By Fernando De Rojas
A bawdy romance from 1499 approximately 2 fans and their go-between, Celestina
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Extra info for Celestina
457). In Kafka舗s formulation, the parable is used by the sage to gesture toward something larger than, or invisible to, himself. The need to make this gesture is innate. But the parable dissolves the moment we understand it; the gesture would not be beyond language if it could be defined. We lose in parable the moment we pin things down to an accessible meaning. Realizing it is impossible to discuss or interpret Kafka without losing in parable is the first and perhaps only step we can take. Kafka舗s parables not only fall apart once we interpret them, they are impossible to put into practice.
Kafka舗s short parable 舠The Emperor舡 echoes this idea: 舠When a surf flings a drop of water on to the land, that does not interfere with the eternal rolling of the sea, on the contrary, it is caused by it舡 (The Basic Kafka, 1979, p. 183). Interestingly, Kafka again chooses a laborer to play the role of vermin. In Kafka舗s universe authority and vermin are natural enemies, and each gives rise to the other. In 舠Letter to His Father,舡 Kafka addresses himself in the voice of his father, Hermann: There are two kinds of combat.
To get at this conundrum, we must explore discretely the dichotomies Kafka himself con flates舒dreams versus reality, idleness versus work, vermin versus human, child versus adult. For Kafka, each of these antagonistic pairs represents an authorial relationship. It is possible to lump the lowly舒dreams, idleness, vermin, child舒on one side, and the authority figures舒reality, work, human, adult舒on the other. But ultimately this equation is too simple, for Kafka himself fails to pick a side. He calls both sides into question and finds them equally detestable.