JUDY KRAVIS

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Selected Crônicas by Clarice Lispector

Selected Crônicas by Clarice Lispector is the book to open at random. On any page there's something that goes straight to the nub. She finds you out. Whatever has been happening in your own life, whatever stories you have lately heard, and paused over, Clarice will echo. It's a quality of attention. A modesty and persistence. A dailiness. 

Take note that I have said nothing about my emotional reaction: I spoke only of some of the thousands of things and people I keep an eye on. Nor does anyone pay me to do this job. I simply keep the world under observation. Is it hard work keeping an eye on the world? Most certainly.

Clarice weighs in. Reading as confirmation, sometimes that's what you need.  Like a quick chat about what you saw today. Picking elderberries. A brand-new tractor practises reversing and returning. A taxi-driver checking for break-ins. Clarice and I. 

You must be wondering why I keep an eye on the world. I was born with this mission. And I am responsible for everything in existence, even for those wars and crimes which cause so much physical and spiritual havoc. I am even responsible for this God Who is in a state of cosmic evolution towards greater perfection.

I too have been keeping an eye, and a pen, on the local world for the last couple of years. I don't feel responsible, but I'm having my say in the name of greater perfection. Not feeling responsible for at least some of the time is, I would argue, essential. Plus I cannot envisage at all this God Who.

Since childhood I have keep an eye on a swarm of ants: they crawl in Indian file, carrying a tiny particle of leaf which does not prevent them from pausing to chat whenever they meet another procession of ants coming from the opposite direction.

Is an ant responsible? Or does the ant, tiny as it is, embrace a world? Clarice Lispector is an open-minded commentator. But by writing anything at all about ants, she is taking a stance.

But I still have not found the person to whom I should report my findings. 

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