In two super short parables, Kafka epitomizes a disturbing paradox of modern power: law that takes on a universal form often proves to be of no use when individuals seek recourse in the courts.
The universal form that is embodied in the law appears to be inadequate to meet particular needs. Instead of admitting its shortcomings, the power utilizes laws to suspend a decisive moment - be it a final judgment, acknowledgement, redemption or catharsis.
Suspension rules through bureaucracy, paperwork, complications for no reason, endless appeals to higher courts, long waits for expert opinions, setting up investigation committees, etc.
While containment of social unrest through suspension becomes a standard characteristic of modern power, we act as if a universal system could still somehow, eventually, recognize our unique existence and propose remedy.
If anything, the bitter disillusionment comes about at a point where resistance has already vanished. Frustration over what seems to be an arbitrary evil is inevitable.
Enigmatic as they are, these parables are beautifully crafted, poignant and full of meaning:
Before the law
An Imperial Message
Some questions to consider:
* How would you define "justice"? A natural instinct? A social construct? Perhaps both?
* Who do you normally blame for an injustice when you see it? Is it someone or something?
* Whereas evil without victims seems meaningless, could there be a state of evil without bad people?
* Insofar as Kant suggests that everything human beings could ever know presents itself to be a result of a cause, can injustice be the painful recognition that not every cause has a reason?