guess what time it is?

Guess? Guess guess guess guess guess?


No, not that either.

No, it is never Write Your Own Haiku About America Time, no matter what anyone says.

It’s time to dispell some long-standing myths about Franz Kafka. Think of it as the “ET Rumor Mill,” but it won’t make your brain turn into maggoty sludge.

MYTH ONE: Kafka was German

    FALSE, sort of. He was born to German immigrant parents in Prague, which was then part of Austria, but which changed hands to the Czechs during Kafka’s adulthood. Because he spoke Czech, unlike many other Germans living in the all-German areas of Prague, he was able to keep his post at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute, where he worked for most of his life.

MYTH TWO: Kafka was miserable all the time.


All right, not ALL the time, but you know what I mean. Most of the time.

    No, you’re still wrong.

Dude, I’ve read his diaries. They’re all about how he can barely lift a pinkie to brush the grime from his eyebrows because he’s so goddamned miserable all the time. I’ve read it!

    Maybe so, but when was the last time you read a diary all about rainbows and skipping and how God is great and never kills anyone and every time a bell rings a liberal sends Ann Coulter a loveletter?

I sent Ann Coulter a love letter just last week.

    No you didn’t!

No, really, I did, and she wrote right back, and she said that even though I was voting for Howard Dean, she would still fuck me because she hasn’t gotten laid in so, so, so, so, so, so–

    All right, that’s enough.

–So, so, so, so, SO LONG.

    That may be true, but getting back to my original point, by most accounts of his closest friends and lovers (Max Brod, Gustav Janouch, Felice Bauer, Milena Jisenka, Dora Diamant), Kafka was absolutely delightful to be around. This could be because like anyone born to German parents, he learned to keep his girly little Angst locked deep inside him, where it belonged. Seriously, though, according to just about all accounts, Kafka was slightly shy in his youth but when he did speak, it was to say something marvelously erudite and witty. And by the time he was on death’s doorstep at the ancient age of 40, he was so charismatic (according to common-law widow Dora Diamant in the fascinating new biography Kafka’s Last Love, which you can read about by clicking the link to your right) that total strangers got crushes on him and followed him everywhere he went. Apparently bushy eyebrows and a big honker and the most enormous ears you ever saw were handsome back then. No, but seriously, despite the wrenching misery and self-pity conveyed in much of his writing (writing from his youth that, by the time he was a grown-up, embarassed him, however revered by everyone, including me, it is today), and despite his strained family relationships and boring job and poor health, by all accounts Kafka was a delightful cut-up and everyone wanted to be around him. So if you think that by sitting in the corner brooding you’re being Kafkaesque, you should know that anyone who uses the word “Kafkaesque” in earnest is an asshole.

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