Nature of Pain - from Kafka to Spinoza

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Nature of Pain - from Kafka to Spinoza

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Mon Jun 20, 2022 9:46 pm

When I witnessed what unfolded before me in a jungle in central India a week ago, the word that came to my mind was Kafkaesque.

From the Merriam dictionary,

Kafkaesque adjective

Kaf·ka·esque | \ ˌkäf-kə-ˈesk

Definition of Kafkaesque

: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings
especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality

Kafkaesque Literature
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a Czech-born German-language writer whose surreal fiction vividly expressed the anxiety, alienation, and powerlessness of the individual in the 20th century. Kafka's work is characterized by nightmarish settings in which characters are crushed by nonsensical, blind authority. Thus, the word Kafkaesque is often applied to bizarre and impersonal administrative situations where the individual feels powerless to understand or control what is happening.


But then, I also think such intricate description of human sufferings by Kafka in his novels (like Metamorphosis, for example) has its roots in human ethics, morals and survival. However, when I see such sufferings in Nature (as we humans see it) I may need to see them through Baruch Spinoza's lens and not through Kafka's lens (to remain sane an accurate).

Quoting Spinoza -

Whenever, anything in nature seems to us ridiculous, absurd or evil, it is because we have but a partial knowledge of things, and are in the main ignorant of the order and coherence of nature as a whole, and because we want everything to be arranged according to the dictates of our own reason; although in fact, what our reason pronounces bad is not bad as regards the orders and laws of universal nature, but only as regards the laws of our own nature taken separately. . . . As for the terms good and bad, they indicate nothing positive considered in themselves. . . . For one and the same thing can at the same time be good, bad, and indifferent. For example, music is good to the melancholy, bad to mourners, and indifferent to the dead. - (from Ethics by Baruch Spinoza)


That day I was on a jungle safari in the morning. Suddenly I saw couple of wild dogs chasing a deer. After a while the deer was exhausted. What then followed was a Kafkaesque scene which I turned into a small series. After bringing the deer down wild dogs starts feeding. After a while another group of wild dogs snatches the prey! Later a group of wild boars drives away the second group of wild dogs to consume whatever was left. After couple of hours the place was as clean as it was before. Everything appear to recycle effortlessly in Nature, including life!

CAUTION: Click on the thumbnail link below only if you don't mind seeing this very painful imagery. For this reason I am sharing only the small thumbnail which links to the actual larger image. Please scroll down the page to see all the images in the series (if you like to).

Image

While this feels very painful, I take solace in Spinoza's quote above.

When a kingfisher catches a fish and swallows it we don't feel the same way. Why? I don't see any difference in these two cases. It is probably because deer has closer resemblance to us than a fish is? With head, legs, face, nose, ears somewhat similar to us? Are we unconsciously putting ourselves in deer's place and feeling the pain more? Who knows?
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Re: Nature of Pain - from Kafka to Spinoza

Postby Vikas T R » Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:58 am

Hi Ganesh,

I really liked the way you have related your feelings with Kafka/Spinoza.

Thinking further on this, most of us would have watched such scenes on a screen but when we see it in real life, the emotions are higher, why is that? The pain of the deer is not less when we watch it on the screen but when we watch it live, we get more emotional(?)

I am not sure if I had shared this earlier but let me share this again. This is about an art exhibition at Denmark :

<snip>
The exhibit didn’t encourage people to blend the fish but addressed ethical questions about death.

"all this cruelty originates from me being a humanist."

</snip>

More details can be found at :
https://apnews.com/article/9b8577525a7b ... 35cbc3a726
https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-SEB-76634
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_(artwork)


Thanks
Vikas
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Re: Nature of Pain - from Kafka to Spinoza

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Tue Jun 21, 2022 11:32 am

Vikas,

Hmm, an interesting "work of art". I think this proves human mind is still an unfinished "work of art" by Nature. Probably this again has its roots in survival.
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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