Kafka, Franz
(1883-1924)
  ---- by John Marks
  In Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, Deleuze and Guattari seek to overturn much of the received critical wisdom on Franz Kafka's work by presenting him as a joyful and comic writer, who is positively engaged in the world. Kafka was, Deleuze and Guattari claim, irritated when people saw him as a writer of 'intimacy'. In Deleuze and Guattari's hands he becomes a political author, and the prophet of a future world. It would, they claim, be grotesque to oppose life and writing in Kafka. Kafka seeks to grasp the world rather than extract impressions from it, and if he is fixated on an essential problem, it is that of escape rather than abstract notions of liberty. The tendency towards deterritorialisation in Kafka's work, for example, is evident in his use of animals in his short stories.
  Rather than interpretation - saying that this means that - Deleuze and Guattari prefer to look at what they call 'Kafka politics', 'Kafka machines' and 'Kafka experimentation'. Many interpretations of Kafka have concentrated on themes relating to religion and psychoanalysis, whilst others have seen in Kafka's work the expression of his own acute human suffering: his work becomes a tragic cri de coeur. In contrast to this, Deleuze and Guattari show how the Kafka machine generates three passions or intensities: fear, flight and dismantling. In The Trial (1925) it is less a question of presenting an image of a transcendental and unknowable law, and more a question of an investigation of the functioning of a machine. In contrast to the psychoanalytical approach, which reduces Kafka's particularly intense attachment to the world to a neurotic symptom of his relationship with his own father, they show how Kafka's inaptitude for marriage and obsession with writing have positive libidinal motivations. Kafka's apparently solitary nature - his existence as an unmarried writer - should not be viewed as evidence of a withdrawal into an ivory tower - but rather one component of a 'bachelor machine'. This machine has multiple connections with the social field, and allows the bachelor to exist in a state of desire that is much more intense than the psychoanalytic categories of incestuous or homosexual desire. Kafka's strategy in 'Letter to his Father' is to inflate the father figure to absurd and comic proportions, so that he covers the map of the world. The effect is to provide a way out of the psychoanalytical impasse, a line of flight away from the father and into the world; a new set of connections.
  The book on Kafka constitutes Deleuze and Guattari's most detailed reading of literature as machine. They claim that Kafka's work is a rhizome or a burrow, in which no entrance is more privileged than another. They also claim that the Kafka-machine, composed as it is of letters, stories and novels, moves in the direction of the unlimited rather than the fragmentary. Kafka's oeuvre is complete yet heterogeneous: it is constructed from components that do not connect but are always in communication with each other. The Kafka machine is, paradoxically, one of continuous contiguity. Such a machinic reading of Kafka is called for by Kafka's own approach, which goes against representation, allegory, symbolism and metaphor. Instead, Deleuze and Guattari show how he works with the components of reality: objects, characters and events. The evolution of Kafka's work is towards a sober 'hyper-realism' that dispenses with impressions and imaginings. Rather than metaphor, Kafka's hyper-reality constructs an immanent assemblage of metamorphosis, a continuum of reversible intensities.
  For Deleuze and Guattari,Kafka's work is a 'minor' literature par excellence. A minor literature 'deterritorialises' language and provides an intimate and immediate connection between the individual and the political. It is also a form of literature in which everything is expressed in collective terms and everything takes on a collective value. In short, there is no subject in a minor literature, only collective assemblages of enunciation. In a 'major' literature there are forms of 'individuated enunciation' that belong to literary masters, and individual concerns abound. Minor literature can afford no such luxuries, since it is born out of necessity in restricted conditions. Since major literature is essentially representational in orientation, it moves from content to expression, whereas a minor literature expresses itself out of absolute necessity and only later conceptualises itself. Expression breaks established forms and encourages new directions. This commitment to expression is evident in Kafka's interest in 'musical' sounds that escape any form of signification, composition or song.
  Deleuze and Guattari repeatedly emphasise the fact that Kafka's solitude gives him an acutely political, and even prophetic, vision. Kafka the bachelor-machine perceives the 'diabolical powers of the future' American capitalism, Soviet bureaucracy and European Fascism - that are knocking on the door of his study. The literary machine enables this vision because it functions not like a mirror of the world, but rather like a watch that is running fast. The tendency of Kafka's work towards proliferation opens up a field of immanence that takes his social and political analysis out of the domain of the actual and into the virtual.
  Connectives
   § desire
   § deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation
   § intensity
   § minoritarian
   § psychoanalysis
   § rhizome

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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  • Kafka, Franz — born July 3, 1883, Prague, Bohemia, Austria Hungary died June 3, 1924, Kierling, near Vienna, Austria Czech writer who wrote in German. Born into a middle class Jewish family, he earned a doctorate and then worked successfully but unhappily at a… …   Universalium

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  • Kafka, Franz — ► (1883 1924) Escritor checo. Sus obras reflejan la angustia del hombre inmerso en un mundo paradójicamente impenetrable. Es autor de novelas cortas, cuentos y novelas, entre las que cabe mencionar: La metamorfosis (1915), donde plantea el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Kafka,Franz — Kaf·ka (käfʹkə, kä), Franz. 1883 1924. Austrian writer whose stories, such as “The Metamorphosis” (1916), and novels, including The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926), concern troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal world. * * * …   Universalium

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