Berlin, 2009

Berlin, 2009
We want more voices, thoughts and languages!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who owns Kafka?

The London Review of Books has just put online an essay by Judith Butler. In it, she discusses Kafka; immigration and assimilation; literary canonisation; the formation of German, Jewish and Israeli identity through appropriation of idols. And there's even a passage about time and the Messiah:

In fact, it seems that no coherent description is possible, and we are brought up against the limits of what can be thought. ‘The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary. He will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last.’ It would seem that the Messiah comes precisely when there is no one there to suffer the destruction of the world as we know it, when there is no one left who can destroy his coming. That Messiah arrives not as an individual, and surely not within any temporal sequence that we take to organise the world of living beings. If he comes on the very last day, but not the last, he comes on a ‘day’ – now hyperfigurative – that is beyond any calendar of days, and beyond chronology itself.

This is Kafka's Messiah, who may not have any connection to the Messiah considered by Benjamin in 'On the Concept of History' and referred to by Butler in Frames of War.


  1. Oh... i cannot comment don't know why, actually cannot enter either.. well... however... yes! benjamin knew it for sure... he wrote a lot on kafka (not a lot but important stuff), that piece had already been published when benjamin was reading him and his commentators (mainly brod i mean), what benjamin relation to it is though.. uhmmm.. agamben believes the "messianic force" come from st. paul... buh.. i believe benjamin never quoted that aphorism.. buuh.. the influences are surely many.. thanks for the link!! i must read the last chapter of frames of war now.. but looking forward to clicking on that "butler's essay"! danke sehr, e

  2. For some funny reason, I expected this to be a short affair with a click, and when the morning wound itself 'round the clock, realized it was time to print before my eyes rebelled. So, this sunny late March/early spring morning, I read it, joyfully, as if secret whispers were filling my ears. As to the messianic, I think it is time to read..ah, ehe, how do you spell that again, just a moment, a yes: Kabbalah. I'm twisting my feet around here in a dance-stance because there's too much I'd like to say-write here. So, I think I will just have to make it into a post, albeit a short one, most likely. (Hopefully obviously, for technical reasons, and as the picture indicating representation on the side shows 2 figures, I am not the same person as the one writing the comment above. hmhm. I say that in order that the following might make sense to a yet to come other:)
    Also, althought this may not be the right place to say this, thank you both, Elisa and Dan, for making the Frames of War class bearable and wonderful, at once.
    Happy Tuesday!