Max Bense - DTel Group

Edwin Honig
The Making of Allegory
• “Each character in the story may be taken
as a personification of some particular
defect, essentially related to G’s instigative
needs”-allegory reversed. Personification
is usually first and then discovery through
this transformation. Here G discovers
himself through others, and this new
identity of his coming from others’ points of
views is what causes his metamorphosis.
• “Kafka’s Gregor Samsa has already been
judged when the story beings”-Gregor has
no chance of redemption, his fate is
already chosen. It’s as if the climax (the
judgment) happened before the story even
started. There is no hope for Gregor.
• “His dilemma is that he must challenge, grapple
with, and seek protection from the judgment that
society places on him for deserting his word, and
at the same time accept the judgment, the guilt
he actually feels, “lying down”.”-Gregor’ fight in
this story is not against his metamorphosis but
against the vision society and he has of himself
for being useless. His conflict is with himself,
with his guilt.
• “What he becomes to his family and to himself
as he lies in bed: simply a huge detestable bug.”
“As he is seen by each in turn, there is a
cumulative and recapitulative sense which
confirms his physical metamorphosis.”-G
becomes a horrid bug because it is exactly the
way his family sees him. To each he is useless
and repulsive like a bug which is why he turns
into one. His physical metamorphosis is the
image the world has of him.
• “and as a result of G’s metamorphosis, his
father, formerly a sick useless old man,
turns into a vigorous job-holding bank
official”- G helps his father emerge from
his useless state of being.
• “It is as though the family needed first to have
the goad of the boarders’ social disapprobation
in order to swallow its own distaste and personal
chagrin, before finally expressing its own real
feelings overtly.”-Almost like the family needed a
reason to resent G. They were looking for an
outside perspective because they didn’t know if
because they were family they were being
biased about the situation. The lodgers’
disapproval is the last straw for the family.
• “This exposure of an exaggerated debasement
gradually provokes a series of reactions among
successive characters, who thereby assist in
dramatizing the hero’s identity.”-dramatic effect
of story not caused by the actually situation but
by the reactions of his loved ones. If the family
had supported and accepted G as a bug the
story would say to love each other no matter
what. His transformation wouldn’t have been
tragic like it is.
• “G’s situation is a limbo where the forces
of appositional entities-dark/light,
animal/human, lust/love, seeming/being,
despair/faith”- G is torn by many different
things. Shows how he’s in between and
cannot make up his mind.
• “The distorted relationship between
himself and others, which he has
permitted or encouraged to grow”-suggest
G’s alienation is his own fault.
• “Final criticism seems not to be leveled
against society so much as against G, who
sinks into his dilemma because he is
unable to find his real self.”-author points
out G’s downfall is his own fault. The
criticism of the story is that G did not find
• “Instead of finding his many actual
identities, he shrinks and is finally
converted into nothingness.”- G epiphany
is also his downfall. Because he decides
to show himself he becomes nothing.
• “no moral closure”
“Ends with stark critical question of the
individual and society”-very negative end.
Kafka is trying to make us think….or
realize something about the world we live
Max Bense
Kafka’s conception of being
Max Bense (1910-1990)
• Max Bense was a German philosopher who
studied mathematics, logic and aesthetics.
• He was a professor of the philosophy of
technology, scientific theory, and mathematical
logic at the Technical University of Stuttgart.
• Many of his works such as “aesthetic
Information”, “Aesthetica, an Introduction to
New Aesthetics” involved the theme of
The Classical Conception of Being
(page 140-141)
“In the classical conception of being the
fiction of a distinctive world which
represents itself as a real world is
constantly maintained and at best
aesthetically and ethically varied between
being and seeming, perfection and
The Non-classical conception of
• “On the other hand, the fiction of the
distinctive world is either given up from the
start or successively destroyed.”
• What is called surrealism […] comes
under the non-classical conception of
being, in which the fiction of the distinctive,
real world no longer exists.”
How It Relates to Kafka’s writings
“It is certain that essential parts of Kafka’s
writings also belong to Surrealism and
constitute surreality in the sense of a world
in which the distinction between real and
unreal constituents no longer has any
ontological meaning.”
The Metamorphosis
“And accordingly the obervable, real
accuracy of the unreal found in Kafka’ or
his percision with the imaginary […] does
not signify an odd state of affairs: rational
precision in the unreal is not itself anything
unreal, as it is confirmed by the impression
awoken for example by “the
metamorphosis” of Gregor Samsa into a
“monstrous vermin”.

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