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Kafka. Disease. Metaphors

  When our society emphasizes more and more rationality and highlights rationality, we are less and less able to think; when we have more and more “insurance”, our life, our economy, and even life will become more and more Less and less insurance; as our living environment becomes more comfortable and hygienic, our health becomes more and more of a problem. “You can have everything, but you can’t have money: you can have everything, but you can’t get sick.” Disease is one of the most concerned and most feared issues for modern people. Illness is not only a matter of physical and mental health, it is a metaphor, a culture. Every war and every disaster brings us many problems of disease, both visible and invisible. Disease is a problem that each of us must learn to face, especially when it has become a metaphor and after culture. As early as 1978, the contemporary American critic Susan Sontag published “Illness as Metaphor”, in which she wrote: “Illness is the dark side of life…even though we are all happy to use the kingdom of health but sooner or later, at least for a while, each of us will be forced to admit that we are also citizens of another kingdom.” Illness is not only a physical and psychological problem for the patient, but also a reason for the patient to shirk responsibility, A means of escaping choices can even be the goal of some people’s lives. Illness can be transformed into a moral critique, a political oppression, a metaphor, an ideology. For a writer, disease not only directly affects his physical and mental health and lifestyle, but also affects or even restricts his way of thinking and writing. When sickness is used as a metaphor, it almost becomes the creation itself.
  The short life of Kafka, the famous Austrian writer in the 20th century, is obviously closely related to disease. Kafka was frail and sickly throughout his life. He suffered from stomach problems, constipation, headaches, insomnia, neurasthenia and other diseases. Of course the most serious of them is lung disease. In 1917, he suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and hemoptysis, which was not cured for a long time. In 1922 he retired early for health reasons. Died in 1924 at the age of 41. If there is no disease, is Kafka still Kafka? If his disease is cured, is his writing still so gloomy and grotesque? If Kafka lives another 10 or 20 years in time, Kafka’s writing will be What kind of scene will it be? What is the relationship between disease and Kafka? This is important for understanding and understanding Kafka. It should be a very important and very heavy issue.
  Kafka’s body was weak from childhood, but generally healthy. He once wrote in that famous “To Father” letter: “I am thin, weak, and thin, you are strong, tall, and wide. In the dressing room I have been ashamed, and not only You, but to the whole world, because you are the measure of everything in my eyes.” When Kafka entered work in 1907, the doctor’s diagnosis was: weak, under 6 feet tall, weighing 61 kg, with a lung tip. There is a slight shadow on it, which is due to a history of rickets. Later, due to frequent business trips and irregular diet, he suffered from stomach problems, indigestion, constipation and other diseases.
  Kafka suffered from headaches, insomnia and neurasthenia throughout his life. He also suffers from stomach problems. Kafka never resolved his mental and physical problems, suffering from severe headaches and insomnia, and complaining that he was like a rat in a cage. On June 2, 1916, he recorded in his diary that he had “headaches, insomnia, despair, and graying hair,” when he was only 33 years old.
  In early August 1917, Kafka felt a salty taste in his mouth during a swim, and then vomited several mouthfuls of blood. However, he didn’t care at first, and didn’t tell anyone about it. At 4 a.m. on August 10, he woke up from his dream and vomited a large pool of blood. The little girl who came to clean the room the next morning was surprised when she saw it. She shouted in Czech: “Mr. Doctor, your days will not be long.” Kafka still insisted on going to work, and he went to see after get off work. Doctor, doctor diagnosed bronchitis. He vomited a little more blood that night, so he switched doctors, who diagnosed Kafka with an acute cold. After that, Kafka often felt shortness of breath, cough, fever, and sweating, so on September 4, under the urging and escort of his friend Brod, they went to see a doctor, Professor Pique, a medical expert. The professor’s diagnosis is: Kafka suffers from bilateral pulmonary apical catarrhal disease, and may develop tuberculosis at any time.
  Kafka was 34 years old at the time, and lung disease at the time almost meant death. “Just a few decades ago, learning that someone had TB was the equivalent of hearing his death verdict – just as today, cancer equates to death in the popular imagination – people with TB were generally kept secret from TB patients. The truth of their disease was concealed from their children after they died.” The death threat from tuberculosis was lifted, until scientists discovered streptomycin in 1944, and doctors introduced isoniazid in 1952. People have finally found a cure for tuberculosis, which is no longer mysterious and no longer brings death. Kafka began his long journey of treatment and recuperation.
  In 1917, due to health reasons, Kafka found a good reason to break up with Phyllis, whom he had been in a relationship with for five years. Kafka saw his own development of tuberculosis as the culmination of a bitter struggle for marriage. It was a great struggle, and the price of victory was blood. After hemoptysis, Kafka’s physical changes were no longer insomnia, fever, headache, and he slept well every night. Kafka undoubtedly saw his own TB as a providence: “The disease is fair, no doubt: it is only a fair scourge, but I do not regard it as a scourge, in contrast to the scourge of recent years. It’s something sweet compared to a mediocre life; it’s fair, so vulgar, so mundane, so singly nailed into the most convenient crevices.”
  From the perspective of economic conditions, Kafka could fully accept the best treatment and recuperation in Europe at that time, which was very important for his physical recovery, and sometimes his condition did improve, if not for the 1918 Spanish Great Influenza. Kafka’s tuberculosis may be curable. During the Spanish flu, the global death toll reached 40 million, more than the total number of deaths in the First World War. Even King Alfonso III of Spain and King George V of England were not spared. Kafka was able to survive the flu. It was a miracle to come down. However, Kafka’s body was even weaker after the flu, and he failed to perform miracles again. cure him of tuberculosis.
  Eventually Kafka’s tuberculosis developed into his throat, making it impossible for him to swallow anything. As a result, he almost starved to death in the end. Before his death, Kafka weighed less than 100 pounds in his clothes, which is really skinny. As early as the spring of 1922, Kafka wrote his famous short story “The Hungry Artist”. In 1923, Kafka revisited his will, and he asked Broad to burn everything he had written, but six short stories, including The Hungry Artist, survived. In March 1924, he signed a contract with the publishing house to publish this novel together with three other short stories under the title “The Hungry Artist”. It was in this “neither eat nor drink” state that Kafka read and edited his collection of short stories, The Hungry Artist. He immersed himself in the proofreading of The Hunger Artist while starving and emaciated. Kafka finished his manuscripts in starvation, and starvation hastened his death. Kafka died on June 3, 1924. He did not see the publication of this work during his lifetime. Kafka’s own fate is unfortunately stated in his “The Hungry Artist”.
  Whether Kafka unfortunately suffered from lung disease because he was naturally sensitive and fragile, or became more sensitive and vulnerable because of lung disease, it seems unnecessary to investigate the causal relationship between the two. The important thing is that the disease is indeed related to Kafka. The creation of the card is closely related. Since the 20th century, some scholars have believed that the number of artists suffering from tuberculosis is because most of the tuberculosis patients are intelligent, talented, and often sentimental, especially those who suffer from tuberculosis.

In conclusion, “there is a certain connection between tuberculosis and genius and creativity.” Kafka’s life seems to confirm this, but Kafka’s attitude towards disease, knowledge of disease, and manifestation of disease have their own Preferences and characteristics, and these are also one of the reasons for the final formation of “Kafkaesque”.
  Kafka has his own understanding and knowledge of diseases. He is more familiar with diseases than health. As a child, he witnessed the death of two young brothers, and he had an uncle, Siegfried Leavi, a country doctor, who had an unusual relationship with him. Of course, Kafka did not write articles devoted to diseases, his thoughts and discussions on diseases are scattered in his diaries, letters, conversations and novels.
  Regarding insomnia, for example, Kafka said: “Behind insomnia, perhaps only the great fear of death hides. I may be afraid that the soul leaves me in sleep and never comes back. Perhaps insomnia is only for sin. Sober consciousness, fear of the possibility of a quick trial. Perhaps insomnia is a sin in itself. Perhaps, insomnia is a rebellion against something natural.” Kafka was always willing to give too much spiritual content to physical diseases, and always Find the source of the disease. “A tumor that grows and spreads into the body is much more dangerous than several surface tumors. To truly cure the disease, the root cause of the disease must be eradicated.” The root cause of the disease is not so much physical as it is spiritual.
  In a letter to Broad, Kafka wrote: “My present attitude towards disease is like a child’s attitude towards a mother’s skirt, clinging to… Mutual trust was achieved without my knowledge. ‘It will not go on like this’, so the brain said, and five years later the lungs declared themselves on the side of the brain.” For Kafka, tuberculosis was a symbol, a kind of Cover and means in battle, and at the same time the result of the battle, marked the end of the whole battle. In 1920, Kafka wrote in a letter to Melena: “I am suffering from a mental illness, and my lung disease is nothing but the spread of my mental illness.” Psychological worries and pain are too serious, so they need the physical body Come forward to share, the lungs volunteered to negotiate and conspire with the brain, and the disease became a reality. Bleeding in the lungs is actually the wound of Kafka’s soul. If the tuberculosis is not called by Kafka, at least it is what Kafka unintentionally expects. “Tuberculosis was the artist’s disease…so much so that a critic at the end of the 19th century attributed the decline of literature and art at the time to the gradual disappearance of tuberculosis.” “The patient created his own disease, he was the cause of the disease, and we used There is no need to look elsewhere for the cause.” “In the case of tuberculosis, the patient is annihilating himself, making himself elegant, returning to the core, the true self.” For Kafka, tuberculosis is “the spiritual The triumph of the flesh, the triumph of the artist over an efficient bureaucracy, a hopeful husband, and a filial son.”
  Kafka often dealt with diseases, and he had a different understanding of diseases. In Kafka’s view, if life is an escape from death, then the significance of disease is to warn people to face the reality of death. Kafka said: “To a healthy man, birth is an unconscious, unspoken escape from the consciousness of mortal death. Illness is always a warning and at the same time a contest, so disease, pain, sickness are also A very important source of piety.” Facing death, people prayed as a last resort. For Kafka, writing is a form of prayer.
  Kafka didn’t trust doctors, he said: “I don’t trust famous doctors. I only trust doctors when they tell me they don’t know anything. Besides that, I hate them.” Kafka hated Medical treatments in the hospital, he prefers holistic treatments or naturopaths. He likes sunshine, air, country and vegetarian food, and he is passionate about doing nude exercises on the balcony. He believed that the mind and the body were equally important and were a whole.
  Although Kafka’s thoughts and discussions on diseases are not systematic and professional enough, he does have his own experience and views, which are directly or indirectly reflected in his literary creation. It can be said that Kafka created in the disease, and expressed the disease in the creation. Kafka once said when talking about Baudelaire: “Creation is a disease, but when the heat is removed, people cannot recover. On the contrary, fire can purify the soul and illuminate the way.” In Kafka’s view, writing It is the disease, which consumes the author’s life and is contagious and diffuse. Of course, not many Kafka’s novels directly write about diseases, and tuberculosis seems to have never been described, but the descriptions of sick people and sick psychology can be seen everywhere, and these descriptions reflect Kafka’s Fka’s understanding and attitude towards disease.
  ”The Country Doctor” directly describes the doctor and the patient, but the patient here is a surgical injury. One night in a blizzard, I (the country doctor) went on a carriage ride. “I’m a hired doctor in this area, and I’m very finally doing my job, even a little too much.” I went to the patient’s house and saw the young patient, who “was very thin, had no fever, neither cold nor hot, and had a pair of With absent eyes and no shirt on, he sat up from under the eiderdown, put his arms around my neck, and whispered into my ear: ‘Doctor, let me die.'” “I” didn’t find the patient’s cause at first. , that “this child is healthy, but there are some small problems in blood circulation, this is because his mother spoiled him too much and gave him too much coffee”. As the two horses neighed at the same time, “I” finally discovered the child’s condition:
  there was a festering wound the size of a palm on the right side of his body near the crotch. Rose red, with many dark spots, black in the depths, and shallow around the edges, like soft granules, unevenly bruised and open like an open-pit coal mine. This is the case from a distance, and it is more serious when viewed up close. Who would see this without screaming? In the depths of the wound, there are many worm pupae the size of my little finger, their bodies are purple and blood-stained at the same time, they are crawling towards the light with their small white heads and countless calves. . Poor boy, you are hopeless. I found your huge wound, and this flower on your body sent you to death.
  In the end, “I” failed to save the dying child. “My thriving medical business is also over: a successor is taking my business…” Kafka, like the patient, was very thin; his disease was misdiagnosed by doctors; he learned of his own condition Later, he also thought of death; and then on top of all this, he suffered from a more serious disease, that is, a mental disease that is not understood by ordinary people, that is, his writing.
  Could the Metamorphosis in Metamorphosis also be considered a disease? Gregor Samsa turned into a giant beetle, yet to others, he was actually sick. The starvation performance of The Hunger Artist is actually a disease, or starvation because of a disease. “Initial Pain” describes a trapeze performer who stays on a high swing day and night. “This was originally just a pursuit of perfection, but later it became a deeply ingrained habit.” The initial pain of the trapeze actor was due to the disease, and this disease is the persistent pursuit of art. The protagonist in “The Burrow” suffers from a kind of phobia. He stays in the hole all day, worried and always on guard against foreign invaders. The “Proceedings” describes a patient who is lying in bed all day. This is K’s lawyer, Hulde, who has been lying in a dark room all day.
  ”The Castle” was written near the end of Kafka’s life, and the creation of the novel was not unrelated to his deteriorating health. Some scholars believe that “the castle on the top of the mountain overlooks the inn and the village, and the castle also means a sanatorium isolated from the world.” Obviously, Kafka included his living environment in the sanatorium into his novel writing. In the novel, Amalia’s parents are seriously ill and need her to look after them day and night. The mother is very rheumatic and cannot move her arms and needs to be fed by Amalia; the father is also basically paralyzed, unable to move and cannot eat by himself. On the day K went to their house, Amalia had been ill since noon and had been lying in bed, but she had to get up from the bed and take care of her parents. And three years ago, before Amalia rejected Soltini, the castle official, her father was as strong as a young man. Sickness is a consequence of a family cataclysm in which the strength and power of the castle officials are manifested.
  Of course, Kafka’s description of diseases is not limited to the above. Many of his other short stories can also be read and understood from the perspective of disease and treatment. The position occupied in it is not very important. Illness, in his creations as in his life, is a huge metaphor, hidden and visible from time to time, throughout.
  Kafka eventually died of a lung disease that seemed to brighten and brighten Kafka’s life. “For more than a hundred years, people have used tuberculosis to give meaning to death – it is considered an enlightening, graceful disease.” “TB is a disease of time: it accelerates life, illuminates It can save life and make life extraordinary.” “From a metaphorical point of view, lung disease is a disease of the soul.” Tuberculosis is very rich in metaphors. “Tuberculosis brings both ‘mental paralysis’ and the filling of higher emotions, a way of depicting sensual pleasures and exalting eroticism, and at the same time a way of repressing and exalting sublimation. In particular, it affirms the following The importance of practice, that is, to be more sensitive in consciousness and more complex in psychology. Health has become mediocre, even vulgar.” In this sense, should we be grateful that we are gradually moving away from the healthy Kafka, who suffered from a The disease, which happened to be lung disease, was exactly the kind of disease he needed. It is difficult for us to imagine what Kafka would be like with another disease, just as we cannot imagine what it would be like for Kafka without creation.

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