Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Kafka, Hesse, The Psalms and I.

Some have their conclusions, and necessarily so, otherwise time spent in study is consigned to the subjective, where the polite agree to disagree. The less polite stamp their feet and the next thing you know it's being called war. I surrendered some years ago when I read a letter Kafka wrote to a friend. He explained how he struggled to write and how he found little joy in it except when the words engrossed him, when time passed quickly without his having to think too much about what came next and soon enough it was three o'clock in the morning and he felt happy, fulfilled by his long night's work. The Psalms I suggest. It was rhythm he enjoyed, some deep place in us that searches for meaning rather than offering meaning. It's a place so deep it predates words and language, I'd argue. Others have dismissively called this place posy, a sort of sentimental trash can. Which I guess is better than going crazy and calling it God. But as an understanding of say organizations, not sure the study of them through Kafka's writing is much more than some kind of reach for a fashionable provenance that touches the ennui in all of us. 

My own view, if there has to be a conclusion, is Kafka would probably have found greater comfort if instead of letting the world of his work life into his evenings, he'd taken to the process of word making and sentence through some other medium. He was too sickly for belly dancing, the ballet was out, music was a possibility, drawing and painting, crossword puzzles. The objection of course is that none of these posies answer the big question. Why is it suddenly three in the morning, and why am I happy? I think Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse's last story is a better romp for those who even attempt to understand organizations. To sum the plot, "futility must be given meaning." And always worth remembering the thing about being truly free is we'd never expect the trains to run on time, but Kafka did until it came time for him to die, that's when he asked his friend to burn his unfinished books. And here, the question isn't so much why did he do that, rather the question is why did his friend fail to oblige him. The answer is all about organization. Obscure! Probably? 

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