Art is a metamorphosis of life taking man from his mechanical world into the world of his own dreams, imaginations and fantasies. It encapsulates human’s feelings to develop and entail in him spiritual part of life in all its variedness. For man, art is another form of nature’s aptitude towards life taking man’s imagination beyond the depth of the sea and touching the dimensions of sky. Man has been associated with art since the day he made his presence on this earth felt first by presenting his feelings and daring propositions in the unknown world through scratches and marks on walls of the caves and then slowly and slowly in varied forms as we see today.
In today’s world where man has carved for him unemotional stance towards life, art expresses this dimension of human life and if man’s heart is taking him into isolation of the depth of the seas, art fulfills this isolation with colors of freshness and belongingness. It’s the art that enables us to come closer to God and divinity, and it is art in its various forms – painting, sculpture, carvings, and music, which entails us to take the differing views of life. Art and life is inseparable as art makes us in real essence humans making us realize about our own emotions we have forgotten in waves of materialistic pleasures. In other words, art makes us feel, makes us realize we are also humans having feelings of love, happiness, sadness, anger, and other emotions.
Gregor’s reaction, in The Metamorphosis by Kafka, towards the violin played by Grete is symbolic of the change lyrics of the music brought about in the thoughts and leaving of Gregor from this world. Kafka’s Metamorphosis satire ordinary life of the ordinary people of the early twentieth century through the protagonist Gregor who turned into a big bug and the way he disassociated himself with rest of the society. For lodgers, music was nothing but a medium of entertainment as they suggested that she played for them, with three roomers and three Samsas gathered at the living room. For them, music showed primitiveness meant for the animals as compared to other persons and was more in the animal form but for Gregor, music imbibed spirituality giving his animal form solace and freedom. “He felt as if the way were opening before him to the unknown nourishment he craved.” (Kafka & Kiesel, 2002, p. 39) Music for Gregor was a medicine for his soul he was craving for. At the time he was looking at the music, he was not surprised at the attitude of people towards him who were not at all having any consideration for him but while listening to the music, he felt deep alleviation and relaxation.
When Gregor was in his human form, he felt himself most considerate with every one caring for him, as he was the earning member of the family. He was putting himself into the work day and night making provisions for squaring meals a day for them but now when he got converted into a bug, no body had any consideration for him. His family members used abusive language for him with his father offering deeper wounds with his newspaper and a stick. Though embarrassed, wounded, and deeply abused yet he tried to connect with the family and made himself capable to understand and feel human sympathy and emotions. This was why he could feel emotions and feelings of being loved and love for her sister when she was playing violin. But here he was wrong because this scene was only a stage set for his final dismal from his family.
For Kafka, “music cannot be distinguished from the sound of animal, the audible spectrum between language and music, words and noise, determines for Kafka the space and processes of metamorphosis”. (Lippit, 2000, p. 148) There is a certain essence of aura between sounds of animals and music, which Kafka was searching. Every human being has covered the mask of animal but behind every mask hidden are the human feelings and emotions everyone want to take out and show but get pressurized and crushed under the unscrupulous vagaries of society. In animal form, Gregor faced confusion, as he had to face the world from his own angle and view. Music as artistry form echoes and showers the display of sentiments and emotions.
In art and theatrical productions, Josef Szajna created a motif that emphasized upon the viewer not to give up in the life in the face of violence but to do anything in life. For Szajna, art reduces the distance between “what we know and what we don’t know”. (DeCoste & Schwartz, 2000, p. 115) Without art, we human beings can become barbaric, emotionless stone crafted men whose string is not in the hands of the God but in the hands of the dominant creatures of the world who call themselves as humans but themselves have become same emotionless stone crafted men. Szajna states that art can help people realize death but cannot express it. (DeCoste & Schwartz, 2000)
In art, passions of real life immerse in more sublime form creating man out of animal and animal out of man. It makes us see what we don’t have capacity to see in the real life. Music enabled Gregory to see his real self, which would have been impossible if he had been human. Music is the true portrait and embodiment of the life and the true redemption of the artist, uproot of the busy choicest of life. Art is therefore a most important act, enrichment of thought and the assuagement of life.
Art in the form of music in “Metamorphosis” is created to develop as a medium to show the devitalized world, world that has denied or ignored the spiritual life. It afforded terrifying picture of phantasmagoria of futility and anarchy of the contemporary society. Life of human beings has become spiritual wasteland with sordidness, vulgarity, moral debility and desiccation as their chief traits. Sex has also become sterile breeding not life and fulfillment but disgust, arcadia and unanswerable questions. In the vicissitude of this world, people find solace in the art and music and the best example is Gregor who found solace in the violin played by Gretes. Through this scene in the novella, the whole chapter of life has appeared before our lives because when a child is born, his journey with music begins.
Child sleeps peacefully by the sound of melodies. His sense of binary rhythm is linked to its several movements of head, arm or chest. The way he makes his movement itself reveals how much he loves music. And when the child attains adulthood, it becomes his way to reveal his freedom from the subjugated society. (Costa, 2007) As Gregory too found himself free from the subjugation of his family in his animal skin though for a short time.
“Was he an animal, that music had such an effect upon him? (Kafka & Kiesel, 2002, p. 39), this notion denoted the part of life when Kafka made him feel associated with nature. Being converted into bug, he got closer to nature. This is a big metamorphosis of life, because within the vicissitude of the mechanical life, we have made ourselves dissociated from nature and treat it as a subordinated and unnecessary part of life but ironically its nature only that ultimately tell us the truth of life as Wagner said, “Man erred from the time when he set the cause of the nature’s workings outside the bounds of nature’s self.” (Wagner, 2004, p. 3) He was quite right when he said this as we have truly erred by going away from nature and it is art that makes us realize our closeness to the nature. It is rightly said if a person wants to ensure himself a quality of life, he can get it from art, as it is this art that can provide him the way to look at his natural life.
Costa, M. (2007). We Got Rhythm. Fast Thinking (8): 82:85.
DeCoste, F.C. & Schwartz, B. (2000). The Holocaust’s Ghost. Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press.
Kafka, F. ; Kiesel, H. (2002). The Metamorphosis. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Lippit, A.M. (2000). Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Wagner, R. (2004). The Art Work of the Future. Kessinger Publishing.