Max Neumann is well known for his often eerie portraits that echo psychological states; László Krasznahorkai is well known for his eerie, maddening, and Kafkaesque prose that delves into individuals’ relations to power structures and each other. Responding first to an image of Neumann’s depicting a terrifying yet incomprehensible animal, Krasznahorkai set the chain of collaboration that would become Animalinside into motion; Neumann’s resulting images—from the first textual response—are increasingly more horrifying, and Krasznahorkai’s prose follows this animal’s story in his typical long sentences with repetitive rhythms and compact rhetorical ways of rendering diction, e.g., “I extendextendextend around the Earth at the Equator” and “”so so sooo big that I extend across two galaxies, if I want and soooo so big that extend across one hundred galaxies.”
Animalinside is about annihilation and apocalypse, but it is more harrowing than that: in identifying our fears and anxieties about power, Krasznahorkai shows that those in positions of power harbor the same kinds of misgivings that we do. In a sense, power entraps us in a very Foucauldian way, and to speak about power—to paraphrase Foucault—is only something that can be done from inside existing power structures. Krasznahorkai’s animal is inside us (“I, that thing that looks so ghastly, is within you, because I am within you”); at the same time, the animal appears to exhibit traits of alienation and isolation that characterize Krasznahorkai’s characters in other work. The impact of this here is to suggest that while we criticize power structures which cage us (“this space-cage... a cage made to my measurements”), preventing us from realizing our individuality, we are, oddly enough, complicit in our victimization within this totalizing hierarchy.
Krasznahorkai’s instruments of power are panoptic:
and that’s how life ends for you, because it is impossible to hide away from us, there is no depth within the earth that could be a refuge for you, we are here, above, here, look we’re watching from up here what you’re doing down there, but we don’t have to watch everything, because we know everything about you... I am inscrutable and indivisible and impenetrable...
And the end, as Krasznahorkai sees it here, is hardly something that can be prepared for or reckoned with because all of our cultural myths—and, too, the many ways in which we externalize power/knowledge systems, again to bring Foucault to mind—fail to consider that the true apocalypse does not come from outside, but from within:
every aspiration to the infinite is a trap... and don’t count on me emerging from below the earth, and it is not from the mountains or from the heavens that I shall arrive, every picture drawn in anxiety, ever word written down in horror, every voice sounded in anguish with which you try to prophesize me is senseless, for there is no need of prophecy, there is no need for you to evoke me before I arrive, it will be enough to see me then...
A true revolt, then, is impossible, and Krasznahorkai’s pessimism is obviously on display here, but there is also an overriding sense of sympathy for this animal despite his malevolence and his destructive intent: “if I jump up to sink my teeth into your throat, I hump into the trap definitively and inevitably, there is no point in speaking of escape. Into your throat.”
Called “the Hungarian master of the apocalypse” by Susan Sontag, Animalinside shows Krasznahorkai grappling with similar questions that his longer fictions consider; alongside Neumann’s images—often reminiscent of Munch’s Scream (“but what I hate most is how I’m howling here into the infinite”)—the paralyzing fear as we observe our own systemic collapse is made all the more uncanny, absurd, and downright chilling.(less)
"It is an art that points to the human by leaving the human out; nowhere visible, we're everywhere. It is an art that points to meaning through wordle...more"It is an art that points to the human by leaving the human out; nowhere visible, we're everywhere. It is an art that points to meaning through wordlessness, that points to timelessness through things permanently caught in time."
A moving, erudite meditation on the the way we relate intimately to objects. Doty's examination of Dutch still life paintings; his memories of objects and their intimate associations from childhood; his recollection of auction days, items purchased, and how positioning objects against other objects changes narrative and therefore our relation to each piece; and, finally, the link between intimacy, time, mortality, and aesthetics -- all of these are explored with precision, grace, and with an immense compassion for visual art, poetry (e.g., Cavafy, Lorca, Glück), and how our relationships with these objects of art and memory influence our daily existence.(less)
A remarkable examination of culture's fascination with severed heads. Kristeva begins with pre-Homo sapiens skull cults, and makes a very convincing a...moreA remarkable examination of culture's fascination with severed heads. Kristeva begins with pre-Homo sapiens skull cults, and makes a very convincing argument that Freud failed to see the feminine in the totemic meal. If, for Freud, the eating of the father's brains signified the sons' desire to assimilate his power, for Kristeva it signifies both this as well as the primal infant's orality in coming to terms with the disappearance of the mother, prior to language and acculturation. So the head is both masculine and feminine, and Kristeva sweeps this much needed feminist and aesthetic intervention along with an examination of the decapitation of Medusa; art works ranging from Caravaggio to Artemisia Gentilischi—all the while considering how the head, the corporal seat of reason and power, comes to approximate our infantile fears of abandonment, our anxieties about ourselves, and our masochistic drive to destroy all reminders of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.(less)
Rimbaud’s 15 May 1871 letter to fellow poet Paul Demeny stands not only as a touchstone for modernist literature, but also as a presage of poststructuralist thought on alterity, most notably the work of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. For Rimbaud, “I is an other” is a concept that serves a cultural function for the artist, the writer as visionary (“I say it [the I] must be a seer, make oneself a seer”), dissociated from the self to forge an aesthetics whose focal points are meditations on the fractured nature of the “I” and the similarly unstable state of the world in which this being lives, creates, and desires.
This dual meditation on self and other is omnipresent in the Kafkaesque images for which Berlin-based artist Max Neumann is so well known. His images are absurd, surreal, and unsettling, many displaying Munchian faces with little or no distinguishing features, such as an untitled 2007 painting whose eerie chiaroscuro pits a darkly-clad figure against a pitch background to spotlight a white face literally coming apart at the seams from its center.
Whereas Munch’s Screamer actually does scream, a howl that is carried along in a circuitous wave of blue into the orange-tinted sunset above his head, Neumann’s images appear to be screaming silently: his palette suggests the alienation and dissociation individuals feel in the world at large and also in their own skin. As Cees Nooteboom puts it in one of the companion text pieces in Self-Portrait of an Other, his collaboration with Neumman: “Unable to advance or fall back, he turns circles in the space left him, screaming his discomfort in the scorched air.”
These themes of Neumann’s work were united recently in a collaboration with Hungarian author László Krasznahorhai; that collection, Animalinside, drew from each of their haunting concerns about self and other, the individual versus the state, and how the artist can act as a mediating figure for dominant culture to present the schismatic nature of things using an aesthetic approach indebted to Rimbaud’s visionary “I” as well as poststructuralism’s questioning of the dichotomies surrounding the nature of identity. It seems only fitting that Dutch author Nooteboom would want to collaborate with an artist like Neumann given that Nooteboom’s poetic prose fuses reality and dreams in uncanny ways that often mirror prosaically what Neumann does visually. As Nooteboom writes of first encountering Neumann’s images:
I could not reconcile their restlessness with the calm their maker radiated. I felt as if I knew the world I encountered in his work very well without being able to say why. Later I saw his work again in Barcelona and Paris and there too, far from his German base, I again felt the enchantment of those strange, unprecedented creatures, dream figures that resist description.
Self-Portrait of an Other roots itself titularly in the Rimbauldian, poststructuralist tradition by calling attention to the divisive nature of existence which Nooteboom and Neumann make the crux of their project: “Instead of trying to describe [Neumann’s] work, I would draw on its atmosphere and my own arsenal of memories, dreams, fantasies, landscapes, stories and nightmares to write a series of textual images as an echo but unlinked, a mirror.” (I will return to this idea of the mirror and its relation to otherness shortly.) The title “cuts both ways” according to Neumann in focusing its concerns on the same phenomenological events with which Lacanian psychoanalysis is concerned: “memories, dreams, fantasies,” and so on. In addition, the epigraph to Self-Portrait of an Other underscores the collaboration’s intent to examine various dichotomies—self/other, reality/dreams, landscapes/cityscapes—from a liminal standpoint as a Rimbaudian seer: “Transmigration of the soul does not happen after but during a lifetime.” This curious statement problematizes the teleological aim in most discursive practices, noting that what is to come after at the level of discourse is an event that actually takes place during one’s lifetime, thus becoming a phenomenon to which we can choose to bear witness.
Neumann’s palette for the background of the images in this collaboration consists entirely of variants of blood orange and a deep, sharp red, one reminiscent of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch’s canvases and installations made with blood. Here, Neumann’s reds serve as artery-like settings against which his figures can emerge as though from scenes of carnage. One image is of a seemingly human form either wrestling with or morphing into a birdlike other whose beak is open in what appears to be an anguished cry. Another image places a hybrid figure in a series of obstructions—harsh black lines near the sides of the body present an obvious restriction, but Neumann carries this further by fashioning his painting into an oppressive force upon this being with a self-reflexive rectangle that calls our attention to the painting being a painting, a move uniting this collaboration’s poststructuralist tenets with aesthetic experimentations paired with linguistic inquiry such as René Magritte’s, most notably his La Reproduction Interdit (1937).
Like the figures that feature in Neumann’s startling images and which emerge from a blood-soaked background, Nooteboom’s prose poems emerge from and speak to Neumann’s own. A series of dreamscapes and ruminations, of splintered moments in time and fetishized compulsions, Nooteboom’s words weave in and out of different states as seamlessly as do Neumann’s paintings; as such, the repetitive themes of the project are stressed, becoming an obsessive rhythm to which the images add an additional level of anxiety, melancholy, and despair.
In one text, the text facing Neumann’s image of the figure obstructed which I noted above, Nooteboom situates his prose in the Rimbaudian tradition where intellectual and artistic discovery is the cause of existence: “He knew his continued existence was due solely to his addiction to thought, the chains of words he draped over things that remained unnameable despite their names.” Naming the unnameable is at the core of any artistic endeavor; here, the binary relation between what is named and what cannot be named stands as but one of the tenuous dichotomous relations examined throughout Self-Portrait of an Other, the examination of which can never be exhausted except through a Derridean “slippage”: a transgression of binaries by positioning oneself in the middle, by embracing an otherness that is paradoxically part and parcel of one’s self.
The artist is also visited by gods, but Nooteboom, rather than embracing a divine presence to serve as a poetic muse, rejects such intervention: “He kept still and hoped the god would not notice him.” Solitude remains the province for the poetic and artistic examination of existence, then, but this is complicated by the fact that the self is a series of masks, a collection of identities often so disparate that they can only remain in the realm of the unnameable: “When he is alone, crowds become mysterious. Among others, he no longer knows himself. Who are they? Does he recognize his own mask?” Apart from being masked from one’s own self, the “I” is under constant panoptic surveillance, with “perfectly circular eye[s] watching him”; as such, despite the solitary task of fathoming one’s own identity, this endeavor is also a performance of sorts, one that takes place under the eyes of society at large and therefore reduces the self to an actor in the drama that ensues when an individual attempts to challenge hegemonic meanings and norms.
Otherness is related to this idea of the gaze: “As the day proceeded, he saw the faces change, growing less and less recognizable. He wondered if he was like that too, but he didn’t dare touch it and avoided his glance in the windows… This time there were two of him.” According to Lacan, the mirror stage is one of the most pivotal development stages in our growing understanding of who we are and what makes us an “I”; however, in the mirror it is not recognition but misrecognition (méconnaissance) that causes us to begin to fathom our identity. As Nooteboom writes: “He didn’t know if his body has recognized him.” Like Neumann’s images, Nooteboom wonders if “there were holes where the eyes had been,” causing a project concerned with an analysis of the self to buckle as the self is an entity that is ultimately a stranger. Tellingly, then, it is the Other—our reflected image which we fetishize as an “ideal-I”—that defines our self, and it is for this Other that we are continually striving, barred from this idealized version of ourselves by desire and the linguistic trappings of the symbolic order. If “I is an other” then the “I” is also always in pursuit of the Other.
In Nooteboom’s prose poems, the mirror comes to stand as the place where this terrifying performance of recognition and otherness is enacted, and therefore there is both an attraction to this scene as well as a repulsion: “How easy, he thought, to disappear, becoming someone who has left his clothes on the rocks and entered the mirror forever, the impossibly thin, living mirror that seals the silence.” This image again emphasizes this collaboration’s aim to dismantle binary oppositions, and yet risk being “seal[ed] in silence” in the process. While images can help us to remember past experiences, they can also be traumatizing in that these reminders can further alienate us from our sense of self, recalling events in an ostensibly objective way when it is subjectivity that governs our relation to things: “There must still be photos with him in them, photos in which he didn’t want to see himself. The number of lives in an old body is unbearable.”
Recognition and rupture: these extremes are at the heart of many philosophical and aesthetic projects and Self-Portrait of an Other is a relentless meditation on the relation between self and other, between text and image, between the individual and the world, and, most importantly, what the artist’s role is in trying to elucidate these questions—for these are phenomenological questions to which there are no answers—in ways that do not repeat old discourses. Neumann’s images and Nooteboom’s texts work together to postulate a world in which the self can be free from all fetters, a world that can exist only in the dreamscapes and nightmare worlds the two men create together for there can be no self without the divisions, fissures, and schisms that we conceptualize as the Other.(less)
What is “a writer’s writer”? Although the phrase is often used both haphazardly and problematically, there is something inherently useful about it when discussing the enduring legacy of certain authors. The OED attributes the first use of the term “a writer’s writer” to Orwell, who uses this description when writing about Gerard Manley Hopkins. This is particularly fitting, perhaps, as Julian Barnes—in his London Review of Books review of Lydia Davis’s translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary—brings Davis’s own discussion of Hopkins’s work to bear on what Barnes refers to as Davis’s status as “a writer’s writer’s writer.”
Recently, too, J. M. Coetzee’s assessment of Gerald Murnane’s work in The New York Review of Books raises this question of inspiration and influence: as Coetzee himself is often described as “a writer’s writer,” does his praise of Murnane’s literary output cast Murnane into the realm of “a writer’s writer’s writer”? To be sure, while the term “a writer’s writer” is often ascribed to “difficult” prose, such as Proust’s and Beckett’s, it’s usually used to emphasize their influence on other writers and artists.
Swiss-born modernist Robert Walser is perhaps the most unsung of these influential “writer’s writers,” and two recent collaborative texts underscore his ability to speak across artistic mediums. A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser, to be published in April by New Directions, includes short microscript pieces by Walser himself, as well as essays, creative writing, and art objects ranging from installation pieces to etchings, all of which speak to Walser’s own microscripts. This collection stems from a series of exhibitions curated by the late Donald Young in Chicago from December 2011 to October 2012, who, in his introduction, explains how he “became more and more interested in the connection between [Walser’s] writings and certain contemporary artists.” Another text, Austrian writer and Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek’s dramatic monologue Her Not All Her, with intercalated images by Thomas Newbolt, is collaborative in that Jelinek asserts in her subtitle that she is writing the piece “On/With Robert Walser.” In his afterward, Reto Sorg notes how Jelinek’s own text mixes with those of Walser: “It is almost impossible to tell when any given utterance has Jelinek speaking directly or when she is quoting texts by or about Walser, since the voices and languages intertwine, overlap, and blend together.” Indeed, the very title of Jelinek’s piece (in German, er nicht als er) is itself “formed out of the sounds of Robert Walser’s name.”
Texts like these demonstrate not only Walser’s effect on the literary and aesthetic work in world literature half a century after his death but also his status as a niche author, a seeming prerequisite for any “writer’s writer.” Although Hermann Hesse has famously remarked that if Walser “had a hundred thousand readers, the world would be a better place,” his continued status as a marginal “writer’s writer” also causes a sense of protection and adoration to be aroused in his admirers; as one of Walser’s major English-language translators, Christopher Middleton, puts it: “Robert Walser was known only to a happy few, and his writing has a resistant purity which will keep any larger public, I hope, at bay forever.” Similar strains of idolizing homage and protective insulation are found in both A Little Ramble and Her Not All Her.
* * * *
Walser’s writings in A Little Ramble showcase his predilection for how small, everyday moments and observations can lend insight into more pressing issues affecting humanity and the world at large—themes apparent in all of his short writings, like those collected in Berlin Stories, Selected Stories, Speaking to the Rose, Microscripts, and Masquerade. “We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary,” he writes in A Little Ramble’s title piece. “We already see so much.” Walser’s considerations of town and country, of walks and parks, of artists like Cézanne and van Gogh, and of the aesthetic world of Russian ballet and the cabarets of Berlin are paradoxically of no consequence and yet contain all the wisdom in the world. W. G. Sebald has called Walser “a clairvoyant of the small,” noting how he “almost always wrote the same thing and yet never repeated himself”: his “prose has the tendency to dissolve upon reading so that only a few hours later one can barely remember the ephemeral figures, events, and things of which he spoke.”
Many of the contemporary artists engaging with the microscripts in A Little Ramble display a warm, glowing regard for this “writer’s writer.” Rodney Graham’s piece is a painted aluminum lightbox with chromogenic transparency depicting a genderless person reading in bed, eclipsed by the cover page of a 1937 edition of The Sunday Sun so that all the viewer can see are sets of fingers holding the newspaper at its edges, a coverlet, and the knobs at the top of the bedpost. In addition, Graham takes Walser’s microscripts and makes them even more microscopic, creating a series of pantoums dedicated to curator Donald Young, a self-reflexive move not out of step with Walser’s own metafictional insertions of self. Here, Walser’s “On the Russian Ballet” is metamorphosed textually, the opening sentence (“How ravishing, the Russian ballerinas from the Imperial Theatre in Petersburg”) becoming in Graham’s pantoum
How ravishing The ballerinas Languishing In ice arenas
Another collaborative pairing juxtaposes Walser’s profound “The Park” with stills from Mark Wallinger’s video installation, Shadow Walker, which shows the shadow of a man against an exterior setting, his body morphed and transfigured due to the angle of the camera. This feels especially suitable to “The Park” which exclaims “it’s always Sunday in a park” and yet contains the lament: “What has become of us as a people that we can possess the beautiful only in dreams.”
A Little Ramble also includes excerpts from friend Carl Seelig’s Walks with Robert Walser, diaristic recollections of Walser’s comments on various walks during and after World War II, when he took refuge at Herisau Clinic. Famously, when asked why he no longer wrote after 1933, he replied with: “I am here to be mad, not to write.” Seelig quotes Walser as saying the following on 16 May 1943:
I was so glad this morning . . . to see the clouds instead of a clear blue sky! I have no use for grand vistas and majestic scenery. When such distant things recede—that’s when all that is nearby comes gently into view. What more do we need to feel content than a meadow, a forest, and a few quiet houses?
Later, on 28 December 1944, Walser remarks: “The war at least has one benefit in that it forces a return to simplicity.” Despite his primary focus on what is ostensibly simple and mundane, Walser’s work always bemoans the modernization of the world, particularly how it separates the individual from these Arcadian meadows, forests, and “a few quiet houses.”
For Walser, nature and individual work together to create a collective mood; in “The Teacher,” for example, a woman who “showed herself unwilling to be the doormat or dishrag of her most excellent husband” is eventually freed: “Liberated, overjoyed, she breathed a sigh of relief. In the sky, smiling little clouds were out for a stroll.” Similarly, in “Tiergarten,” Walser writes: “Everyone is displaying the same appropriate, mild solemnity. Is not the sky doing the same with its expression that appears to be saying: ‘How marvelous I feel’?” While these microscripts are celebratory, one thinks, too, of the claustrophobic setting of the Benjamenta Institute where the titular character in Jakob von Gunten enrolls himself to learn the secrets of being of service; in that novel, Walser’s childish, perverse, and lovable narrator represents a liminal character who exists in a temporal zone of uncertainty—somewhere between the idyllic beauty of the past and the capitalistic nightmare of the modern city, a tension that is also felt quite resoundingly in The Walk. While the external world moves toward war and anxiety, Walser’s writings echo these concerns while also taking internal refuge in the simple pleasures yet to be found in everyday moments and interactions.
In “The Job Application,” Walser directly evokes the oppositional elements noted above with a narrative voice that uncannily speaks in the register of an older Jakob von Gunten:
Large and difficult tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-ranging sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever, and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. I am a dreamer rather than a thinker, a zero rather than a force, dim rather than sharp. Assuredly there exists in your institution, which I imagine to be overflowing with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do in a dream?
In another writer’s hands, this might well descend into naiveté; however, Walser’s narrators are always extensions of himself as writer and observer, well aware of the cultural function of the artist as well as the artist’s task of critiquing society through deft observations (e.g., “The Job Application’s” juxtapositon of the oppressive and stifling nature of the modern workplace with dreaming and individual existence). As Seelig writes: “Robert is compelled to talk of the relationship between the poet and society. In his view, it is necessarily one of torment.” This is related to what Walser calls “sluggardizing” in his piece “Berlin and the Artist,” which Tacita Dean takes up in her visual response to that text, a collage of drawings, photographs, and cultural artifacts from Walser’s time, which she collected at flea markets around Berlin. As Dean interprets it:
Sluggardizing . . . is the artist’s way: thinking, equivocating, waiting, delaying—indolence without intent. I like the word, which he wrote in German as Faulpelzerei—lazy under pelts, and I like that he has named this most maligned of behaviors, namely, this passive and recumbent state of incipient inspiration.
It is no wonder that Walser has been so influential to artists and writers whose work is similarly charged with social criticism, examinations of the individual in relation to the world, and the attempt to fathom artistic inspiration.
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Jelinek’s Her Not All Her is a monologue that considers inspiration via Walser’s personal mythology and thematic concerns: where does inspiration come from, and what is at stake when the artist translates this moment of inspiration into a piece of art? For Jelinek, walking on/with Walser is the best way to consider such questions, and, despite the fact that the narrative voice in Her Not All Her is meant to be “[a] number of people [speaking] to each other, all very friendly and well-behaved (perhaps lying in bathtubs. as was once the custom in mental hospitals),” the voice also shifts from muse to artist, from connoisseur to creator, as if suggesting their interrelation. Indeed, Newbolt’s facing images stress this swapping of roles in creating and consuming art through figures who are so obscured by brushstrokes that the viewer must decipher them.
Central to Jelinek’s analysis of the creative process is the identity of the writer: “Now who does the writer mean by himself?” Whether inspired by “a goddess” or a “soul . . . peeping out of your body as though a work lay there inside you . . . wanting to get out,” the writer “can only bring someone else to life, never revive himself.” This is especially interesting given the “I” in Walser’s writings, a persona that always causes the reader to question how much of Walser is encaged within this “I,” and also how much is poetic license (er nicht als er); as much as artistry is rooted in the artist, Jelinek also observes that “it’s from inside that you have to slide back the bolt so that you can finally get entirely out of yourself.” Jelinek continues:
This Robert Walser is one of those people who do not mean themselves when they say “I.” It is true that he never stops saying “I,” but it’s not him. Like the music of late Schubert, or Schumann: mouldering away without really meaning it. Walser sees what everyone sees. And he shows us his tools for taking up what he sees.
This tension between self and other maps neatly on to Walser’s “sluggardizing” wherein the writer strolls and observes life as a kind of flâneur, taking from everyday experiences the inspiration for a written piece and thus injecting into the mundane the flavor of poetry and philosophy.
Tied into this are those people whom the writer encounters and houses in a work of art, a work that many of them would sadly fail to appreciate:
Today, once again, no one has let me depict them with syllables, words, and lines. Once again, no one has welcomed me with open hands and arms. Maybe I go right past people too fast with all my requests. It must be almost unpleasant for them at times, to know that they possess such and such value, since they would then have to grant me almost exactly the same value too!
This is the artist as a marginalized figure, existing on the outskirts of society while at the same time requiring social interactions in order to fuel the creative process. There is always the sense of witnessing and not being actively engaged with others: “I enter into every circle and then again none.”
This outer antipathy between artist and society is joined by the inner struggle: how to represent in any artistic medium what strikes the artist in a sudden jolt of inspiration. This is also a problem of translation: of translating the “divine” material into language—the writer here is caught in the trappings of the limitations of language itself. As Jelinek writes: “the disadvantage of language is that it can all too quickly seem familiar and so you throw it off, horrified, as though you touched something disgusting. . . . Language is worth as little as life itself, for it is life itself.”
It is with such limitations that the artist must work, and, as Jelinek journeys with Walser in reflecting on these moments of profound insight and the despair of creation, nothing is elucidated, yet everything is invoked: art’s intrinsic futility (and how it causes the artist to see the world differently) eventually leads to an oeuvre that inspires others. There is both the depth and the struggle to bring what one locates there to the level of discourse and representation: “And I speak of deep things. . . . No, my depth doesn’t reach its limits. No one should try to pour depths into something as shallow as me!”
Walser’s legacy for Jelinek, then, in her walk with him, is a legacy that places the artistic journey above the actual creation: “All the lines are now stowed away safe and silent inside you like dead bodies. Even now there is life enough in most of us if only we give ourselves time to find ourselves!” For those who wish to follow in Walser’s footsteps, to take a little ramble with him, the task is to experience each moment and sensory perception to its fullest and to make oneself as humble and small as possible, an endeavor more about process than any teleological endpoint: “Everyone should make himself as small as he possibly can. That should certainly apply to me too, no question about it. I am not making fun of the somnolent. But I myself am always wide awake.” In this way the artist can translate to the best of his or her ability; as Walser observes in “Thoughts on Cézanne”: the artist’s function is “to make mountainous . . . the frame of things” and to depict things “which are as ordinary as they are remarkable.”(less)