One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, April 20, 2014

From Walser's "Jacob von Gunten"

I have sold my watch, so as to buy tobacco for cigarettes. I can live without a watch, but not without cigarettes, that is shameful, but a necessity. Somehow I must get some money or I shan't have any clean clothes to wear. Clean collars are things I can't do without. A person's happiness depends, yet does not depend, on such things. Happiness? No. But one should be proper. Cleanliness alone is a joy. I'm just talking. How I hate all the right words!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Heron Who Thought He Was a Stork, etc.




Descano Gardens

Beautiful. Haven't seen so many camellias in one place before. I was enjoying a walk with my friends, so only took one shot: from the Boddy House (just the patio, some oaks, and the skittish mountain top in the distance), where we made a RR stop.


Manchester Boddy (1891 - 1967)

Elias Manchester Boddy (pronounced "Boady"[1]) (1891–1967) rose from poverty to become the publisher of a major California newspaper and a candidate for Congress. His estate, Descanso Gardens, was bequeathed to the County of Los Angeles as a floral park.

[From Wikipedia:]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robert Walser (1878 - 1956)

Robert Walser (15 April 1878 – 25 December 1956), was a German-speaking Swiss writer.

Walser is understood to be the missing link between Kleist and Kafka. “Indeed,” writes Susan Sontag, “At the time [of Walser’s writing], it was more likely to be Kafka [who was understood by posterity] through the prism of Walser. Robert Musil, another admirer among Walser’s contemporaries, when he first read Kafka pronounced [Kafka’s work] as, 'a peculiar case of the Walser type.'"[1] Walser was admired early on by artists such as Robert Musil, Hermann Hesse, Stefan Zweig,Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka,[2] and was--in fact--better known in his lifetime than Franz Kafka or Walter Benjamin, for example.[3]

Nevertheless, Walser was never able to support himself based on the meager income he made from his writings and he worked as a copyist, an inventor's assistant, as a butler and in various other low-paying trades. Furthermore, despite marginal early success in his literary career, the popularity of his work gradually diminished over the second and third decades of the 20th century, he remained financially unstable and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown, spending the remainder of his life in sanatoriums, taking frequent long walks. A revival of interest in his works arose when, in the late-twentieth century and the early 2000's his work from the Pencil Zone, also known as Bleistiftgebiet or "the Microscripts"--works he had written in a microscopically tiny hand, in a coded alphabet while in the sanatorium--were finally deciphered, translated and published.[4][5] [6]

[From Wikipedia:]

Robert Walser's "Jacob von Gunten"

Will get back to Krzhizhanovsky when NYRB "kindlizes" Memories of the Future. In the meantime I'm dipping back into Robert Walser: Jacob von Gunten. It's another NYRB output and it is on Kindle.

Here's a couple big names and blurbs from Amazon's Review:

The moral core of Walser's art is the refusal of power; of domination.... Walser's virtues are of the most mature, most civilized art. He is a truly wonderful, heartbreaking writer.
-- Susan Sontag

If he had a hundred thousand readers, the world would be a better place.
-- Hermann Hesse

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asinaria: Feast of the Ass

Not as taken with The Letters Killer Club as I was with Corpse, but still highly inventive and readable.

Learned about at least one interesting thing (I'm about half way through his novella): an Asinaria (not to be confused with Plautus' play of the same name).


The Feast of the Ass (Latin: Festum Asinorum or asinaria festa, French: Fête de l'âne) was a medieval, Christian feast observed on January 14, celebrating the Flight into Egypt. It was celebrated primarily in France, as a by-product of the Feast of Fools celebrating the donkey-related stories in the Bible, in particular the donkey bearing the Holy Family into Egypt after Jesus's birth.[1]

[From Wikipedia:]