Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Joseph Lisowski writes


A grey day becomes a grey evening, settles into a grey night. The sidewalk crumbles like ash underfoot as I wobble into a pewter room. I stumble again across the threshold. Under the sink, I reach for the vodka bottle praying I won’t confuse it with the ammonia nearby, as I had once before. Suddenly, I fall.

On my back again, appendages wiggling in the air, I know I am not who I think I am, unsure of who I might be, who I might become, who I was. It matters little. I am weary,  sleepy. My eyes droop, then close. I experience a sensation of rocking, like I’m in a small boat pitched by cold waves. Not enough to swamp but enough to keep me half-awake. In the space between thought and dream, I struggle to rise. No use. The night continues to surge. Doze and wake, doze and wake, like a metronome.

Early morning sun splashes my face, but I dare not open my eyes. I still hope that sleep will come. And that I’d wake to a new day, a new me.  Turning first one way, then another, I try to avoid the slash of sunlight torturing me. Again, all my efforts fail. I’m tempted to resign myself to fate, to give in, to give up, to hold my breath until I swallow my tongue. Is this punishment for how I wronged those I love?

Questions are useless. Answers don’t matter. I rock and rock with increased frenzy. Like a rocking horse winner.  

Finally I flip. The boat is gone, the room is still.  My appendages are bare, and I realize that I will need new shoes if I ever want to find my way.

Frank Kortan - DANCE HALL OF GREGOR SAMSA. 50 x 60 cm, oil on wood, 2008:  
Dance Hall of Gregor Samsa -- Frank Kortan

1 comment:

  1. On 17 November 1912 Franz Kafka wrote to his fiancée Felice Bauer that a story “came to me in my misery lying in bed” and that he hoped he could write it down in one or two long sittings. But it was not finished until 17 December and not published until three years later as "Die Verwandlung" (The Metamorphosis). The title came from fairy tales and described the magical transformation of boys into swans, for example rather than the change of a cterpillar to a butterfly. (However, the same word was often used to translate the "Metamorphoses" of Publius Ovidius Naso.) The novella revolved around the transformation of Gregor Samsa into what most English translations refer to as a “cockroach,” “beetle,” or “gigantic insect." Among his friends Kafka referred to his “bug piece” (Wanzensache) and called Samsa a “bug” (Wanze), but he carefully avoided such explicit references in his text and insisted that the book's dust jacket would not picture an Insekt at all. The work has proved elusive to translate. For example, the first sentence was "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect," according to Will and Edwin Muir; "One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug," according to Ian Johnston; and "One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin," according to David Wyllie. Kafka's German referred to negations or nonetities prefixed by "un" -- "ungeheueres [monstrous or huge] Ungeziefer." The noun negated the Old High German "zebar" (sacrificial animal), so it was an unclean animal, though colloquially it was a "nasty, dirty bug." Kafka did not want to rewrite "Frankenstein" as a monster but rather than as a dehumanized man. D. H. Lawrence published "The Rocking-Horse Winner" in a 1926 issue of "Harper's Bazaar" detailing the story of a boy who exhausted himself to death by riding his rocking horse until he achieved a clairvoyant state in which he could identify the winner of horse races. Both Paul and Samsa were sacrificial victims of bourgeois families who did not appreciate his efforts to relieve their financial plight.


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