Monday, April 11, 2011

Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor

I've been reading a fair amount of books lately.  I read "Battle Ready" by Tom Clancy which details the career of Marine General Tony Zinni.  It jogged my memory a bit about being in the Army, and drove home the fact that I really did not have the personality for it. If I were in combat and an enemy who was trying to kill me suddenly withdrew, I personally would not be inclined to chase him down.  My personal reaction would be something on the order of relief at having survived a fire fight, and I'd be happy to let him go.  When someone has the motivation & means to kill you, it's down right dangerous to go chasing after them.  It's just as easy to get yourself killed by troops who are retreating as it is by troops who are charging.  However, that is not really the right attitude to take.  When an enemy is on the ropes you finish him off, otherwise he'll keep coming back, and one day he'll get you.  General Zinni seemed to love every challenge the military threw at him, in fact he sought it out.

I also read "Flashback" by Gary Braver which seem to me to be a pretty standard run of the mill made for TV movie book about corporate greed in the pharmaceutical industry.  It was better than anything I could write, but it was pretty predictable.

And I read "Aftershocks" by Richard S. Wheeler, about the immediate aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  That was a historical novel of sorts, and it followed the lives of 5 or 6 people, who for the most part, did not interact with each other so you had several stories going.  I never knew that much about the 1906 earthquake, so this filled in a few holes.   It was pretty good. There's so much I don't know.  Lots of times when I read things it makes me want to learn more. 

These books came from a thrift store, and I find myself temporarily without unread books about. 

So, with a heavy heart, having nothing else to read,  I picked up my copy of the complete stories of Franz Kafka, and chose a story more or less at random.   "Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor" is 23 pages long, and as always, before I start a Kafka story I make my peace with the world.  I ask myself if I want to suffer through 23 pages of something that will surely be odd, and maybe never make any sense.  I don't really want to, but the curiosity is overwhelming.  I know at some point I'm probably going to get lost, but each story loses me in a different way.

So Blumfeld, who lives alone, is trudging up the stairs to his apartment, thinking of all the reasons he doesn't want to own a dog. Most of these reasons have to do with cleanliness - shedding hair and such.  When he gets to his apartment, he hears a noise, opens the door to find two balls bouncing in sync.  One reaches it's height as the other hits the floor.  I remember thinking - here it is, the point in the story (a couple of pages in) of Kafkian oddness.  I had no idea that this story involved random bouncing balls.   Balls bouncing for no apparent reason, and with no means of causation.  Perpetual motion bouncing balls.  The balls followed him around, keeping a certain distance away, and seem to have some sort of feelings.  I left the story half way in, I expect to finish it up this evening.   Blumfeld had managed by trickery to trap the balls in his wardrobe, and was trying to give them to the Charwoman's son, who seemed very dense and didn't quite understand.   Now I wonder how the story will end, and what other twists will be coming in it, and if the bouncing balls will be explained.  I seriously doubt it. 

Think kind thoughts.


Patti Anne said...

You are prolific, lately!

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Oh...that's interesting!!

Today, I mentioned on a blog comment about "The Metamorphosis" by Kafka. And now I came across your blog post.

I haven't read this one, but I would be curious as to what happens with the balls :-))

I will follow your story...part II? :-D


A Valdese Blogger said...

Patti Anne: yep, I reckon

HMH: Oh my goodness, now I guess I'll have to finish it.