“It is as if a person were a prisoner, and he had not only the intention to escape, which would perhaps be attainable, but also, and indeed simultaneously, the intention to rebuild the prison as a pleasure dome for himself. But if he escapes, he cannot rebuild, and if he rebuilds, he cannot escape.”
Kafka’s work is a composite web of labyrinths and turnabouts which unveil an insidious world full of absurdity rather than meaning. He himself remarked: ” The content of my consciousness is entirely nebulous.” And although the apparent image of him as a perplexing, complicated genius is often common, reading what those who knew him said about him, particularly Dora Diamant, his last lover, shed a different light on the matter. Her account is quite broadening, in which she describes his humane, playful and pensive nature, an “exceptional being”. He loved making games out of everything and his eyes sparked with mischievousness, but also a hidden wisdom; someone whose conversation was much like his literature, rich with images and lively, an aesthetic of musical gestures and a melodious voice.
He also cherished the quality of the food he ate, and was particularly finicky on certain ones, as well as the latest health trends at the time,. and from his early adulthood filled the dinner table with little plates of varied dried fruits and nuts, which was a stark contrast to the abundance of meat and deli usually had at a butcher’s house (his father’s) at the time. His thoughts on food have been distinctively channeled in A Hunger Artist, the last book he arranged for publication, in which its alienated protagonist confesses near the end that he fasted because he didn’t find the food he liked.
The “representation of my dreamlike work” as he said, is a landscape of the subconscious, elements of which “it is only possible to write, only in a similar context, with the body and soul completely uncovered”, as he described the creative process of The Judgement.
A month before, for the anniversary of his death, I had made a small meal of remembrance. The dish was Pilavi (Pilaf Rice), substituting the rice for quinoa, and using cashews instead of pine nuts and adding some dried apricots, pecans and olives, seasoned with onion, ground pepper, cinnamon and some cumin.
According to Dora Diamant, he adored bananas, as well as strawberries and cherries. Based on these memoirs, for his birthday celebration I decided on a banana peanut-butter cake, eaten alongside some strawberries (since cherries aren’t in season here). To go with dessert, some Oolong tea.
“So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”