If Wednesday’s Google Doodle looks a little buggy, if you will, that’s because it’s meant to celebrate Franz Kafka, the “Metamorphosis” author who would have turned 130 today.
Born on July 3, 1883, in Prague, Kafka spent much of his life as a law clerk in that city. He died in 1924 a virtual unknown -- he even told his friend Max Brod to destroy his unpublished novels, which included “The Trial” and “The Castle.” Luckily, Brod failed to comply with his requests.
The Google Doodle alludes to the famous opening of “The Metamorphosis,” which reads: “One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.”
With his ineffable sense of the tragic and absurd, Kafka would have likely been skeptical of the Internet, a tool meant to foster human proximity that has most of us spending days in front of a screen. And he would have surely made hash of Google, a company famous for its “don’t be evil” mantra – one that, for many, is contradicted by the company’s alleged intrusion into users’ privacy.
Then again, perhaps the voyeuristic passivity made possible by the likes of Google would have entranced Kafka, who once said, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”