Author Topic: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion  (Read 1758 times)

*CountessA*

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The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« on: April 20, 2015, 01:21:09 PM »
One of the best and greatest novels written in modern (post-modern) times concerns the issue of the law. The Court in this work is an inscrutable and inevitable thing where effort has already exhausted the litigant before he begins to muster a defence. It presupposes a verdict of guilty because that is its default setting. Machine-like, it appears not to be able to deviate from this, although hopes are thrown out to the accused in layers of repetitive exegesis.

This is an excerpt from that work (which is, of course, Kafka's Der Process - usually translated in English to The Trial). This excerpt is a story told by a priest at a cathedral to which the accused - an individual we know only as Joseph K. (aka the author himself) - is bringing an important client... only it eventuates that the priest is actually the prison chaplain and had asked to have K. brought to him. Like so many elements in the story, there is confusion about whether we do things of our own will or if we are somehow herded or influenced into our actions.

The priest/prison chaplain tells K. the following story; it is in some sense an analogy of the story itself, and Kafka's meaning - which points out the absurdity of a process of law when the rules are dumbly followed by people who are part of that process. Whether those people follow the process knowingly or ignorantly makes little difference... if the process itself is meaningless.

(I know it's a bit of a scroller. Bear with it. It's worth it.)

       

“Don’t fool yourself,” said the priest. “How would I be fooling myself?” asked K. “You fool yourself in the court,”  said the priest, “it talks about this self-deceit in the opening paragraphs to the law. In front of the law there is a  doorkeeper. A man from the countryside comes up to the door and asks for entry. But the doorkeeper says he can’t let  him in to the law right now. The man thinks about this, and then he asks if he’ll be able to go in later on. ‘That’s  possible,’ says the doorkeeper, ‘but not now’. The gateway to the law is open as it always is, and the doorkeeper has  stepped to one side, so the man bends over to try and see in. When the doorkeeper notices this he laughs and says, ‘If  you’re tempted give it a try, try and go in even though I say you can’t. Careful though: I’m powerful. And I’m only the  lowliest of all the doormen. But there’s a doorkeeper for each of the rooms and each of them is more powerful than the  last. It’s more than I can stand just to look at the third one.’ The man from the country had not expected difficulties  like this, the law was supposed to be accessible for anyone at any time, he thinks, but now he looks more closely at  the doorkeeper in his fur coat, sees his big hooked nose, his long thin tartar-beard, and he decides it’s better to  wait until he has permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down to one side of the gate.  He sits there for days and years. He tries to be allowed in time and again and tires the doorkeeper with his requests.  The doorkeeper often questions him, asking about where he’s from and many other things, but these are disinterested  questions such as great men ask, and he always ends up by telling him he still can’t let him in. The man had come well  equipped for his journey, and uses everything, however valuable, to bribe the doorkeeper. He accepts everything, but as  he does so he says, ‘I’ll only accept this so that you don’t think there’s anything you’ve failed to do’. Over many  years, the man watches the doorkeeper almost without a break. He forgets about the other doormen, and begins to think  this one is the only thing stopping him from gaining access to the law. Over the first few years he curses his unhappy  condition out loud, but later, as he becomes old, he just grumbles to himself. He becomes senile, and as he has come to  know even the fleas in the doorkeeper’s fur collar over the years that he has been studying him he even asks them to  help him and change the doorkeeper’s mind. Finally his eyes grow dim, and he no longer knows whether it’s really  getting darker or just his eyes that are deceiving him. But he seems now to see an inextinguishable light begin to  shine from the darkness behind the door. He doesn’t have long to live now. Just before he dies, he brings together all  his experience from all this time into one question which he has still never put to the doorkeeper. He beckons to him,  as he’s no longer able to raise his stiff body. The doorkeeper has to bend over deeply as the difference in their sizes  has changed very much to the disadvantage of the man. ‘What is it you want to know now?’ asks the doorkeeper, ‘You’re  insatiable.’ ‘Everyone wants access to the law,’ says the man, ‘how come, over all these years, no-one but me has asked  to be let in?’ The doorkeeper can see the man’s come to his end, his hearing has faded, and so, so that he can be  heard, he shouts to him: ‘Nobody else could have got in this way, as this entrance was meant only for you. Now I’ll go  and close it’.”

   

“So the doorkeeper cheated the man,” said K. immediately, who had been captivated by the story. “Don’t be too  quick,” said the priest, “don’t take somebody else’s opinion without checking it. I told you the story exactly as it  was written. There’s nothing in there about cheating.” “But it’s quite clear,” said K., “and your first interpretation  of it was quite correct. The doorkeeper gave him the information that would release him only when it could be of no  more use.” “He didn’t ask him before that,” said the priest, “and don’t forget he was only a doorkeeper, and as  doorkeeper he did his duty.” “What makes you think he did his duty?” asked K., “He didn’t. It might have been his duty  to keep everyone else away, but this man is who the door was intended for and he ought to have let him in.” “You’re not  paying enough attention to what was written and you’re changing the story,” said the priest. “According to the story,  there are two important things that the doorkeeper explains about access to the law, one at the beginning, one at the  end. At one place he says he can’t allow him in now, and at the other he says this entrance was intended for him alone.  If one of the statements contradicted the other you would be right and the doorkeeper would have cheated the man from  the country. But there is no contradiction. On the contrary, the first statement even hints at the second. You could  almost say the doorkeeper went beyond his duty in that he offered the man some prospect of being admitted in the  future. Throughout the story, his duty seems to have been merely to turn the man away, and there are many commentators  who are surprised that the doorkeeper offered this hint at all, as he seems to love exactitude and keeps strict guard  over his position. He stays at his post for many years and doesn’t close the gate until the very end, he’s very  conscious of the importance of his service, as he says, ‘I’m powerful,’ he has respect for his superiors, as he says,  ‘I’m only the lowliest of the doormen’, he’s not talkative, as through all these years the only questions he asks are  ‘disinterested’, he’s not corruptible, as when he’s offered a gift he says, ‘I’ll only accept this so that you don’t  think there’s anything you’ve failed to do,’ as far as fulfilling his duty goes he can be neither ruffled nor begged,  as it says about the man that, ‘he tires the doorkeeper with his requests’, even his external appearance suggests a  pedantic character, the big hooked nose and the long, thin, black tartar-beard. How could any doorkeeper be more  faithful to his duty? But in the doorkeeper’s character there are also other features which might be very useful for  those who seek entry to the law, and when he hinted at some possibility in the future it always seemed to make it clear  that he might even go beyond his duty. There’s no denying he’s a little simple minded, and that makes him a little  conceited. Even if all he said about his power and the power of the other doorkeepers and how not even he could bear  the sight of them — I say even if all these assertions are right, the way he makes them shows that he’s too simple and  arrogant to understand properly. The commentators say about this that, ‘correct understanding of a matter and a  misunderstanding of the same matter are not mutually exclusive’. Whether they’re right or not, you have to concede that  his simplicity and arrogance, however little they show, do weaken his function of guarding the entrance, they are  defects in the doorkeeper’s character. You also have to consider that the doorkeeper seems to be friendly by nature, he  isn’t always just an official. He makes a joke right at the beginning, in that he invites the man to enter at the same  time as maintaining the ban on his entering, and then he doesn’t send him away but gives him, as it says in the text, a  stool to sit on and lets him stay by the side of the door. The patience with which he puts up with the man’s requests  through all these years, the little questioning sessions, accepting the gifts, his politeness when he puts up with the  man cursing his fate even though it was the doorkeeper who caused that fate — all these things seem to want to arouse  our sympathy. Not every doorkeeper would have behaved in the same way. And finally, he lets the man beckon him and he  bends deep down to him so that he can put his last question. There’s no more than some slight impatience — the  doorkeeper knows everything’s come to its end — shown in the words, ‘You’re insatiable’. There are many commentators  who go even further in explaining it in this way and think the words, ‘you’re insatiable’ are an expression of friendly  admiration, albeit with some condescension. However you look at it the figure of the doorkeeper comes out differently  from how you might think.” “You know the story better than I do and you’ve known it for longer,” said K. They were  silent for a while. And then K. said, “So you think the man was not cheated, do you?” “Don’t get me wrong,” said the  priest, “I’m just pointing out the different opinions about it. You shouldn’t pay too much attention to people’s  opinions. The text cannot be altered, and the various opinions are often no more than an expression of despair over it.  There’s even one opinion which says it’s the doorkeeper who’s been cheated.” “That does seem to take things too far,”  said K. “How can they argue the doorkeeper has been cheated?” “Their argument,” answered the priest, “is based on the  simplicity of the doorkeeper. They say the doorkeeper doesn’t know the inside of the law, only the way into it where he  just walks up and down. They see his ideas of what’s inside the law as rather childish, and suppose he’s afraid himself  of what he wants to make the man frightened of. Yes, he’s more afraid of it than the man, as the man wants nothing but  to go inside the law, even after he’s heard about the terrible doormen there, in contrast to the doorkeeper who doesn’t  want to go in, or at least we don’t hear anything about it. On the other hand, there are those who say he must have  already been inside the law as he has been taken on into its service and that could only have been done inside. That  can be countered by supposing he could have been given the job of doorkeeper by somebody calling out from inside, and  that he can’t have gone very far inside as he couldn’t bear the sight of the third doorkeeper. Nor, through all those  years, does the story say the doorkeeper told the man anything about the inside, other than his comment about the other  doorkeepers. He could have been forbidden to do so, but he hasn’t said anything about that either. All this seems to  show he doesn’t know anything about what the inside looks like or what it means, and that that’s why he’s being  deceived. But he’s also being deceived by the man from the country as he’s this man’s subordinate and doesn’t know it.  There’s a lot to indicate that he treats the man as his subordinate, I expect you remember, but those who hold this  view would say it’s very clear that he really is his subordinate. Above all, the free man is superior to the man who  has to serve another. Now, the man really is free, he can go wherever he wants, the only thing forbidden to him is  entry into the law and, what’s more, there’s only one man forbidding him to do so — the doorkeeper. If he takes the  stool and sits down beside the door and stays there all his life he does this of his own free will, there’s nothing in  the story to say he was forced to do it. On the other hand, the doorkeeper is kept to his post by his employment, he’s  not allowed to go away from it and it seems he’s not allowed to go inside either, not even if he wanted to. Also,  although he’s in the service of the law he’s only there for this one entrance, therefore he’s there only in the service  of this one man who the door’s intended for. This is another way in which he’s his subordinate. We can take it that  he’s been performing this somewhat empty service for many years, through the whole of a man’s life, as it says that a  man will come, that means someone old enough to be a man. That means the doorkeeper will have to wait a long time  before his function is fulfilled, he will have to wait for as long as the man liked, who came to the door of his own  free will. Even the end of the doorkeeper’s service is determined by when the man’s life ends, so the doorkeeper  remains his subordinate right to the end. And it’s pointed out repeatedly that the doorkeeper seems to know nothing of  any of this, although this is not seen as anything remarkable, as those who hold this view see the doorkeeper as  deluded in a way that’s far worse, a way that’s to do with his service. At the end, speaking about the entrance he  says, ‘Now I’ll go and close it’, although at the beginning of the story it says the door to the law is open as it  always is, but if it’s always open — always — that means it’s open independently of the lifespan of the man it’s  intended for, and not even the doorkeeper will be able to close it. There are various opinions about this, some say the  doorkeeper was only answering a question or showing his devotion to duty or, just when the man was in his last moments,  the doorkeeper wanted to cause him regret and sorrow. There are many who agree that he wouldn’t be able to close the  door. They even believe, at the end at least, the doorkeeper is aware, deep down, that he’s the man’s subordinate, as  the man sees the light that shines out of the entry to the law whereas the doorkeeper would probably have his back to  it and says nothing at all to show there’s been any change.” “That is well substantiated,” said K., who had been  repeating some parts of the priest’s explanation to himself in a whisper. “It is well substantiated, and now I too  think the doorkeeper must have been deceived. Although that does not mean I’ve abandoned what I thought earlier as the  two versions are, to some extent, not incompatible. It’s not clear whether the doorkeeper sees clearly or is deceived.  I said the man had been cheated. If the doorkeeper understands clearly, then there could be some doubt about it, but if  the doorkeeper has been deceived then the man is bound to believe the same thing. That would mean the doorkeeper is not  a cheat but so simple-minded that he ought to be dismissed from his job immediately; if the doorkeeper is mistaken it  will do him no harm but the man will be harmed immensely.” “There you’ve found another opinion,” said the priest, “as  there are many who say the story doesn’t give anyone the right to judge the doorkeeper. However he might seem to us he  is still in the service of the law, so he belongs to the law, so he’s beyond what man has a right to judge. In this  case we can’t believe the doorkeeper is the man’s subordinate. Even if he has to stay at the entrance into the law his  service makes him incomparably more than if he lived freely in the world. The man has come to the law for the first  time and the doorkeeper is already there. He’s been given his position by the law, to doubt his worth would be to doubt  the law.” “I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with this view,” said K. shaking his head, “as if you accept it you’ll  have to accept that everything said by the doorkeeper is true. But you’ve already explained very fully that that’s not  possible.” “No,” said the priest, “you don’t need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as  necessary.” “Depressing view,” said K. “The lie made into the rule of the world.”

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is ...a part of the maine; ...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde"

*CountessA*

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2015, 06:13:17 PM »
Practically speaking, what does this mean?

Kafka is of course famously surreal and his scenario is a theatre of the absurd - but there is a message.

Unequivocally, there is a message.

That is - "The Trial" illustrates how ridiculous and nonsensical the law is, if it becomes nothing but a process without thought or need for justification.

If the law is machine-like, it simultaneously shifts itself out of target range while firing indiscriminate missiles at a target selected by - well, by what? Chance? Miserable circumstance? Lack of interest? A wheel spun in a back room somewhere? Random numbers generated by a random process, resulting in a process that answers to no-one?

If the law is machine-like, those who contribute to following through with the process (even peripherally) are portrayed in the novel as if they were that doorkeeper. He either knows what he is doing (acting through purpose... believing that he is doing what is right OR believing that he has no choice OR not caring whether his actions are right or wrong as long as he is doing what he is told OR taking pleasure in the mindless malice where he can always pull out his trump card of "I only did what I was told to do"...) OR he doesn't know what he is doing (acting through ignorance, unaware of the difference between the law and justice... believing he's doing what is right but not really thinking about it OR believing he has no choice but not really thinking about it OR not really caring but simply slogging away doing what he's told to do OR getting a simple almost child-like pleasure out of people's misery without really understanding the seriousness and/or consequences for the victims of the law).

In terms of how it plays out for the litigant/defendant, it doesn't really matter. In the end of the novel, K. is executed - without ever being directly accused of a specific crime, and without having any actual defence process, and without anyone genuinely caring. It's a cold, weird, bewildering, inherently ludicrous process. It doesn't make sense.

That is not how the law should be. Law, at its finest, is created from our sense of justice. It stems from the constant struggle in humans between good and evil, right and wrong. It is the application of fairness when fairness can be found through evidence.
Law should not supersede justice.
Justice is something higher than Law... I'm not speaking about "rough justice", or vigilante behaviour. Rather, it is the spirit of the law before the law is mummified and becomes an incomprehensible dead thing bringing curses upon individuals who are not given fair hearing, and who are put at a disadvantage against others in the community (all things being equal).

If the law does not protect all men to the same degree of fairness, we see the Law becoming an uninterested heartless soulless factory churning out judgements in cellophane.

I believe in the law - I respect the law - but if I lived in a society where the law became this Kafkaesque thing, it would alarm me... It would alarm me greatly. It would be at this point that we would see the start of a terrifying process where the rights of some individuals were eroded. At first the erosion would seem insufficient for alarm. That is how erosion begins... There isn't a great collapse of the ground immediately. No. At first it's a nibble at a deserted cliff. But gradually, darkly, terrifying, inexorably, more and more ground would fall - until at last the ground where I have built begins to tremble, and the path where I walk is crumbled away like the dust of a long-dead Sumerian...

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is ...a part of the maine; ...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde"

*Ubbie Max*

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2015, 07:08:41 PM »
Struth!

callostemma

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2015, 02:22:25 PM »
You read all that Ubbie?

*CountessA*

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2015, 12:37:29 PM »
Ubbie might have intended to, but then tossed my scroller into the vegetable crisper compartment of his refrigerator... since it's not being used for vegetables!


"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is ...a part of the maine; ...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde"

tellomon

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2015, 06:05:05 PM »
:tello: "Am I supposed to read all that? I know this thread was inspired by me!"
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*smee*

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2015, 06:13:11 PM »
It does contain the word fool

*CountessA*

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 07:08:54 PM »
Read it and tremble.


(Or don't tremble. Just read.)


Trembling - optional.


"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is ...a part of the maine; ...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde"

tellomon

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 07:54:58 PM »
The gist of it all speaks volumes about where I was at last year.

I was sent to the Cuckoo's Nest to be mocked, badgered and tricked by the Party Line: "To be determined competent to stand trial".

All the while, my Party Line was "Is trial competent to stand me?"

I was proven correct on December 12, 2014...the last day of my trial.

Mistrial they called it. AKA a hung jury.

There was deffo a turd in the punchbowl with that hicktown group.

It was a no-brainer and they failed.

Cuz they were NOT competent.

And the Law sucks when it don't work right, if at all.

You see where I'm going with this.

I'm outta here.


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tellomon

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 07:57:36 PM »
It does contain the word fool


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tellomon

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Re: The Law - when perverted - is a marrowbone of perversion
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2015, 08:01:05 PM »
That was mean.

Why not invoke The Sin Bin Act?

I did no wrong.

I protest! I appeal.

And I want a million dollars USD.



                          :stay:
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