How relevant are Franz Kafka's early 20th-century short stories and novels to the contemporary Left?
Kafka's based. The Metamorphosis is actually a really easy way to explain alienation and wage slavery to normies.
most people who read Kafka completely miss the anarchist message in his writing. The Trial and In the Penal Colony were both clear anarchist books.
Hi, you're shit.
AFAIK, Kafka was interested in anarchism and liberatory struggles in general, this sort of reading is actually a pretty reasonable one.
However, I would argue against trying to fit Kafka into any kind of neat narrative, leftist or otherwise. Kafka was interesting in a lot of different things, from existentialism to psychoanalysis to sports, alternative medicine, and technology. He was thus - and this is a very important takeaway from his works - a writer first and foremost of modernity and the early 20th century. He was not merely this either, however. Kafka's work is full of ambiguity, surrealism, religious allusions, and humor, along with alienation and capitalist absurdity.
Frustratingly, he can be interpreted from any of these stances, but I would further argue that Kafka is very much also a prophet of postmodernism and late capitalism. His works feature alienation and the absurdity of capitalism and bureaucracy, but there's also a lot of humor in his works and they never have any clear or neatly-presented commentary on the worlds he creates (a lot of times, he didn't even finish his works!). I think in a way his works contain a kind of Nietzschean Dionysian pessimism; that there is no clear answer to what will come of modernity, however horrible it is, but nevertheless we remain committed to our fate and have to make the best of it.
The closest he gets to being explicitly socialist/anarchist is in Amerika, when the main character gets to the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma. It's basically like an anarcho-communist commune.
But nevertheless, in the end, in a word: Kafka is an extremely complex writer and person. There's a lot more to him than his interests in socialism and anarchism.
Lovecraft, on the other hand - though he's a fucking amazing horror writer (and my favorite author personally) - was as an individual pretty damn reactionary.
Though the speculative realist trend and Graham Harman's interpretations of Lovecraft from that standpoint might open up the possibility of interpreting what Lovecraft had to say in his fiction from some kind of Marxist or anarchist perspective.
Though Kafka is based, both his works and his life.
tl;dr Capitalism discourages creativity, slows down progress, alienates and so on.
I want to disagree, but those trips…
The problem with Lovecraft is the problem with many brilliant minds.
They are forced, by the system, to reject socialism, anarchism, and so on, because alienation and so on, and end up becoming right wing out of pure ignorance (and lack of psychoanalyses).
Yeah, I almost mentioned that Lovecraft grew up in and for most of his life lived in a very restrictive and sheltered environment because of his health and familial circumstances, and that in addition to the historical context made it highly unlikely that he would ever be anything other than a reactionary.
Being the brilliant person he was, I nevertheless think that his fiction displays a profoundly sublime, transhistorical alienation and anti-humanism that has revolutionary potential which has not yet been uncovered, but which is perhaps starting to be uncovered. The anti-humanist metaphysical nihilism of his works to me is potential basis for a revolutionary philosophy born out of speculative realism - not dependent on any ideological conceptions of humanity or privileging of the "human" (which has historically been an abstraction which favored the dominant groups in society), but towards an anarchic, lawless universe whereupon there cannot possibly be any justifiably founded authority.
Kafka is the most overrated modernist author, but he's still fairly great. I don't think he's particularly a leftist figure though, he had his hands in a lot of pies during his lifetime.
Lovecraft on the other hand… the unity of form and content is amazing with him. Politically he's a dunce, but his messed up mind was an excellent literary talent.
I'd be interested in seeing Hegelian/Marxist/anarchist conceptions of Lovecraft, as a writer his potential is just waiting to be tapped by prospective theorists. Perhaps Zizek should stop watching Hitchcock and start reading At The Mountains of Madness: The Pervert's Guide to Literature when?
Sushi is an eldritch horror from beyond the stars for ol' Howard.
Kafka was literally an anarcho-communist.
Eldritch anarcho-nihilism soon, comrade.
We cannot expect everything from Zizek!
We need to create moar, on ourselves!
We cannot depend on "great leaders" for everything!
MAKE PERVERT'S GUIDE ON EVERYTHING NAO!
First let's finish workers guide to vidya
Already been done
Isn't Nick Land an NRx though?
Yes, but that doesn't stop him from having done it
Pages 34-35 35-36 if you go by PDF reader pagination
Point to the necessity of overcoming capitalism, Nick Land however merely wants to hit the breaks and try and slow things down, hence neoreaction
*hit the brakes
B A S E D
Very important statements are made by Kafka about beuraeucracy I'm sorry I don't know how to say it and the effect of the system on psychology and civilisation
Tolstoy is better