Kafka’s Metamorphosing

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“Two and a half days I was, though not completely, alone, and already am, if not transformed, at any rate on the way. Being alone has a power over me that never fails. My interior dissolves (for the time being only superficially) and is ready to release what lies deeper.” – F. Kafka Diaries  Dec.26.1911

Are Kafka’s works beyond existential and more closely a product of theosophy? He wrote in the middle of the night to get his best writing done. Possibly this could be because during these hours he could detach himself most successfully. Being exhausted can give a nervous energy that could be turned to peculiar productivity.

Kafka talks about his difficulties sleeping. He would have to make himself heavy, which would make it easier to sleep. Thus the opposite, making oneself light by creating a vacancy could be for him the most awakening.

A truly odd statement is when he discussed metamorphosing himself. On other occasions Kafka will describe a scenario in which two characters are split aspects of himself, or he will switch characters with other people (his father, for example). Reading his diary I came across a passage that excited me, that is, because its quite disturbing.

Kafka’s Drawing

Szafranski, a desciple of Bernhardt’s, grimaces while he observes and draws in a way that resembles what is drawn. Reminds me too that I have a pronounced talent for metamorphosing myself, which no one notices… The alien being must be inside me… one would never find anything if one did not know that it is there. When these metamorphoses take place, I should especially like to believe in a dimming of my own eyes. – F. Kafka Diaries Sep. 30.1911

Honestly, can anyone truly understand what he meant by metamorphosing himself? Of course an uninspired hand shoots up and unthinkingly references Kafka’s most famous work, The Metamorphosis. But the question here is how deep was Kafka into metamorphosing? People always ask where he came up with Gregor Samsa’s transformation, perhaps when Kafka found this at the abyss on the threshold of his soul. He was as close as ever to his innermost self.


I reference back to my original question of Kafka’s dabbling with theosophy. Upon searching a name Kafka mentions in his diary, Rudolf Steiner I stumbled upon western esotericism, clairvoyance, and anthropism. Truly wacky and possibly unkosher stuff. One idea stood out to me, namely “The Gaurdian of the Threshold.”

If the student of the spirit ascends upon the path into the higher worlds of knowledge, he notices at a certain stage that the cohesion of the forces of his personality assumes a different form from the one in the physical-sensory world, where the ego effects a uniform co-operation of the soul forces, of thinking, feeling, and willing. (An Outline of Occult Science – Rudolf Steiner )

I have a hunch that the “cohesion of the forces of his personality” explains a student who is digging deep into an idea reaching a moment of eureka beyond measure. In Kafka’s case, this encompassed departure from his “etheric body” and into the consciousness of the “astral body,” the manifestation of which becomes Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis.


The most absurd aspect of The Metamorphosis is Gregor’s reaction to his new verminous body; he begins firstly by contemplating his route to work and chastizes himself for sleeping late, rather than the reversal of his physical condition.

In explanation, for both Samsa and Kafka the guts of their being are familiar. Samsa now wears his as a suit. Grotesque? Maybe. But frightening or surprsing? Not to someone who has scooped himself out night after night, and is accustomed to finding die verwandlung within.



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