Kafkaesque

[SPOILER ALERT!]

Vivarium is a film about an average young couple, just like any other average young couple, having the desire to own their own home. They found an erratic home salesman who brought them to see a house which he felt would interest them. After bringing them to tour the house, the salesman suddenly disappeared. Feeling awry, the couple decided to find the opportunity to quickly leave the place.

Unfortunately, after driving for hours, they could not find the exit of the neighborhood. What’s even more shocking is that they kept returning to the initial house they were brought to see. Finally, their car ran out of gas and they find themselves permanently stuck in the creepy neighborhood.

Soon after, a baby was delivered to their doorstep with an instruction: Raise the child and be released. They had no choice but to abide. As time passes by, it is obvious that this is not a normal child. Its crazy behavior drove the couple mad. In the end, the child grew into an adult and the couple died. They were buried and another pair of victim young couple was shown showing up at the showroom, looking for a new home just like previous couple did.

A Hunger Artist is a short story written by Franz Kafka. The story tells about a hunger artist who sits in a cage, performing to the public by not eating anything for days. He was often accused of cheating which annoys him greatly. His promoter imposed a maximum fasting period of 40 days as he felt that after 40 days, the public would begin to lose interest and there will be no need to continue his performance. This limit was also detested by the hunger artist as he felt that it impeded his potential to fast for an even longer period of time.

The hunger artist decided to leave the promoter and to work for a circus. He was positioned, similarly in a cage, in the proximity of the circus animals. Few visitors stop at his cage to see his performance because they did not want to cause an obstruction to the path to the animal cages. The smell and noise from the animals had disturbed him but he did not raise it to his paymasters as he fear they would find him problematic.

Eventually, the public lost total interest in the hunger artist. Nobody even cared to count and update the number of days he had fasted anymore, even himself. Not long after, he died. The circus operators were glad to be able to find a better purpose for the good cage. They immediately replaced him with a panther, which sparked a fresh excitement among the visitors.

Both Vivarium and A Hunger Artist are personal favorites of mine. They both were successful in illustrating a vivid image of how cruel and oppressive society could be. People could work their socks off and be easily replaced once they are deemed to be of little or no use to the people on top. Of course, we don’t always have to participate in the games. We don’t always have to join the rat race. It’s not easy. Society is designed to encourage you to participate and once you get in, getting out could really be quite a challenge.

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