“What is there to confess that’s worthwhile or useful? What has happened to us has happened to everyone or only to us; if to everyone, then it’s no novelty, and if only to us, then it won’t be understood. If I write what I feel, it’s to reduce the fever of feeling. What I confess is unimportant, because everything is unimportant. I make landscapes out of what I feel.”
-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
The only ones I will speak to are the absent, those who will not know me, but know my writings. This is the cycle of my expression – a forever looking forward, a refuge of conversation after my non-being. If I speak now I may, perhaps, not be heard. If I write, I write to be read by an eventuality. So my writing – which will be read by those I will not know – does not need to be honest, so in writing I am still alienated because I will only be known by artificial words and presentations. No matter how honest I intend to be, my words will be a facade. Or, perhaps, they will simply be the words of someone else who, in their conversation with an absent reader, has retroactively written these words in my place.
I wish to be a photograph in black and white, like those of so many heroes. Leaning to the side, in a black suit with the collar up and a loose tie around my neck. My hair an elegant mess in the light – so that every thread dances. I will smoke rakishly because photographs can’t get cancer. the shadows will all play upon the corners of my mouth and eyes and will drown the far side crossed by the bridge of my nose. I will look weary, but with a gleam in my eye.
Should I not loaf? And in loafing, revel? Is that not some kind of being to strive towards? A being of not-doing, un-doing. To be, not present, but a presence, and in this: to not be at all. An existence not predicated by verb or action. To be, in a sense, what is written: eternally unfinished but unbecoming. A presence whose engagement in a dialogue with the future is marked by silence. Writing does-not and that makes it powerful. To be writing is to be the Fool-Life and the Fool-Death of all Beginnings and Endings. An undefinable link that connects the chain to itself as a circle: once the moment of connection takes place no link need act, no link is the head of the serpent, but still a connection did occur via one link (not all links).
“‘I don’t know,’ I cried without being heard, ‘I do not know. If nobody comes, then nobody comes. I’ve done nobody any harm, nobody’s done me any harm, but nobody will help me.”
-Franz Kafka, Excursion into the Mountains
Of all the dystopian writers it is Kafka who best expresses the current climate. Orwell’s foresight regarding surveillance, propaganda, terrorism, and torture is marred by a dated concern for the explicit power and brutalism of a fascistic, dictatorial force: an openness of control.What Huxley improved upon was the clarification of the role of pleasure: his vision states it is what we enjoy that destroys us, not what we fear. The desire for happiness leads to societal decline in the form of a happiness that is not a happiness – an anti-utopia, rather than a dystopia. What still remains, however, is an unfortunate assumption of uniformity, of order, of an infliction. Kafka’s contribution to dystopia is not so simple as surveillance, conformity, or some other, broad, societal theme – it is the inclusion of the personal: anxiety, alienation, and ambiguity. A feeling that, regardless of whatever order, whatever happiness, may exist, it is not actually order or happiness: both are completely unattainable and incomprehensible.
Where so much dystopia imposes itself with the extremes of life, Kafka’s work withdraws the dystopian from what simply is. Kafka’s world is not a world, it is the world. The horror of Kafka’s dystopia is exactly that it is not universal, but subjective: the limitations of life are exactle that – limitation caused by the uncontrollable circumstances of being. The source of control, of disaster, the arbiter of all events, is unknown and unknowable – even to those “in charge.”