October 31, 2020: Kafka in the Morning

Saturday: my only day off from work. I am sitting in my mother’s garden, drinking Arabic coffee, and reading Kafka.

Some months ago, as I was casually browsing through books in a bookshop I regularly visit during lunch breaks, I came across an inexpensive Wordsworth edition of a compilation of Kafka’s works called The Essential Kafka. I picked it up and opened its table of contents to check what it contained. Included was The Trial, which I had already read a couple of times; The Castle, which had been on my reading list for years; “Metamorphosis,” which I had read a long time ago; and other short stories, which I had either read or never heard of. ‘It is truly The Essential Kafka,’ I thought and decided to buy it.

So, here I am reading it now, and this makes it the third time I am perusing The Trial. I am lost in it as I was lost in it the first time. Reading Kafka is like dissecting the cold body of an eldritch monster, but it is pleasurable and addictive.

Many of the authors that I admire, like Albert Camus and Milan Kundera, have commented on Kafka’s works, too. (Maybe that is why I admire them.) In The Myth of Sisyphus, for instance, Albert Camus writes, “The whole art of Kafka consists in forcing the reader to re-read.” He then adds, “Nothing is harder to understand than a symbolic work.” (And this maybe explains why I constantly come back to read them.)

In short, Kafka is something else, or, As Maurice Blanchot puts it in The Space of Literature, “Kafka’s case is cloudy and complex.” But isn’t that what I like about him already?

I am glad I picked up this book.
I am planning to read The Castle next.

September 26, 2020: Maybe I should start reading less

In the morning, I read the last pages of Nietzsche’s The Use and Abuse of History — now the 32nd book I read in 2020. I was happy at first, but, when I entered Goodreads to add it, I saw that I was three books behind schedule to hit my target of 48 books in 2020.

I went to the pile of unread books I have in my bedroom to choose the next book, but I got a little depressed.

One can never read enough. There is always more to read. It’s impossible to become Faustus.

And why am I reading? Why am I trying so hard to consume as many books as possible? Who am I racing or competing with? There are few people I know who read more than I do anyway. So what am I trying to achieve here?

Maybe I should slow down, read less but more carefully, write more… Think more, live more…

To acquire knowledge has been my only goal in life so far. I always wanted to know everything about everything, which is kind of — childish.

What is knowledge good for? (Foucault would say, “for cutting.”) Moreover, what am I good for?

Who do I want to be?

March 12, 2020: Untitled

Woke up.
Neck pain. Back pain.
I wore yesterday’s clothes.

On my way to work,
the movie “28 Days Later” came to my mind.
Emptiness. Abandoned spaces.
Few cars.
It’s the end of the world, I thought.
It’s the end of my world.

And now I’m here
smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk,
inhaling the fear of death that’s in the air.
This Thursday feels like a Sunday,
but I’m not praying.
I’m thinking: Motherfuckers,
I was looking forward to
open sausages and open beer,
but they just told me
all restaurants are closed until further notice.

Corruption and incompetency.
Impotence.
The economic crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s next and what can we do?
We can’t run — they’re shutting down the airports.
We can’t hide — we’ll starve.

I can’t work.
I can’t think.

And now in the office,
in my rolling chair,
I’m trying to get rid of
this brain fog
by scrolling down
my Facebook newsfeed.

Moments ago,
I called the convenience store
and ordered wet wipes and
hand sanitizers.

I’m alone in the office.
There’s no one else here.