Kafka’s concern

Deleuze picks out Kafka’s concern with the rise and transformation of bureaucracy into a “precision instrument” of “technical and political rationality” (105). Bureaucracy became a tool of a dominant power to implement “absolute and systematic” control and surveillance over the citizen. Deleuze says that bureaucracy developed along side capitalism and created the same separation and alienation process of the civil individual as Taylorist and Fordist did for the laborer in Marx’s conception. The individual as turned into a mass subject through the abstraction of the individual into a “file.” It is in this way that bureaucracy uses information categories to domesticate the individual into an institutionalized subject of state power.

Deleuze relates this to Kafka’s literature by locating the political and technological rational in his works. He says that no other 19th century literacy work is as “ontologically fraught with the abstract relations of social organization – an entire novelistic universe whose objects, spaces, and relations are apprehended and manipulated in the same distorting though diabolically fecund terms of the emerging mega machine” (106).

Deleuze here is drawing the relationship between state power, capitalistic ideology, and bureaucracy as socio-political and alienating the individual within the economic sphere. The “distance-effect” that Deleuze and Kafka talk about is new conception of alienation threat is reproduced within bureaucracy and the larger scope of controlling society.

Aejin Hwang


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