Do you Yahoo!?
      > > Yahoo! Tax Center - File online, calculators, forms, and more
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      > > kafka-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
      > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      >
      >
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
      > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >


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