kafkaniet1 - Aaron Paul Houska Kafka/Nietzsche 2008 In the...

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Aaron Paul Houska Kafka/Nietzsche 2008 In the Penal Colony In the second essay of On the Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche shows how our idea of “punishment” can truthfully refer only to the action, not to the reason for it be- cause it has meant so many different things over time and our idea of punishment is es- pecially removed from the original word which had punishment serving as a festive debt-paying event. In Kafka’s In The Penal Colony , we are shown a system of justice that totally divorces crime from punishment, for if two things can never be truly equal, any attempt at revenge justice is impossible, and only the festive act of punishment re- mains. In this world, the old and new commandants represent two differing views on the meaning of this punishment, between the festive rite of understanding (through the apparatus) and, perhaps, subjection to endless conferences on harbors. The old com- mandant is, of course, not really represented by the officer, much as he claims he does. The officer’s ignorance of his own ignorance of punishment and justice are what causes him, and many of the other characters in the story, to suffer. In this text, Kafka is certainly open to Nietzsche’s perhaps idealized view of an- cient punishment. However he has a parallel idea working here, that of the suffering wrought by clinging to a dead past. The officer’s blind faith to the past is shown from the start when he justifies wearing cumbersome and presumably painful uniforms be-
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course GERMAN 235 taught by Professor Fenves during the Winter '08 term at Northwestern.

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kafkaniet1 - Aaron Paul Houska Kafka/Nietzsche 2008 In the...

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