Everyday Metamorphoses

Last week, I was fortunate enough to work with a group of students from across the Open Society University Network on a creative writing workshop exploring Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It was a big, international group: I had something like sixty or seventy students from Belarus to Afghanistan, and from Kyrgyzstan to Bulgaria. And together we talked about the everyday metamorphoses that make up our lives.

The weekend before the workshop, I re-read The Metamorphosis, in Susan Bernofsky’s brilliant translation. I had forgotten quite how funny the book was, how it manages to make not just Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis, but also the ordinary, mundane world something strange and unsettling.

We started the workshop as the book starts: exploring the everyday metamorphosis of moving from being alseep to being awake. There is something very strange about waking up, even for a morning person like me. So this seemed a good place to begin.

Then we explored the question of whether, and how, our identity remains (or doesn’t remain) across our various metamorphoses.

And finally, we had fun selecting a bug or critter from the following image, and through our writing, metamorphosing ourselves into this creature, while maintaining the world around us as before (I chose number 3, as it seems somehow to have an endearingly robust sense of purpose to it).

The students did some great writing. And it was fun working with my brilliant colleagues and friends across the network, who did an amazing job in setting all this up.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Sign up to my newsletter