Monthly Archives: June 2015

Fulfilling your role

They may know that they’re mortgaging the future of their grandchildren, that in fact everything they own will be destroyed, but they’re caught in a trap of institutional structure. That’s what happens in market systems. The financial crisis is a small example of the same thing. You may know that what you’re doing carries systemic risk, but you can’t calculate that into your transactions or you’re not fulfilling your role and somebody else replaces you.

Noam Chomsky

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Everything seems to correspond to everything

Joseph Conrad, in an author’s note to his novel The Secret Agent, depicted how the idea of a central female character, Winnie Verloc, took root from a handful of remarks he happened to overhear. Her fictional fate led to a host of additional characters, complete with local colour, political background, and so on. Whenever a new productive phase set in, Kafka’s dynamic was the exact opposite of Conrad’s accretion method. As he had on the night of September 23, 1912, Kafka began to tap a reservoir that was already full. The diaries reveal that the conflicts, metaphors, gestures, and details were all there. In many cases, the images had already taken on linguistic shape. Kafka did not work from a welter of emotions but instead focused on the amassed material that his emotions brought out – hence the unparalleled, provocative plethora of references and links between the visual and linguistic elements in his texts. Everything seems to correspond to everything.

– Reiner Stach, Kafka: The Decisive Years (tr. Frisch)