Revolutionary Measures

Franz Kafka’s Facebook page

Austrian Writer Franz Kafka
Image via Wikipedia

Reading the diaries of the Czech writer Franz Kafka got me musing about the changes in how we express ourselves – and the consequences of this. Admittedly the author of The Trial and The Metamorphosis was not the most outgoing of men but he did have a generous circle of friends, travelled, corresponded widely and kept a diary of his activities and thoughts. Fast forward to now and you could substitute email, Facebook and blogs for how he chronicled his inner and outer life.

But here’s where the similarity ends – when he died in 1924 Kafka left strict instructions that all his papers (including diaries, letters and many unpublished works) be burnt. Luckily for literature his wishes were disobeyed, but if not he could have pretty successfully completed a personal vanishing trick. Compare that to social media, where incriminating photos, videos, tweets or blogs never disappear (unless you resort to personal reputation management) and are the first place many employers, colleagues and even potential partners look.

You simply can’t try and ‘do a Kafka’ in cyberspace – so people need to understand that (to quote Wittgenstein) Words are deeds’ on and offline. Though given that Kafka’s major writings are based around the concept of a complex, senseless and labyrinthine bureaucracy that ensnares the innocent and inevitably leads to their death or destruction, he may well have predicted the permanence of the web pretty well………..

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October 21, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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