Unconsciousness and Survival:

Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen


  • Martinez Inez University of Wisconsin-Madison




This reading of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen for what they imply about unconsciousness and survival is based on the assumptions that literature is a primary source for understanding psyche, that literature makes available consciousness about ways collectives are living unconsciously, and that literature continues to unfold aspects of collective unconsciousness through many readers, cultures, and generations. Specifically, Kafka’s story presents to this reader a portrait of humanity’s thriving (in the sense of proliferating) through unconsciousness, and Borowski’s presents vignettes questioning  whether physical survival of the species should be the criterion for progress and/or the ultimate priority. Their juxtaposition leads to questions intended to generate reflection on psychological consequences of integrating realization of species mortality.