How can art make you see the unseen?
Some famous quotes say something like:
- Now is your time to bloom.
And you may find an illustration of a girl in a pot around other beautiful flowers.
Or another one
- Give yourself time
And you see an illustration of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
I agree with these phrases. We may experience fulfillment, confidence, love, and happiness at certain times.
But, I want to share a different kind of metamorphosis today.
I have recently spent some time reading Francis Kafka’s work, and I must admit that I feel emotional.
The book Metamorphosis. (the text contains spoilers).
- The plot.
In a family of four, the older son is the money provider of the household. His parents do not work, and his sister is studying the violin. He offers them a lot of amenities. A beautiful house, two servants who do the cleaning and the cooking, and he are willing to support his sister’s studies.
The father has depression after his business got bankrupted, and the mother has breathing disorders. The sister is a seventeen- year old.
The son loathes his job, but he is determined to support his family for ten years. After this time, his family will have no more debts to the person to whom his father owes money.
But in the fifth year of his career, he wakes up, and he is not his old self. He has turned into a disgusting insect. Then, the story starts.
- Thoughts and conclusions
I will become more specific and share a few thoughts and meanings from the text. (It is my perspective after reading the whole story).
A person who gives everything to others and keeps nothing for himself
- He is going to get sick (physically or mentally).
- He may suffer without consciously realizing it.
The people whom he helps
- take his help for granted.
- After a while, they do not feel grateful for his sacrifice.
- They do not stand on their feet
- They do not try, so they do not fulfill their potential in love and self-development.
If the person who makes the sacrifice stops offering his services due to disability
- He starts worrying about how the others are going to make it through without him
- He believes that the others will give him love and support during his hard times.
The others who unexpectedly stop receiving help
- Feel helpless in the beginning
- Find solutions and ways to survive
- Do not give back the help and support to the person who helped them in the first place.
- Feel angry about the person who became unable to help and want to get rid of him.
All these meanings sound harsh, yet they are true. And that is why this novel is very touching.
- The thing that moved me was the son’s need for connection after his metamorphosis.
He desperately needed the love and acceptance of his sister first of all, then of his parents.
And how tragic it was that showing their love or compassion never occurred to their minds.
- The other thing that made me emotional was that no one knew how to love.
The parents, the son, and the daughter had confused acts of service with love.
The parents and the daughter received their son’s- brother’s acts of service who worked hard in a very demanding job.
The son loathed his job. So he sacrificed his life just for his family.
For the son, love was guilt and a sense of duty.
- And the son, after his metamorphosis, felt a deep need for love. But it was late then, as he could not communicate in words, his appearance was disgusting, and his family did not know how to show love. It never occurred to their minds to express some care.
The Music Metamorphosis
- As a listener
Before I read the book, I had listened to the music Metamorphosis composed by Phillip Glass. And I loved it from the first moment.
After reading the book, I realized how it fits with the music.
Some feelings that Philip Glass expresses, in my view, are:
- Calmness, melancholy, pain, contradictions, conflicts, tension, frustration.
- The sentiments fit with the chapters. And they have each chapter’s name, so they succeed in describing the whole story.
- As a player
I also want to share my personal experience playing this music.
Metamorphosis is the first music I have tried to play after buying my electric piano at home last year.
I have spent a lot of time practicing, and after one year, I would love to tell you some thoughts of mine.
I found it very difficult to play metamorphosis 3.
It is an easy piece of music at first sight. I got the notes right, but I could not understand why I could not do it right.
Then a year later, something came to my mind.
I listened to the original piece of music at a slower speed. And everything made sense to me.
So I would like to make a general comment on my findings.
- When I read the book and listened to the music slowly, I noticed for the first time the contradictions. The protagonist had agony and internal conflicts. It is like music is talking to us.
- Secondly, I will generalize and say how useful it is to be able to slow down a few moments.
Unfortunately, we cannot do it, or usually, it is hard to. But freezing a moment or making it slower helps us see much more. We could appreciate more, understand better and prevent some fights.
The dance theater Metamorphosis
I feel so lucky to have watched Metamorphosis by Arthur Pita’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella. It had its premiere at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in 2011.
During the quarantine, it was available to watch on youtube for a couple of days.
The book of Francis Kafka became music and performance.
It has metamorphized itself.
Artists took inspiration from it.
And people loved it and hugged it as it gave them new perspectives and feelings.