Monday, July 03, 2006
Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924) was one of the major German-language novelists and short story writers of the 20th century, most of whose works were published posthumously. Born in Prague of Jewish descent, his unique body of writing continues to draw interest from critics and readers alike.
It boggles the mind indeed that a man like Kafka would go virtually unrecognized during his lifetime. Such is the bane of many a misunderstood brilliant mind. And of many a progressive mind. And many an enlightened soul too. Achieving notoriety is not the key here - reaching the masses is. To be *allowed* to do so, even if only posthumously, is already a great privilege in and of itself... There are many more ways to reach out for a readership today - however, in a sea of blogs, even a Kafka could get lost in the shuffle and still go "undiscovered" until... well, until it's too late! The Message is key also; some messages are easier to transmit than others, simply because they are things that people want to hear. Or read about. Kafka's musings are of the order of the elite "acquired taste" variety - and, as such, are a harder sale to make. Orson Welles liked it! Not many more did...
In this day and age of amalgamations, I strongly recommend the short film titled "Franz Kafka's 'It's a Wonderful Life'" - a 1993 opus to the life and myth of this author written and directed by Peter Capaldi and starring Richard E. Grant (notable Scarlet Pimpernel on A&E not too long ago) as Kafka. The film blends Kafka's own "Metamorphosis" with Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life - and the end result is a gem. Kafka + Capra = priceless indeed!
It is not surprising either: Peter Capaldi was more than capable of putting together this sort of ingenious weaving of disparate components with flair and wit, since he had practically been discovered by eccentric director Ken Russell. Some of the eclectic qualities exhibited by Russell certainly rubbed off well on Capaldi while the latter portrayed "Angus Flint" - the true hero of the infamous film "The Lair of the White Worm". It is all in a chain of distinguished minds that goes from Kafka to Tesla to H.G.Wells to Russell and Capaldi. The medium is not as important as the originality of the thought-process that can be found in all of these individuals and many more like them. Between the five or six that I mention here, we cover a lot of different things: books, movies, engineering. And all mold and shape our lives, in one insidious way or another...
More on Tesla when it's his birthday though; today is Kafka's day! ;)