Marc’s Bloody Valentine
In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, we are sending our own literary Valentines. And you can add yours too. Here is a little something form Marc:
Betrayed by your best friend. Brod refused to burn your books as you had charged him to do. And thank god on high for that. But God had other ideas and burned Brod’s own works in the Nazi pyres. Would have burned Brod too in the ovens had he not fled into exile. Karmic irony. Some great cosmic joke heaped upon Yaweh. Or possibly by Him, so perverse and abstruse is His mark of faith. God Himself killed all belief, all possible leaps of faith, not you. You merely depicted the gilt hollowness of mankind’s Golden Calf left in its stead. Yet still your books survived the Nazi book pyres as well. They demanded to be heard, for their words to be out. I would have cut out the middle man and thrown myself on any pyre, if it meant saving a single copy of any of your books.
You broke with not only the Father up in Heaven, but your own pater familias. Absentee commandant-tyrants both. Mute assassins dealing only in despair. Every word I write is a letter addressed to my father also. But now he is virtually blind and for all the new media delivery systems of podcasts and the like, I can’t imagine him ever taking receipt. Your Mother returned your letter without ever passing it on to Hermann didn’t she? We each go to our graves unreconciled. Like you, I am an insomniac. Lying in our beds pricked at by our own persecutors. Do you toss and turn as I do? No, I bet you bear it with a seasoned stillness. I think I shall toss and turn just so when I am in my grave. All this is just by way of rehearsal.
Arm in arm, I would be your guide. Gently steering you through the judicial system, conducting you through the bureaucratic labyrinths of the Castle. I would soothe you down from the ceiling and stroke your carapace. You like me must have felt born out of your time. I wouldn’t avert my face if you coughed up blood sputum into my mouth. I would have welcomed infection by you. Your lungs were congested; with me it is my very breath, saturated with consumptive words. Feverish lesions tear at my mind. Yet you endured with such equanimity. It is you who holds my hand with such grace and gentleness, even though I cannot see the woods for the tree pulp. I wish I could move with such a light tread as yours, but my self-expression is lumpen. Wooden- ha yes indeed!
Why did Brod torture you so after death? Degrading you through veneration and establishing for you a reputation? Did you really not want your words to hear you out? To speak for you after your brief passing through the world? The letter that also never got delivered to your father. You could have tried again. Did you so doubt your own strengths and abilities? I could never burn my words, no matter how much I despised them. Since they are already released out into the ether like butterflies. I cannot now rein them back in. If you really did intend to be effaced so, rather than playing one of your delicious tricks on us, then we can bolster each other together you and I. Franz Kafka, be my (funny) Valentine?