kafka the friendly ghost
do you talk to dead writers?
sometimes i fantasize about saying everything. but every day i find it more difficult to say anything at all. everything is untouchable. i have been thinking a lot about kafka. in fact, when i imagine saying things, i imagine saying them to kafka. i joke about how one day i am going to get out my ouiji board and prove to everyone that kafka really is my friend, my ghost friend. kafka the friendly ghost.
dear kafka dear kafka kafka is my friend kafka is friendly kafka is my friendly friend laughs so loud tall and afraid of dying. kafka was a bundle of fragments struggling for cohesion and so am i. kafka’s strength and vision were stronger than mine and so i am really doomed, unlike kafka who was just psyching himself out. kafka’s oeuvre is in pieces, editorial asides that note [two missing pages]. kafka you hated everything that came from your pen and yet you read your stories to your sisters, your friend max, and laughed so hard you could barely continue. kafka, it’s amazing that you wrote at all, with all that resistance inside you. kafka there is so much resistance inside me, every word put down is like amputating a healthy limb. kafka, why did you fill up notebooks? over 500 pages of letters to felice? you must have known, somewhere inside you, that you had a way with words. kafka i’ll be your father, absorb all your love and let you take care of my old man body, lay me into the bed and kiss my cold forehead. you don’t have to jump off the bridge, i love you son. kafka, i love your scraps. your half-thoughts, brilliantly unrealized. through you, kafka, i know that i and these words will always be left open. kafka, sometimes i read things and think, i wish i were sure of my brilliance like that, because then maybe i wouldn’t feel such resistance. but like you, i am not. i never was. i know how hard it is to finish when you’re so unsure of yourself. kafka, the trial may never end and that frightens me. kafka i can imagine the place you are you are going to or would go to…kafka i see you, i am watching going under and over a table and deeper into you world. you can’t even imagine how much of a world it is—and you only left us little bits of it! kafka i am living in the missing pages of your book you will find me there if you emerge from the grave or perhaps you are watching me kafka watch me kafka i want you to. i want you to tell me how i am and how i’m supposed to be. use the ouiji board to write me a 600 page letter that reveals all of it—that the vacant god came and her name was me. you are my friend-ghost, i am your god. since i am living in your blank spaces i have so much room here, not like my cramped $80 porch-room in baltimore. kafka you wanted to be complete. is that really what you wanted? kafka i understand that partial feeling. at night i think i can touch the incompleteness and it hurts. kafka you were bored at synagogue and were skeptical of religion when you were young. kafka, i could never pay attention during mass as a child. i felt bad for not believing and could only think about donuts while in church. and i can’t sleep either. you know what that’s like. i wake up in a frantic panic thinking nightmarish thoughts about the Law and penal system and cannot go back to sleep. kafka, i have a confession. one reason i love you is because you were a failure…aborted your stories prematurely, left them unfinished or renounced them completely. like me, like the 2 manuscripts i abandoned this year right as i was completing them. through you, kafka, i leave my strivings and ambitions behind. i abdicate. but kafka, you were a failure who is now considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. i like that you weren’t one of those glossy, really “together” perfectionist genius types. kafka i need a max brod to pry my words from my self-conscious fingers and blast them into the world. kafka, maybe you were afraid of the capture of the page, the way the printed word fixes you. kafka, you were an alien, never fit in anywhere. i realized i have a pattern of feeling tenderness toward out-of-place jews, like you and spinoza. kafka, you wrote overflowing letters to younger women and the epistolary romances kept you awake at night. kafka, i’m basically the same age as milena when you started writing her. perhaps it’s time for you to start writing me? use the ouiji board. i’ll be your milena steal drugs from my surgeon father blow his money on clothes and presents beg you to come to vienna ask you for money while i woo you with my youthful rebelliousness and decadent lifestyle. do you need some sleeping pills? kafka, we only have your letters because you burned the ones addressed to you. in these pages milena is a ghost and if i am milena…well, it’s time for you to play the ghost. give me your journals! i’d read every page except i don’t know german. i’ll learn german! kafka, you don’t need another person to mythologize you and your life. in prague i asked the stranger i was staying with about the museum dedicated to YOU. he said, don’t go. i didn’t. he said, it’s a tourist trap. he said, would kafka want there to be a museum dedicated to him? i thought by not going i would be honoring your true wishes. but actually, that’s bullshit. i would never honor your wishes. i would never burn your manuscripts, your journals, or even a scrap from you. like max brod, who saved everything despite your instructions. you gave them to max even though you knew he wouldn’t destroy them. maybe a little part of you wanted to survive? like a ghost. kafka the friendly ghost.