Sunday, April 17, 2005


Call me an amateur, but I had no idea that The Castle was a work in progress when Franz Kafka bit it in 1924. Hence my surprise when arriving at the last page, the last sentence of which dangles annoyingly out of reach of any manner of resolution. I had been hoping that K. might come to his senses, and skip town at his earliest convenience, without any hindrance from one parasitic townsperson or another, but not before turning around at the limits of town to flip the bird to one and all.

Then I have to wonder, wherever K. came from, was it any better than the place he finds himself now? Was it worse? What made him leave? Was it all about the land surveying job? Or was he running away from a life more fruitless and more aimless than the dysfunctional one he has eked out for himself so quickly in the town that lies in the shadow of the castle? Perhaps his new life brings a level of excitement and intrigue previously unknown to him: a new land, a new job, a new love, and not least of all, being the most talked about guy in town. A real bad boy with a penchant for breaking rules and getting into trouble at every turn. No wonder Frieda and Olga and Pepi find him so irresistable.

In light of all that, maybe he'll stick around. But he should forget about the castle: he's had enough experience with it, even while kept at an arm's length, to know that it will remain impenetrable. He should find a job out of town and commute. The town is evidently not ready for the land surveyor, as they seem to have an aversion toward the progress that his profession represents. The city would be a more apt place for K. to hang his hat and set up his tripod. Eventually, he might even save enough money to move to that city, where everyone will probably just leave him alone and not give another thought to his comings and goings. A little anonymity could do him a world of good.

But in the meantime, K.'s got a few more forbidden thresholds to cross, a few more crucial appointments to miss, and a few more hollow townsfolk to irritate with his perplexing behaviour.

I think I need to take a break from Kafka now...on to a different and decidedly more lighthearted brand of literature.

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