Friday, April 25, 2014

Partner Blog

"It has a different goal; its goal is redemption from suffering" (Hesse 31).

"Dreams assailed him, and troubled thoughts---eddying up from the waves of the river, sparkling down from the stars at night, melting out of the sun's rays; dreams came to him, and a disquiet of the soul wafting in the smoke from the sacrifices, murmuring amount the verses of the Rig-Veda, welling up in the teachings go the old Brahmins" (Hesse 5).

"Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things, they were in them, in all of them" (Hesse 40).

"May you also remember what else you have heard from me: namely, that I have become distrustful and weary of doctrines and learning and that I have little faith in the words that come to us from our teachers" (Hesse 20).

Tiffany Shyu, James Imierowicd, Emily Karlzen 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Delicate Balance

Kafka was a genius in the fact that he could fills his stories full of depression, neglect and deep life questions. Yet he still managed to fill the same stories with an element of hope which cannot be explained. Hope for the characters and hope for the world. It’s a struggle reading his stories yet infinitely worthwhile since people return better people; better, compassionate human beings. Humans constantly act in their own defense and their own greed without think of the impact of other people. Yet on the other end of the spectrum there are some people who live so selflessly that they end up being taken for granted and die unloved and unwanted. Kafka is trying to teach people that it is necessary to be selfish enough to look out for themselves yet selfless enough to not be a vampire.

Throughout the whole story Gregor is extremely selfless. Even when he is turned into a bug he has not concern about his own condition or his own problems. His only concern is about his family. It really doesn’t matter to Gregor that his family are a bunch of egotistical jerks or perhaps Gregor is so blinded by his one sided love that he just doesn’t see the obvious. Even after Gregor has been turned into a bug and the Manager is yelling through the door about how incompetent Gregor is, Gregor defends his parents instead of himself. “Take it easy on my parents!” (Kafka 5). So the Manager is yelling at Gregor because he is incompetent and lazy yet instead of telling the Manager to go to hell, Gregor asks the Manager to not take his anger towards Gregor out on his parents. Gregor also cares a lot about his impact on other people and their feelings. This is more important when he is turned into a bug because most people find the sight of him intolerable including his beloved sister. Since Gregor knows that most people hate the sight of him he tries to spare them the sight sometimes going to extreme lengths like in this quote, “From this he realized that his appearance was still intolerable to her and must remain intolerable to her in future, and that she really had to exert a lot of self-control not to run away from a glimpse of only the small part of his body which stuck out from under the couch. In order to spare her even this sight, one day he dragged the sheet on his back and onto the couch—this task took him four hours—and arranged it in such a way that he was now completely concealed…” (Kafka 14). So Gregor spend four hours making sure that his sister wouldn’t even have to see a small part of his back because it might be distressing to her. Apparently Gregor doesn’t know or is too much of a saint to notice that his sister hates him and has only ever used him for her own gain. When his mother and sister try to move the furniture out of Gregor’s room, Gregor tries to save a picture and his mother sees him. His mother, being of insane delicacy, faints at the sight of him, so Gregor runs into the next room where he is injured. So even though he is injured and just had a door slammed in his face he is still thinking about his poor mother. Which can be seen in this quote, “Gregor was now shut off from his mother, who was perhaps near death, thanks to him.” (Kafka 17). His mother is not, in fact, anywhere near death but because Gregor care way more about other people’s wellbeing than his own, Gregor is very near death.

Even though Gregor is selfless and nice his family still sees him as a burden because he just exists. Even though human Gregor is the only reason why the family has such a nice house and has nice things they still see bug Gregor as the reason for all their troubles. It can been seen in this quote which is after Gregor has had the apple lodged in his back and has stopped eating, “a requirement of family duty to suppress one’s aversion and to endure—nothing else, just endure.” (Kafk basically this quote is saying that the family tries not to view Gregor as the enemy, as hard as that is but since he is family they do have to endure his presents which is a pain to them. Out of all of his family Grete, his sister, is the worst. She is a spoiled brat who has never had to work or care about anything a day in her life thanks to Gregor. So once Gregor is turned into a bug and can no longer provide the high lifestyle she is use to she turns bitter towards Gregor and even suggests to kill him. Which can be seen in this quote, ‘ “When people have to work as hard as we all do, they cannot also tolerate this endless torment at home. I just can’t go on any more.’ “ (Kafka 24). So even though killing Gregor will not change the fact that she will have to work for a living the sister wants revenge for what Gregor did to the family. Which is nothing but a giant bug makes a good scapegoat so the family uses him for that purpose. Also the endless torment she speaks of doesn’t exist because Gregor is too kind and considerate to do anything that would cause his beloved family distress. Even after all that Gregor did for them they still hate him and use him as a scapegoat. Even after he is dead the family feels no remorse for their actions only happiness that he is dead. Which can be seen in this quote, “‘Well,” said Mr. Samsa, “now we can give thanks to God.’” (Kafka 25). This is right after the cleaning lady shows the family that Gregor is in fact dead. So his son dies from wounds that Mr. Samsa inflicted on him and is now thanking god that he killed his son. That is really messed up. That is why Gregor’s family are jerks and don’t deserve Gregor’s selflessness.

Even though Gregor is an extremely selfless and kind character he dies alone and unloved. This is thanks to his family who uses Gregor as a scapegoat because they are all spoiled brats and cannot deal with problems like adults. As soon as Gregor is no longer of use to the family he is thrown under the bus and out with the garbage. WIth Metamorphosis Kafka is trying to teach people to be selfless enough to be a nice person and be happy. Yet to be selfish enough to look after themselves and to not get their life forces sucked away by the vampires. It’s a delicate balance to figure out how be caring of other people’s needs and wants yet still making sure personal needs are taken care of.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Views on Life

There are many takes and definitions of existentialism but in it's essence is that life has meaning. People find this meaning in life by living therefore there are no gods or other people that make your density. Humans who believe in existentialism think that this meaning separates humans from other animals on Earth. Gregor when he is human never really finds this meaning to his life, well the true meaning anyway. All of Gregor's adult human life was dedicated to help his good-for-nothing family pay off their debt. Once that debt is payed off the text never says what Gregor has planned for the future except that he is going to quit his hellish job. It also doesn't help that he has no friends to speak of and his family is a bunch of …. jerks who never really cared about him. Since he has almost no meaning in his human life it is not surprising that he dies quite rapidly once his one purpose, keeping his family in the lap of luxury, is taken away from him. In existentialism it is also believed that if you commit suicide you have chosen to have no meaning. Gregor at the end of the story does commit a form a suicide by starving himself to death. Which by existentialist terms means that Gregor has decided to have no meaning and therefore no life. 

Nihilism is where existence is pointless. Just when you thought it could get any more depressing, it does! It's quite hard to explain nihilism because its believers believe in nothing which apparently includes not believing in writing down exactly what they don't believe in. The only way that it relates to existentialism is that they both don't believe that higher power is controlling them. Yet again nihilists believe in nothing so does that mean that as soon as someone doesn't believe in something then they have something in common with a nihilist? Gregor isn't really a nihilist until the very end of the story where he commits suicide because if he believed that he had a purpose to live for then he wouldn't have committed suicide. Gregor's purposes in life turn more and more pitiful as his life as a bug crawls on and soon his purpose in life is just to live and stare out a window. But then again it quite easy to see why Gregor ended up in this sad state, I mean, his family left him for dead, once Gregor had in fact passed on he was thrown out with the garbage and his family caught a trolly into town to celebrate. Even if a person had a very loving, accepting family being a bug is still a pitiful existence for a human because we figure that we are above all other life forms. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


In Metamorphosis, Gregor shows a surprising amount of consideration towards others even when it is apparent that others will not return the favor. Even when he's a bug he still cares about other people and their feelings though they don't care about his feelings or even his wellbeing. One example of this is from his human life, "They took the money with thanks and, he happily surrended it, but the special warmth was no longer present." (Kafka 12). This shows that even though Gregor works a job that he hated just to pay off his parents' debt, they aren't especially grateful. Yes they did thank him for the money but they didn't actually mean it. Yet Gregor realizes that he is being taken for granted but continues to work the job that he hates. But even when the worst thing possible happens to Gregor and his family deserts him, he still cares considerably more about other people's well being than his own. Like when the manger is knock on the door asking if Gregor is all right and one of the first things that Gregor says is this, "'Take it easy on my parents!'" (Kafka 5). Instead of asking for help because he has been turned into a giant bug, Gregor asks the Manager to be nicer to his parents. So their wellbeing overrides his, once again. A lot of people won't really care about their parents emotion states if they had just magically transformed into a giant bug but Gregor is apparently nicer than a lot of other people. "In order to spare her even this sight, one day he dragged the sheet on his back and onto the couch—this task took him four hours—and arranged it in such a way that he was now completely concealed and his sister, even if she bent down, could not see him."(Kafka 14). Even though Gregor hides under the couch to spare his sister from having to see him and only a little part of his back sticks out from underneath. He still takes the time to pull a sheet over himself so that when his sister comes in to clean the room she will not even have to look at a small part of his back. That proves just how considerate Gregor is of other people's feelings and wellbeing and how he always puts other people before himself. 

In short, everyone in Gregor's family is a jerk even before he was turned into a bug but one of worst is his sister, Grete. Throughout the story, Grete pretends to be the caretaker and protector of Gregor the bug but you find out later that it is a act for her own gain. "She had grown accustomed, certainly not without justification, so far as the discussion of matters concerning Gregor was concerned, to act as a special expert with respect to their parents...For surely no one except Grete would ever trust themselves to enter a room in which Gregor ruled the empty walls all by himself." (Kafka 15). This proves that the only reason why she took care of Gregor and continues to take care of him is because her parents are now dependent on her. Therefore she has power over them on all things concerning Gregor and her parents no longer think of her as worthless. Also to try secure her position as Gregor's one and only caretaker she (with the help of her mother) tries to remove all the furnitures from Gregor's room. Because as the quote says no one will go in a completely bare room with a giant bug crawling on the walls. Her scheme, as sound as the logic may be, is a very evil thing to do to someone especially your own flesh and blood. Also since the sister didn't have to work a day in her life thanks to Gregor, she is a spoiled brat. Yes she takes care of Gregor but only to have power over other people. Here's an example of her brattiness, "'When people have to work as hard as we all do, they cannot also tolerate this endless torment at home. I just can’t go on any more.'" (Kafka 24). So even though the sister has only had to work for a few months being a sales girl which isn't especially taxing, Gregor is too considerate to cause trouble and Grete is no longer taking care of Gregor. She still manages to complain that it's all Gregor's fault that her life is just too hard. Though the only reason she didn't have to work and she could be a proper lady was thanks to Gregor. So maybe she should thank him for putting food on the table and giving her a life of luxury than curse him for something that is completely out of his control. Also to make matters worse she suggests to kill him when he is no longer of use to her, which can be seen in this quote, "'It has to go,” cried the sister. “That is the only way, father.'"(Kafka 24). Since the sister now has a job and is seen as a useful part of the family keeping Gregor around is no longer useful. Therefor she asks her father to "get rid of it" which basically means to kill Gregor. That is why Gregor's sister, Grete, is a jerk.