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(1883-1924) Czech

writer

Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer, and after completing his legal education he was employed with an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.

In order to understand Kafka I shall do well to include a quote from his diary and an anecdote. The significant diary entry from August 1916: “My penchant for portraying my dreamlike inner life has rendered everything else inconsequential; my life has atrophied terribly, and does not stop atrophying.”

When Kafka was reading aloud the opening pages of The Trial before a group of Prague friends but laughed so much that he had to stop at intervals, while his listeners also laughed “uncontrollably,” despite what his friend Max Brod described as “the terrible gravity of this chapter.”

He complained often of being a martyr to his art, a self -realization that speaks of his sharp intellect but his irony in the face of the tragic fate of his protagonist, to burst out into laughter, sets the relevance of literature in his case as a nervous twitch set off by inanity of his times and his ideals. Literature has thus served her votaries each after its fashion. Everyday life about Kafka was giving way

as the father-figure you revered sliding into senescence and certainties about the hearth sounding false as the unfortunate masses of migrants you see on your screen daily shuffling about in the streets. Europe coming to terms with itself in a post-world war was all too real and as it were hell itself.

‘His conception of himself as tormented artist is allied closely to his view of his predicament as a man struggling to maintain his health and sanity in the face of an unrelentingly inhospitable world. In the annals of lamentation, from Job and Jeremiah to Beckett’s Unnamable, surely no one has devoted himself to the sustained moan with such dedication, energy, and exquisite finesse as the author of the “The Judgment” and the “Letter to His Father,” of the diaries, and of the correspondence with Felice Bauer and his lover Milena Jesenská, as well as his friend Max Brod’.1

Consider the prose fragment “The Great Wall of China.” The piece focuses not on the emperor on whose orders the wall was constructed, but on the construction itself, which was built “not as a single entity but rather in individual sections far apart from one another,” No one apart from those in the top command can say with any certainty how far the construction has progressed; it is not even clear whether the wall will really have all the gaps filled in when the work is done. It is never completed, and remains a fragment made up of fragments.

His journey into the self was a fragment made up of fragments and when a cry breaks out, no one shall know whether out of helplessness or of joy it assails us and prepares for similar surprises to come if the reader only persists enough. That fragmentary aspect, a student in literature in retrospect may accept or be dismissive about, but has despite of Kafka’s irony become a literary term –Kafkesque.

Quote: : “I am made of literature; I am nothing else and cannot be anything else.”

1. Brod, though mistaken in some things—his representation of Kafka as a religious writer, for instance—was ever commonsensical. He largely had the measure of his friend, and even after Kafka had been diagnosed with tuberculosis did not hesitate to write to him with a flat rebuke: “You are happy in your unhappiness.”

(A Different Kafka- John Banville/NYT Oct.23,2013)

 

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Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890=1946) US

Social Worker, Architect of Lend Lease

Born in Iowa in 1890, after graduating from Grinnell College (1912), where he studied social work, Hopkins left for New York City and a career in the same field, rising rapidly to the administrative ranks of his profession. From 1915 to 1930 he held a wide variety of difficult high-level positions in social work, always initiating new, creative, and useful programs.

Hopkins was one of the founders of the American Association of Social Workers, the first national professional organization for social workers.

His reputation as a fine administrator reached the ear of New York‘s governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who brought Hopkins into his administration.

The historian, William E. Leuchtenburg, recalls: “Harry Hopkins… directed relief operations under Roosevelt in Albany. For a social worker, he was an odd sort. He belonged to no church, had been divorced and analyzed, liked race horses and women, was given to profanity and wisecracking, and had little patience with moralists… A small-town Iowan, he had the sallow complexion of a boy who had been reared in a big-city pool hall… He talked to reporters – often out of the side of his mouth – through thick curls of cigarette smoke, his tall, lean body sprawled over his chair, his face wry and twisted, his eyes darting and suspicious, his manner brusque, iconoclastic, almost deliberately rude and outspoken.”

When Roosevelt became president he recruited Hopkins to implement his various social welfare programs. As John C. Lee has pointed out: “On the whole, it is apparent that the mission of the Civil Works Administrator had been accomplished by 15th February 1934. His program had put over four million persons to work, thereby directly benefiting probably twelve million people otherwise dependent upon direct relief.

Frances Perkins later recalled: “Hopkins became not only Roosevelt’s relief administrator but his general assistant as no one had been able to be. There was a temperamental sympathy between the men, which made their relationship extremely easy as well as faithful and productive. Roosevelt was greatly enriched by Hopkins knowledge, ability, and humane attitude toward all facets of life.”

Hopkins also worked as Secretary of Commerce (1938-40). During the early stages of the Second World War he was Roosevelt’s personal envoy to Britain. Raymond Gram Swing has pointed out: “It was his position as President Roosevelt’s chief assistant in World War II that, in particular, needs to be better appreciated and valued.…In the innumerable conferences Harry Hopkins attended abroad as the President’s emissary, he was blunt of speech, adroit of mind, and dedicated to the requirements of victory.” On the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt Hopkins helped arrange the Potsdam Conference for Harry S. Truman but retired from public life soon afterwards. Harry Lloyd Hopkins died of cancer in New York City on 29th January, 1946.

(Ack: Spartacus educational.com, encyclopaedia.com)

 

 

 

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DL Moody (1837-1899)  USA

evangelist

In his time he was a well known evangelist whose indefatigable life mission to bring Christ to folks was a milestone in the American social history. While the Gilded Age burnished the materialism at end of a spectrum his fundamentalism was as plain as a hair-shirt. Moody often spoke to audiences of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. He presented the plan of Salvation, by voice or pen, to at least one hundred million people. One historian, obviously critical of both the excesses of the Gilded Age and evangelists like Moody, wrote: “There was revivalist Moody, bearded and reckless, with his two hundred and eighty pounds of Adam’s flesh, every ounce of which belonged to God.”

 

Moody was born in 1837, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign, and he died in December, 1899, just nine days before the turn of the century.

Moody was not only a product of his age, but also a herald of a new one. He pioneered techniques of evangelism that remain largely unchanged today. He proclaimed a new eschatology of *pre-millennialism and fostered a new ecumenical spirit.

As one ponders Moody’s deprived, rural boyhood, his career as an evangelist and educator, and his role as a father, he was a man of the people for the people and it was their salvation was all that mattered.

Moody had no formal theological training and only the doubtful equivalent of a fourth- or fifth-grade education. Although he said he read the works of the great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Moody did not read widely. What he learned from others he learned in conversation. At age 18, when he attempted to join a Congregational Church, he failed a simple test of Bible knowledge administered by the deacons. Moody’s education was, by most standards, inadequate: he never went to college or seminary, nor was he ever ordained as a clergyman. He spelled phonetically, so his adult letters and sermon outlines abounded in spelling errors, as well as grammatical ones.

If Moody’s education was inadequate, other aspects of his childhood did equip him for his future career. His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common folk; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position. From his mother’s heroic efforts to hold the family together, Moody learned the virtues of thrift, hard work, and close family ties. From her he also acquired tenderheartedness. As an adult he repeatedly broke into tears upon realizing that he had unwittingly hurt or offended someone. His public apologies to the offended person were profuse and sincere.

“I want to be frank with you, Mr. Moody,” one of his listeners once told him. “I want you to know that I do not believe in your theology.”

“My theology!” Moody exclaimed. “I didn’t know that I had any. I wish you would tell me what my theology is.” (Christianity Today, Stanley N. Gundry)

*pre-millennialism is the doctrine that the prophesied millennium of blessedness will begin with the imminent Second Coming of Christ.

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Donald Trump: Pyroclastic Flow in US. Elections 2016Trump

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IMG_1747

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IMG_1694Burro-a small donkey

from the blog: Shootin’ The Breeze Post:Beau’s Stubborn New Friend

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