JUDY KRAVIS

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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Robert Walser's Microscripts are just the thing for desperate days. They were written in pencil, each phrase a tiny flick of (dis)quiet. Let's not think failure of nerve; in our great, unnoticed sorrow we are nerveless. These are tiny scripts on fragments of paper often already printed with something else. This is the density of the creature, inner convolution brought out as far as it will go, and then cut; off goes Herr Walser, invisible once again. Tiny text lies unread longest, on the borderlands of legibility and despair, hardly worthy of secrecy, he'd say, humble Herr Walser, that divinely gifted layabout.

In order to start writing Walser puts on a prose piece jacket. Some writers have to be dressed correctly; this is a formal moment after all; you are here to choose such of your day as deserves to be hidden, which may involve other people you have passed by on your walk, or dogs, paintings, joy-deficient cliffs. You absorb such of the world as you see, ferret away your day, make a stab at what comes your way and try not to comment, not to be rude or to disturb. You're far from the world, though eagerly in it; burrowing in is one way to slip out. In is out, and out is in, especially when snow is falling.

All observations are fully charged. All that you say is also all that you don't say. This isn't false modesty. There isn't a false feather in Herr Walser's apparel. He writes about everything equally, leaves it there to be (un)read.
That I listened to the radio for the first time yesterday fills me with a feeling of internationality, though this remark I've made is, to be sure, anything but modest.
The absence of a feeling of internationality is what underlies my despair ninety years later and sends me to Robert Walser for comfort.
All his longing, how he longed for it again!

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