[-empyre-] control and cutting, stripped naked

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Oct 26 07:52:45 EST 2012

and no,

after reading Peter, and Maria,
what I said earlier does not grasp the remorse and pain mentioned,
especially in regard to a sense of overwhelming loss of a loved one.
Biting oneself, Maria responded, "seems an angry rejection of a life that has betrayed one".

Yet how do we think remorse in relationship to guilt, that guilt as Kafka said which cannot
ever be doubted, and how do we treat remorse?
The doctor in Kafka's story (A Countrydoctor) travels out to find a young man, the patient,
in a house, the community is gathered, the young man whispers into the doctor's ear
('let me die'), and the doctor cannot see a problem.  After a while, when the pressure
rises (the community waiting for the right diagnosis), the doctor looks again, probes
the patient, and discovers a gaping wound around the hip, surely the man will die.
The situation grows tense.... the villages finally undress the doctor and place him inside
the bed, with the dying patient. the story becomes hallucinatory, as the doctor prepares
for his escape.

I tried to think about the story afterwards, this summer, when i had met with my own doctor in
the countryside. And listened to him, as he began to tell me about his readings as a 15 year old boy
before he knew he would become a (country) doctor. He said he read Goethe, Shakespeare, 
Rilke, Thomas Mann, and so on.  He read some Kafka, but disliked it, he felt Kafka was psychotic.

This was interesting to me.  I told him my synopsis of the Countrydoctor.
And within minutes, my physician had tackled an interpretive crux. He saw right through it, i think,
suggesting that this is a very common situation faced by all doctors:  they are called upon to make a diagnosis.
Some are good at that, they get it right. Others are not so good at it, and worry to get it right, break into a sweat...... ,
perhaps into remorse later. And thus, especially when, as in the Kafka story, everyone in the house and the village is watching 
to await the diagnosis, the doctor is suddenly put on the spot. The doctor is, so to speak, made naked, made vulnerable. Exposed.  
Everyone expects him to say the right diagnosis. 

The amazing scene in Kafka then shows us the polis, the community, selecting the scapegoat,  stripping the doctor naked and laying him into the bed with the 
dying patient.

I had thought of the scene as a sexual fantasy - and as we know such ones are also mixed up fatally with remorse or guilt, but I can see now also the psychotic or paranoic side to the doctor.
This makes some sense to me, as painful as it is. 


»Entkleidet ihn, dann wird er heilen,
Und heilt er nicht, so tötet ihn!
's ist nur ein Arzt, 's ist nur ein Arzt.«

              <<Take his clothes off, then he’ll heal,
                   and if he doesn’t cure, then kill him.
                   It’s only a doctor; it’s only a doctor >>

i just wanted to share with you the story of a consultation with my Kafka doctor.

Johannes Birringer

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