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"Before The Law" - A Parable For These Strange Days In Which We Live, by Franz Kafka

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posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 08:07 AM
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For those who are not familiar with the works of Franz Kafka, here is one of his many "parables".

A salient reminder to us in these strange days...
Just thought I should put this out there for general consumption.



Before The Law

Before the law stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and asks if he will be allowed in later. "It is possible," says the doorkeeper, "but not at the moment." Since the gate stands open as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper laughs and says: "If you are so drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him." These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, with his big sharp nose and long thin, black Tartar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be admitted, and wearies the doorkeeper by his importunity. The doorkeeper frequently has little interviews with him, asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, as great lords put them, and always finish with the statement that he cannot be let in yet. The man, who has furnished himself with many things for his journey, sacrifices all he has, however valuable to the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts everything, but always with the remark: "I am only taking it to keep you from thinking you have omitted anything." During these many years the man fixes his attention almost continuously on the doorkeeper. He forgets the other doorkeepers, and this first one seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law. He curses his bad luck, in his early years boldly and loudly; later, as he grows old, he only grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since in his yearlong comtemplation of the doorkeeper he has come to know even the fleas in his fur collar, he begs the fleas to help him and to change the doorkeeper's mind. At length his eyesight begins to fail, and he does not know whether the world is darker or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. Yet in his darkness he is now aware of a radiance that streams inextinguishably from the gatway of the Law. Now he has not very long to live. Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a question he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low toward him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man's disadvantage. "What do you want to know now?" asks the doorkeeper; "you are insatiable." "Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man, "so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance?" The doorkeeper recognizes the man has reached his end, and, to let his failing senses catch the words, roars in his ear: "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."
- Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir
www.endeneu.com...

edit on 1/9/2011 by this_is_who_we_are because: typos




posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 08:27 AM
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Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed the read. S&F.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 09:23 AM
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it sounds deep but i dont understand what it's trying to imply, can someone help me?
2nd line



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by iSHRED
it sounds deep but i dont understand what it's trying to imply, can someone help me?
2nd line


In short it means we're screwed.
Line 2 is we're so very screwed.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 09:58 AM
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reply to post by this_is_who_we_are
 


what does the law represent, what does the gatekeeper and the ones after him represent?
a parable is supposed to put something complex and deep into something simple that people can more easily relate to, but this one just aint clickin



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:04 AM
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A great story open to multiple interpretation. But I must agree, I think I too am missing the point. Is it akin to something some Swami dude once said?

"The bad news is there is no key to the universe."

"The good news is it was never locked."

IMO, brevity is the soul of more than wit. (Sorry Shakespeare)



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:14 AM
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It means one cannot get access unless they are willing to break the rules. That it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. That the law is designed to serve itself and not us.

If he would have "tried it" and gone in anyway, he would have gotten somewhere. Becuase then the inner doorkeepers could have reacted by voting themselves more power, more protections, as his entry proves the outter door is not well guarded enough.

But by trusting the doorkeepers he just got fleeced and taken for everything he had.

It means the only way to get a quick and speedy trial is to be a lone nut.


David Grouchy



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 02:35 PM
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reply to post by davidgrouchy
 


What I got out of it was that it had to do with the interpretation of the law. With the guard standing away from the door he did give permission to pass. However the letter of the law said that he could not pass. The law is not always black and white, priorities and judgements need to be made. If you have no money, do you steal some food to eat if you are hungry or do you persist in starvation? Life presents some very challenging ethical dilemmas at times. If we do not have the capacity to judge our own actions then we are left outside of the law.



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 06:22 PM
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Another parable, to shed light on the parable "Before the Law":

"An Imperial Message"
by Franz Kafka


The Emperor, so a parable runs, has sent a message to you, the humble subject, the insignificant shadow cowering in the remotest distance before the imperial sun; the Emperor from his deathbed has sent a message to you alone. He has commanded the messenger to kneel down by the bed, and has whispered the message to him; so much store did he lay on it that he ordered the messenger to whisper it back into his ear again. Then by a nod of the head he has confirmed that it is right. Yes, before the assembled spectators of his death--all the obstructing walls have been broken down, and on the spacious and loftily mounting open staircases stand in a ring the great princes of the Empire--before all these he has delivered his message. The messenger immediately sets out on his journey; a powerful, an indefatigable man; now pushing with his right arm, now with his left, he cleaves a way for himself through the throng; if he encounters resistance he points to his breast, where the symbol of the sun glitters; the way is made easier for him than it would be for any other man. But the multitudes are so vast; their numbers have no end. If he could reach the open fields how fast he would fly, and soon doubtless you would hear the welcoming hammering of his fists on your door. But instead how vainly does he wear out his strength; still he is only making his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he get to the end of them; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; he must next fight his way down the stair; and if he succeeded in that nothing would be gained; the courts would still have to be crossed; and after the courts the second outer palace; and once more stairs and courts; and once more another palace; and so on for thousands of years; and if at last he should burst through the outermost gate--but never, never can that happen--the imperial capital would lie before him, the center of the world, crammed to bursting with its own sediment. Nobody could fight his way through here even with a message from a dead man. But you sit at your window when evening falls and dream it to yourself.
www.math.uchicago.edu...


There are common themes between "Before the Law" and "An Imperial Message"...



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 07:26 PM
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reply to post by this_is_who_we_are
 


Aw c'mon. Won't you just explain it (your interpretation) to us or is this one of those "I know where there is an ATM dispensing money without a PIN# but I can't tell you where it is" threads.



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 07:44 PM
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Originally posted by kinda kurious
reply to post by this_is_who_we_are
 


Aw c'mon. Won't you just explain it (your interpretation) to us or is this one of those "I know where there is an ATM dispensing money without a PIN# but I can't tell you where it is" threads.


The question really should be "What does it men to you".
I suppose that's the nature of allegory.

- PS

The pin number is 216 digits in length..



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 07:59 PM
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Last in a series of three:


Give It Up
by Franz Kafka


It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the railroad station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was already much later than I had thought, I had to hurry, the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I was not very well acquainted with the town yet, fortunately there was a policeman nearby, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: 'from me you want to learn the way?' 'Yes,' I said, 'since I cannot find it myself.' 'Give it up, give it up,' said he, and turned away with a great sweep, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.
www.herzogbr.net...


Anthony Perkins as "Joseph K." in the Orson Welles version of "The Trial", the Kafka novel in which "Before The Law" appears with context:






posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 08:13 PM
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What I saw in the parable was that the law was the structure. It was constant, and the door was open. In fact, the entrance was not only open, but open for him his entire life. He had a right to it, it was his for the taking.

His error was in listening to the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper placed doubt in his mind. The gatekeeper even said, 'you cannot enter yet, but go ahead and try. There's other gatekeepers.' The first gatekeeper didn't have the power or authority to stop the man, should he choose to claim the law.

To me this is a cautionary tale, about demanding and claiming what the law rightfully gives you (the doorway). Those others who would try and turn you away don't serve the law, they serve themselves.
edit on 12-1-2011 by blamethegreys because: punc.tu.a.tion.



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 08:16 PM
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Originally posted by kinda kurious
reply to post by this_is_who_we_areAw c'mon. Won't you just explain it (your interpretation) to us or is this one of those "I know where there is an ATM dispensing money without a PIN# but I can't tell you where it is" threads.


On Parables
by Franz Kafka

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

edit on 12-1-2011 by RRokkyy because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-1-2011 by RRokkyy because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 08:23 PM
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reply to post by RRokkyy
 


I was wondering how long it would take for someone to post that.




posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 08:43 PM
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reply to post by this_is_who_we_are
 




There are common themes between "Before the Law" and "An Imperial Message"...


There is only one law "There are always exceptions". To find a resolution he points to his breast, where the symbol of the sun glitters. The same way he would have gotten through the first door before the law. The labyrinth of the courts will never define the answer amongst the diversity of human interaction, it does help provide the guidance from where it has been.



Give it up, give it up


If you can wash away the fear that grips your minds and face the pain that grips your heart you will find that there is no stronger adversary than confronting yourself. While we battle for trinkets and glory it is the trust that we really want, trust in ourself for standing our ground and trust in our family as we stand as one. If you want to show strength then care for those that look up to you and stand against those that look down on you. If you want to show wisdom then listen to those who disagree with you and agree with those who support you. If you want to show perseverance then keep on trying even after all hope is lost, while hope may hold many keys it does not open all the doors. In a world of infinite possibilities it is your self determination that selects which one.

edit on 12-1-2011 by kwakakev because: Included full version from 'IF'



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