The Demon of Writing

The Demon of Writing looks interesting. What’s the chance that a guy named Ben Kafka wrote it?

Since the middle of the eighteenth century, political thinkers of all kinds–radical and reactionary, professional and amateur–have been complaining about “bureaucracy.” But what, exactly, are they complaining about?

In The Demon of Writing, Ben Kafka offers a critical history and theory of one of the most ubiquitous, least understood forms of media: paperwork. States rely on records to tax and spend, protect and serve, discipline and punish. But time and again, this paperwork proves to be unreliable. Examining episodes that range from the story of a clerk who lost his job and then his mind in the French Revolution to an account of Roland Barthes’s brief stint as a university administrator, Kafka reveals the powers, the failures, and even the pleasures of paperwork. Many of its complexities, he argues, have been obscured by the comic-paranoid style that characterizes much of our criticism of bureaucracy. Kafka proposes a new theory of what Karl Marx called the “bureaucratic medium.” Moving from Marx to Freud, he argues that this theory of paperwork must include both a theory of praxis and of parapraxis.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Demon Theory week This week at the LBC is Demon Theory week. And remember that the week following that will be for discussing Wizard of the Crow. As...
  2. Feel the Strangulation! This essay on several recent books by or about Kafka turns up this gem from the ossified Austro-Hungarian empire: At the fin de si├Ęcle, the...
  3. Joshua Henkin’s Ten Terrific Novels About Writers, Writing, and the Writing Life (Today we have a guest post from novelist Joshua Henkin. Henkin’s novel, Matrimony, about MFA students and writing about writing (among other things), is out...
  4. Colm Toibin Hates Writing Despite two Booker nominations, Colm Toibin kind of despises doing what what he does for a living: "Oh there's no pleasure. Except that I don't...
  5. Of Course Everyone Knows That There's No Experimental Writing In America There’s been a heck of a lot of coverage of Dalkey’s Best European Fiction anthology. (And big congrats to Dalkey for that.) By and large...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2015. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.