JUDY KRAVIS

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Robert Walser responding to paintings and faits divers and Clarice Lispector writing out of her own dailiness were published in newspapers and magazines, he in the twenties and thirties in Berlin, she in the sixties and seventies in Brazil. Now that we all do faits divers in all formats all the time, publishing idiosyncratic prose pieces in national newspapers and monthlies isn't an option; even if you put on your prose piece suit, no one will see.

What does Robert Walser see when he inhabits a picture? He speaks as the picture, he enters its lives, empathises with the painter, runs a few possible narratives, anachronisms and suppositions up the flagpole, and then excuses himself.
For hours and days on end he [Cézanne] sought out ways to make the unintelligible the obvious, and to find for things easily understood an inexplicable basis. As time went by, a secret watchfulness settled in his eyes from so much precise circling of contours that became for him edges of a mystery.
Clarice, without mediation of any kind, or medication, for that matter, except the typewriter, reflects on her knowing sensibility.
I daresay this kind of sensibility, which is capable of stirring emotions and making one think even without using the mind, is a gift. And a gift which can be diminished with neglect or perfected if exercised to the full.
Walser, in 'Portrait of a Lady', enters the head of the young lady sitting in a chair and reading, painted by his brother Karl.
In painting the portrait of the young lady, he is also painting her amiable secret reveries, her thoughts and daydreams, her lovely, happy imagination, since, directly above the reader's head, or brain, in a softer, more delicate distance, as though it were the construction of a fantasy, he has painted a green meadow surrounded by a ring of sumptuous chestnut trees and on this meadow, in sweet, sunlit peace, a shepherd lies sprawled, he too appearing to read a book since he has nothing else to do.

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