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Contemplation is a collection of 18 pieces of short prose by Franz Kafka, and was published late in the year of This was Kafka’s first. Contemplation, Kafka’s first published book (), was one of the few to appear in his lifetime. Composed of eighteen short prose poems, the book as a whole. Franz Kafka is one of the best writers for readers who love asking “What does it mean?”, one of the worst for those who want that question.

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In a diary, Kafka remarks that creative writing sometimes made him ambidextrous Congemplation, Indeed, the psychologist Gregory T. Lombardo has hypothesized that all truly creative writing derives from altered states Lombardo, About one such state, Kafka noted experiencing an immersion in a supporting swell if he did not hold back from it: Given his habitual low self esteem, he could also have meant between the human and subhuman i.

In classic psychological studies, Adolf Dittrich demonstrated that two often-found characteristics of altered states are: Rather than find how his ordinary and non-ordinary mental states fit together by interpreting them according to some given system, such as Theosophy, what he did primarily was explore this relationship through the literary sketches in that book.

Reader responses to Betrachtung thus face two challenges: The first challenge is the lesser one. Take, for instance, R. A basic premise of Reader Response theory is that the act of reading is itself creative; thus, if Lombardo is correct that creativity depends on altered states, readers might experience them also; and Zaehner is certainly not unique in having responded powerfully to the mystical or sublime in literature.

Rather, his style is sparse while seesawing between quotidian life and vision. Today, English-language translators tend to render the title of Betrachtung either as Meditation or Contemplationeach word capturing a different side of this struggle. Twenty-first century German has borrowed this English word for states ranging from biofeedback to Samadhi. The narrator turns thus from pure perception to evaluation, i. Otherwise, the children thoughtlessly join voice and play in a manner compared to wild beasts of the tropics, so energetic they seem to burn.

The dilemma is either to follow the energetic play of idiots and animals or to wear oneself out through its opposite, defensive thoughtfulness. The story introduces the conflict between defensive and immersive states, drawing the reader in fran provide the conclusion. There is at first an immersive experience: The process is thus circular and potentially unending. The only thing odd about it is how pleased the narrator is with him- or herself for finding the courage to leave family and apartment for inclement weather and a visit to a friend.

What the reader needs to know is that Kafka himself spent many years trying to summon the nerve to walk out on smothering, abusive parents and so to him such courage may have seemed as extraordinary as the strange conditions depicted in the odder kafia. This quietism suits the conteplation of not anchoring, but just letting oneself be swept by the swell.

It develops that quietism to an extreme. This inspires imagining such a trip while the narrator even considers singing together with the nobodies as the children had united song in the first chapter.


Franz Kafka’s Betrachtung as an Expression of Altered States

Recall also that it was another negation—silence—that brought immersion in the second chapter. In the latter story, however, once truly alone in the elevator, the narrator accompanies the ascension with imagination or clairvoyance traveling on invisible wings through a crowd of images. The setting is very early spring, traditionally a season of sexual and spiritual renewal as with Easter. What can this shining mean? Light has a long history of association with mystical visions.

Kafka is reversing the familiar pattern of a return home being a movement from problem to solution, probably since for him home had never brought such a solution. The beauty of this piece is its inherent doubleness. On the other hand, we know that intervening violently without understanding a situation is sheer bigotry. How can one avoid regretting the surrender of the ego such quietism requires but also how can one but rejoice at the errors it prevents?

Whereas some varieties of mysticism e.

Contemplation – Franz Kafka – Google Books

It concludes with women laughing at the victor. We are thus ready for a turn around kafkz these portraits of diminishment and separation–a movement back toward immersive altered states. It makes that aperture into an invitation to see heaven and earth together and achieve harmony with all humanity. Of course, he casts aside emblems of civilization rein and spursbut these are also emblems of control—now lost to him.

So this piece mostly involves oceanic ebullience, but at the end, a touch of disturbing disintegration, riding a dissolving, headless horse, in a fantasy that may also recall the chapter about moving iafka the mountains united with nobodies. We resemble trees in snow—or do we? Trees appear to be easily moved, but are rooted—or are they? No, that is mere appearance, Kafka adds. So how are we like trees? Frqnz the only similarity is in everything being mere appearance, a maya -like notion of the sort often generated by the states of sunyata.

The narrator looks into a mirror and screams a scream that extends upward indefinitely and somehow continues after it is over.

Here, not with silence but with sound, the protagonist is joined to the infinite and is experiencing a dreadful sense of ego dissolution. The only comfort seems to come from the depth of a mirror, perhaps the comfort of a reflection of a self, otherwise threatened.

Then a boy ghost enters in what the narrator describes as an expected and needed visit. Pathologically eager for separation from the world, the narrator has an odd argument with the ghost, where the former keeps offering to shut the door, and the ghost insists it is already shut and locked as the narrative confirms.

Then spirit boy and narrator admit that they have the same nature. The ghost is thus a part of the narrator.

Having thus at least temporarily found himself and thus feeling less threatened by self-dissolution, the narrator is able to leave the protective apartment.

In an ensuing conversation with another tenant, the narrator, who is revealed to be male like the boysays he does not believe the apparition was actually a ghost, but is still frightened contemplatiln whatever has caused him to hallucinate it.

In other words, having such an experience in a High Modernist period of science raises the fear that he is going insane. In the last story, we thus encounter a very possible reason why Kafka felt driven to Theosophy as an alternative explanation that would make his altered states not pathology but clairvoyance.


There is, however, no evidence that he could contemplatiln entirely believe that alternative and put aside the doubts. The narrator, however, says that such beings vacillate and do not believe in their own existence. Even for a Kafkaesque character, this remark is odd.

The relevant point may be the vacillation. To Steiner, Kafka had explained that his writing sometimes came from altered states and sometimes not.

A ghostly character mental module would presumably act differently imagined in one state or another.

Theosophy would urge him to trust altered states; High Modernism would privilege ordinary consciousness. Because this conflict hampers communication with the unconscious, the cause of the hallucination remains repressed. Rather like a meditation, much of the book describes stationary characters paying attention, interspersed with many visions of immersion and the ego threats involved. Expressed so economically as to be puzzling, both the stranger and more ordinary passages draw readers into the issue of surrendering or defending the ego—an issue the readers are themselves experiencing in wondering how much they should give themselves over to this text so skillfully like and challengingly unlike their own lives.

Tellingly, it is at last that the readers encounter what has been implicity throughout: Before anything is done to pursue this, the book simply stops and the depressed narrator goes to bed.

In the first story, sleep likened to death in that it brings one into the grave is the enemy, and, at the end of the book it has won. The last narrator has not only broken off immersion into nature and humanity but union with himself as child ghost also. The book begins with the threat of folly—the warning of parents out in the country—and ends in a more urban setting with allusions to emerging psychoanalytic theory and its reduction of spirits to symptoms.

Although Leavit has relatively little to say about this volume aside from the scream in its last chapter, it confirms her assumption that Kafka was reacting to altered states, contemppation it does not seem to arise from an author who garnered from them contemplatiln confidence and conviction that mysticism traditionally brought to contemplatino.

As I Lay Dying.

Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith. Translated by Kevin Blahut. Stories and Other Writings. Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins.

A brief survey of the short story part Franz Kafka | Books | The Guardian

Kafka, Franz Hochzeitsvorberitungen auf dem Lande: Theosophy, Cabala, and the Modern Spiritual Revival. Part I — the path to inspiration”. Muir, Willa and Edwin, Trans. Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka. Rimbaud, Contemplayion Rimbaud Complete. The Foundation of Buddhist Thought. To cite this article, use this bibliographical entry: January 1, [or whatever date you accessed the article]. September 11,Published: