Franz Kafka — Metamorphosis, Trial, Castle

Quite often a statement stating that we live in a Kafka’s style world can be heard. This should make any listener wonder, what is that world that Kafka has described, which can be used as a descriptive example even a hundred years later.

At first look it can be simply seen as a bureaucratic environment where one individual struggles to find it’s way through. Where multiple absurd and nonsense obstacles creep out, preventing to achieve even simplest goals. Where literally everybody, starting from a young boy ending up with an elder woman talk in dry office jargon language. And where bureaucratic system produces piles of formal papers, reports, statements, submissions to be stored on the tables of countless officials located in infinite number of rooms in endless corridor labyrinths. Everything is so complicated and bureaucratic conduct takes not months, but years. Despite of the public acknowledgement of this absurdity there is no external power strong enough to even attempt take down the behemoth. So the system flourishes and grows, building layer upon layer more levels of powerless small white-collar employees and produces more documents than before.

Some say the book is boring, full of office jargon and absurdity. Plot advances slowly, nothing interesting seem to happen. Main characters try to fight with the system, but without any apparent success. Moreover, since all three stories are actually unfinished, there is no real end or beginning. No solution seem to be provided.

This is exactly the point! Any such system would indeed be deadly boring. In any such system things indeed will advance in a pace of a snail or better stand still. Any such system would produce huge pile of documents and, if there is any miracle at all, it would be the one that would stop this machinery sinking in the swamp of printed papers. No way this can be interesting. No way this would be anything else than boring.

Surprising was the fact that office jargon, which everybody was claimed to be speaking, was not so annoying at all. It was more or less readable. Even somewhat horrifying came the understanding that such language was indeed the one many use form day to day. That many news articles are actually written the same way. That many politicians or other public figures are already talking like this.

Remembering my last e-mail exchange and phone calls with local civil authorities, that ended up in a dead end with no conclusive statement, I must admit that at least part of this system is already established and working in a full power. In this sense, Kafka’s world and his books is not a fiction. It turned out to be a documentary.s

These stories might as well be a mandatory reading material on how to run public services and build up a thin state, nowadays a very popular term. How to fight against meaningless attitude towards individual wellbeing and destiny. Only this way Kafka’s world can be truly avoided and the now inevitable documentary reverted back to pure fiction.