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Whatever happened to Kafka?

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Is anyone out there reading Kafka these days? Ot at least watching the film, Kafka? I used to teach a course we had, called “Existentialism,” and we would always stew over some Kafka. I’ve always thought he is the most excellent exemplar of the philosophically-inclined fictionalist. Borges is great, as is Camus and Sartre, but no one cuts to the bone like ol’ Franz Kafka. There is something about the eastern-European mentality, that sees through the horror and tragedy, and manages to smirk, or even laugh, at all the nonsense we take to be vital.

Anyway, if you’re not reading Kafka, you should immediately find some and not stop reading until the feelings it expresses are second nature to you. If you don’t, you cannot fail to be a poser.



  1. mbrasmuson says:

    Isn’t that the guy who wrote something about the trial of a giant cockroach?


  2. If I remember correctly I believe it was more the giant trials of a rather regular sized cockroach. Depending on which Army barracks building it is residing in though it could be quite monstrous.


  3. Rob says:

    Wonderful advice. In addition to his better-known works, I would also mention The Zürau Aphorisms, a fairly recent publication brought into existence by Roberto Calasso (who, in addition toThe Marriage of Cadmus and Haromy, which features some astute invocations of Nietzsche, has authored K, a book-length treatment of Kafka).

    The Zürau Aphorisms



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