Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gregor Samsa: Trade you a claw for a piece of tail



There is power in a vacuum.

Scientists know it.

Hey, even the Hoover folk!

Lovers know it. Makes the heart grow fonder (Trouble is, usually for somebody else)

There is power in a vacuum.

Sartre wrote an essay on it.

And some earlier European writers were only too aware of the Baumm! that wafts up from the void. Contact with Buddhism. Yes, this Buddh's for you.
But not for some Europeans.

Europeans are usually white, tending to shiver, and quite crazy. Not the for them the l20 F heat and flies every day that brings the Oh Gawd resignation of the Buddhist, the passive philosophy, the helplessness in the face of the IT.

They wanna fight. Fight anything, fight each other, even try to fight the IT, the IT being the reality, micro and macro.
Do not go gently into that cold night.
Death does not hurt. We can fight till the end And continue our inquiry into the ultimate reality.

It is said Socrates was one mean MoFo in a battle. Cut your heart out, you bastard.
Life was harder then.
Philosophers took part in wars, suffered, starved. Not for them the way of the Buddha, Siddhartha being his latest incarnation at about their time.
White men are crazy. They start world wars. Their science brings the H-bomb. And this gets them closer to the sense of the Void. Nihilism. Resignation. Dark nightmares.

And in literature, the nightmare is fully rendered, and some sensitive readers, aware that a terrible time was coming, suicided straigh off. Certainly if a genius like Kafka can predict the rise of the Nazis and the horrors that would come with it.

So it was no accident that Kafka, never published, instruced his agent, Max Brod, to never print his Metamorphosis, not even after his death.

But Max Brod did publish the work, one of the masterpieces of 20th century literature.

There are things in life writers rarely touch. The world is an insecure and dangerous place, and it seems that only through a series of lucky passages that we get through at all.
Like one day, you might wake up as a bug.
This is a powerful metaphor.
How many times have you been hurt, possibly in an accident, the fear the helplessness as all normalcy sudenly seems abstract. Lying there on floor, unable to get up. Checking out your limbs, which have become like claws, and suddenly you're down all the days and everybody wants to sweep you out of the way. And with force.

Small wonder that Kafka wouldn't want readers to dwell with this existential reality. That any day, all you have could be taken away from you, home, hearth, family, and maybe just your sister pitching in to feed and conmfort you every day.

In word from Forrest Gump, shit happens.

Dostoevsky knew it, Kafka knew it. Forrest Gump knew it.

But perhaps for Siddharha, well, it was Nirvana. It blows. Blows like Kurt Cobain.


Dark thoughts. Dark musings.
As I lie here on my back on the floor. I have, I think, slipped a disk.
I am no longer eighteen. I can not clean and jerk 120 lbs over my head.
Shoudn't even have tried.
I can now not get up.
The familiarity of the mat, the furniture, the heretofore comforting sounds of the house...what are they now?

Staring up, looking at the tiles on the ceiling. I see Gregor Samsa doing his thing, hanging from the wall.

Jesus, Franz. No wonder you didn't want the thing published.

But I'm glad you did.

It was certainly a warning.

And the strange sense of a power in the vacuum.

And the intimation that intellectuality itself is something you only arrive at while helpless.

The dead hand of intellectuality.

Yet always, there is the gallows humour that comes with revelation.

...Trade you a claw for a piece of tail.

Laughing gods come.

##

19 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

How interesting for you to mention micro and macro, as in evolution. Was just reading and writing about it today.

As for "The Metamorphosis," my personal view diverges from yours drastically. I appear to be alone among folks that I know in considering it a total waste of time. The same theme has been done so much better and so much more realistically by many fantasy writers. I really wish I had the time back that I wasted in reading it.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Charles.

re Kafka.

No waste of time, and like Kelly Ripa no ripoff.

Well, perhaps a blues can explain.

Woke up this morning
Both cars were gone.

Lying on my back
my mandibles on.

She took everything in tthe house
And gave me a kick.
She cracked my spine.
But she even called me a /rick.

Now that's Metamorphosis for you.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow,and tomorrow,and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day,to the last syllable of recorded time;and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.Out,out brief candle!Life's but a walking shadow,a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,and then is heard no more.It is a tale told by an idiot,full of sound and fury,signifying nothing!......

W.S.

I see a bad moon rising,
I see trouble on the way,
I see earthquakes and lightnin',
I see bad times today...

Don't go round tonite
For it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise...

J.F.

either way,that's metamorphosis for ya...riders on the storm... heard it thru' the grapevine...

ivan@cretivewriting.ca said...

That' quite a clutch of segues, Jeff.

Yep.

The greats of yesterday knew it and those later.

First the Old Testament apocrapha in Ecclesiastes, then Willie S. and even Creedence.
And doesn't Marvin Gay send out a a cry during a personal apocalyse we all have had in the course of our lives?

Well, here's to sharing a C.C. with you one day soon while listening to some C.C.R.


BTW, John Slykhuis, our editor ifferent times, seems to have retired. He did say last winter over a beer that the workload was getting to him.''' Guys's just a few years older than me.

But what a great careeer. At least100 premiers in U.S. and Canada for being top editor and weekly writer.
John is the other long-legged guy in writing that I admire.

I think he had hired me about five times and fired me twice.
But sure as hell kept me employed and on the map.

Donnetta Lee said...

And the gods continue to laugh...D

Sienna said...

Is that Monty Roberts in pink shorts, I see before me!

Power in a vacuum, suction on steroids;

"Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner."
(Sophia Loren)

I got one for ya mate:

Salesman: "Ma'am, this vacuum cleaner will cut your work in half."

Customer: "Terrific! Give me two of them."

Pam
Pam

the walking man said...

In the macrocosm of ones life there are microcosms of death and rebirth. All contained within the finite structure of ones existence.

During some of those micro incarnations I've been a bug, or at the least I have been stomped, swatted and, RAIDED. Ergo I think I would prefer to suffer the pains of my self authored anguish somewhere other than the floor. Perhaps in a shit pile while it's happening?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

The smile of reason, I guess, Donnetta.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Pam,
Is this the Monty Robers you mean?

stupid humor, going with the flow, protecting the environment, ...

Yep, that's me.

re Sophia Loren.

Got one from Canada for you, but way of Wayne and Shuster, Comedians.

This Roman sandles up to a bar and says he wants a Martinus.
"You mean Martini," says the bartender.
"No, Martinus.I didnt want two of then!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

Though of different backgrounds altogether, I guess there is enough Celt in me after 50,000 years to know what it is that you're talking about.

*ucked like an Irishman under Cromwell, I suppose.

But the rebirth--atleast until Wall Street pulled the plug.

Anonymous said...

cowboy,from Texas,visiting Wyoming,walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud...he sits in back of room,drinking a sip from each mug in turn...when he finishes these,he goes back to bar for three more...bartender comes up to him and says" you know,a mug of beer goes flat soon after I draw it...it would taste much better if you bought one at a time"...cowboy says "well,you see,I got two brothers...one's in Arizona,the other's in Colorado...when we all left home in Texas,we promised that we'd drink this way so's to remember the days when we drank together...so,I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers,and one for me,too"...bartender admits this is a nice custom and leaves it there...cowboy becomes a regular and this custom goes on for months....one day,cowboy comes in and orders just two beers...all the regulars take notice and the bar falls into complete and dead silence...when the cowboy goes to bar for second round of two beers,bartender says"I don't want to intrude on your grief,but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss"...cowboy looks a little puzzled,then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs..."oh,no,everybody's just fine...it's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking...hasn't affected my brothers,though"...

ivan@creartivewriting.ca said...

Er,

Did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi and the church minister?

Anonymous said...

nope...and I gave at the office,anyway...take three beers and drink plenty of fluids,brother...that is the extent of my ministry...rehab is for quitters...JD tells me there's always another sunset/sunrise [tequila?]...current world is enuff to drive one to drink,anyhow...a veritable microcosm of macrocosmotic drinkers,metaphorically speaking...up with alcoholics unanimous...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

...Maybe that's why Russians are so high on vodka all the time.
No burning Bush. KGB is watching you.

Here is somtehing from someone who calls himself Corky on the web:

A priest, a preacher and a Rabbi walked into their favorite bar, where they would get together two or three times a week for drinks and to talk shop.

On this particular afternoon, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first.
"Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quick DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

The rabbi looks up and says, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start."
posted by Corky at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2006

Anonymous said...

the news line read,"Rabbi's approach a huge draw-back"...grin and bear it...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

so,quite apart from all the silly little cerebral fencing and parrying,my dear old friend,what do you think of the world that lies at our feet today?... a long cry it is,from the days when you lent me your mint "blue flame" '52 chev. for my high school prom nite...simpler times,with the echos of "walk don't run" in the distant mists,and an absolute love of life driving one through every conceivable obstacle imaginable...perfect days?...you bet...you,me,and a drummer who could keep time and beat with an avalanche...and add some of his own to that..."Gypsy" was our anthem,and life was a magic carpet of rides,adventures,and chapters to be told... across the bow of my glass of JD,I fire a salute to you ,and thank you,for all those good times,where nothing was guaranteed,or assumed...it was just the thing to do...and we did it damn well...for everything else,there's mastercard...here's to ya,kid...

ivan@cretivewriting.ca said...

Yeah, Tony,

We had our own American Graffiti without the stupid sub-plots.
On the bandstand an off, 52 Chevs
and '49 Mercs roaring the warm nights. Hey. Who Put the Meat in the Meteor. Who put the Chevron in the Chev?
Who was that man, I want to shake his hand.
And the good times went on and on;
We protracted our adolescence and how grand it all was.
Remember, long after I was married, this friend brought in his girlfriend , a stripper, and this excited you and you were down to your shorts doing a Chippendale right along with her on the coffee table? Kinda scared the dog. Also my wife. :)
And the cottagein Keswick later and the big road trip to Eganville with Eric and co and kinda bringig the Eganville Hotel down.

Doing the Bobby McGhee on the roadpicking up hitchhikers who did not want to leave the car for the blast and the J's.
Well, protracted adolescence.
But we were paid for our shenanigans and it seemed, neer walked, just ran. Ran all the way to Hudson's Bay or somewhere to do a gig one week, Hamilton Ontario for a sort of early Canadian Idol audition.
As I got older I dropped the guitar and took up the typewriter--too soon it seemed for I got to hang around with Liona Boyd,mistress of Guitar in Mexico.
She said it was't me in the book--the crazy writer--but I'm sure it was.
You went on to succeedgrandly in education and I went on to magnificent failure as a novelist,
But what the hell, every time I failed with the book, I would work for the Star Weekly and get it all back.
The luck, the youth the brains sort of held out, and here we were suddenly daddies and mommies ad life went on.
It is getting close to the end of the mad ride.
Seems we weren't here for not just for a good time, but a long time.

And for me, suddenly the Wham.
And the double wham of things having worked out more or less all right.
I think I would like to have come again.

Anonymous said...

shee-it, man...seems to me the chippendale routine scared the hell out of your floor lamp,wife,and me,more than anybody else...never knew any mercury blues...don't know what happened to the dude[fiddle player] from Eganville who wanted to run away with the band... could be in the smithsonian now...he got turned on to "scotch and soda" blues...god,stormy monday came so soon...'65 chevy,J's,and endless blacktop...and a dose of Joplin...we all end up bowing to that ball and chain,somehow...forerunners to Canadian idol?...yeah...seems so, now...I know for sure we definitely screwed up the psyche of another rural TV station, big time...couldn't we play something a little more tripe-like?...nada,nada,nada...shake those cameras,ace...stand where?...what the hell...insanitus temporem...I want my les paul back...even my old first electric axe,a supro,is now an inukshuk on the landscape of early rock...Jesus saves and preserves...