I read the novel Ka just after I graduated college. It was one of the most difficult and enjoyable texts I have ever worked through. The beauty of the language is what compelled me to actually finish this incredibly rich, complex work. I wanted to quit several times especially after having to read some passages multiple times to try to understand what was happening. It was in this reading I realized that reading this kind of text is not about comprehension, but it is a completely different approach to writing. This is not a linear work the narrative flows and its course is rhizomatic. Ka used the framework of Indian mythology while the story lingered on its own course. Sunil Khilnani writes in the New York Times: "To read ''Ka'' is to experience a giddy invasion of stories -- brilliant, enigmatic, troubling, outrageous, erotic, beautiful. Yet ''Ka,'' like the two previous books, is not a novel. Calasso's form-defying works plot ideas, not character. A writer with philosophical tastes, he thinks in stories rather than arguments or syllogisms" (November 8, 1998).
I have been thinking about this book while figuring out my own work. I am so often tempted to defy form and convention in my dissertation work. I wonder if this would seem obfuscating or if some readers might find it liberating. A work that is formless but formed--sounds lovely.
Calasso wrote in his novel Ka:
"But what was it transforming? The mind. The mind was what it transformed and what was transformed. It was the warmth, the hidden flame behind the bones, the succession and dissolution of shapes sketched on darkeness--and the sensation of knowing that that was happening. Everything resembled something else. Everything was connected to something else. Only the sensation of consciousness resembled nothing at all. And yet all the resemblances flowed back and forth within it. It was the "indistinct wave." (p. 21-22)