Kafka’s Meat: Beautiful Processes and Perfect Victims
This chapter decisively connects the fascination with meat and meat-like character fates across Kafka’s oeuvre with a sense of politics that, ultimately, doubts the potential for politics or life at all under such conditions. Specifically, this is a political form reiterated by the inscrutable social structures and interminable human subjection typical in Kafka’s works. The totality of this fate in Kafka parallels the overwhelming scale of meat machinery witnessed in, for example, in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and broader facets of the contemporary meat production systems perhaps most closely associated with the weaponized empathy of Temple Grandin. Kafka’s own interest in machinery is examined as well. The resulting life and death in the meatworks, which approximate the biopolitical and the administered life articulated in the critical theory of Theodor Adorno, are thus an inescapable, practically sublime wonderment unto death—the meat in Kafka impotently idolizes its captors and slaughterers, stunned until the final moment of dispatch.
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