New York City, 1937. From nyc-architecture.com
NYC 1900. From timefreezephotos.com
¨To a certain degree, by creating his own conception of America, Kafka takes the role of master and creator, producing for himself a feeling of power and superiority over the supposed land of freedom. This sense of superiority enables Kafka to criticize the capitalist and industrialized America through his description of the streets of New York. He writes, from morning to evening and far into the dreaming night that street was the channel for a constant stream of traffic which, seen from above, looked like an inextricable confusion, for ever newly improvised, of foreshortened human figures and the roofs of all kinds of vehicles, sending into the upper air another confusion, more riotous and complicated, of 4 noises, dust and smells, all of it enveloped and penetrated by a flood of light which the multitudinous objects in the street scattered, carried off and again busily brought back, with an effect as palpable to the dazzled eye as if a glass roof stretched over the street
were being violently smashed into fragments at every moment (Kafka 39).
The “confusion” that Kafka explicitly mentions is further revealed implicitly through his heavy incorporation of sensual imagery, ranging from the cacophony of human and car noises to the visual scattering of sunlight to the clash of smells, all of which introduce a bustling and industrious atmosphere into Kafka’s world.
The complex syntax of this lengthy sentence, with its prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses, engenders a sense of confusion in the reader’s mind that parallels the confusion that Karl experiences when staring down at the city from his uncle’s house. Austin Warren points out that “Kafka’s imagined America is not a land of broad cornfields shining in the sun but a chiefly metropolitan affair, already stratified, weary, and hopeless ¨a land of hotels and slums” (Warren 123). Any sense of individualism, of the individual achieving the American dream, becomes lost in the midst of this fast-paced America.¨
Excerpt from: Franz Kafka’s Amerika: The Amerikan Dream. Edmond Lau. April 30, 2001
NYC. A structural steel worker in the old times. From solarnavigator.net