Who is Kafka and Why did John Updike write a Forward?

Kafka was a self-loathing lawyer who hated everything he wrote and was trapped in a profession he liked to mock.  Yes, that does sound like the traits of a superb writer now, doesn’t it?  John Updike and I both agree. 😉

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 and was a lawyer by profession.  He also was a closet writer.  Prior to his death in 1924 he ordered his ex-wives, mother, and his page to destroy all copies of his writing.  Lucky for us, only a few ex-wives followed his instructions.  His mother and page destroyed nothing and Kafka’s work was translated so that all can read what this amazing writer wanted to desperately destroy.

Perhaps my favorite essay that was saved was written to his father, a letter that Kafka gave to his mother.  It is titled, “Letter to His Father” and was written in 1919. His father never read the letter because Kafka knew it would just kick up a shit storm in the house.  Kafka lived at home his entire life, never obtaining the love he needed from his father.  I hear ya Kafka, but I moved out.

Kafka writes with tenderness and humor in a graphic manner.  It doesn’t surprise me that his writing were eventual put into a comic book format.  That textbook is my personal favorite since starting college in 2010.  Kafka lives feeling nearly worthless, imagining horrific ways in which he could die.  Die by bizarre coincidence, not by suicide.  His death was due to tuberculosis while confined to a sanatorium.  He died a month short of turning forty-one.

Kafka's envisioned injury by a butcher's cleaver.

Kafka’s envisioned death by a butcher’s cleaver.

His final message to a friend was “five books and one short story are all that can stand” as works that he would want to remain after his death.  He still felt they weren’t particularly special and didn’t feel they should be “reprinted and handed down to posterity.”  Another request of Kafka’s that was ignored.  Later, his friends came forward with manuscripts they had written based on conversations with Kafka.  Those sneaky friends did us a huge favor.

Some of Kafka’s manuscripts were still being written.  The unfinished stories are not found as incomplete as the opening, body and climax, had been reached.  Kafka’s essays often delved into his on psycho analysis.  He wrote of his life feeling unloved by his father, feeling helpless, and depressed.  Often his stories revolved around a creature or bug as the main character as Kafka worked through his own feelings of self-worth.  A writer corresponded with Kafka’s friend who was writing manuscripts behind Kafka’s back.  The letter to Brod, Kafka’s friend, stated, “Franz can not live. Franz doe not have the capacity for living.  He is like a naked man among a multitude who are dressed.”  Franz really didn’t like himself and knew he would never live up to the standards expected of him.  His father’s indifference to his son scarred Kafka until his death.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

A line in the final section of the forward struck a key with me.  “Fantasy, for Kafka even more than for most writers of fiction, was the way out of his skin, so he could get back in.”  That resounds with me because even with writing nonfiction, it allows me to exit and write in the first person, only to climb back in and resume life as it happens.

Works cited:

Franz Kafka. The Complete Stories

David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb Introducing Kafka

Leopold’s wolves and trees

The movie Green Fire was screened in the
Humanities building, sponsored by Schmidt Library.  The film was based on Aldo Leopold life as a revolutionary conservationist.  His achievements as a child to adult were exceptional.

Leopold was born in 1887, graduated from Yale and at the age of 22 he became a forest inspector.  He and his wife Estella had five children, all who took careers in science and land preservation.

Leopold was very concerned about the development of the Midwest.  As the land was destroyed by poor grazing methods, over planting of crops and general ignorance, Leopold realized that “man kills the things he loves.”

At one point in his life, Leopold believed killing all the predators would allow plentiful game for hunting.  As species of animals began to disappear he realized his error and focused to preserving the animals that were almost to extinction.  He was especially concerned about the wolf population.  The elk population was out of control and there were only 7 wolves left in the wild.  A wolf recovery program was established to rebuild their community.

What is interesting about this is 100 years ago, Leopold shot a female wolf and while she died he saw a “fierce green fire” that faded from her eyes in death.  About 35 years later, it was Leopold who starts the campaign to repopulate the wolves.
In 1934, the Wildlife Reservation was created in Wisconsin to re-establish animal and plant species of the brink of extinction.  In 1949 “The Land Ethic” was published.  This book is thought of as the Bible of the environment.  Leopold was and still is far ahead of mankind in understanding and acting on the preservation of nature.

It is the responsibility of private land owners to properly care for their land.  The government agrees with Leopold as there
are now laws protecting all land, private and public.  In the 21st century, the
importance of protecting the earth and atmosphere is stressed daily.  This is because of the actions and writing of
a man who “thinks like a mountain” and was intelligent enough to teach how to
care for the land we live on.

There was
a brief discussion following the movie concerning the biotic community as a
whole and what role the human population has in keeping it healthy.  Also discussed was Leopold’s involvement with Gifford Pinchot.  Gifford Pinchot is honored at Pinchot Park, located in Lewisberry, PA.  Pinchot was also credited in the conservation movement.

The movie presented a beautiful view of unspoiled wilderness, especially in the
Midwest and New Mexico.  Green Fire is an inspirational film that will continue to educate and inspire people world-wide in the importance of caring for the Earth.  This movie should be shown to students in middle-school and on. The importance of conservation will eventually fall into the hands of this younger generation.

I recycle,


P.S. The student I sat beside during the movie kept picking his nose, his lips, his face.  He stank too.  😦

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Series

There is no doubt, Barker kept to his original story line when creating the manuscript for Hellraiser.  Barker had “The knack for vividly disturbing imagery and fresh scenes, long familiar to readers of his fiction. (It) has translated very well to the screen.”
(Wooley p.41)  The characters of Barker’s book have the same lines in the movie.
The plot was the same and the description of the characters was accurately portrayed.  There were a few changes to the story line.  For example, Kirsty was a friend of Rory in the book.  In the movie, she is his daughter and his name is Larry.  The movie had a scene where Kirsty encounters a Cenobite that chases her in the hospital.  Also the movie had a very different ending than the novella.  Kirsty keeps the box in the story but in the
movie she throws it in the fire and a homeless man picks it out and keeps it.  This let the door open for future Hellraiser films.

The reviews for Hellraiser were not as praising as the reviews of The Hellbound Heart.  Film critic, Roger Ebert wrote this concerning the movie, “Stephen King may have seen the
future of the horror genre, but he has almost certainly not seen “Hellraiser,” which is as dreary a piece of goods as has masqueraded as horror in many a long, cold night. This is one of those movies you sit through with mounting dread, as the fear grows inside of you that it will indeed turn out to be feature length.”  Ebert gave Hellraiser half a star out of five.

Richard Harrington, of The Washington Post wrote, “In its best moments, the film’s visuals complement Barker’s writing, but they seldom achieve the same visceral impact. A scene of metal hooks piercing Frank’s flesh is gory and painful to watch, but Barker’s stories tend to be even more unbearable to read. He’s still a man of verbal images, and
the meld of sex and horror is even more perverse and disturbing in his stories
than in this film.”

The success of Clive Barker’s writing and directing career did not stop after the release
of this book and movie.  His novella was released again in 1991, this time not part of an anthology.  Barker had little to do with the Hellraiser series, but his original concept
lives on in an additional eight movies.  According to Wikipedia, to date there are nine Hellraiser films. Five of these movies have grossed $84 million dollars at the box office and the other four were sent directly to video.

No matter how you cut it, Barker made money.


Hellish Pain and Pleasure

“The term sadomasochism finds its roots in the words sadism, meaning to enjoy inflicting pain, and masochism, meaning to enjoy pain being inflicted on oneself.”

The Cenobites in Barker’s story The Hellbound Heart are referred to as sadomasochistic beings.  Frank bought the metaphysical puzzle solely believing it would bring him pleasure.  He did not expect a journey through pleasure with an end in hell for all eternity.   His first encounter with the puzzle box brought him pleasure beyond his belief possible.  He could not pass up the opportunity to masturbate, possibly not realizing the pain and torture that would soon follow.

Julia carried such a lustful passion for Frank that she was willing to do anything.  Her one sexual experience with Frank impacted her so much she was willing to kill other people to bring Frank back from the dead.  He told her his ideas of them spending the rest of their lives together after she made him whole.  Julia thrived on the thought of bringing Frank
back and having him take her sexually.

When Frank is taken back to Hell by the Order of Gash, he takes pleasure in the tearing of his flesh.  Kirsty watched as his body began to tear apart and was disgusted by Frank’s crude sexual enjoyment.  She ran out of the room while he wagged his tongue at her.

While this was all shocking in the mid 1980’s, the art of body modification, piercing, tattoos, scars and branding has come a long way.  While not necessarily part of sexual gratification, it does have it place in the pain and pleasure realm.


Kaptive8 Halloween performance on 10-29-11.

10 point modified coma.  Randomly cut 1 hook out at a time until we got to a 4 point

In air total time was 30 min.


Body Modification Ezine. http://www.bme.com/ 1994. 11/04/2011

I’ll stick to fishing,


Hellbound Heart Recap

A great read!

The novella’s plot was not a new writing concept.  It held the ever popular subjects of sex, money, murder and the occult.  I was repulsed by what I was reading in Barker’s story, yet so engrossed, I couldn’t set the book down.  The main character was Frank Cotton, “a sex
obsessed thrill seeker” who stops by to see Julia, his future sister-in-law for the first time.  This was the day before her wedding to Rory Cotton.  Frank and Julia felt an instant spark and fucked like wild animals.  Frank disappears, just like he appeared and Julie never sees him again.  Rory and Julia get married and about 8 years later move into Rory and Frank’s parent’s vacant house.

Rory was a bit of a “tool” because he never realized his wife had “jumped his brother” the way she had.  He adored “the whore” who in turn couldn’t get over her lust for his sexy, tight-bodied, brother.  Frank was at the house, waiting for the opportunity to once again make use his up-tight sister-in-law.  He had left his sperm in an explosive orgasm,
made possible by The Cenobites. The Cenobites were part of the “Theologians of the Order of the Gash” a sadistic cult of former humans.

Frank is “ripped to hell” with two meanings.  Literally torn to pieces by a sadomasochistic tower of bloody hooks and figuratively sent to hell to suffer for eternity.  Frank is a character you instantly hate.  He is greedy, evil and willing to risk his own life and others for his own sexual pleasure. His brother Rory is a character you love.  He was a good guy, worked hard and loved his wife.

It was Rory’s blood that ignited the very possibility of Frank returning to human form.  When his chisel slipped working in a back bedroom window, he gashed his hand open and bled heavily.  Frank’s sperm he had long ago deposited, absorbed the blood through the floor boards.  It gave him enough strength to whisper one word, “Julia.“

This takes place about halfway through Barker’s novella.  Julia is driven by her
sexual desire of Frank to hunt down men and murder them.  It was after Frank’s absorption of Julia’s victim that Kirsty becomes an important character of the plot.  Kirsty was a long friend of Rory’s, who appreciated his friendship but was deeply in love with him secretly.  Kirsty hated Julia with a passion, viewing her as a snob that never deserved Rory.  Kirsty interrupted Julia and Frank during their blood fest.  She was convinced by Julia to leave and believed Julia was cheating on Rory.

The next day, Kirsty spied on Julia and discovered the secret of Frank, now covered in blood and bandages, in the attic.  She had met Rory’s brother once before and remembered him when he said his name.  Frank tries to kill Kirsty but she escapes by
throwing the puzzle box through a window.  She wakes the next day in a hospital.

The puzzle box is given back to her and she begins solving it while in her room.  She accidentally summons the Cenobites and now is faced with certain death.  Kirsty
cried and begged for her life and the Lead Cenobite replied, “No tears, please.  It’s a waste of good suffering.” (Barker p. 136)  This was possibly the best line in the entire movie.  Kirsty manages to make a deal with the Cenobites to take them to Frank who had escaped hell.

The Cenobites “magically take” Kirsty to the Cotton residence.  There she encountered her friend Rory in terrible condition.  He tried to explain that he was injured in a horrible fight with Frank.  Trying to reassure her that all was well he said, “Come to Daddy.” (Barker,
p.151) and Kirsty realized it was Frank in Rory’s skin.  She gets Frank to admit his name and the Cenobites immediately set their hooks into his body.  The Cenobites tear his flesh to pieces as Kirsty is ordered to leave the house.  She hears Franks head hit the door as she exited. Kirsty survived her encounter with the Cenobites and keeps the wooden puzzle box, just in case she might need to use it someday.

Caesarean born Hellraiser

Clive Barker’s fascination with blood and terror all began at his childbirth.
He was a Caesarean birth and became stuck, upside down, nearly killing
his mother and self.  On October 5, 1952, Mrs. Joan Barker gave birth to a healthy baby boy, not far from Penny Lane in Liverpool, England.

Young Barker began his story-telling abilities at the age of two.  His father, Len Barker, and mother doted on their son and at the age of eight, encouraged him to perform
marionette puppet shows in their backyard. (Winter, p.10-13)

Early to recognize Barker’s exceptional talent was Norman Russell.  Russell was the assistant master of the English Department and Barker’s instructor and mentor in Quarry
Bank English.  Russell recalled saying “I can’t mark this paper” to Barker, who was fourteen at that time.  “You’ve moved into a realm where your writing
is a personal statement.” (Winter, p. 43-44)

Barker was an outgoing, student with an amazing following on campus.  His
art and theater productions pushed him into the spotlight, where he thrived.  By the time of his graduation, Barker had come “out of the closet” with his close friends.  In 1977, he and his boyfriend, John Gregson moved to London and Barker told his parents he was gay.  His parents were disappointed, but his mother said, “As long as Clive is all right, that’s all that matters.” (J. Barker, Winter, p.91)

Clive Barker, as a writer and a director, has the important key elements that lead to
success.  His sense of composition and pacing are not influenced by any one writer or director.  He describes his success with these words, “I enjoy the company of creative people (during filming).  It’s a different buzz from when you get to the end of the day and you’ve got 15 good pages (written).  That’s a private victory.  In films, the victory should be shared.” (Wooley, p. 41)  Clive’s success has been achieved slowly, gaining the respect of novelists and film producers.

Barker gained instant notoriety when Stephen King said, “I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker.”  This quote is published on the cover of Barker’s books and makes a connection to King fans.   (Winters, p. 153)  “The Hellbound Heart was not conceived as a template for a film.  It was an exorcism of his failed relationship
with Gregson.”  Their relationship ended in 1986.  In 1987, New World Pictures
committed 4.2 million dollars for the filming budget and The Hellbound Heart novella transforms into the film Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. (Winter, p.255-56)

Pattie Crider

Literature of Terror

Pattie raises hell

The Hellbound Heart

Powerpoint Presentation by Pattie Crider

Joan M. Garry, Barker and his husband, David Armstrong

Photos from the 15th Annual GLAAD Media Awards

San Francisco, CA

June 5, 2004

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Caught in the stolen skin of Larry

The Cenobites take him back to hell by way of hooks and chain.

Written report still in progress….

Caught in hell,


Works Cited

Barker, Clive  Clive
Barker’s Hellraiser.  New World’s Pictures. UK. US.  Sept. 1987. Film

Barker, Clive.  The Hellbound Heart. Harper Collins Publishers. NY. 1986. Print.

Ebert, Roger. Hellraiser . Sept 1987. 10/17/11
web. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19870918/REVIEWS/709180304/1023

Harrington, Richard. The Washington Post. 1987.

10/17/11 web.

  10/17/2011 web.

Kennedy, Kevin. http://www.lisamorton.com/stokerbw.html  2004
CA 10/17/2011 web.

Winter, Douglas E. Clive Barker, The Dark Fantastic.
HarperCollins Publishers. NY. 2002. Print.

Wooley, John. Clive Barker:No
Apologies. The Bloody Best of Fangoria Magazine. Volume 7.  O’Quinn Studios. NY. 1988.  Periodical.


Martyrdom and Memory Review

Pattie Crider

Professor Shusko

Christianity 275

Martyrdom and Memory Book Review

            Elizabeth A. Castelli, author of Martyrdom and Memory, clearly stated her thesis in the book’s introduction as, “a systematic means to understand the Early Christian collective memory of historical experiences of persecution and martyrdom as formed by culture.”  (Pg. 4)  Castelli believed it is the memory of Roman acts of persecution toward Christians that developed the legacy of martyrs.  Her novel, comprised of six chapters, began with the collective memories of early Christian martyrs and closed with the exploration of modern day martyrdom.

            Chapter one, titled “Collective Memory and the Meanings of the Past,” urges the reader to move past “what really happened” and focus on the memory of persecuted Christians.  French sociologist, Maurice Halbwach stated, “Memory is a socially constructed function that operates as an ideological ground for the present.” (Pg. 12)  The earliest written recollections were not recorded until long after the events had passed.  Due to this time lapse, scholars question the accuracy of martyr’s legends.  In accepting the documentation as a collection of memories, Castelli leads to the study, not analysis, of martyrdom. (Pg.24)  The question of truth and accuracy put aside, I was able to get a deeper understanding of the persecution of Christians and the development of martyrs.

            Chapter two, titled “Performing Persecution, Theorizing Martyrdom” gave historical accounts of “textual and artifactual traces of martyrdom’s ongoing cultural production.” (Pg. 33)  Roman historical records of law indicated the Christians were persecuted for many reasons.  They were charged with breaking civil laws for refusing to perform the required state sacrifices. (Pg.37)  The Romans also charged the Christians with outlandish crimes such as cannibalism, infanticide, incest, magic, and treason. (Pg. 42)  The false charges by the Romans are what made martyrdom possible because “Martyrdom is not just an action, it requires an audience.”   It also includes violence, suffering, and a meaningless death.  Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is the template for theorizing on Christian martyrdom. (Pgs. 34-35)  I understand this theory because Jesus was the only perfect human on earth, and he was persecuted and crucified despite his innocence.  This chapter also theorized why Christians refused to participate in the sacrificial rituals.  The obvious reason was it broke the commandment to only worship God, but it also removed Christians as the sacrificer to the position of sacrificial victim.  Essentially, the faithful followers of Christ were willing to sacrifice themselves to the one, true God. (Pgs. 51-52) 

            Three faithful followers are introduced in chapter three titled “The Martyr’s Memory.”  This chapter covered the self-writings of Ignatius, Perpetua, and Pionius.  All three of these martyrs practiced the ascetic act of renunciation.  I have learned about renunciation through-out two terms of religion and was able to fully grasp what these Christians gave up in their lives to live for Christ.  Ignatius basically wrote himself out of material existence in his Letters to the Romans. (Pg. 78)  He documented his sense of humiliation, submission, and lowliness but still felt he was unworthy of the torture and suffering which would ultimately lift him to the hands of God.  Ignatius persuaded others not to intervene on his behalf because through this self-sacrifice he was imitating Christ’s sacrifice for all mankind. (Pg. 84) 

            Perpetua’s diary is the earliest text by a woman.  The Diary of Perpetua shared her desire to be more than just called a Christian but to really be a Christian.  Perpetua was a well-born Roman wife, mother, and a Christian visionary.  Her renunciation of worldly roles enabled her to receive visions from God.  Her diary accounted a frightening experience in prison and also shared the emotional and physical pain of separation from her newborn.  God intervened on her behalf to wean the baby and dry up her milk supply so she could give full attention to her spiritual journey. (Pgs. 85-9)  I have no doubt that Perpetua was receiving visions from God, because I have suffered from separation of an infant.  The only thing that would have continued to keep me from my child would have had to be visions from God, because the bond between mother and infant is so incredibly tight. 

            Pionius’ texts are the most theatrical, and he portrayed himself as a master orator.  His commentary is witty and he purposely provoked a temple warden by “chaining” himself to other prisoners with woven cord.  This was done to show they were prepared to be sacrificed for refusing to participate in the Roman sacrificial rituals.  (Pg. 99) His words to the warden were “Light a fire and we will climb up to it ourselves.”  (Pg. 101)  The three Christians’ attempt to share their stories during their execution is written proof of their love and dedication to God. 

            Chapter four, titled “Martyrdom and The Spectacle of Suffering,” outlined the two vastly different views of Christian suffering.  The Romans were thrill-seekers and viewed executions as a functioning spectacle.  (Pg. 105)  They gathered in arenas to watch Christians be mauled by dogs, set on fire, or ripped piece by piece.  There were no limits to what the Romans could do, and these spectacles were promoted as religious, political, social, and civic functions in society.  (Pg. 107)  The Romans promoted the spectacles as special events that all citizens should attend.  Sharply contrasting this ideology was the Christian view.  I previously believed that Christians would view this as horrific acts of murder but learned in studying 1Corinthians 4:9 that Paul had proudly proclaimed, “We have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to human beings.”  The Christians did not fear death at the hands of the Romans, but instead embraced it as their “completeness of faith” to God.  (Pg. 105)  Interestingly, the term martyr is derived from the courtroom meaning “witness.”  In this context, it is not what the “witness” has seen but the performance of the witness that transforms the seer into the seen, the testifier into the testimony. (Pg. 133)  I understand this as a martyr (witness of God) who willingly came forth and proclaimed their faith knowing they would die but hoped that those witnessing would see and understand their decision to accept death in the name of God.

            The fifth chapter, titled “Layers of Verbal and Visual Memory-Commemorating Thecla the Protomartyr” focused on the author of the Life and Miracles of Saint Thecla.  He claimed he did not write them out of concern that Thecla’s acts would become lost in oblivion or obscurity.  Instead, his goal was to assure that no one was ignorant of the words and acts of the Apostle Paul and the Saint Thecla.  This anonymous writer declared the acts of Thecla as “guarded by God in the service of his own perpetual fame.”  (Pgs. 134-5)  The story of Thecla is the earliest in literature concerning a Christian woman’s piety (Pg. 138) and Castelli found her to be the prototype for women martyrs.  Castelli noted in her book “The Acts of Paul and Thecla are well known and require only a brief, not detailed, exposition here.”  (Pg. 140)  Her focus is on the need for asceticism and described Thecla as “a Christian athlete and the virgin (who) is taken captive.”  Her renunciation of her wealth, family, lineage and all worldly goods to fully dedicate herself to God caused her family to declare her dead to them.  I found irony in this as I continued to read, because while her family considered her dead, her memory has lived on.  In fact, the earliest artistic artifact found was a fresco painting in a burial chamber dated in the mid-4th century depicting Daniel and Noah, Thecla and Jesus, Abraham and Isaac, Adam and Eve. (Pg. 157) Not bad for a woman whose family disowned her.

            The sixth and final chapter of Castelli’s book took me to the 21st century.  Titled “Religion as a Chain of Memory” she studied the story of Cassie Bernall of Columbine High School and compared it to the legacy of early Christian martyrdom. (Pg. 172)  The story of Cassie entering martyrdom was short and easy to understand.  She was asked if she believed in God, and when she replied “yes” she was executed.  When survivors shared what they had witnessed, Cassie was at first persecuted because of her reckless past.  As the media learned she had recently been saved during a youth ministry, Cassie was immediately presented as a martyr.  Initially her parents objected to her martyrdom (Pg. 182) but came to accept this title.  The memory of their daughter inspired cults, (as did Thecla) websites, CD’s, haunted house themes, plays, hats, key chains, t-shirts, necklaces and more. (Pg. 187)  Castelli found there was a negative view of this marketing and it had been labeled “the latest splash in American self-help.”  Her question to those with this view: “Were there critics in antiquity who called into question the tastefulness of pilgrim flasks bearing images of a half-naked Thecla…?” (Pg. 189)

I applaud Castelli for raising this point.

            In conclusion, Castelli’s book was a pleasure to read.  Her ability to write about the early Christian memories of martyrs and carry the understanding of their suffering from centuries ago to modern time was very effective.  I have a broader understanding of how martyrdom was developed by Roman authority.  Had the Romans not persecuted the Christians, martyrdom may never have come to exist.  It is collective memories of martyrs from the past that are now used to establish martyrdom in our modern times. 

Castelli, Elizabeth A.  Martyrdom and Memory.  New York. Columbia University Press.  2004. Print.

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