When Will We Leave the 20th Century?


When Will We Leave the 20th Century? An Interview with Kafka’s Ape.

Written into life by Franz Kafka, nowadays the legendary primate has had enough with impersonating humans. Oscar Mole caught up with the hairy recluse.

OM: So what about that famous report you gave to an Academy? Captured on the Gold Coast and imprisoned in a cage, you had been taken to Europe where your only route of escape was to become a walking, talking, spitting, hard-drinking member of the human race.

APE: Recall that when my report was given in 1917, the first world war was raging. Millions of human beings had been coerced into an orgy of killing and proving Homo sapiens to be vastly superior to gorillas and chimps when it comes to mass murder. Even then I felt ambivalent about becoming human.

At the time, I had no other way out, yet I had to come up with one, because I could not go on living without it. That was the point of the report. I was worried that the Academy would not fully understand what I meant by a ‘way out’. I used the phrase in its most ordinary and fullest sense. I deliberately did not say freedom. As I said in the report: ‘freedom is something that men all too often dupe themselves with’.

What I had discovered was that my jailors needed to see me as non-human in order to justify locking me up. They had to believe I was inferior, so my way out was to become their equal. I mimicked my guards, studied their mannerisms and behaviour. How could they keep something locked up that looked and acted just like they did?

I mastered their language. After I was out I was able to move between different roles I encountered in human society with ease. I knew I could go anywhere, do anything, just by impersonating the right person. Even the Academy wanted to let me in.
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