"If Kafka's “The Metamorphosis” strikes anyone as something more than an entomological fantasy, then I congratulate him on having joined the ranks of good and great readers…for we can take the story apart, we can find out how the bits fit, how one part of the pattern responds to the other; but you have to have in you some cell, some gene, some germ that will vibrate in answer to sensations that you can neither define, nor dismiss "(Vladimir Nabokov). Far be it for us to quibble with Nabokov. But agree, with each reader brings different minds which can fabricate different ideas and views of Franz Kafka’s tedious, although clever, fantasy of wordplay. For, literature is only an art that is perceived on an open canvas as the portrayer sees. For we are all interpreters, and media inspires everyone differently. At first the long drawn out melancholy words, sentence after sentence, of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis reeked of monotone as I read. However, after a little background research and a second read through the sadness of Gregor’s experience spewed from the pages. Soon my mind raced with images and then music. Modest Mouse’s “Doing the Cockroach” soon filled in the background of my mind.
In “The Metamorphosis” Gregor discusses his dread of his jobs duties. He explains the,
“worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them” (Kafka 4). Gregor longs for days to sleep in and not have to worry about the traveling world. As he awakes one morning Gregor finds all of his salesman troubles have diapered. However, he is now transformed into a beetle.
As I read through these lines Modest Mouse “Doing the Cockroach” first came to mind. Modest Mouse, a folk band from the 90’s, are known for their awkward keyed lyrics and underlining messages. In “Doing the Cockroach” Modest Mouse sings about how we are all as worthless as a cockroach.
“This one's a doctor
This one's a lawyer
This one's a cash fiend
taking your moneyTasty but worthless” (Modest Mouse)
I believe they are relaying that no mater you job or power aren’t we all miserable just riding the train of life, trying to make it day by day to get by.
I decided to mash up the two for the obvious reasons. One, both suggest the main character in a beetle of some sort. Two, on a deeper level, both to me tells a story about society and how we as people go along with what we are told or expected to do. Finally, I feel “Doing the Cockroach” is a perfect companion to Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”.
- Nabokov, Vladimir. “Lecture on "The Metamorphosis" by Vladimir Nabokov” Kafka.org. The Kafka Project, 6 January 2012. Web. 31 May 2012
- Kafka , Franz. The Metamorphosis. Tribeca Books, 1915.