The Face of Evil or Kafkaesque Justice

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.

 

Reading:

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?

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  • Michelle

    Opportunity for another experience with The Law...and how Art can be an effective agent of change....http://www.meetup.com/ethicsandthearts/events/111013932/?a=ea1_grp&rv=ea1

    March 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This Onion video on Franz Kafka Int'l Airport is very relevant to last night's conversation. Enjoy....

    http://www.theonion.com/video/pragues-franz-kafka-international-named-worlds-mos,14321/

    March 25, 2013

    • darini

      Hearty haha! That is the best kafkaesque example of the aburdity of modern airline industry/airport ever! BUT it's so goddamn depressing that it makes me want to support the Second Amendment, and of course once i shoot the gate keeper i'll shoot myself myself of course in kafka style!

      1 · March 25, 2013

  • Eran

    Thank you all for having this honest yet disturbing conversation. Reading these depressingly brilliant parables is like playing with fire, with the risk of putting out your own political fire. Some smoky takeaways from the meeting about our relationship with the law and the idea of justice are not reconciled, but echoing.

    March 25, 2013

  • Howard P.

    What I really liked about our discussion is how we looked at Kafka's parables impacting our lives and our sense of law and justice. We discussed ways that young people could be involved educationally using theatre and role playing to examine their personal relationship to the interpretation of law in a just way. From theory to engagement is the way to change things. It's the only hope for the future.

    March 25, 2013

  • Jorge

    Impressive talk

    March 25, 2013

  • darini

    kafka made us slog through his parables but we came out unscathed, undefeated, and a bit more hopeful about the possibilities when we encounter the law next time around.

    March 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I wanted to share with you the talk I mentioned during our discussion regarding what the ancient Greeks called 'phronesis' (practical wisdom), which is precisely what is lacking in systems generally, and in the Kafkaesque contemporary Western life particularly. This really influenced and impressed me. His book on the subject was well worth a read, too. Here's the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom.html

    1 · March 25, 2013

  • Hannah K.

    March 24, 2013

  • Sarah K.

    Sorry to cancel at the last minute as I was really looking forward to this but a Kafkaesque family situation has developed requiring my immediate attention. Hope to see everyone soon.

    March 24, 2013

    • Jorge

      Hmm... family situation(s), particularly unexpected ones, compel me to re-examine the tapestry i weave.

      March 24, 2013

    • Sarah K.

      Hmmmm.... Comments like these compel me to wonder many things...

      March 24, 2013

  • Randy J

    cant make it

    March 24, 2013

  • joy

    Will be out of town... Have to miss it. Pity!

    March 23, 2013

  • Jeryl

    Going camping for the weekend. Have a great meet!

    March 18, 2013

  • Christy

    Just realized this is spring break and I'll be in the woods. I will miss you all!

    March 6, 2013

  • Christy

    Man, you could knock me right out. Have any of you read Markson's /Reader's Block/? Different delivery, same punch to the solar plexus. Markson's is more fun but Kafka's economy of language is some dark dark cacao.

    1 · March 5, 2013

  • Sara Lua C.

    Kafka's universe sometimes seems to only too perfectly describe our present predicament. We must continue to question the status quo.

    February 28, 2013

  • rg

    <3 kafka

    February 25, 2013

  • Jeryl

    There you have it, proof positive that the 'Face of Evil' is none other than….Ayn Rand!

    A Theory of Justice: The Musical

    "In order to draw inspiration for his magnum opus, John Rawls travels back through time to converse (in song) with a selection of political philosophers, including Plato, Locke, Rousseau and Mill. But the journey is not as smooth as he hoped: for as he pursues his love interest, the beautiful student Fairness, through history, he must escape the evil designs of his libertarian arch-nemesis, Robert Nozick, and his objectivist lover, Ayn Rand.. Will he achieve his goal of defining Justice as Fairness?"

    http://www.demproductions.org/#!atojtm/c9dh
    https://www.facebook.com/ATheoryOfJusticeTheMusical

    February 8, 2013

    • April

      like like like!

      1 · February 23, 2013

    • Jeryl

      I love their whimsical postmodern take on Kant, as a cross-dressing fairy Godmother and of course, the Utilitarian Barbershop Quartet! http://virtualphiloso...­

      February 23, 2013

  • April

    BAH

    1 · February 23, 2013

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