Was ist denn das?

 

Holding

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Kafka has become a composer of wait music. He is tired of writing words then unwriting the words, tired of explaining why nothing has been published. He has decided to become part of the background, albeit an irritating part. What people like best about his music is when it stops. They love his absence. They love his absence! The satisfaction is so intense he must keep it secret. He excels at tunes that sound like something you’ve heard before but cannot name, cannot place, like trying to remember a dream. The tunes sound like they are going somewhere but only route you past the self-service menus, punctuated by the repeating claims that you are important, that someone is busy serving someone else but not you, never quite you. You are never important enough to feel anything but ashamed of your need to get through. A soothing base line moves the tune along. Kafka draws on his experience writing Das Schloss, often translated as The Castle, but really should be The Keep or The Hold or even The Lock. When someone called the castle switchboard, they heard angelic voices in heavenly choir. Ahhhhhhh.  Kafka strives for an endless coda of bland divinity, of eternal indifference. His music leads to nothing but itself, ending on the same note that set the tune into motion, ready to play again as many times as the caller will endure.

 

Arrival

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

If Kafka were not so tired from his trance of deep access, reaching blind behind his back in search of turns of phrase, images, events, he would smile, even he who never smiles. He has brought the moment onto the page, brought it out of his skinny teeming jug-eared head. Never did he expect to achieve the writing that would give form to the inexpressible, that would express the formless. Yet there are his words, glowing on the screen. He saves them again, just to be sure, the way Max told him, clicks Print for a hard copy. His laser-jet printer grinds into action and slams out the sheets of paper, triple-spaced to receive his edits. But see:  only the top half of each line has printed. Only a ghost of the words remains. He re-boots, and now the screen reads Getting Windows ready. Don’t turn off your computer. Close and restart to install.  So:  he will do wrong whichever one he obeys. Is there any action that could bring forth his words? Na ja, he thinks in his not-quite-High German, of course. It figures. The library is always closed when he can get there. The café has only yesterday’s newspapers, and no more strudel. His tailor has cut the cloth for a new suit but can get no more thread, there is nothing for supper but flesh from his Father’s shop, and his little brothers are quite dead. All are dead.