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review 2014-06-08 02:44
Faulty logic and flawed reasoning
Investigations of a Dog - Franz Kafka

I think it is correct to say that with this particular short story you sort of wonder whether you should be laughing. I never pictured Kafka as being a comic of any sort, though this and Metamorphosis just have this really strange feel about them in that the concept is in one sense really bizarre, and in another sense so absurd you simply just want to laugh. However, unlike Metamorphosis, this particular story does not come anywhere near being what I would call disturbing, rather it just seems to sit in the realm of the strange, the bizarre, and as mentioned, the absurd.


The story is about a dog, though this particular dog does not have a name. In fact this particular dog does not seem to even recognise the need to have a name. However this particular dog is different to the other dogs because this dog seems to ask questions and to investigate the world about him. For much of this particular story the dog seems to be coming to the understanding of where food comes from, but does not seem to be able to reach a conclusion. In the end it seems to accept that it comes about through some powerful and magical ritual, but a ritual that it does not seem to understand, and cannot perform. It is not just the question of where food comes from that it tries to explore, but also the nature of music, and also where the best marrow is located.


Some have raised the question of whether this is the first text in which an author tries to get inside the head of an animal so as to imagine the world through the eyes of the said animal. However I am not sure that this is actually Kafka's purpose because, to me, it seems as if he is mocking our understanding of the world by using the dog as a rather blatant metaphor. The thing about the dog is that he does not understand, and further does not have all of the facts, so it tries to come to its conclusion by making assumptions and by plugging in the gaps with faulty logic. It is also interesting to note that the dog does not seem to acknowledge or recognise the existence of humans.


My reading of this particular text (and I am sure that one can come to multiple conclusions with regards to Kafka because, well, most, if not all, of his works were publish posthumously, however if they were not, he never actually said anything about them) is that he seems to be having a not so subtle dig as the scientific method. It seems that, in Kafka's mind, the scientists don't actually have any idea as to how the world works: they only believe that the know and as such they use big words, and flawed logic, to create a picture of the world that we will believe because, well, we don't have pieces of paper to say otherwise. To me it seems that he doesn't actually trust science, and does not actually believe that these so called 'learned scientists' actually know what they are talking about. Basically it is one absurd joke.


I can sort of see where he is coming from and in a way I agree with him. There is much about this world that we do not know, but we create fancy ideas, flawed theories, and mathematical models to try to explain the way the world works. Sometimes we don't even do that, we just outright lie, but in the end if we do that we end up getting caught out (though not always because if you tell a lie long enough it ends up becoming the truth). This is very much the case in America, where the big lie is that if you work hard then you have the opportunity to become really wealthy. However, the upper class works its deceit and its logic to further push the burden of running the state onto the people that are least able to do so. For instance, the idea that economic growth comes about through cutting taxes, but in the end the only thing that comes about through cutting taxes is that the rich get richer and the poor get screwed. In fact the finance industry has been employing advanced mathematicians to use modelling techniques to try to maximise one's ability to create and retain wealth, but in the end these models are flawed, and when pushed to the limit the models collapse, along with the economy, and the poor, once again, get screwed.


I want to finish off by looking at the statement regarding the dog not acknowledging the existence of any human masters. Personally I do not think it is all that relevant, though to me it seems to remind me of the scientist refusing to acknowledge the existence of God. The answer to the dog's question as to where his food comes from is easy: the human prepares it and puts it out for him to eat – but in the dog's mind the human does not exist, therefore there must be another explanation, and because the whole nature of existence rests upon the fact that the human exists, then the dog must rework its entire meta-narrative to exclude the existence of the human. This is not a question of an ignorant native trying to explain the world by saying 'God made it' but rather rejecting an obvious answer and in turn being left with no meaning, and thus the dog (or the scientist) must create meaning through faulty logic and flawed reasoning which, in the end, will collapse in on itself because the whole basis for the nature of existence has been taken away.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/956119880
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