Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.
(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
Why is Franz Kafka so celebrated and what is the meaning of “Kafkaesque”?
How Diego Velázquez gifted the Infanta Margarita Teresa with immortality.
Who was Emmett Till?
A Joaquin Phoenix-narrated animal rights documentary sparked a hostage crisis crisis in Ukraine.
What did Pablo Picasso in Cannes after the Second World War?
Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.
…Earlier I mentioned that I am on a Kafka-high, which prompted me to finally visit Franz Kafka. I have read most of his stuff and am currently reading a collection of short stories titled Meditation that I had never come across before but is absolutely modern and superb. And that is because Kafka is one of those timeless writers, despite the fact that he was born well over almost 150 years ago.
Personally, I can say that he is one of the authors I best identify with both on a personal level and in terms of work output.
Today, he is one of the best-known authors of all time but when he was alive, he would never have guessed. Very little of his was published in his lifetime and it was only shortly after his death that he gained that recognition that he so rightly deserved. So much has been written about Kafka and yet, the nature of his works is so compelling that it doesn’t take a genius to know that so much will continue to be written about him for as long as there will be humanity to populate this planet.
But what is it about him that is so compelling? I can only give a brief overview of what it is that is so fascinating about him and because, like I said, so much have been written by esteemed scholars, I will try to illustrate the essence of the power of his works based on what I understand of what I have written of his and read about him.
This can all be encapsulated in the word “Kafkaesque,” which is part of our vocabulary, and is a term that describes a feeling of being powerless against a higher authority of some kind; when we’re bullied, humiliated and mocked by society, when we feel like we don’t fit into a group or even our own families.
In Metamorphosis, Kafka represents the shame he feels for his own body and sexual urges, and concludes that it’s probably best if he were squashed like a bedbug. At the beginning of The Trial – which I commonly refer to as one of my favorite books as I do The Castle – the protagonist is accused of being guilty out of the blue and for no reason, and as the tortuous narrative progresses, he too progressively begins to believe that he is guilty.
A lot has been said about Kafka’s own insecurities, the origins of which is believed came from his troubled relationship with his own father, to whom he wrote a painfully honest, heartbreaking letter that he allegedly never read but has since been published. And as I am reading Meditation, I am noticing all the more just how observational Kafka was but also how forward-thinking he was.
This is a collection of eighteen short stories by Franz Kafka written between 1904 and 1912. It was Kafka’s first published book, printed at the end of 1912. It sold poorly, like anything Kafka published in his lifetime, but it is absolutely wonderful. And these short stories are kind of just simple reflections on life, existence and the way people relate to each other, understand their roles within society and even think of their own selves.
The opening story, for example, is “Children on a Country Road.” The protagonist of the story is an 8-year-old girl and to me a lot of it is about how gender roles are defined within society. In another story, “The Sudden Walk,” he illustrates a reawakening of the human mind and humanity’s longing for friendship and love.
In a moment, I will read one of the stories by Kafka, “The Rejection,” which is a story that illustrates just how modern Kafka feels but also his incredible satirical wit, which is something that I feel makes him so appealing, at least to me, as I am a great believer in the communicative power of humor and wit.
My love for Prague has been reignited over the past several weeks, as I was forced to remain with the outbreak of the pandemic. At first, I was far from happy about the whole thing but now, I feel like I couldn’t have been stuck in a more beautiful city and I have been treasuring these last few days that I have here, as I am most likely going to be flying out of here on the third of August, unless something happens.
Nonetheless, for the past weeks I have been saying that Prague has been one of the places that responded the quickest to the outbreak and as a result, things never got so severe here. In fact, for about two months now, businesses have reopened and these include museums.
So, after a while of being reluctant about leaving the house, I decided that I might as well take in some of the sights and museums. So, last week for example, I told stories about visiting several museums in the city and since then, I ticked another landmark that I had never visited, strangely enough. Prague Castle.
Now, the Prague Castle is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It’s a complex. A beautiful complex built in the 9th century that is a must-see for anybody visiting this city. Prague castle was the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia. Today, it’s the official office of the President of the Czech Republic.
It’s also incredibly vast and varied. The Guinness Book of Records acknowledges it as the largest ancient castle in the world. And what did strike me was the wide variety of architectural styles that can be admired within it.
There’s the Old Royal Palace and the Vladislav Hall, which combines Late Gothic with elements of the newly arriving Renaissance style; the St. Vitus Cathedral, which stood unfinished for centuries and as such, is like a schizophrenic blend of Renaissance, Gothic and Art Nouveau; and then there is the small-scale small-scale architecture of the little houses of Golden Lane, among other things that I won’t list there for time’s sake.
Actually, the reason why I decided to finally visit the Castle was that I have been on a Franz Kafka high as of late. I have read most of everything he wrote in his life and think about him a lot everytime I find myself in his hometown. Kafka himself lived in one of the little homes of Golden Lane. More precisely, he lived in house number 22 with his sister Ottla in 1916-1917.
The house itself is tiny, so much so that it’s almost hard to imagine two people living there. So, he didn’t live there very long and now, the little house is a souvenir shop. I bought a Kafka notepad and a little postcard because I just felt like I had to buy something Kafka-related.
In any case, it’s kind of a thrill being there for a fan like me, also because I am sensible to spaces. While he was there, he wrote some short stories for the book A Country Doctor and found inspiration for his book The Castle, which he would start writing in 1922 and would not be published in his lifetime.
If you do decide to visit, you should know that you can walk around the castle for free and aside from the spectacular architecture, you can enjoy an amazing view of Prague from above that alone is worth your climbing the steep steps that take you to the castle.
Some areas of the castle are restricted, which means that you need a ticket to visit them. These include some of the cathedrals and Golden Lane before 6 p.m., when all the houses and little shop inside them are open for business. But after 6 o’clock, Golden Lane is open too. I didn’t have time to visit the restricted areas because they are locked up by 6 p.m. But I do think that getting a ticket would be well worth the price.
Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about the arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted by globe-trotting art presenter Matt Micucci, featuring plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.
Listen to episode 19 via one of the players below.
In this episode:
Franz Kafka and the meaning of “Kafkaesque”
Diego Velázquez and the Infanta Margarita
Vocalese pioneer Annie Ross has died
Joaquin Phoenix animal rights documentary causes hostage crisis in Ukraine