I am greatly appreciating a reread of Robert Walser’s novel (novella) The Walk (translated by the wunderbar Susan Bernofsky and it really is an extraordinary translation).
Some snips from it:
“An unassuming pedestrian should not remain unrecorded”
The above particularly pertinent for psychotic Vancouver cyclists who refute any notion of stop signs, traffic lights and act like they are in fact operating a version of light transit rail that responds only to and unto themselves. A transit rail that drives only in a straight line to where it is they desire to get to, never mind the humans, cats and dogs that have to nervously go exist with the bicycle barons. Were matters not already intrepid for the plain pedestrian from the threat of the car, now they’ve an additional road runner to join it.
P21 “Often I wandered, to be sure, perplexed in a mist and in a thousand dilemmas, seeing myself vacillating and often wretchedly forsaken. Yet I believe that struggling for life can only be a fine thing. It is not with pleasures and with joys that an honest man might grow proud. Rather in the roots of his soul it can only be through trial bravely undergone, deprivation patiently endured, that he becomes proud and gay.”
This week I have read some of the most unambitious meanderings in a long time on literature, I’ll save you from them. Except to say language is certainly the way to go! And I commit to going even further with language! We need to move beyond middle brow expectations of story and prescription in the novel. What century is this again?! Form needs to reflect the undulations of the ordinary, daily life, the mind, the moment, this moment not stand back from it safely framing and merely dabbing calculated light on the traffic and trees around it and getting the reader up the hill to the next set of traffic lights. Enough of the linear, enough of the expected. Ideas and interrogation please. A literary work needs to be considered within its context not co-opted sideways to that which is not its concern and that which is already to be found plentifully in the myriad of mystery novels and middle brow fiction.
I could have engaged more with the various debates, but was very caught up thinking about Robert Walser’s use of tone in The Assistant and have been so struck by the image of his own death in the field finish. I reread Coetzee’s essay on Walser and was particularly galvanized by this paragraph:
Finally the other thing that’s consumed me this week are thoughts of creating small living spaces within small living spaces. I came across a wonderful structure in a coffee shop Moii on Cambie near Broadway. Go and visit it. It’s a tiny tiny room within the coffee shop that an artist/media artist with an interest in industrial design built for her final project at Emily Carr. I want to learn to build walls and try to up my output from the Japanese hand saw with the green handle. I am convinced that being short will help realize this small space creation because the walls do not need to be so high to house me.
I have had a merry old time enjoying cross-country/international commiserations on the weather and reading Mr Robert Walser’s The Assistant. (Translated by Susan Bernofsky)
“…lets not allow ourselves to get too worked up over such a woman finding such a young man odd, but rather report on their conversation.”
I shall later offer a snip from Walser’s take on the weather that’s particularly dotey.