Friday, September 16, 2011

what if you woke up one morning and were a cockroach?

today i went bananas with my samsung tab. i got the urge to look at the glass bead game by hermann hesse. why this book, i don't know. lately i've been nostalgic for the fifty-some years i read books like a monk. was it the search for the meaning of life? or merely a retreat into wonderful worlds i couldn't find around me? thinking i'd absorb some lessons from the classics, i read a lot of them.

and i began my quest for the illusive hesse, calling up a bunch of e-readers: nook, kindle, laputa, adilko, and so on. never did find the bead game, though i began downloading free classics by the dozens. the brothers karamazov, crime and punishment, pride and prejudice. each time reading a bit of the opening. none sparked my interest, not siddhartha, nor the complete wizard of 0z (though i read them all  as a kid). amazing what's out there now, merely for the asking.

okay, i thought, maybe a bit of kafka. and that worked. i read the opening of the trial in english and then german. i'm one of those people who finds the work of franz very funny. he uses the conditional-conditional tense, as if to say, 'this may be true or it may not', his heroes confused as can be. last summer i listened to a new translation of the castle as i drove back and forth to the lookout. the images and situations still stick in my mind.

once i did a stage  adaptation of the metamorphosis and played the bug myself. you can find the script here: and when i visited prague, i bought a booklet showing the places kafka had lived and worked. the prague pics here: the town just coming out of the communist soggy grey, the place certainly lived up to my expectations. once a fanatic follower of K., i've never quite lost my taste.

what's his main insight? if you give up your own authority, you lose yourself in a search for approval and validation. his insight into the corporation/bureaucratic mentality exactly this. in the major works the hero called to stand up to the forces that be, and he always fails (except for, perhaps, the unfinished amerika, his fantasy of escaping to the far west). and once the protagonist kowtows, he's done for, lost in a melancholy and ultimately fatal dream.

'assume your own authority', what else is there to be said?