At times of rather frequently despairing at both the state of the world and one’s own inadequacy - what can one do?
Withdraw and read Walser’s “Looking at Pictures”.
After a wonderfully wistful chapter about Watteau, Walser takes on the rather more frivolous Fragonard, but not without a delicious detour:
“The first time I beheld a reproduction of this work, which is like a poem, I was rather frequently flâneuring my way through the city’s arcades as well as its pastoral surrounds, though I am certainly aware that one should not waste time. My conduct, perhaps, possessed something Fragonardesque, for every shop, every public square, every window told me stories and was something like music for me […] ”
“frequently flâneuring" !! With its irresistibly alluring alliteration! With its mocking combination of the rather frosty ”frequent” with the more floating “ flâneuring”. With its zestful turning into a verb of an otherwise too static noun “flâneur”. With its meticulous use of the pitifully vanishing “accent circonflexe”….
“frequently flâneuring” ... I frequently whisper during the day (though certainly aware that one should not waste time). Clutching to those two words as to a talisman during days of dutiful - but despairingly futile - industry. (1)
(1) And what if in German there’s no Frequently Flâneuring? What if it’s rather Wehmütig Wandern? Or something entirely else?