Hunger Artist Barred in a Term Paper

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He is putting this starving artist on a plane above the regular person. These people cannot truly understand art, or the artist, because they do not have ability nor have they given up all for something they are passionate about. That makes artists better than anyone else that views their works.

Are artists the only individuals who see reality of life as it really is? Are they the only ones who live for each moment, and are not tempted to stop by each new attraction to keep life interesting? They do not need such temptations. They have their art, which is the only thing they live for.

The higher level that Kafka alludes to is the suffering that these true artists endure. The hunger artist, although he says it was simple to starve, must have suffered -- even if it was when he no longer held the power to attract people or when he was forced to eat. Once again, the question is whether or not Kafka is saying that the true artist is one who suffers. "The impresario came forward, without a word - for the band made speech impossible - lifted his arms in the air above the artist, as if inviting Heaven to look down upon this creature here in the straw, this suffering martyr..."

Here Kafka refers to the suffering of Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice to die for others' sins. Death, then, not just starvation is the goal. The hunger artist knows that he will die if he goes too long, but he is curious to see how long that can be. He accepts the result, for what else is there for him anymore?

The quote above, however, continues, "...this suffering martyr, which indeed he was, although in quite another sense.
" So, the hunger artist and other artists may not be at that ultimate height of a true martyr. Is Kafka saying, then, that they are deluding themselves? Is he making fun of himself and other artists who look down upon the masses and say how they are better than them?

Look what eventually happens to the hunger artist. At first, everyone loves his art work, his fasting and starvation. He is famous, and so are his works of art. People come to his exhibit, his museum, every day to see his artwork. He is in, he is fashionable. Everyone is talking about him and telling everyone else, "You have to go to... You have to see..."

Then, what happens? His artwork becomes old, stale. He is replaced, not by another artist, but worse, by animals! His works of art are lower than the panther. His works of art had no lasting appeal, so he did not make the ultimate sacrifice for a reason.

Yet, perhaps Kafka is noting that the true artists, the best ones, are those who remain popular long after these passing fancies, long after many, many different kinds of freaks and abnormalities. In fact, Kafka, himself, is one of these. Decades later, he is read and appreciated more than when he was alive. He speaks for humanity today, just as he spoke for humanity in his times. This is the true artist -- Not one who craves power and attention or devotes every minute to his art to prove how different he his, but the one whose work lasts and is viewed, or listened to, or read over and over again for decades or centuries to come.

Kafka, Franz. "A Hunger Artist." Retrieved March 14, 2007.

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