Integrative Seminar Week 3

 “…why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?”


The third brother in a family of related,confusing words-‘Introspection’ was what was presented to us today.Simply put,it is the process of analyzing our own thoughts.I sometimes see it as a constant internal dialogue that I’m having with myself.Like I’m the protagonist of the book containing my life and my introspection is the sentences coming in in italics after I’ve said a dialogue.Since people do this often,it is an important tool actually used by writers in books to give the character more depth,making it more real and relatable. An author’s ability to do this can be so powerful that the reader is able to mentally form an image of what the character must look and behave like without any specifications given by the author.

That brings us to Franz Kafka,Author of The Metamorphosis.The author’s own life and several incidents which he has gone through are often seen in the life of Gregor Samsa,a travelling salesman,who has just found himself to be transformed into a ‘ungeheueres Ungeziefer ‘.This is two indimidating German words which look too hard to pronounce,as is the rest of the book,This is thanks to Kafka’s careful selection of words and the fact that Germans have a word for everything.What I find interesting is that the translation of the being Gregor transformed to was never too clear,even to actual translators.The words ‘ ungeheueres Ungeziefer ‘ mean ‘an unclean animal unfit for sacrifice’,but Kafka never mentioned the nature of the animal and kept it ambiguous on purpose.For ease of understanding,we assume it to be a bug,beetle or a vermin,but I think Kafka’s intention was to have a different version of Gregor in everyone’s heads-he even told his publishers to strictly not put any insect related graphic on the cover.

Kafka’s incorporation of ambiguity,double meanings and the German origin of the book works well in his favour,blending with his writing style easily.His writing style is known to be a mix of Surrealism and Realism,but he made such a deadly concotion of the two that it was given its own name, ‘Kafkaesque’.Today, anything that seems relatable but horribly complicated for no reason is called kafkaesque.

Gregor Samsa shows striking similarity to Kafka.Themes like Overthinking,Avoiding Interaction,Loneliness,Problematic Authority Figures seem to be a part of both of their lives.A summary of Gregor’s father lies in the phrase “Gently,but with his fist” when describing his father knocking on the door to wake Gregor up in the beginning. It shows aggression,a feeble attempt at controlling it,and slight contempt for his own offspring.It shows that the man actually finds it ‘hard’ to be nice to his own son.It also reflects the demanding tone present in a patriarchal household.

Overall,Chapter 1 is about everyone coming to terms with Gregor being a horrible vermin.( except Gregor himself,who accepted it in Line 1 of the book)It is a start to the continuous war between acknowledgement and acceptance that Samsa[‘s family will struggle with in forthcoming events.

As a concluding activity,we were told to write down ten metaphors about ourselves.Here are the metaphors I wrote:

  • Ashlesha’s life has a superb cast,but I can’t seem to figure out the plot.
  • Ashlesha can be described as a crossover between a coconut and an onion.
  • Ashlesha’s eyes have a mercury coating beneath them,they’re a mirror.
  • Ashlesha’s beliefs are a tree in a gust of wind.
  • Ashlesha’s head contains a buzzing bee.
  • Eating spicy pani puri reminds me of Ashlesha’s temper,it hits you in seconds and disappears immediately.
  • Ashlesha’s soul is damaged tempered glass.cracked,but still works.
  • If you thought Draupadi’s saree never ends,you should hear Ashlesha talk.
  • Ashlesha’s brain is like machine gears.
  • Ashlesha’s friends are beads on a string.

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