The Village Beautiful

Zach Finch at The New England Review:

Back outside in the summer air, the summer frost heaves passed beneath my feet. I thought of Robert Walser, his little essay on walking, seeing everything afresh, the teeming world, the sap running, the beautiful phenomena, or his essay about Kleist walking around Thun, the mountainous Swiss village—“Bells are ringing. The people are leaving the hilltop church.” In those days, Walser wrote most of his stories in a micro-script so tiny it was assumed illegible for years, until two scholars with a magnifying lens revealed that the script, which looked like termite tracks, was actually Kurrent, a form of handwriting, medieval in origin, used by German speakers until the mid-twentieth century. Why am I describing Walser? Because I thought of him as I was walking on the sidewalk. Because Sontag describes Walser’s writing as a free fall of innocuous observations not governed by plot, in which “the important is redeemed as a species of the unimportant.” For instance, he ends the story “Autumn (II)” with the sentence, “In the city where I reside, a van Gogh exhibition is currently on view,” apropos of nothing. We don’t know what the broken white line means until much later. That’s why dream journalists write. That’s why journalists dream.

more here.