Thursday, January 19, 2012

Number Forty-Three

Noch spielen die Jagdhunde im Hof, aber das Wild entgeht ihnen nicht, so sehr es jetzt schon durch die Wälder jagt.

The hunting dogs are still romping in the yard, but the prey will not escape them, however much it may be stampeding through the woods even now. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

The dogs are still playing in the yard, but the quarry will not escape them, never mind how fast it is running through the forest already. [Hofmann]


The prey can't escape because it is prey, already. Kafka's stories return to the image of this kind of cancelled action, like the country doctor being whisked away from his house, and then hurtling through space at the story's end.

In a way, the prey is bringing its capture about, because you can't chase what isn't running away. By running away, it makes itself prey. The dogs would kill it even if it weren't running away, but this isn't about killing, it's about being hunted. If the quarry stays put, or even tries to fight, then, whether or not it's killed, it hasn't quite been hunted, because hunting means tracking down and catching in flight. This aphorism treats this as if it were a magic spell, that what is running therefore makes itself vulnerable to whatever runs down running things. Trying to avoid something still entails getting into a relationship with it.

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