If we put K.’s trial on one side for now, my personal trial was reading Kafka in the middle of the night with my head exploding with thoughts, ideas and images that have nothing to do with the book, with the clock ticking away mercilessly. This is not easy reading, something that one just picks up and passes the time with; remember the scene from the first Harry Potter movie where the trio is researching Nicholas Flamel and Hermione throws an enormous, old book on the table, claiming to have checked it out for a bit of light reading? Ron’s face says it all… Even though this book is short, it is so packed with information, thinly veiled irrationality that plays with your head and your eyes as you attempt to follow a point that has already disappeared around the corner, leaving you alone in the empty corridor with K. as your only, equally confused, companion.
The writing style does not make the process any easier. The heavily worded, long sentences and paragraphs that strech page after page, with no end in sight. The chapters follow each other, apparently indicating order or structure that evades me as I turn the page, hoping for an answer that will not reveal itself. Which is the real point, right? That there is no answer. There is no easy solutions in life, in relationships, in society. There is only you, alone, struggling to make sense of you surroundings, armed only with the information you have acquired. That is a horrible way to look at life yet I wonder how accurate is it. Having read The Metamorphosis previously, there are visible parallels between the isolated figures of K. and Gregor, both trying to survive in a world that used to make sense and now doesn’t. Neither of them serve as a great example of triumph.
so, what is actually happening?
What is justice? According to 1984, it is having your life examined by an unknown authority at all times. In When She Woke, revealing people’s past and public punishment is what seems to suffice. This week’s book offers no tangible enemy to confront, nor a jurisdiction to argue against, not even a crime to debate about. Nothing is revealed, yet everything happens the way it does. There is a detained criminal, legal proceedings, lawyers, corruption, manipulation and murder committed in the name of ‘justice’.
I am not that familiar with the legal system and I know that I should be. I know the bits that directly affect my current life and if I was to get in trouble with the law, I have people around me who are better informed and who I could turn to. However, even the priviledge of accessing information seems to be denied of K. He cannot defend himself because he does not know what he is being accused of, which seems to be the biggest problem. Even the lawyers seem to be oblivious to the inner workings of the court, or if they know something, that is never made truly clear to K. He has to out his trust into people who are deemed qualified to help him and yet they let him down. Does this teach us to trust authority or to make our own? Should we keep the strings in our own, incapable hands instead of relinguishing control to someone who might disappoint us? This question is no longer applicable to only justice…The way K. acts with other people screams of (voluntary?) isolation and deluded sense of supremacy. He seems to be above the proceedings, yet they control his everyday life. So is it a commentary about surviving on your own or a tale about an island who proved you should reach for land because otherwise you’ll drown?
Then again, what difference would it make if we knew what the crime was? Isn’t the whole point (I keep repeating that word today..) that it does not matter what you are accused of and whether you actually are guilty or innocent. It is all about the system. The system that seems hard to understand even to those working within it. The faceless system that attacks us when we are vulnerable, stabbing us in the back in the middle of the night? But is it really like that? Because that faceless monster seems insurmountable and I refuse to accept that. Even within this book, there were characters that could have helped K. yet I felt that he did not realise they could or would not accept their help. K. saw his situation as an individual case, which it isn’t. It is rarely only about one person, once in a lifetime situation. His case was simply one among a sea of others which gathered together are indicative of a larger issue. Without realising that we are all alone, when in reality, we are more in common than we realise.
– Jatta –