Literature as Pure Mediality: Kafka and the Scene of Writing by Paul DeNicola.
Abstract: Literature as Pure Mediality: Kafka and the Scene of Writing by Paul DeNicola.
The utilization of an instrumental model which sees language itself as a means capable of bringing us towards what might be called fixed "meaning," is one of the greatest limitations in the human attempt to establish an authentic understanding of the dynamics of communication. An acceptance of language from this perspective constricts our ability to have an adequate confrontation, or more accurately, experience of/with an aesthetic work.
This text explores the impact of conceiving the literature of Franz Kafka in light of what will be referred to as "Pure Mediality" — an a—teleological approach that calls upon the thinking of Nietzsche, Deleuze, Guattari, Barthes, Adorno, and Derrida — among others. My reading of Kafka presents him as profoundly skeptical of instrumental language, very much influenced by the Vienna School language critics of the turn of the century. Kafka recognizes the inherent violence in any conceptual understanding of language, and therefore conceives of literature, or more precisely, literary or poetic language, as capable of an "un—judging" that deconstructs any previously "judged" version of the real. His literary work thus constitutes an embrace of infinite relation, suspension of judgment and radical undecidabilty.
Pure Mediality is not to be confused with an aesthetics of the autonomy of l'art pour l'art; rather it is suffused with an inherent ethical aspect insofar as it constitutes freedom from truth as the tyranny of univocity and teleology towards the truth of an a—topical, endlessly de—territorializing and metamorphosing world. As such, this truth is always already other in relation with itself, and thus ethical in its irreducible self—less—ness, its inherent openness to, and interrelatedness with, the other. It is the ethical structure of the "given" — not the anthropomorphically instrumentalized world — in which its interpenetrating parts exist "poetically," as metamorphic units. The text argues that Kafka's art of Pure Mediality is an art of alterity, constituting a "wounding" or "opening" by alterity that demands a response. It is this character of responsiveness to the other that implies ethical potentialities.