KAFKA STYLE, REVISITED
Two tales in Kafka style: Wonderful Whale-Barrel; Verdict of Spiral Courthouse: Essay - Kafka according to Borges
When the Whale-Barrel appeared on the sea, it was around the time of sunrise and no one could guess the object to be a ship traveling under water. This was the time, you know, far before the advent of marine technology we are familiar with.
The small city was born near the shore along the land stretching behind, both were overlooked by the fortress built for emergency purpose, encircled and protected with rocks high above. The mason-made structure was stuck on the side of a sharp cliff.
The surveillance tower was made with wood, stood by supports of marvel tree-trunks cut from the deep forest far back. The tower was obliquely protruded over the sea, the degrees were about 30, tilted from the perpendicular line between the sky and ground. Such an oddity was the taste of the people and their lord. The barrel vessel met their affinity.
The first alert went through to the top of defense hierarchy within minutes, analysts gathered in the counsel within the next set of minutes. There was no castle nor palace. Instead, the counsel for the emergency was called into a hexagonal building holding five floors vertically, each of which were openable straight to the top, by chains and ropes attached to layers of cogwheels and manual labors in part. The fresh air and sky above, the defense minister, who was also an active fisherman, made a statement.
— A source of mythology and some legends say there is a time for a whale ship falling from the sky.
An analysts, who was also a popular baker, argued.
— All factual observations report the object came out of the sea, not fell from the sky.
The defense minister contested with his usual anecdotal narratives of quasi-aqua-philosophy.
— Dear friend (addressing to the analyst in particular) and friends (to all others), ponder please upon the mystery of a reversal. At night, the sea was often covered with an unspeakable beauty of illuminated marine lives, phosphorescence. We may, in fact, be possible to consider ourselves living in a reversed world rotated by 180 degrees exact from the sky.
The discourse set a flush boiling point for all the counselors who then began to elaborate meditative cosmogonies along with defense strategies (though all are rather abstract very highly in their terms) in eloquence of each. The lord of the land alone was thinking while shaking his head and thoughts. How and when the course of this emergency meeting can change its direction into the practical in the most proper manner?
In the meantime, the people were watching the barrel object approaching the shore, nonchalantly in the movement of a floating cork. It stopped on water at a nearby point to the land. At a closer look, everyone noticed the vessel was huge. A zoologist made an opinion about it as to be a hard shelled whale in one possibility. Wood constructers spoke immediately against that opinion by stating such a speculation to be correct is improbable because of its observably obvious structural characteristics defy the organic certainty.
On the shore as well as in the hexagonal building, various and numerous opinions were exchanged, and all were too interesting and unique to note with accuracy in brevity in the limited capacity of the author without spoiling some of the most important content-elements.
Nevertheless, the advantage was found with the people on the shore because they were watching the event in live in front. Before the sun arose high, an analytical consensus was reached on the shore among the people. There seems to be a combination of propelling mechanisms at the end of the object and its bottom, which must create continuous momentum as momenta to move itself into all directions including up and down. Finally the radicals became impatient. Why do we not attack? Many people were strongly opposed. The most reasonable assumption was the initial attack will be taken as the sign of hostility.
When the sun was about to lower its position down again, the counsel concluded a communication would be possible with the Whale-Barrel or with living beings who or which must be inside, holding their intelligence capable of producing such a high technological object. Thus, philologists were called upon to compile marine-languages glossary in the speediest manner provided that such a thing as marine-language had been existing. Around that time, the people on the shore were peacefully singing to demonstrate their benevolently amical intention, concretely to the vessel and more widely to the whole universe.
When the sun was about to sink down to set for night, the sky was lit with red and orange to be as one of a kind type of sunset. The Whale-Barrel made a sprout of blue jet water from the top. It dashed straight up like a thin metal thread with no explosive sound, then when the top end attained a point high enough, it opened up a gigantic flower of colors of all possible existing variety and subtlety. It was so magnificently beautiful and so marvelous in the way that no one had ever imagined such a wonder could unfold before their eyes. At the fall of night, the flower faded down onto the sea. The Whale-Barrel headed off shore, disappeared soon under water.
(courtesy to Archillect twitter for the image)
Verdict of Spiral Courthouse
The defendant team climbed up and up in the spiral staircase with neither resting point nor divisive floor height to mark for. They were told the court room was at the top part of such a tower.
Looking down, the accused was caught in a dizziness of the primordial sensation as if being in a giant shell internally layered in mental reflections. Looking up, he saw the same circle of natural light, which was supposed to be a rose window on the roof top stained glass, as small as it had been seen one hour ago.
The team was three, the accused and two (woman and man) who represent him by a public order. Her panting breaths became short again, so they stopped. The other representative also looked beat-tired and he was sweating in painful exhaustions. In this narrow structure, how the courtroom can be situated at the top was the enigma of all, which however became absolutely nonsensical to talk about at this point.
The accused looked at his wrist watch. Three hours have already passed since they started to climb up. No one anticipated this upward tour in the tower. No one believed there is no lifting mechanism (such as an electric elevator) when they first saw the tower soring to the sky on the hill. The court tower is in the middle of a vast field and it took a half day to reach from a city by a detoured route where they departed in the early morning.
At the skirt of the high hill, the driver turned back onto the country road with no word, leaving three in perplexity and discomfort. Do we have to climb up this hill up to the tower? Each of his representatives carried a thick and heavy portfolio bag in full of documents for the defense. The accused also brought with him his personal items, books, and notebooks for his statement. All of them were wearing city shoes and in the most inappropriate attires for a tenuous hiking.
We need at least water to drink, G (the name of the accused) thought. At ever turn of the stair case, there is a tiny window with metal frame through which pastoral views are seen with no apparent activity of any kind. Trees were far away. Who takes care of this vast rural field? It doesn’t look like a public land. Neither private. So what is it?
There are even no grazing animals around. G noticed two representatives were at a verge of their collapse. No one said anything. Nothing was heard except hard exasperation in rapid repetitions of the inhale and exhale.
The handrails were decoratively curved with botanical designs made from metals (note: the image above is purposefully no exact correspondance with this description). The tower itself was more like an attenuated cigar with no exterior ornament with an heavy oak door. The more upward, the smaller its diameter became. At that time when G looked around an alarm box with handle lever on the wall to let someone know they were close to pass out, it was less than 5 meters.
Two representatives were leaning back against the wall side-rails, sitting and holding rail supports not to fall suddenly from the stair downward to the lower. Their eyes were closed in certain resignations. The staircase was astonishing narrow, the width could be measured as much less than 1.5 meters.
G, although he himself had heavy materials to carry, came to thoughts of transferring documents from their bags to his. Eventually, he also thought he alone must go up to the courtroom to ask a medical assistance to help those two who had no response. Their bags were then half open.
G there saw their defense documents were just blank white papers with nothing written on.
The voice came from the top in echo.
— Good afternoon, G. good afternoon … afternoon … G. G G G….. Did you decide to renounce your assertion? renounce renounce your your assertion assertion …
G sought a focus to catch, but there was a sign of nobody nor visible speaker device, but there was only the continued spiral staircase and the same small circle supposed to be a rose window high above.
— Help! help help .. We need to get out from here. here here here… Water! water water water,,,, Doctors! doctors doctor doc doc … Medical equipment! medi med med…
— All you need will be in your hands. hands hands hands… If you renounce your assertion. renounce renounce renounce …. Do you? do you do you do you do you do you do you …..
G thought hard about the allegation. He quickly opened his bag to dig his books and notebooks out. He turned all pages as rapidly as possible. His readings and his own writings, they should be there! But, what he saw was inintelligible symbols on all pages. He screamed his words.
— Where are all my records of God? god god god god …. What is happening here? here here here here….
The tower was revealed to be the site for the attestation of the existence of God. At that moment, the spiral courthouse turned into an unusual theatre upon the verdict. Roses of different colors were falling from the small circle far above. G looked at the window on the wall. A large number of spectators was approaching the tower. His legal representatives were asleep, each then in a costume of clown. G could not tell by himself whether he was laughing or crying.
Kafka according to Borges
In his short essay about Franz Kafka (1883 -1924) “Kafka and His Precursors” (trans. by James E. Irby) in Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges: ed. by Donald A. Yates & James E. Irby: A New Directions Book: New York: 1964: 199-201), Jorge Luis Borges (1899 -1986) indicates three traits which readers would trace back to writers and thinkers as precursors of Kafka: 1) the destination or the goal impossible to reach or attain due to the time based physicality of the moving objects when the progress of the movement is dissected successively into the infinitesimal divisions. (Aristotle 384 BC - 322 BC); 2) Nonrecognition of [the sacred] if not previously known as experienced in collectively acknowledged recognition (Han Yu, Chinese prose writer in the 9th century); 3) Kierkegaard 1813-1855. The third one intrigues me most and I humbly tried to embody the concept above in my fiction “Verdict of Spiral Courthouse”. Additionally in the same essay Borges notes two opposite narratives found in Kafka. One is to hold the desired city or any locative destination afar from a place while being immobile. The other is to continue never-ending adventures (mobility) while the aimed destination is never reached. This one seems to be similar to, but is in fact different from the first trait of Kafka, compared to Aristotle’s Zeno by Borges because of its literary connotation implied vastly according to my reading.
I think of the paradoxal God. A logic flows such that God can be denied only when the existence of God is the starting point to argue against. Very interestingly, readers of Borges can find the same logical notion in his same essay about Kafka. Specifically after mentioning [Robert] Browning (1812 -1889), Borges concludes (p 201):
… In the critics’ vocabulary, the word “precursors’ is indispensable, but it should be cleansed all connotations of polemics and rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. [A writer’s] work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.
 See T. S. Eliot : Points of Views (1941), pp 25-26 (note by Borges)
Here, the most interesting indication is that we, as Kafka readers, actively participate in the correlation into the writer’s creation of his precursors, by our recognition of Kafka’s traits in works before Kafka. In other words, we can be made to be Kafka reader in Kafka style.