Kamp Kafka
February 6, 2016 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Instilling existential dread, for generations to come. "There should be a camp for Jews who don't like camp," I said. "Who feel alienated by camp." To which a colleague exclaimed, "Camp Kafka!" It came together after that.

A comical short story that envisions the grand opening of a Summer Camp, if it were governed by Kafkaesque rules.
posted by 0cm (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good stuff. I like it.

I read Kafka's collected works in Niger, in the capital city Niamey, during a forced break on a trip across Africa; my travel companion had broken his collar bone and needed to stay put for five weeks, until it was healed. After our motorcycles had been given all possible maintenance (yay new throttle cable), all clothes had been washed and repaired, our helmets had been washed and our mosquito net had been re-impregnated with fresh poison, I was bored out of my skull. At the central market, I found a man who sold books by the kilogram. The only one that was in Dutch was a copy of Kafka's collected works as published by Querido. It was heavy, so it didn't come cheap but I bought it happily and read the whole thing.
I mostly enjoyed it. Reading came with the privilege of Not Being Disturbed; the rule (that we agreed upon after a few weeks of travelling with not a lot of options for entertainment) said that whoever was reading, could only be disturbed if/when there was a hyena inside the tent, and it had to be a reasonably large one. This was a very good rule.
When I finished the book, I had to give it away; it was too big and heavy to carry through the desert. I gave it to the Dutch consul who was very friendly when we visited him. (What can I say, we were bored.)

Where was I again? Oh yes, Kafka. Good stuff, thanks for posting.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:26 PM on February 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


[Holocaust jokes are a little too Kafkaesque. Let's stick to summer camps.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:38 PM on February 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


From the same site, Kafka Gets Laid is not as funny, but also very well-written.
posted by bendy at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2016


I wish I could have gone to Camp Sylvia Plath. Instead, I was the little Sylvia Plath at the camp, and no one liked me, including me.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Ha! I went to Jewish summer camp when I was 12. Mostly I got picked on by all the jock kids until I started hanging out with the Deadhead counselors-in-training. Camp Kafka sounds a little more my speed, especially the rooming arrangement - I've lived with thousands of smallish cockroaches before, so I could probably deal with one big one.

That said, I did learn the HaMotzi song at my camp, which I will never be able to forget. Our voices rise in song to-gether, while our joyful prayer is read...
posted by teponaztli at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered why no one has ever tried a Kafka-themed haunted house.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:47 PM on February 6, 2016


Because if one were to do so the quality of being trapped in an endless post-living bureaucracy would stimulate too many off key renditions of Banana Boat Song to be a house in the mood of a good haunting. It might even require a bio-exorcist.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:22 PM on February 6, 2016


It is wonderful that a mindspring.com tilde'd user address, designed in HTML tables page is still being served today. I'm fairly certain my similar vintage blog-before-it-was-called-a-blog when I was in high school linked to this piece.
posted by ndfine at 9:50 PM on February 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually didn't find that page today. I found it some time in the 90s, I believe through the now defunct Leni's Kafka pages. But I still like sharing this short story every now and then, because it's just um... delicious? I'm lacking the proper adjective. I keep a copy of it on my hard drive, in case the site disappears.
I've lived with thousands of smallish cockroaches before, so I could probably deal with one big one.
It's OK, you just throw a sheet over it and it's almost like it isn't there at all.
I've always wondered why no one has ever tried a Kafka-themed haunted house.
I wonder how that would work? Wouldn't survive the Yelp reviews, probably.
posted by 0cm at 7:50 AM on February 7, 2016


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