Saturday, November 12, 2016

Más sobre Kafka. (Con un mensaje en el contestador)




Reiner Stach
Is that Kafka?: 99 Finds
Trad de Kurt Beals
New York: New Directions Publishing; 2016, 352 pp.
ISBN: 978-0811221238


In the course of compiling his highly acclaimed three-volume biography of Kafka, while foraying to libraries and archives from Prague to Israel, Reiner Stach made one astounding discovery after another: unexpected photographs, inconsistencies in handwritten texts, excerpts from letters, and testimonies from Kafka's contemporaries that shed surprising light on his personality and his writing. 
Is that Kafka? presents the crystal granules of the real Kafka: he couldn't lie, but he tried to cheat on his high-school exams; bitten by the fitness fad, he avidly followed the regime of a Danish exercise guru; he drew beautifully; he loved beer; he read biographies voraciously; he made the most beautiful presents, especially for children; odd things made him cry or made him furious; he adored slapstick. Every discovery by Stach turns on its head the stereotypical version of the tortured neurotic—and as each one chips away at the monolithic dark Kafka, the keynote, of all things, becomes laughter.
For Is that Kafka? Stach has assembled 99 of his most exciting discoveries, culling the choicest, most entertaining bits, and adding his knowledgeable commentaries. Illustrated with dozens of previously unknown images, this volume is a singular literary pleasure.

XXX


Kafka en el caso antiguo de Praga, 1920

Kafka y el contestador telefónico.
Entre las diferentes neurastenias que cuidadosa y ordenadamente cultivó Kafka a lo largo de su existencia figura la especial aprensión hacia el teléfono, que yo también comparto. Advertida esta coincidencia de carácter tendré que detenerme con minuciosidad algún día. Reiner Stach publicó a mediados de este año Is that Kafka?: 99 Finds, donde recoge una carta de 1913 a Felice Bauer, quien trabajaba en la Carl Lindström AG de Berlín llevando a cabo la promoción comercial una novedosa máquina de dictado, el 'parlograph', sugiriéndole la cópula de éste con el teléfono.
 
 
 
En la misiva se lee:
 
The invention of a cross between a telephone and a parlograph, it really can’t be that hard. Surely by the day after tomorrow you’ll be reporting to me that the project is already a success. Of course that would have an enormous impact on editorial offices, news agencies, etc. Harder, but doubtless possible as well, would be a combination of the gramophone and the telephone. Harder because you can’t understand a gramophone at all, and a parlograph can’t ask it to speak more clearly. A combination of the gramophone and the telephone wouldn’t have such great significance in general either, but for people like me, who are afraid of the telephone, it would be a relief. But then people like me are also afraid of the gramophone, so we can’t be helped at all.* By the way, it’s a nice idea that a parlograph could go to the telephone in Berlin, call up a gramophone in Prague, and the two of them could have a little conversation with each other. But my dearest the combination of the parlograph and the telephone absolutely has to be invented.
 
Avanzaba, pues, la idea del 'contestador automático'. En realidad, una premonición fallida, pues el ingeniero francés Jules Ernest Othon Kumberg había patentado el "Telephonograph" poco trece años antes, en 1898.
En todo caso, Kafka revela un cierto espíritu emprendedor no demasiado conocido. También que sus escrúpulos fueron imperfectos, dado que otra máquina, con no menor capacidad de inmisión en la intimidad, forma parte especial de la Colonia penitenciaria. En la ideación de aquel artefacto si fue enteramente original.**
 
J.C.G.
 
* "para la gente como yo, que le tiene miedo al teléfono, sería un alivio. Pero la gente como yo le tiene también miedo al gramófono, así que nadie nos puede ayudar".

** Aviso a juristas emprendedores. Esta máquina que inscribía -con pretensiones más profundas que el tattoo- La sentencia en la piel del condenado, no tiene aún patente registrada.

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