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KafkaandFreud:FathersoftheModernistMovement

LaurelBarchasandCheyenneClarke
4/23/16

Howmanypeopledoesittaketoformamovement?Culturalmovementscanbeheavily
influencedbyasingleperson,butideascreatedbymanyindividualsbuilduponeachother,are
remixed,andleadto(sometimesverylargescale)innovation.SpawningtheModernist
movement,Freud,Kafka,andothermindsoftheearly1900sthoughtabout,shared,andremixed
waysofinterpretingandexpressinghumannature.Sharingideasandcommunicatingscientific
andotheradvancementsledtothedevelopmentofinnovativetheoriesandworksthat
characterizedtheFreudianRevolution,whichhelpedcreate/influencetheModernistmovement.
Kafkas
TheMetamorphosis
,andFreudstheoryoftheTripartitePsyche,wereformulated
simultaneouslyinhistoryandrepresentworksby
co
foundersoftheModernistmovementnot
justbythemanafterwhomtherevolutionwasnamed.
Modernism,thegreatestartistic/literarymovementoftheearlytwentiethcentury,
encompassesartisticandphilosophicalmovementsincludingbutcertainlynotlimitedto
symbolism,futurism,andsurrealism(Modernism,n.d.).Theturnofthecenturybroughtwar,
technologicaladvancement,andhorrorsofepicproportions,whilebasicscientificadvancements
tookusleapsandboundsinourunderstandingoftheworldandofourselves.Anewstyleof
writingwasborn,heavilyinfluencedbyFreudsworkinbehavioralpsychology,inwhichthe
stateofmindofthecharacterwasemphasizedthroughvoicingtheirinnerthoughtsanddesires
insomecases,reasonwasachildsplaything.ThisFreudianRevolutionwasnotsolely
broughtintobeingbyFreud,howeverFreudinfluencedKafka(
etal.
)

andviceversa.Together,
theirideasledtothedevelopmentofthetheoriesthatexemplifymodernism.

Thereisreallynothingwrongwithcopying,orcreatingaderivativeworkorideathis
ishowhumanbrainsoperatetogether.Creativityandtheenvironmentmix,providingthe
opportunityfornewinterpretations,oriterationsonolderversions,tosolveproblems.Seldom,
thiscancausewidespreadculturalandartisticchange,assuggestedbythefollowingexampleof
coinfluenceinthedevelopmentoftheideasoftheFreudianRevolution.
In1911,Freudsfirstessay,
FormulationontheTwoPrinciplesofMentalFunctioning
,
whichcontainedthefirstuseoftheideathatthemindhastwoseparateyetdistinctareasEgo
andInstinctwaspublishedbyFreud(McCall,2011.p.1).Fouryearlater,Kafkawroteashort
novelinwhichcharactersportrayedthehumanmindthroughsubconsciousnessandamental
constructcalledtheEgo.
TheMetamorphosis
toldanunfortunatestoryofthehumanmind/body
underextremestress(notunlikethelifeoftheauthor[FranzKafka(18831924),2005],who
usedpsychoanalytictechniquesonhimself).TheprotagonistGregorSamsawakestofindhehas
turnedintoabug,withhisfamilyfallingintorolestodealwithhistransformation.InKafkas
metaphor,theSamsafamilymembersrepresentsubdivisionsofthehumanmind,latercoinedby
FreudastheEgo(Mr.Samsa,themanagerthatattemptstoadapttheneedsofthe...Id,Mrs.
Samsa,totherealworld[Fiero,2011,p.29]).Gregorssister,Grete,istheSuperEgoshe
monitorshumanbehavioraccordingtoprincipleinculcatedbyparents,teachers,andother
authorityfigures(Fiero,2011,p.29).Gretetakescuesfromthosearoundherandtriestoplease
herinsectbrotherwhileisolatinghimfromthefamily(McCall,2011,p.3).
KafkaandFreudhadoverlappingoutlooksonthesametopicsanddistancedrespectfor
eachother.Theybouncedoffofoneanothersideas,intentionallyorunintentionally,toform
definitionsofthehumanconditionthroughthelensesoftheirrespectivedisciplines.Eightyears

afterKafkawrote
TheMetamorphosis,
Freudwroteanessaycalled
TheEgoandTheId
.The
conceptssymbolizedbythecharactersinthebookwereanalyzedthroughthelensof
psychology,characterized,andnamed,bringingtolifeanewwayofanalyzingthemindandself.
ToFreud,therelationshipbetweenthemindandmoderncivilizationwascausal:InFreud's
view,civilizationistheproductoftheegosefforttomodifytheprimalurgesoftheId(Fiero,
2011,p.29).Thisviewunderscoresthehypothesisthatlargescaleinnovationisinfluencedbya
combinationofmindsatwork.
Fouryearsbeforethepublicationof
TheMetamorphosis
,communicationwashappening
withinasmallgroupofpsychiatrists:
In1907,AlfredAdlerwasinvitedtomeetwithSigmundFreud.AdlerandFreud,along
withRudolfReitlerandWilhelmStekel,beganmeetingweeklyduringWednesday
NightMeetingsthateventuallygrewtobeginthepsychoanalyticmovement.Together,
theyformedtheViennaPsychoanalyticSociety,ofwhichAdlerwasthefirstpresident
(AboutAlfredAdler,2016)
.
AdlerandFreudheldtotallydifferentviews,andAdlerformedanewbranchofpsychology:
AlthoughFreudlookeduponAdlerasoneofhisfirstdisciples,Adlerneverviewed
himselfthatway,andbrokewithFreudandFreudianpsychoanalysisin1911.Manyof
AdlersconceptsandideaswereseparatefromFreuds,particularlyregardingthe
importanceofthesocialrealm.Adlerusedtheseideastoformindividualpsychology,and
foundedtheSocietyofIndividualPsychologyin1912.Adlersgoalwastocreatea
psychologicalmovementthatarguedfortheholisticviewofanindividualaswellas
socialequality
(AboutAlfredAdler,2016).

Eventhoughonlyonepersonusuallygetsrecognizedforcreatingthem,suddenrevolutions,and
moregradualmovements,needmanymindstogrow.Withinandbetweendisciplines,the
sharingofideascanbringaboutmajorchanges,providedthetimeandenvironmentareright.In
thiscase,themodernindustrialworldwasastrangenewworld,thenafewspecialpeoplecame
alongandtriggeredaculturalatombomb.
Innovativeculturaldevelopmentsworkthesamewayasthoseintechnology.Although
onemightviewthemasseparate,thelaunchofSputnikin1957andthebirthofGPStechnology
wereintimatelyintertwined(WhereDoGoodIdeasComeFrom?,2014).Afterthelaunchof
Sputnik,tworesearchersattheAppliedPhysicsLaboratoryinMarylandnamed
Guierand
Weiffenbach
decidedtoseeiftheycouldtrackthesatellitesmovementbylisteningtoand
recordingitsradiosignals.Whentheirboss,
FrankMcClure,foundoutthattheycouldactually
trackSputnikslocation,heaskedthemiftheycouldfigureoutanunknownlocationonthe
groundiftheyknewthelocationofthesatellite.GPStechnologywasbornitwastheproductof
exploratorythinking,notdirectedtowardagoalfromthebeginning.FrankMcCluredidntsee
SputniklaunchandthenorderhisdirectreportstofigureoutGPS.Instead,theprocesswasmore
organic,andcantbetracedtoanyoneinventor(well,maybethree).Thetiminginhistoryhadto
beperfect.WherewouldwebetodayifourphonescouldnttakeustothenearestTarget
(paraphrasingStevenJohnson,thesourceoftheaboveinformationandthemanwhowas
interviewedforthisNPRshow)?
Johnsonsaid,themostimportantideasnormallyhavethisslowhunchformationand
sometimesthatcantakemonthsoryears,andinsomecasesfordecades.Thisslowhunch
formationappliestoustoday,andappliedtoFreud,Kafka,theircontemporaries,andtheir

influencesontheModernistmovementastheirideasbuiltuponeachother,onotherthingsgoing
onintheworld,andon1,000sofyearsofhumanculture.TheFreudianRevolution,therefore,
wasnotjustaboutFreudmanypeoplesideasinfluencedthegenerationofhistheories,
energizingtheModernistmovement.

References
AboutAlfredAdler.(2016).RetrievedApril15,2016,from
http://www.adler.edu/page/about/history/aboutalfredadler

D,F.,&G,S.(2005).FranzKafka(18831924).RetrievedApril1,2016,from
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639911/

Fiero,G.K.(2011).
TheHumanisticTradition
(6thed.).NewYork,NY:McGrawHill.
McCall,K.(2011).EgoPsychologyandKafka'sMetamorphosis.RetrievedApril17,2016,from
https://www.scribd.com/doc/57339041/EgoPsychologyandKafkasMetamorphosis

"ModernismIntroduction"
TwentiethCenturyLiteraryCriticism
Ed.JenniferGariepy.Vol.70.
GaleCengage1997.eNotes.comRetrieved15Apr,2016
http://www.enotes.com/topics/modernism/criticalessays/modernism#criticalessaysmodernism
introduction

Modernism.(n.d.).RetrievedApril14,2016,from
https://faculty.unlv.edu/kirschen/handouts/modernism.html

WhereDoGoodIdeasComeFrom?(2014).RetrievedApril13,2016,from
http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=322920914