The Land Survey that Ends the “Trial”: Agamben’s Interpretation of Kafka​


Author: ZHOU Dan, Associate Professor, Department of Chinese, School of Humanities, Nanchang University.


Agamben's interpretation of Kafka is evidently characterized by his ideas about profanation. This paper argues that in discussing Kafka's The Trial and The Castle, Agamben was trying to reveal the operational mechanism of divine governance, reflect on the secularization process of the modern West, and put an end to the machine of capitalist governance. Agamben traced the origins of divine governance back to the Christian theology of glory, pointing out that the secularization process in the modern West had permitted divine governance to open up secular political space and criticizing the way that capitalist religion incorporated all human life. According to Agamben, Kafka observed that the constructed divine sphere was appropriating the secular sphere, and asked human beings to re-measure the borders of their own existence and recover their hold on secular life. Agamben further suggested that human beings should constantly shift the thresholds of their own thinking, remove the various the barriers and obstacles to social life, and safeguard the infinite possibilities of their own existence. In this way, Agamben expressed a strong desire to transform Western cultural traditions and to open up new dimensions for the future development of Western culture.


Agamben, Kafka, The Trial, The Castle, divine governance

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