In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review December 28, 2012/ 15 Teves, 5773

The secret bureaucrat

By Paul Greenberg

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Franz Kafka is one of those authors whose name has become an adjective, as in Shakespearean or Faulknerian or this dictionary entry:

Kafka-esque -- adj., referring to the nightmarish, surreal, illogical quality Franz Kafka evoked in works like "The Metamorphosis," "The Castle" and "The Trial."

No wonder Franz Kafka was able to capture the maddeningly frustrating world of the modern bureaucrat so well. He was one. And a pretty good one, too: conscientious, adaptable, public-spirited and practical. At least to judge from the latest collection of his work, which is not a volume of short stories, but office memos and other working papers. Its title: "Franz Kafka: The Office Writings."

Who knew? The myth is that Kafka the artist was drained of time and energy by the demands of his day job in Prague as a government employee -- specifically, as a legal clerk at the Workers Accident Insurance Institute of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

A combination attorney, actuary and all-around bureaucrat, he seems to have carried out his duties with a combination of mitteleuropaisch flair and German efficiency. And even a sense of humor, no small feat in anyone with a thoroughly German education.

You might even call Herr Kafka a hard-working, realistic reformer. His workaday world would seem the opposite of the nightmarish, surreal, illogical atmosphere he summoned up in his allegories about the individual trapped in a world beyond his comprehension, namely the modern bureaucratic state. Yet even this able administrator seemed to think his job was but drudgery, a drag on his calling as a writer. An artiste.

A daydreamer, self-doubting and given to complaining, the sort of smart but uncollected type who's the despair of family and teachers, young Kafka finally managed to land a government job -- thanks to the connections of a friend's father.

Kafka started working at the Insurance Institute, a sort of early workmen's compensation bureau, in the golden peacetime year 1908 -- before the last century's World War in two acts put an end to much of Western civilization, including the airy assumption that man's progress was inevitable.

By 1911, Herr Kafka was a rising bureaucrat who, still complaining about the time his work at the office took from his after-hours writing career, could nevertheless write about his department's progress with pride, especially in light of the mess he'd found when he arrived there:

"We gladly admit that until 1909 the annual reports of the Institute, with their figures documenting a deficit that seemed to spread almost like a living organism, offered little encouragement to feel excitement. Instead, these reports succeeded in damping all the Institute's hopes for the future; the Institute seemed simply to be a corpse, whose only living element was its growing deficit."

Goodness. Sound familiar? Young Kafka sounds like a Republican budget-balancer, even a Tea Party type with a certain flair for indignation.

But things had changed with the arrival of a new director, Robert Marschner, in 1909. Reforms were introduced, all for the better. Like a new, statistically verifiable system of risk assessment for different occupations, with different insurance premiums to match. The riskier the job, the higher the insurance rate. And the higher Herr Kafka rose in the bureaucracy, receiving regular promotions and even tenure. Till he was adjudicating appeals and suggesting even more reforms.

Franz Kafka the author, who prefigured the existential angst of so much of modern literature, also turns out to be Franz Kafka the bureaucrat who wrote "Measures for Preventing Accidents from Wood-Planing Machines" and "Accident Prevention in Quarries."

Young Kafka would soon find his well-organized world collapsing all about him in war and revolution. An enlightened public servant, his response was to advocate a psychiatric clinic for soldiers traumatized by their wartime experience. Shell-shocked, they were called then. The name of the diagnosis has changed over the years and wars -- battle fatigue, PTSD -- but the military still has not managed to deal adequately with the condition that Franz Kafka recognized early on. In his office as in his art, he foreshadowed the troubled future.

Not even the editors of this latest collection of his writings may fully recognize just how talented a bureaucrat he was. They still tend to dismiss Franz Kafka's day job as an impediment to his artistic expression, and approach actuarial work as some kind of impenetrable thicket of statistics. But that's understandable. They're just following the lead of Franz Kafka himself.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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