Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why Can’t We Be Kings

Even after a couple weeks of thinking about it, I still disagree with Kafka, and possibly all other Existentialists, that I would choose to be a courier over a King. I can only think about examples from my childhood when I choose to take the lead, or be recognized as the leader during games such as Emperor or Teacher. In all situations when I got chosen to be anything other than the leader, I neglected my duties.
When I look back at it though, as a child I didn’t quite understand the idea of an oath, or allegiance to someone. Playing a game like teacher just enhanced my feelings of resentment for the person chosen to be teacher rather than generate respect. This is definitely a good example of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, in which he says people began to resent those with life-affirming values. Does that mean as a child, before I even became aware of the concept of ‘the herd’ I was a member? If so, then this definitely clarifies Kafka’s position of children naturally wanting to be couriers, as we really have no other choice. So why then, as I grew older, is it that I would prefer to be a King over courier? Is it my natural desire to break away from the herd, even though the herd is simply a self-imposed prison? Or perhaps, Nietzsche got it wrong, and there really isn’t such a thing as a life-affirming person. Essentially that means that man is doomed to fail then. Since eventually we “would like to put an end to this miserable life of [ours] but [we] dare not because of [our] oaths of service”, this quote from Kafka, pretty much sums up why life-affirming individuals have to exist from an atheistic existential viewpoint. If we are all just miserable couriers with no direction, what else do we have to live for?
This also explains why a King, or God, is a necessary construct for us humans to have. God allows us to be his couriers, which in turn, provides our life with meaning. Without a God, our messages are meaningless; therefore, the benefit to do more than grow old and die outweighs all other possibilities to make our jobs as couriers useful. This isn’t the life I want, and I believe that others wouldn’t want to live this way either.


  1. I don't think we need God or King to add meaning to our lives. I think our lives can be that search for meaning, or whatever we want it to be. We don't necessarily need someone else to validate our lives, we can just do whatever it is that makes us happy. Who's to say our lives are better or worse because we achieved a specific goal?

  2. This is a very intersting way to present Kafka's thoughts on being a courier. I would agree that all children are probably in herd mentality when they are first being introduced to the world. It is all about "fitting in" during childhood so they are part of the herd to have friends or being accepted. As we grow up, some of us try to break away from this herd mentality and be different therefore a few of us strive to become " king." But as Aaron's says at the end of his blog, we might break away from the " herd" mentality and become king over other couriers. However, as long as people believe in God we will perceive ourselves to always be couriers of God and therefore, even those of us who are thought of as kings are in fact couriers of God.


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