A Literary Autopsy


kafka (1)“Now, you have all the vitals. Josef K., male, 40. Eastern European, middle child, no dependents. Never married, profession: Insurance advocate.


“So, let’s get down to work. The first thing you notice immediately are the feet. Big. Too big – a duck out of water, clown’s feet, must have been uncomfortable walking through this world, on cobblestones especially. So too with all the extremities. Notice the ears and how they are reaching out to hear – almost to here! The hands. Too big for gloves. A murderer’s hands, always in need of clutching each other for fear of their fallen fate.”


“Now, let’s turn our attention to the eyes which some say are the keyhole of the soul. Dark, deep, moist, cavernous eyes. They have the look of too little sleep, of an active nether world, an always awakening dream. Calculating eyes, always wanting something which the other is unable to give. Long straight eye brows that guard the inner sanctum in a plain yet threatening way.”


“Then, there’s the nose. Typical mensch, built to oxygenate the brain. Solomon’s sniffing snoze. Almost artificial, glued on, inhuman, primitive, as if it were bought from the golem maker along with the clown’s feet, for a show, to beckon some hidden force, then unceremoniously stuck on. A nose that knows.”


“Lips. Thin, always dry. Unkissed. Not those of a lover but one who wants to be loved. An intellectual’s lips. Well sealed to prevent secrets from escaping too soon, allowing ideas to be well digested.”


“Speaking of the digestive system, let’s now focus on the torso. Truly a perfect ectomorph. Emasculated, a human squirrel full of nervous energy, unsettledness. But of the mind, not the body. The body wastes away on the stem of the mind. Thin, wiry, almost consumptive, the torso shows the effects of a high calorie burning organism. A man of immense hunger. A hunger artist. And it is this, I believe to be the key here. The digestive system is or should I say “was”, in a constant state of work, reconstituting experience. Life does not offer this man enough food to exist.”


“So, in a word, the cause of death: hunger. Perhaps he never found the food he liked – a forerunner of a more modern and endemic though less fatal disease known as nausea. A sickness of those who never seem to arrive at port. Which brings us to our next cadaver, a very interesting case, a young man found on a train from Bouville in the Gare de Montmartre in Paris. DOA, dead on arrival, no apparent trauma though ….”



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