Monday, December 16, 2013

Nancy Drew & Joseph K

Do act mysterious. It always keeps them coming back for more.” 
― Carolyn KeeneNancy's Mysterious Letter

The first girl I loved on the page was Nancy Drew. She did it all! She was a sleuth-- I loved that word! I wanted to be a sleuth, too. I didn't have a wealthy lawyer Dad who supported my adventures & bought me a blue roadster, or a Ken doll boyfriend who thought I was just swell no matter how much I neglected him, or two friends (one suspiciously butch) who acted as my deputies.

BUT I had the most important quality a sleuth needs: curiosity. I wanted to know everything about everyone. I followed people-- weird people-- into situations that now make me cringe. I sneaked into buildings & peered through windows, eavesdropped on conversations, snooped everywhere I thought a mystery might be taking place. Sure enough, there was a whole world of secrets no one suspected.

I solved some mysteries, made my parents get me a trench coat (that looked attractive!) & carried a tiny spy notebook jotting down clues. But then I hit a turning point. I entered the notorious, the infamous & ingenious Locked Room.

Nancy Drew couldn't help me here. It was my second detective hero, Joseph K, the protagonist of Kafka's The Trial, I needed. Like Joseph K, I faced the horrifying truth that this mystery might not have a solution. I followed him down corridor after corridor, up & down Escheresque staircases that led nowhere & doors that led to brick walls. Poor Joseph K had to leave his mystery unsolved.

I couldn't do that. I'd fight to the end. I'd get an answer if it was the last thing I ever did, using every gift, weapon, talent I possessed.

There seemed to be no way out. But there had to be a way out, right? No question was created without an answer, right? A mystery always had a solution, right?

"From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached," wrote Kafka in The Trial.

I reached that point long ago. That's where you find me today: between Nancy Drew, convinced there is an answer to every mystery if you work at it hard enough, & Joseph K, who realizes he will never know why he was sent on this trail, but who knows he must keep searching.