A single word



Bad Habits

One such is the need to ponder every living thing with which I am confronted. The slightest encounter arouses in me the most peculiar urge to think. [...] I am possibly a somewhat high-strung person, but I am also a precise one. I feel even the most trifling losses, in certain matters I am meticulously conscientious and only occasionally am I obliged, for better or worse, to command myself: Forget this! A single word can thrust me into the most monstrous and tempestuous confusion, and then I find myself utterly possessed by thoughts of this apparently minuscule and insignificant thing, while the present in all its glory has become incomprehensible to me. These moments constitute a bad habit.


This little letter -- for it is a letter that young Joseph Marti writes to himself and then discards into the wastebasket of the small, yet well-appointed technical office, located on-site at the Evening Star villa -- this little letter so sums up these lovely stories of Robert Walser's. This next passage does as well:

What swimming person, provided he is not about to drown, can help being in excellent spirits? It appeared to him as if the gay, warm, smooth surface of the lake were taking, vaulted shape. The water was simultaneously cool and tepid. Perhaps a faint breath of wind came whispering across it, or else a bird flew above past his head, high up in the air. Once he came close to a small boat; a single man was sitting in it, a fisherman peacefully fishing and rocking away his Sunday. What softness, what shimmering light. And with your naked, sensation-filled arm, you slice into this wet, clean benevolent element. With every stroke of your legs, you advance a bit further in this beautiful deep wetness. From below, you are buoyed up by warm and chilly currents. You plunge your head briefly beneath the water to irrigate the excitement in your breast, squeezing shut your mouth and eyes and breath, so as to feel this delightful sensation in your entire body.
Walser writes so easily, so effortlessly -- all is simple and yet strange -- all is poetic, verging on purple and yet never, ever falling on that side. There is so much celebration! so much silliness, so much beautiful longing and love for the world just as it is, seen through the eyes of a young man who is so self-aware, so reckless, so lovable.