Metaleptic Machines: Kafka, Kabbalah, Shoah

Russell Samolsky

in Apocalyptic Futures

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241248 | DOI:

Series: Modern Language Initiative

Metaleptic Machines: Kafka, Kabbalah, Shoah

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This chapter begins with an analysis of the critical tradition that ascribes a prophetic status to Kafka's texts. Skeptical of the contention that Kafka's writings were realized after his death, it tries to instead theorize Kafka's claim for their apocalyptic destiny. The chapter does so by drawing a correlation between the inscriptional machine in “In the Penal Colony” and Derrida's hypothesis of a textual programming machine that programs in advance Nietzsche's appropriation by Nazi politics. It further demonstrates how Kafka's story functions as a programming machine capturing the inscriptional apparatus of the concentration camps (tattooed numbers), thereby manifesting itself as an apocalyptic text. The chapter concludes by examining Kafka's text in relation to Derrida's thought on autoimmunity. What is at stake is the way in which a dangerous piece of private writing might be said to struggle for its public existence against an author who would consign it to oblivion.

Keywords: apocalyptic text; autoimmunity; Derrida; inscription; Kafka; penal colony

Chapter.  10908 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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