Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Is Joseph K?

There has been some confusion regarding Joseph K. Who is Joseph K? Is he any relation to Josef K? I assure you, he is not. Josef K is fictitious. Josef K is a surreal character in a real but surrealistic novel called The Trial, by a real surreal novelist named Franz Kafka. Franz Kafka died in 1924, but used absurd humor to portrait surreal situations so absurdly surreal, they eventually led to the ultimate surreal absurdity, Nazi Germany. He played with multiple meanings of words, virtually all of which are lost in translation. 
Joseph K is and did none of these things.
Joseph K is a real teacher living in a surreal world created by an even more surreal (and absurd) piece of legislation called No Child Left Behind, a world where all children are above average by legal mandate, a world where teachers and their unions are persecuted when it turns out much to the surprise of everyone that all children are not, in fact, above average, a world where as many as eighty percent of our public schools will be labeled failures (officially “in need of improvement”) as early as this month, a world where the wondrous, quixotic journey we once called a rich, well-rounded education has been reduced to four bubbles on a standardized test, four bubbles indistinguishable and/or irrelevant to many students (especially poor, minority students), a world where standardized tests are now being used bubble by bubble to dismantle public education brick by brick.
None of Joseph K’s multiple meanings are lost in translation because almost no one reads Joseph K in the first place and certainly no one translates him.
Joseph K lives in a REAL world where Michele Bachmann is now a serious candidate, is in fact leading in the polls in a world where the “shots heard round the world” in Lexington and Concord were heard not in Massachusetts but in New Hampshire, a world where the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery while simultaneously owning and sleeping tirelessly with their slaves,  a world where John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father working even more tirelessly to end slavery though “just a small boy at the time,” a world where “The System” ended slavery (not  a bloody Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation), a world where the Federal Government should not infringe upon States’ rights to determine the legality of gay marriage but simultaneously have a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, a Bachmannesque world bursting with Intelligent Design but utterly void of fossils.
Joseph K, ladies and gentlemen, is all too real.

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