|From The New York Times|
Sunday's opinion section offered an essay detailing one man's collection of literary idols that ultimately shaped his verbose world.
Not unlike the contradiction of enlightenment shrouded in naïveté of youth, Sayrafiezadeh was enthralled by the works of Orwell, Beckett, and Kafka. Their works are undeniably relatable to the teen that is drowned in angst, "alone" in the world with the perceived notion that there is nowhere to turn. In those circumstances, these writers speak to you: their portrayals of dark rooms, fantastical childlike aspirations and ultimately depictions of the quotidian can feel so real, and so close.
What's interesting, though? Howard Stern, the radio personality with curly hair and a controversial tongue, is named among the Kafka-type for Sayrafiezadeh. He writes: " This identity of the alienated, forged in the crucible of early youth, is the engine that drives Mr. Stern’s radio show..."
While I admit I know next to nothing about Stern and was initially skeptical on the assertions that his influence could be of the same caliber or brilliance as that of Orwell, there's an underlying theme of the isolated individual that rings true in both situations. I especially enjoyed the writer's comparisons of a typical Stern-type radio guest, Tan Mom (presumably a chain smoker or alcoholic when the kids are away at school), with the characters that grace the pages of his initial influences.
My English teachers were not wrong to drill the concept of universal symbolism into my head. What is perhaps the most profound part of this essay is the concept presented that be they man-insects in Kafka or a sorry soul on a radio show, humans are funny creatures:distorted, flawed, and highly unglamorous in their truest denominations. Maybe, though, that's what makes us uniquely us. Oddly beautiful, even. As for the said distortions, Stern, Orwell, Beckett, and Kafka themselves are not off the hook.