If I had had access to news reports about the Great Northeastern Blackout of ’03 (otherwise know as The Day I Got To Leave Work Early), no doubt one of them would have read like this:
“…rooms plunged into darkness, dank stairwells the only source of transportation, subways halted in their tracks…on 4:11pm August 14, New York City was transformed into something out of Kafka…”
And that would be true…if you were a complete fucking moron dipshit who didn’t know about Kafka at all. Who wants to be a dipshit? Not you, that’s for sure. No, really, I don’t mean to be so abusive. It’s just that these imaginary news reports frustrate me so, because just because something is dark and sucky doesn’t mean it’s “out of Kafka.” The Great Northeastern Blackout of ’03 is especially not like Kafka because it served as a great equalizer–rich, poor, black, white, green…everyone was in the same place. A dark, hot, humid, sucky place without food or running water (because in certain people’s apartments, you need electricity to have water, which only a forty-block trek to poop can really teach you). We were all, more or less, in the blackout together, and whether we celebrated by walking around with homemade margaritas on the street offering them to strangers or huddled around candles trying to see who could complain the most, we were all screwed in the same way.
If the blackout had been “something out of Kafka,” then I would have been the only one who lost power and everyone else in the city would have had access to some secret ueber-generator. Every time I asked for access to this generator I would be denied, because the generator would have been designed for everyone but me–the blackout engineered to thwart only me. Kafka’s fiction never seemed too concerned with the plights of the many, as much as it did with the plight of the one against tme many.
Kafka never really had the opportunity to belong to a big, chaotic group. The closest he ever came to experiencing the Great Northeastern Blackout of ’03 was in 1923 Berlin, when he lived there during the Great Inflation, when bread was 1 million marks a loaf. If Kafka had been alive for yesterday’s blackout, what would he have done? Well, first he probably would have said, “Jesus H. Christ, what in the motherfucking hell is a computer? What’s a subway?” He also would have said, “I’m 120 years old! Kill me!”