Freedom from the Free Will
ebook ∣ On Kafka's Laughter · SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
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Many of Kafka's narratives place their heroes in situations of confinement. Gregor Samsa is locked in his room in the Metamorphosis, and the land surveyor in The Castle is stuck in the village unable either to leave or to gain access to the castle. Dimitris Vardoulakis argues that Kafka constructs these plots of confinement in order to laugh at his heroes' futile attempts to express their will. In this way, Kafka emerges as a critic of the free will and as a proponent of a different kind of freedom: one focused within the confines of one's experience and mediated by one's circumstances. Vardoulakis contends that his sense of humor is the key to understanding Kafka as a political thinker. Laughter, in this account, is the tool used to deconstruct power. By placing Kafka in dialogue with philosophy and political theory, Vardoulakis shows that Kafka can give us invaluable insights into how to be free—and how to laugh.