Kafka's porn stash goes public

Discuss

78 Responses to “Kafka's porn stash goes public”

  1. Contrasoma says:

    Anthony:

    It’s because I’m the anti-social, work long hours alone in my studio, anguished artist type! Also, I know plenty of tortured geniuses, so I know it’s not a complete ‘myth’.

    Hey, I’ve got no problem with anyone’s work habits and I love plenty of artists who have had the archetypal tortured life. My only problem is when popular misconceptions eclipse the actual facts of a person’s life, which all too often occludes substantive understanding of their work.

    Furthermore, I find the ‘new’ artist-as-businessperson model to be utterly dull and lacking in creative vim.

    Art and business aren’t exactly new bedfellows. The system of patronage precedes the Romantic (I’m using the term historically here) archetype of the artist by centuries.

  2. John Coulthart says:

    Is there any evidence beyond James Hawes’ assertions that Kafka has a “quasi-saintly image” among other academics?

    And Takuan, I think you want genki-genki.com. (And if you go there, don’t blame me.)

  3. Takuan says:

    you mean there is MORE evidence of mollusk molestation?! I know a certain band of hairless beach-apes that better not swim too far out….

    • Antinous says:

      you mean there is MORE evidence of mollusk molestation?

      Surely you’ve seen the video of the young Japanese lady expelling an entire octopus from her nether recesses.

  4. anthony says:

    Contrasoma,

    “Art and business aren’t exactly new bedfellows”.
    I know, but I still hate it. Even the most moral painters I love had their business side. But right or wrong I equate a business mind with a lack in the soul department when it comes to artists. I’m more Francis Bacon than Jeff Koons.
    I can tolerate a certain amount of myth/reality permeability, but if the harsh truth is that everyone’s sole reason for art making is the buck, count me out of society. I’d rather live under a log.
    I like reading your comments, by the way.

  5. anthony says:

    I think I’m just sore because someone is trying to take away my Kafka.

  6. anthony says:

    Contra, also around the Romantic period artists started bucking the system and things started to heat up a bit (Goya)…

  7. MeatwadGetsIt says:

    WARNing: Adult content follows.:

    This porn hang up is over done.

    I’m sure some of the stories were good, but how far could drawings and paint take you. Here is my latest porn sketch foreplay stage.

    /O

    Also a certain prophet masterbating follows.

    .

    Don’t get carried away.

  8. Contrasoma says:

    Anthony: I’d actually have to toss a coin as to who I like more between Koons and Bacon. Anyway, your point about opting out of society is the flip side of the inspirational coin I mentioned earlier. On one hand, we don’t want to make art into an imposing, inaccessible fortress dominated by a cult of personality. On the other, if all potential artists have to look forward to is commissions for bland works to be installed in skyscraper foyers, then, as you say, what’s the point? (Something my partner is currently rankled about as she starts to try to land exhibitions)

    I missed the Palahniuk comment earlier. Touche. ;)

    Lit history’s much more my field than art history, but if I can play fast and loose with yr Goya point, aesthetic shifts and shifts in circumstances of production are pretty much inextricable. New styles which are rejected by established systems of distribution create new systems out of necessity, and the possibilities of those new systems in turn inspire new formal experimentation. As long as criticism avoids the extreme poles of “the work in a void” (New Criticism) and the completely imprecise “everything is everything” popular misunderstandings of post-modernity (those cheesy “The Philosophy Of” Lost, Metallica, Friends and whatnot books that are everywhere), I’m happy.

    …And as long as we’re all talking irreverently about Kafka, may I suggest taking a gander at “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life“, starring Richard E Grant: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

  9. redsquares says:

    @61: Buddy66

    I know, It’s like Hannah Hoch had most of her brain removed and got lazy, to boot.

  10. arkizzle says:

    John.

    I went there. I blame you.

    *cough* may have to download some stuff *cough*

  11. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    @#32:Oh dear God, Joyce’s horny letters included fart + sex? Ugh, or rather, double ugh.

    I admit my tastes are very bland, but fart sex? Isn’t needed, never ever, must burn out eyes and frontal cortex. I’m going to be sick.

    As for #52′s Japanese lady, also too gross.

  12. John Coulthart says:

    @#32:Oh dear God, Joyce’s horny letters included fart + sex?

    Joyce’s fiction included fart + sex; see chapter 15 of Ulysses when brothel mistress Bella Cohen sits on Leopold Bloom’s face. No one is surprised by the contents of Joyce’s letters since it’s pretty much all there in his work.

  13. buddy66 says:

    #29 John Coulthart:

    This may be a good time for some enterprising theatre company to stage a revival of Alan Bennett’s play, Kafka’s Dick. (Yes, it is about the writer’s penis.)

    Probably even as I write. Bennet’s one of the best.

    I’ve got a one-act called ”Socrates’ Cock.” Any producers out there?

  14. Ugly Canuck says:

    FWIW IIRC Kafka’s own circle thought his works to be , well, hilarious. He’s read them his stories, they would laugh, a good time was had by all.
    Kafka is a greatly misunderstood comic writer, IMO.

  15. Heather_R says:

    I tried for several minutes to imagine worse cover art for that book. Unsuccessful.

  16. anthony says:

    Contrasoma,

    Currently the art world views itself as a domain that has been roughly mapped out (I think this is partially a consequence of postmodern thinking), with the various regions being mined or plotted, versus trail-blazed. Is it the same for literature?

    My feeling about Koons…I think I like the critical explanations of his work more than I like him or his art. I’m in the “blind parody” camp so far as he and Warhol goes.

  17. buddy66 says:

    Absolutely the worst cover ever!

  18. anthony says:

    Ugly Canuck,
    Yeah, Kafka was funny and tragic and horrible all in a great way.

  19. Takuan says:

    I thought In The Penal Colony was a comedy for years.

  20. anthony says:

    It does have a sort of Monty Python flair to it…

  21. Takuan says:

    I see someone did an opera, how about a real musical with show tunes?

  22. anthony says:

    Starring Danny Kaye as the bungling Commandant?

  23. macrumpton says:

    Kafka Porn, it’s totally Kafkaesque.

  24. Cowicide says:

    Welp, he’s not the first existentialist chicken fucker I’ve come across.

  25. buddy66 says:

    “…chicken fucker…”

    Oh, then you’ve seen ”Socrates’ Cock”? How did you like it?

  26. arkizzle says:

    Hah!

  27. Takuan says:

    was Asclepius pissed?

  28. buddy66 says:

    Oh, you mean ”Clipper.” Yeah, on a tear.

    Zadie Smith makes nice:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21610

  29. NanM says:

    Oh Anthony #19:
    The new artist is more of a networked businessman/woman who knows how to surf media currents and target niches to exploit.

    You’ve read my grieving, art-starved mind.
    If no varied myth then no art for me too.
    I hang around these media art sites always hoping, hoping for anything that may disturb the smooth networked blandness of it all.

    No offence, acourse, to all you bright networked artists, but I long for a few more innocent exploited idiots again.
    The creators, I mean; everybody knows that buyers in the galleries and auctions have been and always will be exploited.

    Sorry I can’t be around to answer anything, but I only got a little time online for the week.
    Thanks for the chance to say this much, boingboing.
    NanM

  30. Mithrandir says:

    Oh man, the best commentary about this inane topic came from the SA forums, like it always does. Shamelessly paraphrased here:

    One day Gregor Samsa awoke to discover his blanket had transformed into a giant tent.

    Yeah, and then his sister deals with the problem while his parents refuse to acknowledge the new change in their lives.

  31. HarshLanguage says:

    So Hawes lumps lesbian porn in with bestiality porn as “quite unpleasant?” Or does that ellipsis hide a less misinformed viewpoint?

  32. Anonymous says:

    “Hawes, an Oxford graduate and university lecturer, emphasises his total admiration for the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis…”

    Kafkaesque? To describe KAFKA? I just couldn’t continue reading after that.

  33. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    It is not often that you see “girl-on-girl action” equated with “animals committing fellatio” in the “quite dark / quite unpleasant” category.

  34. eclectro says:

    TTIWWP

  35. legion says:

    YKINOK

  36. cattoys says:

    #2 and #3: seriously!

    Also, I’m uncomfortable with the whole dark and unpleasant discourse anyway. Somehow a surreal and rich imagination is good in literature, but bad bad bad in the bedroom…Why does the writer have to get caught up in deciding what kind of porn would have been acceptable for Kafka? You want the guy who dreamt up Metamorphosis to enjoy some proto-Jenna Jameson T&A? The judgmental and blinkered attitude to sexuality rubs me wrong.

  37. minTphresh says:

    c’mon in baby, and if you don’t mind…could you please put on this cockroach mask? yeah, that’s a good little buggy…call me ‘pupae’!

  38. hohum says:

    I’m glad 2 & 3 beat me to it! How is girl-on-girl action in anywhere near the same territory as bestiality!? That’s just brilliantly stupid.

  39. squib says:

    “Kafka’s interest in pornography, which left traces in such works as The Metamorphosis”

    ewww!

    No but seriously, I didn’t notice anything raunchy in that story…?

  40. Anonymous says:

    In my country bestiality is a crime, fellatio isn’t. There is the occasional bust for bestiality, but it is the people who are charged with committing it, not the animals. Yet Dr Hawes writes about “animals committing fellatio”. I find that a bizarre turn of phrase.

    Girl-on-girl action is seen by Hawes as “quite dark”, along with the bestiality.

    Has this guy been reading too much Kafka?

  41. membrain says:

    I like it! It makes him more real and even more distant at the same time, kinda restores his reality phase-afterimage.

  42. fforw says:

    Note to self: I will not tell a friend to burn my stuff, I will do it myself.

  43. buddy66 says:

    I don’t know if this will help or hurt my chances of publishing my new literary bography, ”Kafka at Play.”

    Hmm. That was a lot funnier yesterday.

  44. BlurHollingsworth says:

    This sounds like poor analysis of Kafka sexed up for mass consumption by a marketing department. Kafka liked porn. Porn was not as niche marketed as it is now, so I bet these erotic journals would include all sorts of kinky stuff. Its not like he necessarily got off on everything in the mag…Maybe he read them for the articles.

  45. anthony says:

    I went looking around for more info on this book and I got this:

    ‘”Excavating Kafka” debunks a number of key facets of the Kafka-Myth, including the idea that Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime; that he was stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to find time to write; that he was tormented by fear of sex; that he had a uniquely terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son’s needs; that his literature is mysterious and opaque; that he constructs fantasy-worlds in which innocent everymen live in fear of mysterious and totalitarian powers-that-be.”

    Could this be true? Kafka is a myth? Who’s next? Hemmingway? Van Gogh? I wonder if there is truth to the book.

  46. schönberger says:

    To add to what #13 said:
    The most sensible remarks when this story ran in German media several days ago were: It never was a secret that Kafka was into woman and naughty stories.
    The magazines he read were never “lost” or secret and can still be found in libraries and specialised antique book shops.
    And, by any means, they are not pornographic, not by today’s standards nor back in their time. If there is a book now about every author who has had a look at erotic stories and pictures in his life, that’s a lot of dead trees. Don’t believe the marketing droids.

  47. John Coulthart says:

    The only example of Kafka’s porn shown in the paper version of that Times article was a drawing, not a photo; I was wondering who the artist was since they didn’t credit anyone. In style it was similar to the work of Edwardian pornographer Franz von Bayros who managed to present scenes of (among other things) bestiality with considerable elegance. It should be borne in mind that drawings and writing counted as porn in the early 20th century.

  48. anthony says:

    To elaborate on my earlier comment:
    I’m troubled by the trend that seeks to de-mythologize eccentric artists and writers. In recent years there has been a push in critical literature that suggests the artist as lone, tormented creator is a myth or at best outdated. The new artist is more of a networked businessman/woman who knows how to surf media currents and target niches to exploit.

  49. SeamusAndrewMurphy says:

    @#12: Wow, what a great new phrase “Literary bography”. I hope that wasn’t a typo. I think most biographies are “bography”. I am using that from now on!

    Hooray for you Buddy.

  50. eagleapex says:

    That’s so Kafkaesque.

  51. Modusoperandi says:

    Y’know, one thing that never crossed my mind was “wondering about what Kafka’s tastes in porn were”. I was rather proud of not ever thinking about it.
    Thanks for ruining that, Boingboing.
    Try not to ruin my new diversion, that of successfully avoiding thinking about Abe Vigoda naked, next.

  52. Daemon says:

    “with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action”

    Lebsians and bi girls the world over will be ever to pleased to hear that these two sexual practices are equivalent.

  53. montauk says:

    Yeah…I’m not at all convinced that this is any different from saying “Look! These are the panties that Anna Nicole Smith liked to wear!”

    I mean, is it really going to tell us anything about the owner? And if not, isn’t it sort of pointless voyeurism for the lit crowd?

    Assuming that porn reveals personality, Kafka or not, is like the teenage guys who call my hotline saying “I saw gay porn and I think I liked it…does that mean I’m gay?”

    It’s pop psychology. Really, sexual interests and – porn included – don’t predict much of anything, except maybe sexual behavior. And I don’t think Kafka was eligible for girl-on-girl.

  54. CVR says:

    A Wikipedia entry on the editor of these “porno rags” argues that they weren’t quite as hard-core as the Times story (and the new book?) imply:

    “From December 1905 – November 1906 [Franz Blei] was the editor of the private magazine Amethyst (pub. Hans von Weber) and then The Opals, which were available by subscription only and were mildly pornographic. The journals featured the artwork of Aubrey Beardsley and Felicien Rops, texts by Jules Laforgue and also erotic prose from translated texts by Paul Verlaine and classic erotic plays and poems from around the world….The Opals was the first to publish Carl Einstein’s Bebuquin, the first German expressionist novel. These literary small-press journals, known about by Kafka scholars for many decades, became the basis for a silly season press story in 2008, in The Times of London, when a novelist promoting a new book claimed to have discovered Kafka’s ‘secret pornography stash’ among his archived papers.”

  55. Timefishblue says:

    Who cares what porn Kafka looked at? Was there anything about him that made people think “This guy would NOT look at porn EVER!”?

    It’s not like they found Ghandi’s porn, or Jesus’s.

    Breaking news: Kafka enjoyed CHOCOLATE!!!

  56. Christovir says:

    This story is more interesting because it is a “big deal” rather than because Kafka liked porn. Is their next big secret going to be that literary authors also pee and poop, in addition to having sex drives? Can we also expect someone to posthumously diagnose Kafka with Naked-Lady Fetishism?

    And I’m really hoping Dr. Hawes was misquoted when he implied girl/girl porn is automatically dark, unpleasant, and parallel with bestiality.

  57. Bookyloo says:

    Hang on a sec! I wasn’t paying close attention when this story first appeared but I thought these were about porn stories that Kafka had WRITTEN. But no? it’s just excerpts from his stroke mag collection? Bo-ring. What’s next, Norman Mailer’s favorite letters to Penthouse Forum? No thanks.

    The simple image from “metamorphosis”, the picture Gregor has hanging over his bed, a pin-up of a girl with her hands deep in a muff, is all the Kafka porn I need.

    Now, James Joyce’s private dirty letters to Nora, THAT is some filthy porn right there. Oh man. Look it up.

  58. nate_freewheel says:

    I think I speak for all the English majors here when I say, “Dude, where’s the link?” It’s fascinating in a “two girls, one cup,” kind of way.

  59. John Coulthart says:

    This may be a good time for some enterprising theatre company to stage a revival of Alan Bennett’s play, Kafka’s Dick. (Yes, it is about the writer’s penis.)

  60. Lobster says:

    #2, speaking as a man, I don’t think people look at lesbian porn because it’s empowering and progressive any more than they look at bestiality porn because it increases wildlife awareness.

  61. anthropomorphictoast says:

    @25: LOL, totally. I think the reason the academic types have their underwear in a bunch is because they’re too caught up in their own B.S. that they’ve written about the guy to remember he was actually human.

    I mean, c’mon…what guy DOESN’T like like hot girl-on-girl action? And of course Kafka wouldn’t want his parents to find his pr0n stash. It’s like every teenager’s nightmare to come home one day and find that their mom or dad found their stuff while cleaning their room. :P

  62. Bookyloo says:

    Nate freewheel: James Joyce’s jerky and highly litigious grandson has apparently done his job and I had a heck of a time finding any links to full texts of the erotic letters (they were published, though, in 1975). But yeah, for anyone who doesn’t know, there’s lots of stuff about farting, and I guess a passage about Nora squatting on a glass table and..well…yeah. I’m really glad they didn’t have access to a webcam, those two.

  63. Ugly Canuck says:

    Kafka did not write this stuff himself.
    Kafka was a single male, was he not?
    Nothing to see here, move along….

  64. Scraps says:

    Oh man, the best commentary about this inane topic came from the SA forums, like it always does. Shamelessly paraphrased here:

    One day Gregor Samsa awoke to discover his blanket had transformed into a giant tent.

    Seriously, that’s the best they could come up with? “One day Gregor Samsa awoke to discover he had transformed into a giant cock” is just sitting there like a turkey on a t-ball stand, and that’s the best they could do?

  65. imajication says:

    Didn’t bother to RTFA before reading the comments, but when someone says “Kafka’s Porn”, it makes it seem like Kafka wrote porn, not that he owned it. Aside from judging it, the fact that he might have written porn would be interesting. The fact that he owned porn was probably ignored by most literary critics because they didn’t care.

  66. Gag Halfrunt says:

    I’m troubled by the trend that seeks to de-mythologize eccentric artists and writers. In recent years there has been a push in critical literature that suggests the artist as lone, tormented creator is a myth or at best outdated. The new artist is more of a networked businessman/woman who knows how to surf media currents and target niches to exploit.

    It sounds as if these critics are taking contemporary media culture – where, thanks to the Net, more or less anything can find an audience, no matter how esoteric it is – and projecting it back onto the past.

  67. Contrasoma says:

    Anthony: Why does the deconstruction of the romantic cult of the lone, tortured genius bother you? Beyond the interests of factual accuracy (Kafka was actually quite social and happy, Hemingway greatly exaggerated his war record), reconsiderations of authors lead to new insights regarding the relationships between them and the worlds they inhabited*. What if (and I’m reaching a bit here) younger authors don’t feel as though they need to cut themselves off from the world, develop nasty habits and starve themselves in an attic in order to write a great novel, the way we pretend our heroes did? Myth’s a morally ambiguous force to be sure, but I don’t see the harm in academics continuing to learn more about the realities of their subjects of research.

    * I smell a new dissertation about to be published: “Justice, Restraint, Jouissance: The Influence of B&D Erotica on In the Penal Colony

    Ugly Canuck: I agree. When I first started reading this story I assumed a cache of porn authored by Kafka had been unearthed. The real story is the hilarious image of a dilettante fainting while on a pilgrimage to “magical Prague” after finding out that their holy recluse spanked his monkey like everyone else.

  68. Antinous says:

    Can we have some porn starring Kafka? He’s cute in a kind of nosferatu way.

  69. Chris L says:

    Frankly, I want to know and see it all. If I could have a magic television that played the dirty thoughts of Kafka or Einstein when they were taking the long shower or anyone else from history, I’d watch it all. Yes everyone, anyone you’ve ever considered your hero has masturbated. Just because you don’t want to know about it doesn’t mean they didn’t.

    Why are things from the ancient greeks and romans acceptable to discuss academically (Pompeii’s sex menus, wine bowls depicting heroes drinking from women’s breasts and male on male sex) but anything from less than 200 years ago (much less the past 50 years) is simply off limits as historic documents?

    Sex and perversions are fascinating topics. Anyone who is proud to never have thought about such things about their favorite historical figures really need to stop taking themselves so seriously.

  70. anthony says:

    Contrasoma,

    You asked “Why does the deconstruction of the romantic cult of the lone, tortured genius bother you? ” Here goes:

    It’s because I’m the anti-social, work long hours alone in my studio, anguished artist type!
    Also, I know plenty of tortured geniuses, so I know it’s not a complete ‘myth’.
    Furthermore, I find the ‘new’ artist-as-businessperson model to be utterly dull and lacking in creative vim.
    On the other hand, I am fascinated by how fact and fiction become tangled up in the life stories of people like Kafka.

  71. John Coulthart says:

    “Can we have some porn starring Kafka? He’s cute in a kind of nosferatu way.”

    I’ll be happy to unleash my Photoshop skills if you send me many of your dollars.

  72. anthony says:

    “What if (and I’m reaching a bit here) younger authors don’t feel as though they need to cut themselves off from the world, develop nasty habits and starve themselves in an attic in order to write a great novel, the way we pretend our heroes did?”

    Then you get, like, Chuck Palahniuk.

  73. Binaryloop says:

    What is so unpleasant about girl-on-girl action?

  74. Diamond Jim says:

    Is this the James Hawes whose terrible novel RANCID ALUMINIUM was turned into one of the worst movies ever made (with himself as the screenwriter)?

  75. OM says:

    “What is so unpleasant about girl-on-girl action?”

    …Some of my lez and bi-gal friends would love an answer to that one as well. Which brings to mind my only favorite Joan Rivers segment where she interviewed Julia Parton and Tom Byron on the subject of lesbian sex in porn:

    JR: “So, do you do lesbian acts on film?”

    JP: “Well, I prefer to do scenes with men, as I’m heterosexual. But on occasion I do get roles that call for me to perform with at least one other woman, and those generally do call such acts.”

    JR: “So do or do you not…?”

    JP: [Slight exasperation] “Yes, I’ll do lesbian scenes.”

    JR: [To Tom Byron] “And what about you, Tom?”

    TB: “Yeah. I’ll do lesbian scenes!”

    …Or, as my ex-before-last had to say, yours truly may not be a lesbian, but she’d be glad to teach me :-P

  76. arkizzle says:

    Second: Rancid Aluminum is one of the worst films ever made.

Leave a Reply