On an Aesthetic of Redemption or The Problem With Historicizing Walter Benjamin (Take 1)

I’m not an intellectual historian.  And while I enjoy reading intellectual history, I always worry about the problem of periodization.   Like any historicization, the risk is to say that on this or that date everything changed with this or that thinker.  The problem with such claims is that – in a Derridian sense – something […]

A Note on Franzlations: The Imaginary Kafka Parables

Schlemielintheory.com has hosted and posted many blog entries on Franz Kafka.  I have had a guest post by Matthue Roth on his very popular book My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs, a guest post on Walter Benjamin’s reading of Franz Kafka by Hillel Broder, and more than ten of my own posts on […]

The “Anxiety of Influence” or Giorgio Agamben’s Gloss on Benjamin’s Reading of Kafka’s Pre-Historic Characters

One of the euphemisms that the literary theorist Harold Bloom is famous for is the “anxiety of influence.”  For Bloom, this term describes the contentious relationship of the contemporary writer to his antecedents.   The anxiety deals with how one relates to these antecedents and the greatness of the modern writer is to “revise” the tradition […]

Guest Post/Book Review: Kafka for Kids: Matthue Roth’s My First Kafka and Challenges of Representation

“Kafka for Kids: Matthue Roth’s My First Kafka and Challenges of Representation” by Hillel Broder Matthue Roth’s fancifully illustrated and elegant, poetic adaptation of three of Kafka’s short works , My First Kafka, was released this month, and to a series of high-profile and sweepingly positive reviews, receptions, and readings. Most recently, bits from Roth’s work were read […]

Conversations in the Mountains between Franz Kafka and Paul Celan – Part II

I ended the last blog entry by drawing a limit or threshold between Kafka’s conversation and Nietzsche’s singing.   To be sure, Kafka, at the end of his piece, wonders why his group of nobodies isn’t singing.  Their conversation in the mountains is “free” like the winds but it doesn’t break into song, while Nietzsche’s speech […]

“Don’t You Mind People Grinning in Your Face!” Son House, Kafka, and The Grin

In preparation for a series of blog entries that I will be doing on Walter Benjamin, Kafka, and Comic Gesture, I’ve been pursuing research on humorous gestures.  In yesterday’s post, for instance, I pointed out that Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin were both fascinated (and afflicted by) “childish” and “clumsy scribblings.”   The fact is that […]

‘Clumsy Scribblings of Senseless Children’s Hands’: On Heidegger and Kafka’s Temples

One of the most “Greek” moments of Martin Heidegger’s celebrated essay “The Origin of the Work of Art” can be found in his description of the “temple work.”  Heidegger depicts the temple as “giving things their look” and “men their outlook.”  The temple “lets the god himself be present and thus is the god himself.” […]

Losing Time and One’s Way… but Finding Laughter: On Kafka’s “Give it Up!”

At the outset of his book Franz Kafka: Parable and Paradox, Heinz Politzer cites a Kafka manuscript piece which Max Brod, in 1936, published under the title “Give it Up!”  Politzer points out that Kafka didn’t give it this title; Brod did.  In fact, Kafka called it “A Commentary.”    Politzer uses this parable as the […]

Are all Schlemiels Humble or Just Ridiculous? Kafka on Humility, the Language of Prayer, and Striving

We all love the simpleton.  Her ways are awkward, yet graceful. For all their simplicity, they are the ways of goodness.   But they come to us, as Avital Ronell says in her book Stupidity, by way of the “reliable generosity of the ridiculous” which is not innate and must be “publicly exposed.”  Perhaps Hollywood inherited […]