I’ve read a lot of Kafka, and a lot about him. He suffered so much in his short life. And I think I’ve figured something out about him and people like him.
The sad thing (one of many sad things) about him is how he “threw his pearls before swine”- with Felice, to whom he was engaged twice but never married. He allowed himself to be upset by her, blaming himself, always apologizing, so insecure, etc. She was someone who simply could not appreciate his genius or suffering, or his interests. Just a shallow, stupid woman. He just wanted to believe the best about people, that they could appreciate and really care about the world and its sufferings, because it’s hard when one realizes how most people don’t. Then he blamed himself for not being good enough, to capture her attention or love. But why did he blame himself if she (like a “swine”) didn’t appreciate the jewels he had and tried to give her? Because they were essentially two different beings- he was one of the aware ones and she was one of the deluded- they never could communicate or understand each other. Neither should be blamed. But inevitably, it’s the aware, sensitive one who is upset, who feels like a failure, who beats himself up, while the objectively inferior, deluded one is blissfully unaware and happy. It doesn’t feel like it’s fair.
Kafka had so many jewels, but mostly swine around him. He thought that he was wrong, unworthy, weird, defective, etc., because he was so unlike them. He found life unbearable, because he was so sensitive and aware- he could not tune out the suffering of the world, he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, and thus it turned into his own suffering.
But there has to be a benefit to being aware and sensitive. Because of his ability and intelligence, it would have been easy for him to manipulate people to get his own way. The problem was that since he was aware, he was also sensitive and compassionate and the least likely person to WANT to manipulate or get revenge. So I don’t know, honestly, what the benefit is to being like he was. He certainly did not benefit during his life, and died a painful death of tuberculosis at age 42, before he became the famous person he did years after his death when new generations discovered and appreciated his genius. But while he was alive, did he ever benefit? Was he ever really happy or content? I guess I don’t know. I just find it sad.