Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kafkaesque - more than an unnecessarily frustrating experience

In comics this season, we studied the graphic adaption of Kafka's Metamorphosis by Peter Kuper. In the story, a salesman wakes up and finds he has turned into a bug - seems the perfect premise for a graphic novel.

Kafka's novellas led to the creation of the adjective Kafkaesque which according to Mirriam means something "having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality, such as Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays" (we've all had those). The hoops one has to jump through are often so twisted and frustrating that success is pointless.

Kafka's many short stories have strange illogical, usually bureaucratic, twists that are worth reading. They reflect the disconnect in industrialized societies, the alienation that comes when life is reduced to working for faceless bureaucracies and corporations and being subjected to the rules and laws of the same. One strange twist in Kafka's Metamorphosis is that when Gregor discovers he's turned into a bug he worries incessantly about how he is going to get to work instead of what happened to his body.

Have you read other Kafka stories? If so, how do they relate to today's world? If you haven't, have you been trapped in a DMV line? Stuck in a mound of red tape or bureaucratic paperwork? Have you lived a Kafkaesque story?

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