Josef Gross, the managing director of an anonymous administrative department in a large bureaucratic organization. Stymied by the paralyzing amount of paperwork required by the bureaucracy to effect even the smallest actions, he authorizes the purchase of a new mail register without going through the proper channels. Manipulated by the conniving deputy director for taking this initiative, he gradually becomes enmeshed in a bureaucratic nightmare, in which he will be perceived as guilty of illegal conduct no matter what course of action he chooses. A major source of frustration during this process is his struggle to stem the introduction of a new bureaucratic language called “Ptydepe.” Ostensibly intended to make office communications more accurate and precise, this nonsensical artificial language represents the supreme symbol of a faceless, insensitive bureaucratic order with instructions that have the effect of dehumanizing individuals and reducing them to mindless automatons. Outsmarted by his deputy, Gross is coerced first into changing jobs with the deputy and then into resigning because of his hostile attitude toward Ptydepe. After a short stint as the “staff watcher,” whose duties consist of monitoring the actions and words of the staff from a secret vantage point, Gross is restored to his original post by the collapse of the pro-Ptydepe movement. Having been returned to his position, however, Gross finds that his...
(The entire section is 570 words.)