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Robert musil monuments essay - …
Perhaps no other writer has used fiction more extensively, and with greater intelligence, as a tool for social diagnosis, but Musil also knows precisely where the capacities of intelligence end, and how much of life consists of the irrational and mystical. And unlike the other great works of the last century -- Ulysses, say, or In Search of Lost Time -- which achieve a greater perfection by sealing themselves off in their own worlds, Musil’s ragged works still speak to us with great urgency, and show a writer’s attempt -- failed, finally, but still heroic -- to grapple with the accelerating chaos of his times. He is a special writer, and deserves to be kept in circulation. Go find this book, in a store or in the library, along with all of his others, and save them from withdrawal.
Questions of permanence and ephemerality are major themes in publicart, and histories and memories find expression in the built environment butwhose history and whose memories are recorded and can the monument alwaysmaintain its original meaning and purpose? "There is nothing in this world asinvisible as a monument" writes Austrian historian Robert Musil. How many, forexample, would instantly recognise the four angels at the foot of John HenryFoley's Daniel O'Connell Monument, 1882, at the riverside of Dublin's O'ConnellStreet, as representing the four provinces of Ireland? While historic, artistic andliterary figures, and famous dead pop stars, sports people and popular localheroes find their way onto our streets and squares, to sit alongside the deadheroes and triumphal arches and public sculptures, they usually take on traditional generic and heroic aspects of monumentality. But many contemporary artistshave found other ways of remembering, both using and subverting the monumentas a means in which to readdress everyday and political issues or to disrupt asense of familiarity, as Rachel Whiteread achieved in her 1993 work House, bycasting in concrete a soon-to-be-demolished house in East London, turning insidespace out. And, John Byrne's Misneach (Courage), 2010, situated in Ballymun,Dublin an equestrian statue of a girl on a horse which shows how an everydayperson (a young local girl) can be as much a hero as the celebrated public figure.
Robert musil essays about life - …
One of my prized books is a battered, used copy of the first volume of Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. On the cover, the Wall Street Journal calls it one of the 20th century’s three greatest novels (the other two, according to the blurb, are Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time). Inside the cover, just across from this quote, is a big black stamp from the Fairfax County Public Library: WITHDRAWN BECAUSE OF LOW DEMAND.
Musil would probably have smiled at this -- and then, like any writer, been thrown into a deep depression. Low demand plagued him his entire life, and has ever since. There are some obvious reasons for this. His greatest novel, The Man Without Qualities, is the sort of enormous book that one is never in the mood to start, not only because of the density of the prose and the lack of any real narrative drive, but also because Musil died before he finished; the second volume ends in hundreds of pages of fragments, and who wants to go on a journey with no destination?
Robert musil monuments essay writing
The essays deal with a variety of topics: the German love of nature; art and kitsch; public monuments; people’s need to send postcards. They are the sort of mini-essays that appear throughout The Man Without Qualities. In the first few pieces, one can see Musil’s mathematical intelligence struggle to translate itself into prose (for one essay, to my slight aggravation, I had to write equations to figure out his argument), and then become the precise, flexible instrument used in his great work. In the process, incredibly, he starts having fun. Some of the essays, like the one on monuments, are like profound little stand-up comedy routines. As with all those other daunting modernist books -- by Joyce, Proust, Kafka -- that are presented like doses of medicine at universities, Musil turns out to be pretty funny. I suspect people will not believe me, so here is one of my favorite passages from The Man Without Qualities:
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