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James K. Mish'alani KAFKA: TEXT'S BODY, BODY'S TEXT LONG BEFORE it appears in its own life as a bio-anatomical object, the body itself is integrally lived; and after it makes its appearance, lying or standing there ready for scrutiny, dissection, examination, it yields itself thus in its objectivity only to kindred bodily probing, wherein the hands that search, press, palpate and die roving eyes, the patient, closeheld ear, are not encountered, but lived as modes of access to their object. Generally, the lived body is for itself transcendence toward the world as that within which diings are to be met, and the world, disclosed in an implicit understanding of what things one can behave toward and how one can variously behave toward diem, thus stands in correspondence to the body. As limit, die world determines the specific ways in which things are to be dealt with. As access, the body on its side projects through the lived articulation of limbs and organs those paths toward, by and about things whereby die very complexion ofdie world is always revealed. The body is world-revelation . ] But as die presence of diings in the lighting of revelation is not uniform or indifferent, but variegated, so is die body differentiated, articulated, variously organed and limbed, outfitted, equipped, and geared. The window lets in the light ofday and opens out on scenes only for die seeing eyes of a creature of vistas and distances. The hammer, standing out toward nails and wood, as toward all that they may be nailed togedier for and all diat diey may be brought togedier from, does so only insofar as it is ready for die hand diat lifts it. The pair of shoes suited to the earth, gathering about it die doorsill to die country path, the windswept fields, sun, rain, grain, bread, evening, dawn, die hearth and floorboards by childbed or deadibed, does all this in its humble reliability for the tread of the peasant woman whose footedness releases her through it to the security of a simple world. Thejug mat comes to full presence asjug in the outpouring ofa gift 56 James K. Mish'alani57 in which, be it water or wine, earth and sky together dwell by a marriage of soil and rock to rain and sun in spring or vine — this jug does its manifold-simple gathering of the world's extremities for the hand that pours the outpour, toward the lips for whom a refreshing drink is given, or before the faces lifted up in thanks to the gods for whom a libation is poured.2 Thus are things in most essential ways rooted in the body; and as primal ground the body in turn remains matrix to the world, not an object found in it.3 Nor does the other's body appear in the manner of an object in my encounter with him or her, whose features, glances, gestures, and movements all point beyond themselves and thus turn me with them toward that which occupies them and in relation to which I must assume a specific stance if only to reject it or, deciding it does not concern me, pass it by. The other's body lights up the world for me no less than mine does, in a co-transcendence toward a common horizon of meaning consensually confirmed, and ever renewed, laying for us a shared ground of world engagement without which even error, disagreement, and dissension become impossible. As the equipment through which I ordinarily pass in my projects does not stand out as an object until it breaks or is lost, so the other's body and mine do not obtrude and call attention to themselves in pure anatomical objectivity unless a radical breakdown occurs occasioned by some such disruption as disease, death, or a chaos of incoordination. Otherwise and until then, the other and I continue to be co-workers at world-disclosure, passing through each other's attitudes and movements as through unobstructed space. The human shape that comes toward me from the opposite direction reveals that part ofmy path I have left behind. The open hand thrust out from that tattered sleeve...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 56-64
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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