Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Franz Kafka


Kafka was born into a middle class, Jewish family. He was born July 3, 1883 in Prague.  He had five siblings, three younger sisters and his two younger brothers that died before reaching age 2. His dad was a successful shopkeeper and Kafka grew up in his shadow. He did very well in school and when on the Charles University of Prague.


Adult Life

After receiving a law degree from Charles University Kafka when on to be hired by Italian insurance company. Kafka didn't like work for the Italian insurance company because they forced him to work long hours which left no time for his writing. Therefore after a year he resigned from the insurance company and found work at the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute where he worked until his retirement due to tuberculosis in 1922. He had many relationships and was engaged to be married many times but he never married. 


Kafka greatly influenced the writing sphere with his works about the human condition. His short story, Metamorphosis, which is about a human turning into an insect inspired many science fiction authors. Constantly seeking his father's approval and his host of mental disorders inspired Kafka to write the beautifully, twisted stories that he did.


Kafka died of tuberculosis on June 3, 1924 in a sanatorium near Vienna. Before his death he asked his best friend, Max Brod, to destroy all of his unpublished works but Max instead published Kafka's works after he had died. After his death, Kafka was buried next to his mother and father in Prague which is ironic because Kafka's moral body must spend an eternity with the one person he despise the most.  

 Kafka's Father

Kafka's Mother

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come is a beautifully depressing film about how far one man will go to save his soulmate from hell. This film has a lot of parallels to Dante's Inferno such as the mere existents of hell. Before Dante wrote the Divine Comedy people knew that there was this magical place that you when if you were evil but no one really knew what it would look like. Then Dante came along and made the lovely burn-fire-for-eternity-surrounded-by-nothing-but-darkness hell that we know and fear today. Another similarity between Inferno and What Dreams May Come was that suicides go to hell. The church considered committing suicide a sin but didn't nessairy believe that people who committed suicide when to hell. Yet Dante, who thought everyone was going in was in hell, thought that suicides belong in hell. Even though his character in Inferno feels bad that they are in hell and doesn't think that they deserve it. Apparently Dante's character in the Divine Comedy is a lot more compassionate than Dante himself. But since What Dreams May Come was partially based off of Inferno the soulmate, Annie, ended up in hell.

In What Dreams May Come the husband, Chris, must go through the gates of hell to get his wife, Annie. When he gets to the gates of hell he see a group go people waving blank flags. This is limbo in Dante's Inferno, limbo is the first section in hell. Yet in Inferno it is after you pass through the gates of hell not before. The hell in What Dreams May Come is also quite different than hell in Inferno because in Dante's hell everyone get the same punishment for the same sin. But in the hell in the film, Annie creates her own punishment. In Inferno all the people who committed suicide are turned into trees and ripped apart by harpies day in and day out. In What Dreams May Come Annie (who committed suicide) is in this dark, depressing house, all alone, being sad. Back to similarities, when Chris is at the gates of hell his guide, Ian who is pretending to be Albert, points out a boat that guards the gate. The boat is named Cerberus who is the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno and in Greek mythology. Therefore parts of What Dreams May Come was based on Dante's Inferno.

Monday, March 10, 2014

This Week in Hell

So this week we traveled through Cantos 19-32 of Dante's Inferno. Though it is called the Divine Comedy, I fail to see the comedy in people being tortured for human mistakes. Maybe people in the thirteen hundreds just had really perverse senses of humour, "Hahaha, look at that poor guy being rained fire upon because he stood up against the all-mighty Church!" Yep, sounds like a barrel of laughs. But thanks to the all-mighty inter-web I have discovered that Divine Comedy was a lost in translation thing because comedy in Dante's time meant that the poem was of a serious topic. So basically the exact opposite of what comedy means to us in 2014. Anyway, as I was saying, we saw presentations from cantos 19-32 which is the rest of Malebolge to the beginning of the 9th circle.  All the presentations have been very good and I'm really jealous of all of the visuals because I can't paint, draw, sketch, trace, etc. Also everyone has really awesome reaction pictures most likely because that is one of the only slides that you don't have to put a serious picture on. I personally used Beaker from the Muppets because it was adorable and he always looks distraught and surprised which is a hilariously true combination for Dante's Inferno.

The interesting thing about the Inferno is that Dante had to think up all of the punishments for the sinners. Though he might have been extremely self-centered, Dante was a maliciously evil genius. Like with canto 23, where the sinners who were hypocrites had to wear cowls lined with lead but the outside was gold. So like hypocrites the cowls were perfect on the outside but horrible within. But Dante had think of punishments that were insanely horrible but befitting to the crime and it wasn't like there was a magical guidebook, "Horrible Punishments for Every Level of Hell!". Canto 24 was interesting because it was thieves being attack constantly by snakes. It's like Battle Royale except that one side is a powerless to do anything but suffer a horrible, painful death every time they regenerate. Canto 27 was fun because it included a bunch of Greek people that I actually knew instead of having a bunch of random Italian guys that Dante hates. Canto 28 was a tad bit gory and quite sad because a lot of revengeful girls are going to that section of hell. Rumors are started daily to split "couples" apart because it's "too much effort" to wait for a high school relationship to implode on it's own. Moving on to the cheery 29th canto where alchemists are punished for figuring out how chemicals and other science works to make everyone's life better in the longer run. Also if God didn't want them to falsify metals then he should of made them harder to falsify. So that is a brief summary/commentary on cantos 19-32.