|Abstract: ||My purpose of this paper is to illustrate how a study of narrative can be benefited by a
study of visual poetic. I try to do two things in this paper: first, I would look into the
transfonnation of visuality into narrativity in Escher's works; second, I apply the visual poetic of
Escher's prints to discLlss Kafka's The Trial.
I try to discuss three labyrinthine aspects of "infinity" in Escher's prints with references to
Calvino and some poststructuralist concerns: l. Infinity in Verbum: a. visualization of the logos,
b. verbalization of the visual, c. the gray area and the lacuna; 2. The "M6bius Strip" and Selfreflexivity:
a. the "Mbbius Strip" and "Penrose's Triangle" and the mirror, b. the "hand that
draw" as image, c. the gallery; 3. The Three Spheres of Vision: a. the "eye that see" as image,
b. the transparent sphere, the Reflective sphere, and the Opaque sphere; c. "body in Body,"
'field of consciousness," and labyrinth.
We can recognize in M. C. Escher's graphic works some " family resemblance" to
poststructuralist themes and late-modern concerns, such as language game, intertextuality, selfreflexivity,
simulacra (Baudriallard), the fold (Deleuse, Peter Eisenman), the seam (Barthes),
graft and parergon (Derrida), gaze (Lacan). Escher's two recurring strategies--the double use of
contour and regular division of the plane--along with his thematic preoccupation with "labyrinth"
and "infinity" are congruent with the textual concerns in the fictions of Kafka, Borges, Barth,
Calvino, Eco, to name just a few. I wou ld utilize the discussion of a Lacanian gaze at Escher's
prints as my tool in analyzing the labyrinthine expression and K's labyrinthine experiences in
Kafka's The Trial.
I would postulate that as a reverse version of the myth of Theseus's trial in the classical
maze, Kafka's The Trial is a fiction about the limitation of human vision (or judgment), and that
K's labyrinthine experience and anxiety arises when such limited and often flawed human vision
collides with an opaque ensemble of human activities in a bureaucratic system. Like most of
Escher's prints (fig. 16, 17, 18, 19), recognition in The Trial is a process of transforn13tion of
bodily relation. K's encounter with the Law encompasses the recognition of three worlds and of
three kinds of attitude. Different orientation of vision or bodily relation envisions a different
sphere or "Body." The Transparent Sphere (Body) derives from K's projective attitude;
through this attitude, K regards the World (the other people, the Law) as penetrable and
accessible, and thus he is acting like a hero. The Reflective Sphere (Body) comes from K's
reflective attitude; through this attitude, K sees the World as a mirror of himself, so he resorts to
logical reasoning when grappling with conflict. The Opaque Sphere (Body) results from K's
regressive attitude; step by step he recognizes his limited vision and retreats ftom his previous
heroic attempt, and the more relation he inquires, the more impenetrable he feels toward the Law.
The three kinds of Body correspond to the position of "Picture" in Lacan 's diagram about gaze.
The distinction of the three spheres or three attitudes of visual encounter can serve to analyze
the novel as a whole as well as to solve the seeming contradiction between chapter nine and