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什么是“卡夫卡式噩梦”

What makes something "Kafkaesque"? - Noah Tavlin

“关于约瑟夫·K的事有人说了谎
“Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K.
他肯定自己没有做错事 却在一天早上被捕了
He knew he had done nothing wrong, but one morning, he was arrested.”
“于是“审判”开始了
Thus begins “The Trial,”
这是弗兰茨 卡夫卡最著名的一部小说
one of author Franz Kafka’s most well-known novels.
主角K 被凭空逮捕了
K, the protagonist, is arrested out of nowhere
并且经历一段令人困扰的过程
and made to go through a bewildering process
不论是他被逮捕的原因
where neither the cause of his arrest,
还是任何的司法依据
nor the nature of the judicial proceedings
都没有对他清楚交待过
are made clear to him.
这种情节被认为典型的卡夫卡作品
This sort of scenario is considered so characteristic of Kafka’s work
于是学者们发明了一个新词
that scholars came up with a new word for it.
卡夫卡式成为不必要的繁琐
Kafkaesque has entered the vernacular to describe unnecessarily complicated
和令人沮丧的经历的术语
and frustrating experiences,
比如被迫应对繁沉的官僚机构
like being forced to navigate labyrinths of bureaucracy.
但是站在长队里填写一堆令人困惑的文件
But does standing in a long line to fill out confusing paperwork
真的能抓住卡夫卡视野的丰富内涵吗?
really capture the richness of Kafka’s vision?
除了对这个词的随意使用外什么造就了卡夫卡式?
Beyond the word’s casual use, what makes something Kafkaesque?
弗兰茨卡夫卡的故事确实描写了 许多当代官僚主义的
Franz Kafka’s stories do indeed deal with many mundane and absurd aspects
单调和荒谬
of modern bureaucracy,
部分原因是他曾在20世纪初的布拉格
drawn in part from his experience of working as an insurance clerk
担任一名保险办事员
in early 20th century Prague.
很多他的主要角色都是在办公室工作的白领
Many of his protagonists are office workers
他们不得不通过在在充满障碍的网络中挣扎
compelled to struggle through a web of obstacles
来达到他们的目标
in order to achieve their goals,
常常这整个考验变得迷惘而且不合逻辑
and often the whole ordeal turns out to be so disorienting and illogical
致使成功在一开始就毫无意义
that success becomes pointless in the first place.
比如 在短篇小说《波塞冬》中
For example, in the short story, “Poseidon,”
古希腊神明变成埋首于文书工作的主管
the Ancient Greek god is an executive so swamped with paperwork
以至于他没有时间去探索他的深层主体
that he’s never had time to explore his underwater domain.
笑点在于即使是上帝也无法应对
The joke here is that not even a god can handle the amount of paperwork
现代职场所要求的文书工作量
demanded by the modern workplace.
但是原因很清楚
But the reason why is telling.
他不愿意将任何一项工作委派给他人
He’s unwilling to delegate any of the work
因为他确信其他人不值得这样的工作
because he deems everyone else unworthy of the task.
卡夫卡的波塞冬是“自负”的囚犯
Kafka’s Poseidon is a prisoner of his own ego.
这个简单的故事包含了所有
This simple story contains all of the elements
使经典的卡夫卡式状况形成的要素
that make for a truly Kafkaesque scenario.
不是官僚主义本身的荒谬
It’s not the absurdity of bureaucracy alone,
而是角色在对官僚主义反应上的围绕式推理的讽刺
but the irony of the character’s circular reasoning in reaction to it
成为了卡夫卡作品的典型
that is emblematic of Kafka’s writing.
他的悲喜剧就像一种现代工业时代的神话故事
His tragicomic stories act as a form of mythology for the modern industrial age,
运用梦幻的逻辑去探索关于
employing dream logic to explore the relationships
专制力量和挣扎在其中的个体之间的系统间的关系
between systems of arbitrary power and the individuals caught up in them.
举例 卡夫卡最有名的故事 “变形计”
Take, for example, Kafka’s most famous story, “Metamorphosis.”
当格里高 萨姆沙有一天早上醒来
When Gregor Samsa awaken’s one morning to find himself transformed
发现自己突变 成为一个巨大的昆虫
into a giant insect,
他最大的担心的是如何准时上班当然
his greatest worry is that he gets to work on time.
这是不可能的
Of course, this proves impossible.
不只是专制的工作环境启迪了卡夫卡
It was not only the authoritarian realm of the workplace that inspired Kafka.
一些他的经典角色的挣扎
Some of his protagonists’ struggles come from within.
来自于内部短篇小说 “一个饥饿的艺术家”
The short story, “A Hunger Artist,”
描述了一个马戏团表演者的任务是由延期的禁食组成的
describes a circus performer whose act consists of extended fasts.
他苦恼于马戏团主把禁食限制为40天
He’s upset that the circus master limits these to 40 days,
因为他相信这会阻碍他达成他伟大的表演
believing this prevents him from achieving greatness in his art.
但当他的表演缺乏人气时
But when his act loses popularity,
他被置之不理以至于饥饿至死
he is left free to starve himself to death.
扭曲的地方在于当他在默默死去的临终前
The twist comes when he lays dying in anonymity,
后悔地承认他的艺术一直是一个骗局
regretfully admitting that his art has always been a fraud.
他的禁食不是通过意志的力量
He fasted not through strength of will,
而仅仅是因为他从没有找到他喜欢的食物
but simply because he never found a food he liked.
即使是在“审讯”里
Even in “The Trial,”
似乎是直接专注在官僚主义上
which seems to focus directly on bureaucracy,
模糊的法律和扑朔迷离的程序指出了更为罪恶的东西:
the vague laws and bewildering procedures point to something far more sinister:
法律系统的恐怖
the terrible momentum of the legal system proves unstoppable,
势不可挡甚至是那些很有权势的官员
even by supposedly powerful officials.
都无法阻挡这个系统不是为
This is a system that doesn’t serve justice,
正义服务的 而是将渗透自己作为唯一的功能
but whose sole function is to perpetuate itself.
政治理论家汉娜·阿伦特
What political theorist Hannah Arendt,
在卡夫卡死去后一直书写的
writing years after Kafka’s death,
叫做“没有暴君的暴政“然而
would call “tyranny without a tyrant.”
在伴随着卡夫卡故事的荒凉里
Yet accompanying the bleakness of Kafka’s stories,
有不少的幽默
there’s a great deal of humor
扎根在那些描述的事件里的荒谬逻辑中
rooted in the nonsensical logic of the situations described.
所以 一方面很容易识别在当今世界中的“卡夫卡式”
So on the one hand, it’s easy to recognize the Kafkaesque in today’s world.
我们依靠越来越扭曲和困惑的
We rely on increasingly convoluted systems of administration
管理系统这个管理系统在我们生活的各个方面已经有了真实的效应
that have real consequences on every aspect of our lives.
我们发现我们的每一个单词都在被我们看不到的人下判断
And we find our every word judged by people we can’t see
根据我们不知道的规则
according to rules we don’t know.
另一方面 通过修饰我们对荒谬的注意力
On the other hand, by fine-tuning our attention to the absurd,
卡夫卡也反省了我们自己身上的缺点
Kafka also reflects our shortcomings back at ourselves.
通过做这些 他提醒我们 这个我们居住的世界是一个我们创造的
In doing so, he reminds us that the world we live in is one we create,
因此我们有力量使它变得更
and have the power to change for the better.

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