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oh the guilt

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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

The Metamorphosis (Bantam Classics)

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold Most folks already know what is meant by Kafka's metamorphosis, so reading the novel was a bit of a let down from what I can remember.

There's something inherently funny (or just irritating) about depressed writers always possessing just enough will power for them to be able to keep on churning more books about the unbearableness of life in general and their's particularly.

Like typical humanists that they tend to be, they rarely if ever bother explaining us just what exactly is wrong.

Notice how many authors not only tend to shy away from serious discussion but positively avoid or entirely decline to comment?

Maybe they know that they don't know?

I mean if you manage to have enough food on the table on a daily basis, you're not forced to live on the streets, and no one's beating you, then on a grander scale you really should call yourself lucky.

Sure, life isn't perfect and it could be a lot more pleasant place to be in, but there's an awful lot that an individual or group of individuals can do to make life more bearable if not for everyone, for themselves at least. Particularly when they are educated city dwellers.

Ok, so Kafka's father-son-relationship wasn't ideal. Newsflash: it never is, and I can only view that as a nature's only way of showing us that we are not to blindly follow and depend on our parents, or anybody else for that matter.

And Kafka wasn't too comfortable with sexuality either which I can only assume is more or less universal, though probably more disruptive in people who come from religious backgrounds.

We should also keep in mind that, unlike now, in the turn of the century you wouldn't hear people talk so openly and casually about sex in any case - and certainly not in the public.

Times were different back then when it came to child rearing to begin with.

Some people like to argue that Hitler became what he became because of his often violent and degrading upbringing. Others have pointed that at that time such "harsh" methods were adopted by fathers (especially) throughout German-speaking countries - probably it wasn't that much different any where else either. Back then in child rearing literature discipline and sternness was considered more or less normal if not openly desirable.

I personally fail to see how violent, degrading and often more or less irrational treatment would ever benefit anyone, I'm merely providing historical perspective on the matter. And it is hard for me to imagine how generations after generations of emotional neglect would not ultimately shape our entire history.

I believe Kafka indeed had many, many "brothers-in-arms". Maybe he was somewhat more sensitive and introverted than the next guy, but certainly his upbringing wasn't wildly out-of-ordinary.

Ok, so with this out of the way, what other burdens the man had to bear? His background was (upper) middle class, they weren't exactly short of money, education was highly valued in the family and he had the opportunity to educate himself all the way to university. If becoming a lawyer is still a fast-track to success (by the most common definition, that is), back then it must have been both socially and economically like winning in the lottery - particularly for a someone who happens to be a Jew. Oh yeah, Kafka seemed to have a hard time dealing with his Jewish background - just like it seems to be the case with every other Jew since dawn of time.

And I am a great admirer of Jewish people. I think they should have a category of their own in the Nobels, so other folks could feel like they've accomplished something of value and merit, too (even when their work would be more or less second-rate).

But let's just say Kafka had it really bad, and end discussion there. Let's not try to analyze his work as it is without focusing in on all that excess baggage called unhappy childhood and troubled youth. Instead let's try to find hidden meanings, symbolism and allegories, prescience and impressive social critique even when none seems to be present. In a word: let's mystify the man who never finished his novels and supposedly burned 90% of his writing even more and particularly his writing.