I have begun something of a stupid quest, because in fact I'm done with questing. I have all of the answers to big questions that my life requires and I am settling down to being practical. Nevertheless the habit of reading for the sake of enlightenment dies hard, and in between the epic video games and the occasional universal series, there ain't nothing else out there.
So I'm kind of hooked on W. H. Auden's University of Chicago syllabus. The first of these pegs to knock down was Kafka's The Castle.
I never had much of a predilection for Kafka whom I generally associate with Camus, Sylvia Plath and William Burroughs. He always represented to me a kind of lunch lady serving hunking dollops of self-pity lit for the appetites of Slackers and Schleprocks. So there was never any incentive for me to actually get into his sort of genius. Now I think I'll have to, having read The Castle.
The story drew me in immediately and now having finished it I have noticed in its first person narrative a kind of strength of character I seldom notice around contemporary individuals. The sort of self-possession K. exhibits while endlessly frustrated among the peasants and commoners all striving to be part of the obiter dicta of functionary hierarchs is remarkable. Even more so when you recognize how much he must condescend; he is barely above freezing and starving. He commits to associations and relationships out of that necessity and that is all he can do.
I am impressed with the possibility that The Castle is an unfinished book. One can imagine that its lack of completion is prescient - that this is and remains the condition of the modern Western man and that there is no resolution to the problem of the meaningless ascent into the Castle -- that there is no Lord and the functionaries function around a void.
Well, that's all I have. More on the first person after I finish Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun and Roger Zelasney's Amber Series.