Monday, May 9, 2022

Invisible Men

Franz Kafka (1923)

There are two invisible men in modern lit. One was written by H.G. Wells and the other Ralph Ellison, the latter bearing comparison to Dostoevsky’s
 Underground Man. Of course, there are the Kerbys and Nell, their St Bernard who are the poltergeists haunting Cosmo Topper’s digs and then Nicholson Baker's Fermata in which the protagonist possesses the ability to stop action in order to literally “penetrate” all those in sight. Akaky Akakievich of Gogol’s Overcoat is an invisible person as are the father and son hopelessly trying to retrieve a bicycle, in the post war Italy of De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. In both the individual is lost in the crowd and rendered even more helpless by an indifferent bureaucracy. There are, of course, anonymous donors and those who wish to be invisible either due to paranoia or because of a delusive and narcissistic grandiosity in which absence itself becomes a form of attention getting. Under this theory the best way to work the system is to exacerbate the human condition and let oneself fall into the black hole of social oblivion. In fact, isn’t this one way to describe the phenomenon of how a withdrawn writer like Kafka achieved fame. Yes, Max Brod had something to do with it, but a certain degree of talent and elusiveness can be a potent cocktail.

Read "Joseph K. or Your Average Joe?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the animation of Erotomania

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