Franz Kafka was born in Prague. Who is Franz Kafka, you ask? He’s one of my favorite authors. Why? Because his stories about how ridiculous the world is — the arbitrary rules, tendency for power to corrupt, and the most frustrating bureaucracy one will ever come across. This is all particularly prescient at a time when our government is randomly and immorally deporting immigrants.
Prague has a memorial to Kafka in the Jewish Quarter and a sign marking Kafka’s birthplace in the Old Town.
The memorial is a statue depicting a scene from one of Kafka’s early stories called “Description of a Struggle”. In this story Kafka dreams that a giant empty suit is walking around the streets of Prague, and as a gesture of kindness, Kafka hops on the suit’s shoulders to give it directions as to where to go.
Why would it be difficult for this suit to hear Kafka’s directions and see where it is walking?
Something I didn’t notice about the Kafka memorial when I was there is that the statue has no feet. Instead, the tiles on the ground make up a mosaic of an insect’s legs, a reference to Kafka’s most famous story called Metamorphosis, in which a man wakes up one day to find that he has transformed into a giant insect!
The world is too often arbitrary, and we are too often unwilling to question whether or not something makes sense. Let’s all be a little more like Kafka, or Kafkaesque, and ask questions, especially of the people in power who make the rules and laws by which we all live. Truth to power, kiddos, tell truth to power.
I’m pointing to the partially obstructed red sign which says “Námésti Franz Kafky” or “Franz Kafka Square” in Czech.
The random guy in this video makes me smile every time