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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Walter Benjamin: Kafka and Progress


General Dynamics nuclear-powered naval vessels ad: Time, 17 September 1956 (Gallery of Graphic Design)

Kafka's shame, then, is no more personal than the life and thought which govern it and which he has described thus: "He does not live for the sake of his own life, he does not think for the sake of his own thought. He feels as though he were living and thinking under the constraint of a family. . . . Because of this unknown family . . . he cannot be released." We do not know the make-up of this unknown family, which is composed of human beings and animals. But this much is clear: it is this family that forces Kafka to move cosmic ages in his writings. Doing this family's bidding, he moves the mass of historical happenings as Sisyphus rolled the stone. As he does so, its nether side comes to light; it is not a pleasant sight, but Kafka is capable of bearing it. "To believe in progress is not to believe that progress has taken place. That would be no belief." Kafka did not consider the age in which he lived as an advance over the beginnings of time. His novels are set in a swamp world. In his works, created things appear at the stage which Bachofen has termed the hetairic stage. The fact that it is now forgotten does not mean that it does not extend into the present. On the contrary, it is actual by virtue of this very oblivion.

NUCLEAR PUMPS LIFE 04/08/1957 p. 156

Borg-Warner ad: Life
, 8 April 1957 (Gallery of Graphic Design)

Walter Benjamin: excerpt from Franz Kafka: On the Tenth Anniversary of his Death, from Jüdische Rundschau, 1934, translated by Harry Zohn in Illuminations, 1968


Ed Baker said...

you are not going to believe this

when I graduated high-school 1959 I went to Montgomery Junior College in their Electrical Technology program which was a left-over program of Bliss Electrical School which was connected with the Navy Dept Main Navy
down on Constitution Ave just the other side of the Washington Monument those WW2wo "temporary"

white buildings...

anyway in 1960 or 61 I got a job operating computers 1401's and a 7070

and DIG THIS Hyman Rickover was the boss above my big boss Rickover's office was nest floor up over the computer room..

when I switched over to the night that I could go to Liberal Arts School (U of Md) so's I could

"learn something" ....Real"
I used to very frequently run into The Admiral ..

he used to come in to the computer room and shout at me whenever he came in at night:

"Ed, you're in MY parking space again. Move your damn car!"

and, dig it... Admiral Rickover was The Father of our Nuclear Subs...

TC said...


American mythology is so strange, there was Neptune, Poseidon, Triton, Rickover, Nimitz and Nautilus among the sea gods, just to start with.

This gilt salt cellar from Paris (1527), wrought from a nautilus shell, will, perhaps ironically, have already outlasted, in terms of sheer mechanical longevity, every computer that was in operation in 1960.

Ed Baker said...

what is "strange" is not (the) mythology..

I mean-a-tell-you ALL mythology was/is based in fact...
in fact what we got now is pure moe-larky or at best pure

Horse Puckkie

what this present situation needs right now?

a new wave of Surrealists ...again


maybe we can get back into a new wave of

a little less Objectivity and a tad more subjectivity?

as for me-myself-and-eye I'm sticking to Stone Girl at least "she" is 'rock-solid'

----- for what it s worth.

Ed Baker said...

that should have been again DESTROYING (the machines)

I left out what the surrealists actually did... the destroyed "art" and "litruhsure"
sort of uglified just about everything...

TC said...

Well, uglification is one form of progress which I see going on all around us, just about every time I look (which is less and less often).

Actually, Ed, I always figured the guys who designed, manufactured and operated all that shiny intercontinental death technology were more like gods of the Underworld, from the realm of Pluto.

We lived in fear of their toys.

The underwater nuclear missile sub gods, with their awful reach of doom across oceans and skies.

Perhaps the weirdest negative cosmos of the imagination ever fabricated. The 1950s.

Ed Baker said...

well just look who ran-the-show in the Fifties...

just think had it NOT been for Harry S.

McArthur might have been president INSTEAD of that fu'ki'g Eisenhower-Nixon "team"
boy, we sure were lucky we didn't get Military Morons to drive the buss!
Not like the Peaceful Bliss we are knee-deep into today.

at leas we didn't have to bomb-the-shit out of Egypt to get rid our "ally" Moobearick... like we did in Iraq and all the other etcs

I guess since we invented that nuclear-bomb delivery system what's it called ? OH YEAH:
The Peace Keeper

well, we sure know how to differentiate...

and tonight Muberick is gonna "step down"

gee I wonder how much we added to his $80 Billion dollar ...... stash? Maybe 200,000 tax-free shares of General Motors or Chrysler? or Bowing? or Slumberjay! or Blackhawk (who changed their name but are still doing their stealth/covert government sanctioned bull-shit

heck all of this could drive me nuts
if it wasn't for my already absolute
all encompassing insanity I wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in

Elmo St. Rose said...

nothing new under the sun

vanity all is vanity

said Ecclesiastes who seems to
have known more pleasures than

I think if we're going to do
industrial archeology we should
do hippie archeology as well
it's more fun

Ed Baker said...

far beyond your jesting , Elmo,
IT (poetry) REALLY IS an
archeology someone just commented on my
new boo referring to a beyond its physical size

(I suppose) to (and I don't have the note from him infront of me) that

it is "much like (the size of) a Charles Olson book"

SOOO,, I immediately went to that large Olson book

1970 hard edition Cape Golliard/Grossman $12.95

The Collected Poems Outside the Maximus Series


the point here is by DOINFGand DIGGING in-to it s
just what-it-is & just-as-it-is -ness as an

Archeology as you (seemingly) say via your giggle towards "hippie archeology" 'cept
beware of
(your) myths and phantasies...

you might want to get-thee-too a monastery
away from any crowd or glibness or political/religious dogma ) with

ALL of Charles Olson's work and well

DIG IN... He really knows how to use his/the tools of An Archeologist!

Olson is one of maybe 5 people I would gift to a copy of my book... I think that he would "Dig It"

Elmo St. Rose said...

literacy in different cultures Ed
and about what stares you in the
face is what Olson is about...see
did you ever go to Glouster...did
you go with Ken Irby...who spent a
life in geographical poetry...and
closer to this home...Allegory of
a Poet by Tom Clark...or watch up
close "The figure of outward" Robert Creeley

Archeology of Morning is great
but how about this as a reflex
to being

the sun also rises

Ed Baker said...

"the sun also rises"

"for whom the bell tolls"

"moon over Miami"

"the private is public &
in public is where we behave"

don't know Ken Irby bu seen his name

I do know a Ken
Ken Warren

and lots of folks who were CO's friends (or knew him)

first "teacher" of mine the first to REALLY READ my...

"stuff" was Rudd Fleming.... &, Rudd WAS
"an every-word reader"

Between about 1960 and 1974 I knew lots of poets/artist/musicians who are now ...well.... studied and imitated to death!

Most folks/student/academics now just google them to get the bio of or mythos of the person...

without that they just don't seem to have a clue ast to The Work ..itself..

so if you want to know what Ted Enslin told me about his Milbridge garden... his original outhouse still at it s edge.. write me I mean

heck I dropped out 100 % between 1974 and 1998...

and when I dropped back in
those "famous" poets you now ..."study" and opinion-ate about
were (mostly dead)

that's about as far into this public forum that I will take you into my autobiography..

It REALLY isn't about me or who I know or what I know..

It is rock-bottom, Elmo, about the poetry and the art,
Saint Elmo.... such as and just as
It Is.
nothing cute or tricky or gimmicky
about It.

anyway, thanks for trying to shed some light on what I .... think I don't know
or know or remember..

time flies when you're having fun....& this meaningful exchange sure is
write me again when the need strikes you...

do buy/read my newest book... a large formatted
8 1/2 x 11 525 page MASTERPIECE
with lots of drawing and lots of words.... strung together for you to add the meanings to.

well: now to turn on NBC and see how that Egyptian Culture is doing...and that Burmese Culture

all of the other KULCHURS are safely tucked away in museums...
while all of us piss-ants are merely
eating worms and copulating into The Future

which I may not get "there" but for my
poems-as-poems and my art-as-art

but I have seen it (the Future) and

the future is now...

pretty much distorted, a-shambled and marketable-ized

Colin Joseph Wolfgang Mahar said...

Hi Tom ! Sir Colin here - your man in Paris. I disapperaed into the city of lights a decade ago ... found your book on kerouac in a little bookstore next to the Pompidou center. bought it. read it. Damn ! It's enough to make you NOT wnat to be a writer ! Too late for me and you i guess ... would love to re-kindle our correspond dance if you would. Here's my e-mail : Drop me a line. Best to Angelica.

TC said...

Great hear from you, Colin. If I had an e-mail address of my own, honest engine, I'd send it to you. Perhaps the Higher Powers, in their infinite wisdom, have once again proved their great sagesse by limiting my correspon-dancing to these little boxes. Where, it should go without saying, you would and will be welcome and I will respond every and any time. Well, make that, any time I'm functional. Right now we are neck-deep in swamp world, house and health deteriorating apace, so at least there is a sort of equality. I cherish sweet memories of a night when your playing and singing convinced me of the immortality of your genius. The fact that it is now forgotten does not mean that it does not extend into the present. So do your confidantes now call you Wolfie?