Thursday, September 24, 2009

Was Gregor Samsa Jewish?

From time to time, you find yourself marveling at the photos in such publications as Architectural Digest, your marveling having morphed into wondering how it would be to live in such order when your own universe is in its own managed way such splendid chaos.

As you observe the life that goes on about you, attempting to take notes on your observations, write stories about them, and in recent years even attempt to take pictures of this teem and bustle of life, you are immediately breaking away from any sense of order by the fact of index cards, manuscripts, napkins with notes on their backs, and a host of equipment related to your Leica digital camera.

You are insulated from Architectural Digest in the sense of seeing it only at visits to doctors or hair stylist, but you are not insulated from the Levenger Catalog, which sneaks in like an unwanted relative, reminding you of things that will make your note taking life easier, more nuanced and manageable.
Is there, then, a place in your life where uncluttered space can exist for its own aesthetic sake?

Apparently not; your left hand knocks a gadget from the stand on which your large monitor rests, a venerable stand which is one of the few mementos of the days when you managed the L.A. office for Dell Publishing and were reporting to two individuals known for their place-for-everything, everything-in-its-place ethos.  

One of the things that experience got you, beyond the stand, a humorous paperweight given you by some employees, and a few business cards was the awareness ultimately that you knew more about the nature and symptoms of projects you rejected than those you passed along for publication.  

Your right hand frequently sends your wireless mouse flying off into a waste container you bought at Ross to assist you in maintaining the bifurcation between the used and the unused.  It is fair to note you would not need a wireless mouse or, for that matter, a wireless keyboard, or the stand if you were content to use your MacBook as a laptop.

Distractions seem to leap out at you, away from their own orbit and into yours.  Zen, which has some attraction for you, speaks to simplification, which could translate down to your beloved fountain pens or the ballpoint pens given you by a barista you suspect either has a crush on you or pities you.  

You could go even more Zen or into the renunciation so dear to the hearts of upper caste Hindus by ridding yourself of pens, relying instead on a box of Dixon Ticonderoga # 2 pencils you seem to have had from times beyond memory.  You could go more directly to the heritage into which you were born and minimally raised to the point of being aware of being different in yet another way, a heritage which likes the Talmudic argument cum dialogue in which you so frequently imagine Gregor Samsa, freed of his daily distractions in favor of the distractions of an insect.  

(You have always assumed Gregor Samsa was Jewish, even to the point of arguing that point in a high school where, for at least a brief part of your life, you were not in an ethnic minority.)

Life is a vast distraction, one you are scarcely able to keep up with.  You are born into this distraction and will be lured into your death by it, somewhere along the way having discovered--through distraction, of course--that writing things and the consequences of doing so are your travel mates, the metaphoric equivalents of the passengers on jumbo jets with aisle seats, window seats, and middle seats.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gregor Samsa was not Jewish. Kafka, although himself Jewish, used a Christian family.

"Since they could not understand him, no one, not even his sister, thought that he might be able to understand others, and thus, when his sister was in his room, he had to be content with listening now and then to her sighs and invocations to the saints."