franz kafka: misunderstood comic genius?


They don’t make porn like this no more.

Franz Kafka once wrote:

As someone said to me⎯I can’t remember now who it was⎯it is really remarkable that when you wake up in the morning you nearly always find everything in exactly the same place as the evening before. For when asleep and dreaming you are, apparently at least, in an essentially different state from that of wakefulness; and therefore, as that man truly said, it requires enormous presence of mind or rather quickness of wit, when opening your eyes to seize hold as it were of everything in the room at exactly the same place where you had let it go on the previous evening. That was why, he said, the moment of waking up was the riskiest moment of the day. Once that was well over without deflecting you from your orbit, you could take heart of grace for the rest of the day.

Now: some would view this as another in the mountain of paragraphs (and a comparatively short one, at that) Franz devoted to his gloomy view on the fundamental unknowability of reality . . . or some equally pretentious assessment filling the pages of a master’s thesis as we speak.

But really–doesn’t that paragraph represent the basic premise behind every good comic sketch from Python on down? You wake up, blink a few times, and find yourself immersed in some new, completely ludicrous situation. Comedy, needless to say, ensues.

And a corollary: what if Kafka wasn’t the tormented master of social paranoia we’ve been trained to regard him as? Perhaps there is some literary conspiracy to mask the fact that he was, in fact, a decidedly off-kilter but thoroughly fun-loving rapscallion?

Why does the Evil wonder about this? Because he has only just now discovered that there’s been some Kafka kontroversy-in’ afoot for nigh unto a year or so. Looka this article from last freakin’ August (so, so out of the lit-porn loop is the Evil) about Kafka’s collection of naughty pix. Best line:

“Some of it is quite dark, with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action… It’s quite unpleasant.”

Um. Okay, look: the Evil isn’t here to comment on the tasteful/less/ness of pornography—to each his/her/its own, says he—but he would submit that society has probably moved on from the stance that “girl-on-girl action” is on par, depravity-wise, with “animals committing fellatio.” But perhaps the Evil is wrong about that. Who is he to question a Ph.D.?

Anyway, it’s something to consider: that Kafka might have actually been a porn-loving progenitor of the farcical comedic traditions we all know and love. Sure, he gave us The Trial—but Evil would like to think that, in a way, he also gave us the Evil’s all-time favorite sketch:


One thought on “franz kafka: misunderstood comic genius?”

  1. Most importantly, Kafka is the “other” father of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, which I personally think is the finest film ever made (until you ask me next time). I first set foot in downtown Manhattan in 1985, and that film use EXACTLY what it was like — except for a lot more sex, drugs, and soggy cardboard. But, the pervasive Kafkaesque leitmotif was absolutely dead-on. I sometimes dream and wonder if I wasn’t led off to a quarry by two odd men in business suits (or Cheech and Chong) and stabbed in the heart “like a dog” at the end of it, and I just haven’t noticed yet.

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