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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Day 17: Kafka’s Tomb


New Jewish Cemetery, Prague


Graveyards and cemeteries are creepy places. I love them. They give me a sense of … the ultimate destiny of we all, and with that final end of every future I can possibly imagine, therein lies strength and renewed energy for work that transcends daily life.Franz Kafka wrote disturbing stories. He had a refined, specific philosophy behind his writing:

“The books we need are of the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation—a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.”

Kafka’s HeadstoneKafka did not live to see the genocidal lunacy that were the Nazi’s, although he did write about such profane government such as Hitler devised. In one of those historical ironies, just months before Kafka died (April 1923), Hitler attempted his ridiculous Beer Hall Putsch that landed him in Landesberg Prison.

Kafka wrote widely about such devious animals as Hitler, men who devised elegant schemes to attain power and labyrinthine ways to keep others from taking it away. Such are the plots of The Trial and The Castle.

Kafka’s Gravesite

On the other hand, one doesn’t need to live through the worst that government can hand citizens in order to see the limits by which human intelligence can give us such dangerous fools as Stalin, Napoleon, Khomeini, Franco, Mussolini, Bush, Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Edward Longchamps, Putin, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

The graves of the notable humanists abound for which wise people may visit to gain inspiration, while the despots are remembered for the body counts they imposed on, ultimately, their native peoples for such audatious treatury.

Which self-imposed king can you help dethrone today?


  ClaireMargaret wrote @ September 8th, 2008 at 4:08 am

Wow! This is an outstanding piece, Mark. Did you, by chance, add the fresh flowers at the gravesite?

  Mark wrote @ September 8th, 2008 at 7:14 pm

No flowers at the gravesite. But I did place a stone on the ledge. It’s a Jewish thing.

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