Sunday 10 April 2022

Nerd Church - Even Franz-Freaking-Kafka...


Ever heard of a writer called Kafka?

If it was up to him, you probably wouldn't have. 

But millions of people know his name - and have heard the term 'Kafkaesque,' which is a fancy and more succinct way of saying 'reminds me of the stuff that that Kafka feller wrote.'

Even Franz-Freaking-Kafka...

Franz Kafka is held up as one of the greats of writing and literature -

- penning The Trial (which I've read - it's confusing but brilliant,) Metamorphosis (on my TBR list, but I know it's about a dude who wakes up as a bug one morning,) The Castle (which I have no idea about, tbh,) and several short stories and fragmentary writings.

Kafka was a Czech Jewish man, who sold insurance for a living, and died young of TB; he also wrote what many consider some of the greatest literature of the 20th Century.

...And he thought his work sucked.

He never thought of himself as 'a writer' and thought extremely few of his works were worthy for publication.

He only published a handful of works in his lifetime - and that's because his friend, Max Brod, basically wouldn't quit bugging him about them.

(Ha, bugging... OK, I'll be good.)

Silhouette of a man sitting on a chair - Der Denker by Franz Kafka
'Der Denker' - Franz Kafka, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

He wanted his unpublished works burned after his death, but that same friend thought his stuff was too good - that the world should see it, should read it.

I'm not sure where I stand on a moral standpoint re: publishing what your bestie told you to burn, but as a book lover, I'm glad that his pal had more faith in Kafka's writings than Kafka did.

Because Kafka's work - even in translation - has that something that is impossible to define.

It has that spark that says, 'this - this right here - is something special, something that benefits to the grander scope of humanity just by existing. 

Something people will read and think about - something that contains ideas which could inspire people to change the world - because he sees the world and its problems so clearly.'

...And he thought it sucked.

Franz Kafka portrait photograph
Franz Kafka, 1924;
image author unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Kafka was the definition of Imposter Syndrome before anyone had ever thought of the phrase.

(He was also pretty high on the scale of definitions for 'Troubled Artist™.')

And if Franz-freaking-Kafka didn't think his work was 'good enough' to be read, I think that says a lot about Imposter Syndrome in general.

So next time you're being your own harshest critic, whether in writing or anything else, remember: even Franz-freaking-Kafka didn't think he was 'good enough.'

...And he couldn't've been more wrong, so cut yourself some slack!

Nerd Church is going on break next week, and will be back on 24th April 2022

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  1. Wow, I didn't know this about Kafka! I haven't read any of his works but he is frequently mentioned in many of my classes. This definitely makes me feel a bit better about myself lol. Thanks for teaching me something new!

    1. I was stunned when I first heard it! Like... 'you're *Franz Kafka* - everyone *knows* you can write. Except, apparently, for you.' Lol.


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