The acclaimed Jewish-Austrian author Franz Kafka placed his characters in bizarre, nightmarish situations that challenged their rationality and reason. One of Kafka’s more insightful biographers, Ernst Pawel, encapsulated this dynamic in his book The Nightmare of Reason. Today an American conservative might well feel like a Kafkaesque protagonist, as the country appears to be drifting increasingly into absurdist territory under the leadership of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and leftist elites in the media and entertainment industries.
The lionization of Bruce Jenner’s makeover into a pseudo-woman is but a symptom of this slide into mass irrationality. One might be tempted to compare Jenner’s “transformation” to Kafka’s most famous story, “The Metamorphosis,” where a young man named Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to find he has become a giant insect. But Samsa’s transformation was unwilling, a matter of blind chance within Kafka’s universe. Samsa’s attempts to come to grips with his unfortunate fate give what might be a merely nightmarish tale its resonance and meaning. Jenner’s transformation, on the other hand, has been entirely voluntary, his “courage” seemingly little more than a desperate “reality” celebrity’s attempt to stay in the news.