Not bad for a fellow who was tone deaf and cared little for music. I doubt the singing voice would fare any better for Kafka. However, he had a deep interest in theatre. Perhaps he would garner some appreciation for the words (most of which are his own). The text in this article is a first rate description of Kafka and his writing. [DE]
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Franz Kafka: Cryptic, confessional, aphoristic
Ahead of Kafka Fragments and The Metamorphosis, a look at the iconic writer’s work and worldview.
About ten years ago the American illusionist David Blaine performed an extreme endurance stunt in London – he starved himself for 44 days, suspended in a transparent box over the Southbank. As he entered the box he told the crowd why he was doing it: ‘The feeling of wonder is amazing… I’m going to push myself as far as I can.’
Eighty years earlier, Franz Kafka published A Hunger Artist – a short story about a man who confines himself to a circus cage and starves himself to death. But when Kafka’s hunger artist is asked why he has chosen such a performance, he unexpectedly replies: ‘I couldn’t find the food I liked. If I had found it, believe me, I should have made no fuss about it and stuffed myself like you or anyone else.’
The more cynical of Blaine’s audience speculated that his test of the limits of human endurance was actually an inauthentic spectacle. He is an illusionist, after all – perhaps his water was laced with vitamins, or his blanket steeped in salt for him to suck out. Hunger artists have always courted scepticism, and for Kafka’s perhaps dying was the best way to demonstrate his sincerity.