Saturday, October 1, 2011

You Could Describe My Morning as "Kafkaesque"

You definitely could describe my morning that way because my second stop of the morning was the surreal Franz Kafka Museum along the banks of Vltava River in Mala Strana.

It was my next stop of the morning after paying homage to the Infant of Prague at the Church of Our Lady Victorious -- no flash photography thus no pictures of that reknowned icon -- so, yes, this is the first blog post anywhere devoted exclusively to the Infant Jesus and Franz Kafka.

The thing that surprised me most about the Infant of Prague is that the icon is just there. You walk into the church. You start walking past the religious displays along the side walls and then, midway down on the right side, there he is. Given the fame of the Infant of Prague, I assumed that he would be back behind the alter, or in some side chapel with very limited access, like the reliquaries in famous cathedrals. No! The Infant of the Prague is an icon for the people! There is a small museum upstairs showing various garments -- vestmens actually -- worn by the Infant. The whole thing is quite moving, if you're into that sort of thing. Which I am.

Here's the church in daylight:

English language mass Sunday at noon. Join me!

From Baby Jesu to the Adult Kafka.

I walked down Karmelitská street:

I saw the beautiful CHurch of St. Nicholas (I didn't go in. They charged admission! To church! Oh the humanity):

Wandered down the narrow, cobblestone streets:

Past the gates of the Charles Bridge:

Down more narrow streets:

I was getting closer, but not getting there. It was like a Franz Kafka novel!

OK. It wasn't. Actually, it was quite easy to find once the helpful guy at the Tourist Information Center pointed me in the right direction. Down one more street and then I saw the sign. Then I saw the famous "fountain" at the entryway:

You need a closer view?

The tour was interesting, but it gave me no grand insight into the mind of Mr. Kafka. I was surprised to learn that he was a great fan of the Yiddish theater in Prague and that some critics note the neavy influence of the old pre-WWI-era Yiddish theater. You know what else was heavily influenced by the Eastern European Yiddish theater of that era? Old Hollywood. So many of the builders of Old Hollywood were Jewish immigrants from this part of the world (especially Hungary). Interesting that one influence could go in such different directions.

I like this picture because the giant people-carrying balloon in the background hovering over the Kafka Museum adds just the right amount of "The Prisoner" Village surrealism:

And this picture is just plain wrong:

Yet cute. In that surreal sort of way.

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