Olio Seminar | Kafka will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About it

Kafka the Absurd - Ulla Puggaard

The long awaited Kafka seminar is here! We'll meet every other week on Tuesday evenings at Strong Rope Brewery for Olios that bring Kafka into the modern-day, shedding light on topics such as sexual perversion and capitalism.  Led by Geoff Klock, this seminar is intended to give you a handle on the guy who Harold Bloom said, alongside Proust and Freud, dominated the 20th century. 

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Three things to know about Kafka. First his friend asked him if he believed in a spiritual world, and Kafka replied that he thought there was only one world, and then added that the one world he was thinking of WAS the spiritual world — the physical world, he said, was the Evil in the spiritual world. The other thing to know about Kafka is that when he read his stories people roared with laughter — we have lost the COMIC absurdity of his stuff. Third, David Lynch’s character in Twin Peaks has two pictures on his office wall: Kafka and a nuclear bomb going off. 

Session 1 - Oct 15th

Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the Horrors of Late Capitalism

This is justly famous as his most important work and you can read the whole things aloud in about two hours. The first sentence is one of the most stunning in literature: “When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect.” It’s a story about the horrors of modern capitalism, about the need for compassion, about being trans, about Ovid, about the body and the mind and the soul. It’s also funny as hell in a deadpan way and insane. 


Session 2 - Oct 29th 

Kafka’s The Trial: Guilt and the (Almost) Sexual Perversion of Justice

“Someone must have been spreading lies about Joseph K for one morning he was arrested, though he had done nothing wrong.” Kafka’s best novel is a story about free floating guilt, extra terrible because it is not attached to any particular act; and justice, which is smeared with private perversity. Bonus: Orson Welles made a movie of the Trial in 1962 starring Anthony Perkins from Hitchcocks’s Psycho and its amazing. Lesser Bonus: David Lynch’s guy Kyle MacLachlan starred in a 1993 version of The Trial with Anthony Hopkins, Alfred Molina and David Thewlis? 


Session 3 - Nov 12th

Kafka’s The Castle: God’s Nightmare Bureaucracy

This is the story of a land surveyor who comes to work in a village with a castle and oh my god you guys he never does get to that castle and it actually might not be a castle at all. It’s a terrifying book about GOD, or at least some structure god has long abandoned. It’s also about the deep insanity of bureaucracy. Also weirdly Michael Haneke, who did Funny Games, made a movie about The Castle in 1997?


Session 4 - Nov 26th

Kafka’s Very Short Stories: A Phantasmagoria of Loss and Destruction

Kafka is actually best outside the novels and this class looks at his short stories which outside the Metamorphosis are quite short — minutes to read. Lets read and discuss some: A Hunger Artist, In the Penal Colony, A Country Doctor, The Hunter Gracchus, The Great Wall of China, The Burrow, Josephine the Singer, The Knock at the Manor Gate, The Cares of a Family Man, The Problem of Our Laws, A Little Fable, On Parables. 




Location: Strong Rope Brewery

574 President St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Strong Rope Brewery creates handcrafted local and organic ales featuring seasonal offerings that will use the freshest vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices showcasing the New York State farmers and malters we work with to create great tasting beer.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Sep 17

Our Pornographic Education

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7:30 p.m. at Crystal Lake

Sign Up - $15

Sep 18

Mediated Intimacy: The Dating App Landscape

Taught by Pani Farvid
7 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Sep 19

* Sold Out * OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

Sign Up - $

Sep 23

New York, The Neoliberal City

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at The Old Stone House

Sign Up - $15

Sep 26

Living Room Salon | 'Dirty Computers', Voice & Visibility

Taught by Kashema Hutchinson
8 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Sep 29

Olio FieldTrip | Skateboarding and Modern Art

Taught by Ted Barrow
1 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $30

Oct 4

Modern Privacy: Reclaiming Our Self Narratives

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Oct 22

The Fear of Leisure

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15


Find out when we launch new classes!