What does “Caribbean” mean? What a vast weight of confusion and possibility and debate those four little syllables have to bear. Is “Caribbean” a geographical region defined by proximity to a body of water, by insularity (in the literal sense), by lines of latitude? Is it a group of nations and proto-nations defined by a common history or culture, or by political links? Is it an aspiration, an attitude, an illusion? Is its meaning determined by presence or absence? Has it an antonym?
Of course one must take into account Kafka’s solipsism, which in his diaries makes singular that which in the fiction is more clearly the condition of all our lives. (Kafka wrote not only because it was impossible for him to live but also because it is impossible for all of us to live, though his point was that most of us do not grasp this.) But it is certainly the case that Kafka alone brought us to the very boundary of the novel, rejecting any interest in a writer’s ‘subject’—a place, a culture, a community, a group of people—and replacing it with a dismantling of the very idea of subjects and subjecthood. In this regard both the overtly Freudian and the overtly religious interpretations of Kafka are misguided, insofar as they identify a definitive ‘subject,’ a final point or a ‘bottom line,’ of a prose that has no final destination, only a journey. They miss what David Foster Wallace has described as ‘the central Kafka joke—that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey towards home is in fact our home.’