Power laws in Kafka

Posted July 21, 2010 in ephemera  |  No Comments so far

In The Trial and The Castle, novels by Franz Kafka, the protagonists confront institutions that are inscrutable, complex and seemingly omnipotent. And within these institutions, a “power law of terror” is at work – at each layer of the institution the terror levels increase exponentially, as expressed by this allegoric doorman in The Trial:

I am powerful. And I am only the lowest door-keeper. But from room to room stand door-keepers each more powerful than the last. The mere aspect of the third is more than even I can bear.

Of course, this “power law of terror” shouldn’t be confused with Bruce Schneier’s Power Law of Terrorism.

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