Skip to main content

Thinking about Kafka on New Year's Day

It's New Year's Day and for some reason my thoughts turn to Kafka. You'd think Sartre or Camus instead, right? all existentialist about the new decade and so on, but no, it's Kafka's books that are staring at me from my bookcase.

I read The Trial while I was still in university some three decades or so ago, and no book since has stayed with me to the same degree. Over the years since, I've read many interpretations of the work, and most interpretations and discussions dwell on asking “who is punishing him for what?” The big question for most people, (and university lecturers, apparently,) is what is he on trial for? - as if that were somehow a key to understanding the book.

I think they miss the point. I think I have an insight they don't. He had to pay the bills like anyone else, and though he hated it, he worked in insurance for some years. He understood very well the way human suffering (at one point, he assessed personal injury claims) is dealt with by reducing it to statistics and procedures.

I've worked in insurance myself. I've also had monumental battles with hospital administrations, worker's comp, and the family court system, and what he's captured perfectly is the experience of being the fly trapped in the machinations of bureaucracy, the icy heart of which allows each of the many cogs in its wheels to believe themselves not responsible, the way everyone only does their tiny bit, the next step in the procedure, then passes the file along to someone else, so there is never anyone who actually knows what it going on, no one is ever actually responsible for knowing or keeping track of the whole situation, the way it reaches a point where it truly doesn't matter anymore what the trial was about or where it started, it's only about getting through this next procedure, this next filing, this next day. That's what he's talking about, I'm sure of it. Bureaucracy as the ultimate evil.

I've only read Kafka in German and French, as it happens, (books bought during my uni days,) and while the French is rather interesting, I think the German, which was Kafka's language, with its very concrete nature, is intrinsically suited to the depiction of that icy heart of bureaucracy. In our modern era, we now believe that Kafka suffered from social anxiety and clinical depression - is that how he was able to see all of this so clearly? I read a review of a biography of Byron recently, where the thought was posited that, in this day and age, he would have simply been pharmaceutically treated for his obvious sexual addiction - and perhaps silenced, because isn't that where his greatest work came from? Are we muzzling a generation of great artists and thinkers with Effexor and Paxil? I think we might. I teach creative writing courses, and I will often tell my students, we do this because we can't afford therapy...

In very fitting coda to this whole piece, the Onion's Business Week report named Prague's Franz Kafka Airport as the most alienating in the world - I get all my news from the Onion!


Popular posts from this blog

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

NU MUSES 2017 Luxurious Fine Art Nude Calendar Now Available

From a media release:

NU MUSES 2017 Luxurious Fine Art Nude Calendar Now Available
24 Fine Art Prints from Celebrated Photographer David Bellemere Available In Three Limited Edition NU MUSES 2017 Calendar Packages

“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment” -Michelangelo

Buy the collections
Check them out at Art Basel, Miami - December 1-4, 2016

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – November 22nd, 2016 – NU MUSES, the luxurious 2017 fine art nude calendar, is now available to purchase in three unique limited edition collectors packages. Drawing inspiration from the Pirelli calendar of the 1970s, NU MUSES is set to celebrate the forgotten art of the classic nude and capture the elegance and romance of the female form.

The NU MUSES limited edition art piece is a sublime collectable calendar, featuring nude photographs of 12 of the world’s most stunning models, captured by famed photographer David…

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …