Metamorphosis- A review

Metamorphosis is a short story written by Franz Kafka. It’s written over a century ago, yet many people  today can somewhat relate to the transformed Gregor Samsa.

Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself transformed into an insect. His mind is filled with the worry about getting late to work. How is he supposed to explain his odd and strange situation to those around him?

Gregor works as a travelling salesman. He is the bread winner for his family and feels stuck in a monotonous routine that he has come to accept as everyday reality. He mindlessly follows the routine but after being transformed. His is a predicament! As an insect, he struggles to get up from the bed and get ready for work. Never being late, his manager shows up. After he finally manages to open the door, his dad pushes him back into the room with a stick seeing his horrible sight. Nobody seems to understand his speech. His insect sounds leave him feeling alone suddenly.

His family realises that their son has been transformed into an insect. However, they don’t know what to do to change him back or what help to get him.

Many of us at times feel like the insect stuck in a circle, routine or circumstances beyond which there is no life. Or if there is, there is no stepping outside. Here the insect from my point of view means Gregor has turned useless and is not a commodity useful to those around him anymore.

If in real life, it weren’t transforming into an insect, many people are suddenly left feeling alone and useless after tragic accidents or life circumstances.

Though it is an interesting concept, and indeed that many battle within their lives and minds. I think Franz Kafka also wrote this story because of his own personal life. He felt like an insect after he failed to live up to his father’s expectations.

Furthermore Gregor’s family suffers from deteriorating living standards as the bread winner goes out of work. His family is forced to work. He is left alone in his room. Inside the room, Gregor is looked after for some time by his sister but then upon, new tenants moving in the house and things moving forwards rapidly, everyone seems to forget about Gregor and instead speak about the nuisance that the insect is causing them. The tenants leave the house after they threaten to sue Mr. Samsa but he forces them out.

In the end Gregor dies a lonely death.

When I think about the insect that Gregor turns into, it sounds awfully depressing viewing life from such perspective. It makes me wonder a century ago, why Franz Kafka thought like an individual who didn’t seem to have a purpose in life. It seems that Franz Kafka was full of doubts, confusion. Even though he wrote many series of novels, he didn’t publish any of them. Despite having a Jewish heritage, Franz Kafka was disconnected from his community, beliefs and sense of higher being. Mind you, I am only contemplating about this story and Kafka’s way of thinking in particular. This story is filled with symbols and metaphors to me. The main metaphor being Gregor turning useless and a burden referred in the story as an insect. I found this other review quite good on Franz Kafka himself. One thing for sure, Metamorphosis caused me to look into and read on who Franz Kafka is. I have heard his name in many online lectures and videos. In understanding the author, I want to understand what he has written about. But I am pretty sure, all of this might swiftly change or transform into something else once I pick up another one of his books that dives into a different theme.

In summary, I cannot grasp Kafka’s thinking by just reading Metamorphosis, I would have to read more on Franz Kafka himself and read more of his books to figure out what other themes and ideas he delves into.

Unicorns- A novel review

What do I know about unicorns? This is meant to be a review of Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End of the World. In Japanese, Sekai no owari to hādo-boirudo wandārando.

Achtung ⚠️  Es gibt viele spoilern für den Novel.

What stood out to me in the novel?

No names. All characters were referred to either by description or job title. The chubby girl, the librarian, Calcutec. There are more but I am not planning on telling the whole story here. Du magst, du liest. Don’t know why I am including a bit of German hier und da.

I guess because of a recent funny video or maybe because I watched Monster again. Every time I watch it, it’s like watching it all over again, mainly because my memory with animes is poor to the point that I enjoy what I watch but don’t retain most of it. Maybe because I binge through most of the series.

Anyhow, in this novel, the protagonist is a calcutec. Calcutecs work for The System. The novel contains two stories, each narrated in an alternative chapter. The two stories merge near the end like two rivers meeting at the meeting point. The calcutec is being pursued by Samiatecs whose job is to steal the information from the calcutecs. Cyber warfare.

It’s a strange, bizarre and out of this world novel. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it Kafkaesque. Many of Haruki Murakami’s work take inspiration from Franz Kafka.

What can I write that you wouldn’t find on Wikipedia or Google about this piece of art. While a lot of the story is still fresh in my head as I recently listened to it. I took my time listening to it. I want to review it so that it makes you want to pick up this book.

If you’re one for creativity, imagination. If you’re into surrealism, science fiction then this would definitely be a good read for you. What’s more, the novel explores the concept of death. The end of the world is a theme for the science fiction story that is taking place in the protagonists world. What he doesn’t know is that this world has been embedded into his subconscious with the help of the old scientist who worked for the system. Shuffling, sound editing and examining the subconscious is the theme here.

What caught my attention is the relationship of dream world and real life. How the subconscious influences it. While not apparently made clear. I came to my conclusion listening to the book that the characters between the two stories are somewhat related. The relationship isn’t hard to figure out, especially the librarian in the two worlds and the protagonist in both worlds.

The intricate relationship of how the protagonist finds a way to not lose his mind, memories and identity is hinted at, him getting into a relationship with the librarian who is as empty as him inside, after some traumatic life experiences and previous personal relationships.

Then what is further hinted at, are the attributes and qualities that the protagonist possesses that make him the only survivor of the System’s experiment. Here what I understood was the resilience and it’s connection with the subconscious which is near a breaking point that either helps him retain his mind and memories or come to an end like the rest of the subjects who went through the experiment.

Well as you see from my review of the novel that a lot of the story is left open for debate. Each reader can make their own conclusions. Perhaps, this is also a point of critique. When you read or listen to the story you will find many other nuances within the two stories that are open for interpretation. Nevertheless, the story is still complete. The ideas and nuances left open for interpretation and debate act as a hook to get the readers involved.

Another point of critique perhaps is that the start of the story is bizarre, also a little slow paced. However, if you continue reading you will be absorbed by the story after a couple of chapters.

Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World easily goes in my top list of Haruki Murakami’s novels. My other favourite novels by Murakami are The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84 and Kafka On The Shore.

Image credit: Behance

Nothingness vs Infinity

Modern thinkers and philosophers, many of them are getting reduced to thoughts about transcending the rat race, rising above the many distractions that plague our attention.

Many questions that ancient philosophers have posed are the questions that modern thinkers and philosophers need to be revisiting.

Or the other way of looking at it is, that I don’t know of many modern philosophers and their works. Are we as a society doing a poor job of transmitting knowledge that leads to finding some purpose and meaning?

I still try to ask myself many difficult questions, a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to yet. A lot of questions that bring me looking within. Over and over… some answers lie within and through gaining the knowledge of the self. While most are discovered through learning and compounding on learnt knowledge so it grows into wisdom and practice.

How is it that a layman knows that his knowledge of the self is sufficient enough to grant the wisdom to know what is in the outer world?

How do I know that what I know is evident enough and is the truth and gospel?

While reading those questions above may denote confusion on my part and it might sound like I am lost. I am only posing these questions for the wider audience and asking these questions from the collective society.

Space race… modern science…. brick walls…. disconnected from nature. Many of us only see the nature on television. National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery. Most of lack the resources to venture out into the forest and wilderness.

Writing this article is igniting the sparks for me to read more books on philosophy. Find out what questions were asked in those books? What would my answer be with the little knowledge that I have? And how will it change after reading and understanding the philosopher’s perspective.

Here’s a list of books that I am looking to gain new insights from, new questions and new answers….

Shows about Nothing, Thomas S. Hibbs (Baylor University Press, 2012)

The World beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Matt B. Crawford (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

Here’s a quote by Thomas Hibbs that I can relate so much to.

If you don’t have the vocabulary to describe what you’re experiencing, you are to some extent insensitive to what you’re experiencing, or at least you can’t experience it on the deepest level.” — Thomas Hibbs

When I lacked the vocabulary I was surrounded by confusion and chaos. Knowledge is truly empowering. Vocabulary is truly a gift. Sometimes I use words that I don’t in every day life but they just click in the moment. Like the other day when I was speaking about pain I said, “This has abated some of it but not fully relieved it.”

The vocabulary just clicked in the moment and I am not the garrulous one that gets to utilise learnt vocabulary on a daily basis. Blogging helps more I guess haha 😄

Writing helps me find clarity.

Here’s the other quote that inspired me to write this blog:

“The human being straddles these two abysses: the abyss of nothingness from which he came and the abyss of infinity by whom he came.… It seems that nihilism is people who are looking at the nothing and forget about the infinity.” — Hamza Yusuf