Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Short Story Month, day 2. Private musings

How did you do with yesterday's prompt? Did it spark anything? I surprised myself by getting the beginning of a story out of it, which I'll continue to work on. But it made me realize that it might be too constricting a prompt for some, so I'll be varying the degrees of specificity as I go here.  

One of the reasons I wanted to do this blog right now is that I have recently been introduced to the Berlin Stories of Robert Walser. To tell you the truth, I don't know if I would call them stories or not.  The collection of his Berlin Stories, as they're called, are closer to the essay than to fiction. I did a little meditation on them here, if you'd like to know more, and I'll probably  be getting back to Walser before too long. But the subject of this post was an intriguing paragraph I read while studying up on Walser.

It comes from a blog called Wandering With Robert Walser. I happened to scroll down a ways, and came across this interesting post called A Piece of Paper, Destined for the Trash . Attributing the piece is a bit complicated, because I can't find the name of the actual blogger, and it is quoting an Argentine writer named Juan José Saer on Walser, but the translation is done by Heather Cleary for her book Lost in the Stacks. Just  take a look there--it will be clearer. 

Anyway, here is the paragraph:  


"The truth is, finding inspiration in the paper, in the place, in the table at which one writes is fairly common and generally accepted by the public. But what might generate resistance in this utilitarian and consequentialist world of ours is the assertion that a piece of paper destined for the trash bin has a more powerful energy to it than moral, philosophical, and social aesthetic imperatives, an energy absent in those imperatives and endowed with the unusual ability to generate a work of literature. The assertion that even the works most representative of the values of which a given culture is proud would not exist without the irrational dependence on a private stimulus that is totally irrelevant in the eyes of that culture, and which, because of this very irrelevance, presents itself as its negation. The assertion that this obvious particularity of Walser’s, which, given the nearly thirty years he spent locked away in a mental institution, many might be tempted to write off as dementia, is actually the model of all literary creation."

Perhaps this is a bit scholarly for what you were expecting from this simple blog. I parse it thus: A piece of paper destined for the trash has more energy than all of society's other values, and the society depends without knowing it on exactly these private musings.

Here's today's prompt.

Find a piece of paper, destined for the tr--uh, recycle bin. Write some private musing. Take your time. Think of yourself as Robert Walser, not in an insane asylum, no, but sitting in some Berlin cafe, as he did in his youth before the wars, happily scribbling about just anything at all.

When you're done, take it and dispose of it.

Or don't.

Destiny isn't everything.  

logo bySteve Seighman

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