Evil is whatever distracts.
-- Franz Kafka, Notebooks (ca. 1917-1919)
One might be surprised to learn that Kafka, rarely published in his lifetime, was known to entertain with public readings of his works. I say entertain because apparently the man could not make it very far through his own words without laughing outright and, once introduced, his laughter contaminated the entire proceedings, leaving the crowd in stitches.
Kafka’s laughter teaches us that he was, despite all reason to be otherwise, an optimist. The blind bureaucracies and self-inflicted punishments that populate his prose do not constitute a prophesy, but an observation, at most a warning, at best a joke. For whatever mechanisms man upholds to imprison himself, they are, thankfully, just as flawed and prone to failure as his art. Perhaps our chaos is our hope as well.
As proof one need only look to Alabama’s game against Virginia Tech tomorrow night in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. If last season is an accurate predictor of events, the Hokies’ primary strategy is riding the hope of chaos and letting Tyrod Taylor’s legs carry them to the BCS. He is an exceptional talent so this would be a poor time to be distracted by off-the-field issues. Last year’s Alabama squad proved, for most of the season, able to withstand such distraction. Of course, each season creates a new team, so all we know is that we do not know.
For example, two of Alabama’s star offensive players, Mark Ingram and Julio Jones, were all but cast over the side of the boat by eligibility questions surrounding a springtime fishing trip with a man over twice their age. And, even more oddly, who has ties to Auburn. Given how well all things Auburn have gone lately, it is a relief that Ingram and Jones did not drown as the boat sank.
The NCAA, a bureaucracy so Borgesian in its bylaws and purpose that perhaps it has achieved the level of art, however, says that they are good to go. Because the value of the trip was so negligible. A boon for the state’s favored football team, if not its tourism board.
Regarding another player, Jerrell Harris, the NCAA is not so sure. Harris does not appear to be much of an angler, so his eligibility questions, if Teh Inter-Webz R2B beleevd, stem from impermissible gifts of a more landlocked nature.
But chaos appeared most concretely for Alabama’s starting defensive end, Brandon Deaderick, who will miss tomorrow’s season opener after being shot while foiling a robbery attempt earlier this week. Deaderick received one red badge of courage in his forearm and another in his leg.
As gunshot wounds go, these appear to be of the preferred kind. Clean. Small. Still painful as being stabbed with God’s own skinner blade though. Deaderick returned to practice yesterday but will not be asked to play. Compassion appears in even the Great Leader’s heart.
As for what we know and do not, the gunman is still at large, Mark Ingram and Julio Jones will play. Brandon Deaderick will not. Jerrell Harris, who knows? And Kafka laughed.