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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Kafka becomes me

June 1st, 2003

kafkawithwingsBY CLINTON WILSON

A verbatim transcription of an online “conversation”:

VillageBoy: I like your Manhunt profile, and you have a pretty intriguing handle, Waxkafka. How’d you come up with that?

Waxkafka: Well, I thought it had a better ring to it than Waxheidegger.

VillageBoy: I see. Seems like you have an affinity for German literature.

Waxkafka: Das ist wahr. Actually, this is from a series of mantras I created in college after reading Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis for a compulsory freshman comp class. They were esoteric expressions of an inner struggle between the forces of Classicism and Romanticism, self-deception and self-realization, stultification and transcendence.

VillageBoy: All of this from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, huh? There’s nothing in your profile that suggests you’ve undergone an insectile transformation.

Waxkafka: I didn’t wake up one morning to find myself trapped within the carapace of a dung beetle, but there was a revolution gathering momentum in my life at the time. Reading Kafka’s story of existential alienation seemed to unlock a door — a heavy, imposing door — to self-exploration that would have dramatic repercussions. For the first time in my life I had read something that informed my own existence.
In high school I had suffered through English classes led by teachers who either knew nothing of European literature or were so enamored of John Steinbeck that it precluded an interest in twentieth-century European literature. They were a menacing gaggle of matronly rumor-mongers with badly-permed hair and an understanding of literature limited to The Pearl. So I threw myself into the sciences and declared myself a biology major when I entered college.

But Kafka’s story seemed to unlock concealed regions of my mind; I felt I had discovered for the first time in my life a literary voice.

As I began work on the assignment, a critical essay about Kafka’s story, I unwittingly began to examine my own life and the governing forces I felt I had no control over. All of my life’s cues had been dictated to me and all of my actions had been considered in an attempt to please an established order. I had an existential compatriot in Franz Kafka.

I was the pitiful, reviled Gregor Samsa.

VillageBoy: That sounds like quite a metamorphosis, Waxkafka.

Waxkafka: And I owe it all to Kafka. I’ve been waxing Kafkaesque ever since.

VillageBoy: Does this carry over into the bedroom?

Waxkafka: Well, I sometimes coerce my lovers into a specially-designed apparatus of torture, starve them for an extended period of time, and force them to listen to a dramatic recitation of my gloomy poetry from my college years.

VillageBoy: Sounds hot, when can we meet? •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Wilson | Link to this Entry

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