October 25, 2012

"The crows maintain that a single crow could destroy the heavens."

"There is no doubt of that, but it proves nothing against the heavens, for heaven simply means: the impossibility of crows."

47 comments:

Tibore said...

WTF?? Did Cleverbot start a blog?

Tibore said...

Ahhh... now I get it. From the author's site:

"Novelist and English Professor. I am interested in confusion."

Mission accomplished.

Will Cate said...

"We're on the road to nowhere." -- David Byrne

Michael said...

Kafka's aphorisms are really splendid. The "commentary" is strained and insipid and academic and horrible.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"Kafka's aphorisms are really splendid. The "commentary" is strained and insipid and academic and horrible."

Give some better commentary. What did Kafka mean? Or does it spoil it to talk about it?

AF said...

Is Professor Althouse feeling punchy today? Maybe because the alleged Mitt-mentum sweeping the nation is turning out to be another bill of goods from the Romney campaign?

Not sure exactly where all this nothingness is supposed to lead, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't lead where Professor Althouse thinks it is leading.

rhhardin said...

1
Among twenty snowy mountains
the only moving thing
was the pieman coming.

2
I was of three minds,
like Simple Simon
looking at three pies.

...

Victor Contoski ``Simple Simon in American Literature''

Paddy O said...

Hugin and Munin fly each day
over the spacious earth.

I fear for Hugin, that he come not back,
yet more anxious am I for Munin.

Paddy O said...

Who determines reality?

Bob Boyd said...

Kafka was trying to take nap in his backyard hammock, but the frigging crows were making an ungodly racket so he got his shotgun and the situation became impossible for the crows.

Mitchell said...

The word Himmel means both heaven and sky.

Perhaps that's your problem right there.

Nonapod said...

What? How can a thing who's existence is impossible destroy the impossibility of it's existence?

Rocketeer said...

Maybe because the alleged Mitt-mentum sweeping the nation is turning out to be another bill of goods from the Romney campaign?

It is best to acknowledge the graveyard
and that walking past fills you with dread.
All your whistling fools none of the living,
and impresses none of the dead.

Ann Althouse said...

"Not sure exactly where all this nothingness is supposed to lead, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't lead where Professor Althouse thinks it is leading."

Everyone knows where nothingness leads: nowhere.

Neil Young sang it best: Everybody knows this is nowhere.

Rocketeer said...

Kafka was trying to take nap in his backyard hammock, but the frigging crows were making an ungodly racket so he got his shotgun and the situation became impossible for the crows.

Sometimes, heaven is a well-oiled shotgun loaded with birdshot.

Bob Boyd said...

"How can a thing who's existence is impossible destroy the impossibility of it's existence?"
The same way its always done
By becoming.

Methadras said...

A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush as well.

deborah said...

Either crows exist or the heavens cannot be destroyed, ergo, crows do not exist.

@Paddy it was a whole new way of thinking when I learned in Soc 101 that those in authority create reality. Or rather, foist their reality on the less empowered. Or something.

rhhardin said...

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

L.O. said...

Is this where you have ended up on your theodicy odyssey? It's more of a critique than a position.

ricpic said...

My crows, well, the crows that deign to roost in the trees on my property, have the most splendid crow wars, in which the loudest cawer caws the other cawers down. Then they settle down and peace reigns for a coupla weeks.

YoungHegelian said...

I think Kafka is parodying the atheism of L. Feuerbach & his ilk (e.g. the Young Hegelians who saw God as merely a cultural projection of Man into the Heavens. What Man has made, Man can destroy.

Why crows, I don't know. I suspect a pun in German, but my German is no where near good enough to back that up. I suspect it had something to do with Kafka seeing these types as a flock of chatterers much like a flock of crows.

AF said...

Everyone knows where nothingness leads: nowhere.

Exactly.

But I can't help but notice that you started posting about nothingness in response to a post saying that Romney was the nothing candidate. Based on your preferences in the election and your quirky-polemical approach to blogging, I surmised that you were trying to ridicule the idea that Romney is the candidate about nothing, or perhaps the idea that being the candidate about nothing is a bad thing.

But what I take from this series of posts is a distinct lack of euphoria and optimism about the election.

Paddy O said...

Deborah, the trouble with sociology is that it assumes that the declaration of reality is reality itself.

Which is something that revolutionaries have always disputed.

The oppressed are only oppressed so long as they think reality is limited to the powerful.

Which is, of course, drifting into that other favored sociology topic: marxism. Which instead of crows rejecting heaven suggested that only a rich person maintains heaven. Get rich of the rich people, and heaven is what we have among us. Well, those "other" rich people at least. Some people need to be rich in order to keep the murder together. It's tricky, this reality stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

"Is this where you have ended up on your theodicy odyssey? It's more of a critique than a position."

No. It's a way station on the nothing theme (which was originally accidental).

MB said...

Everyone knows where nothingness leads: nowhere.

I for one don't. What was before the big bang?

Vacuum energy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy

Like much of quantum mechanics, it is too strange to be real but it is.

CWJ said...

Methadras, I blame the bush.

CWJ said...

Rhhardin, LOL. Thanks for the Talking Heads ref. Its a nice change from the boomer era references that we usually get here.

edutcher said...

The Blonde had to do a paper on Sartre, which meant nothingness.

"How do you write about nothing?", she complained.

"Tersely?", I ventured.

CWJ said...

Will Cate up thread as well.

chickelit said...

Mitchell said...
The word Himmel means both heaven and sky.


Im Himmel es gibt kein' Tiere,
D'rum wir essen Krähe hier
Denn machen Wir fehler nicht mehr
Dann weinen die andern im Bier

L.O. said...

It works pretty well at describing the problem of subjectivity in regard to evil, though. People who suffer often deny a just God, which is reasonable if one defines a just God as one who forbids suffering. Their own existence destroys the possibility. However, the same can be said for people who confirm a just God based on happy experiences.

Although I don't think much of Cisco's talk about good and evil, he does grasp the broader point - crows are crows, and reason from the things crows experience.

Simon Kenton said...

The Snow Man

Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold a juniper shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any miseries in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Michael said...

Professor: I hung up my deconstruction tools years ago when I left teaching. Sometimes a crow is a crow. See Wallace Stevens.

Michael said...

13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: Wallace Stevens

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Kafka's aphorisms are really splendid. The "commentary" is strained and insipid and academic and horrible."

Give some better commentary. What did Kafka mean? Or does it spoil it to talk about it?

To the crows the crows are the masters of the universe. Such as their universe is. But in the larger world, they might as well not exist.

Did you miss the crows when they were nearly devastated by West Nile Virus?

seyferth said...

Kafka's aphorisms are Kafkaesque.

deborah said...

"Deborah, the trouble with sociology is that it assumes that the declaration of reality is reality itself."


Oh, I never got that from it. I think the Soc view is that the perception of reality (based on laws, propaganda, school system programming, advertising, etc.) is up for grabs as far as influencing others. Not 'reality-reality.'

Paddy O said...

"the perception of reality is up for grabs as far as influencing others."

That does seem a more accurate a way of putting it. What sociology thinks, of course. But who are they to tell us what to believe?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

All a crow need do is exist, to deny the possibility of heaven.

deborah said...

Oh, the irony :)

deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will Cate said...

@rhhardin - yes, another great Talking Heads existentialist song

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chickelit said...

I'm totally lost when things move away from Indo-European.

enderud said...

The word 'kafka' means 'crow' in the Czech language.