Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Number Seven

Eines der wirksamsten Verführungsmittel des Bösen ist die Aufforderung zum Kampf.

One of the most effective means of seduction that Evil has is the challenge to struggle. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

One of the most effective seductions of Evil is the call to struggle. [Hofmann]


The Hofmann translation appends the eighth aphorism, "It is like the struggle with women, which ends up in bed," to the seventh, but I want to look at the seventh alone. It is interesting to note that both translators chose to retain the capitalization of Evil.

The struggle with evil, the idea that evil must be struggled with, is part of its seduction. The image of the good that this implies is that of effortless innocence. It does not seem that Kafka believes one can become innocent, at least, not by any effort with innocence for a goal. His protagonists struggle with the Court and the Castle, but they invent much of the struggle, and much of it is a matter of opinion, or point of view. This may be why so much of Kafka's fiction describes a pantomime of conflict by a solitary figure.

Struggle could be a kind of sloth: the struggle appears to act or to work, but achievements in a struggle are always mysterious. This idea of struggle couldn't be more diametrically unlike Hitler's "kampf." Someone struggles, but the situation keeps changing. Who can determine winners and losers?

If all human sin is impatience, then Evil might mean the inclination to impatience. If so, then impatience and struggle may be the same thing. The messiah doesn't come to struggle, but to end struggle.

No comments: