ear peace

Kafka, incidentally, was a dedicated user of Ohropax (or ‘ear peace’) earplugs, the invention in 1908 of Maximilian Negwer, a Germany pharmacist who was initially inspired by the same episode of the Odyssey [where Odysseus used kneaded, sun-softened wax to block the ears of his crew as a protection against the song of the Sirens]. Ohropax was designed to give the wearer ‘ear peace’ in response to the industrial century’s growing noise problem. As an unconscious riposte to the Italian Futurists, who glorified the noises of war and industry one of its first applications was to protect the hearing of German troops and medical staff during the First World War. ‘Without Ohropax day and night’ Kafka wrote to his distance fiancé, Felice, sounding like an advertising copywriter, ‘I really couldn’t cope.’

–David Toop, Sinister Resonance, p108

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