Kafka kontra mesjanizm. Kryzys mitycznego uzasadnienia prawa w kulturze europejskiej

Piotr Graczyk


Kafka versus messianism. The crisis of the mythical justification of law in European culture

The essay is centered around the political and historical interpretation of Franz Kafka’s short story In the Penal Colony. The theoretical context includes Claude Levi-Strauss’s comments on “cold” societies (trying to deny history) and “hot” societies (trying to internalize the history). The aim of the interpretation is to create a simplified model of the shifts taking place in European culture in terms of the relations between myth, law, and (a specific kind of) messianism and to capture the differences between the pre-modern and the modern approach to the myth as a kind of fabricated imitation of eternity. The methodological tool used to this end includes a critical and hermeneutical interpretation involving reading literature in the light of historical processes, and historical processes in the light of literature. The disintegration of the torture apparatus in the Kafka’s story can be decoded as the transition from “cold” to “hot” society, i.e. as an entry into enlightened modernity, where the awareness of the fact that transcendence is something fabricated becomes universal. This reduces the politics practised in modern, illuminated, and liberal societies (which conceal their own mythical nature under a veneer of science and democracy) to the need to choose between cynicism and fanaticism: between the cynical politics of ressentiment, which involves fabrication of emotions that drive the social machine, and the politics of virtue revived by desperate messianism that can no longer believe in its own truth.

Słowa kluczowe: Franz Kafka, Platon, Lévi-Strauss, Bateson, structural anthropology, messianism, the myth, the law, politics of resentment/ressentiment, politics of virtue

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