A BEDTIME STORY FROM MAGMA HEAD:
An appreciation of Robert Walser's Jakob von Gunten
Guymo the Magma Head entered Ian Mieuxberry's boxcar situated in the lush greenery of Loni Beach Forest, a mere pubic hair's north of Gimli. Like every evening, he proceeded to silently and gently tuck all the Drones in.
Upon completion of his nightly duties, he took his place upon the tree stump in the centre of the boxcar, lit the oil lamp, placed a needle on the phonograph which released a gentle Nat Schilkret waltz into the night air and delicately removed a slender volume from his pocket.
The twinkle in his eye and an ever-so slight pursing of the lips was enough to instill curiosity amongst the Drones as to what manner of tale would be read aloud to complete a most perfect day of worshipping the newly crowned Fjallkona and greedily dining on Hardfiskur, Skyr and Vinatarta.
“Will it be the Huysmans?” Carl, the Love Doctor ejaculated.
“Bruno Schulz would do me very nicely,” cooed Big Julie's Greggy.
“You know what I want,” growled John, the Claw, “Ruskin's my man.”
“Oh thtuff it, Claw!” Mieuxberry volleyed with the pronounced lisp that consumed his palate whenever Claw haughtily implied that he’d never hear “Ethics of the Dust”, his bedtime words of choice.
“I’m good with whatever,” Kyle, the Squid opined cheerfully.
“Will it be the Huysmans?” The Love Doctor ejaculated once again.
“Thtuff it, L.D. We had the bloody Huythmanth all fucking week becauthe of you.”
“I’d settle for some Bataille,” The Love Doctor offered meekly.
Magma Head chuckled, shaking his elephantine skull to and fro.
“Tonight,” he said, “I have something very new, very special and very appropriate for you lads—especially in light of the magnificence of this year’s Fjallkona. This, I assure you all, will prepare you more than adequately for a proper life of subservience and inconsequence. You will learn what it is to serve, to keep your eyes lowered, to defer to every living creature above your station which, for all of us, is indeed every living creature. So rest thine weary, unworthy and slavish heads fellows, put aside thine petty squabbles and allow me to purvey the greatest words I have yet to lay my eyes upon.”
"Your greatneth, dearetht Thir, ith indeed Our Greatneth!" cooed Mieuxberry, for he was the Mieuxest of them all.
"Pshaw! Greater than Huysmans?" the Love Doctor spewed petulantly.
“Greater than Hamsun?” Big Julie's Greggy queried.
"Greater than Calvino?" Squid implored.
"Greater than Ruskin?" growled the Claw.
“Greater than all,” beamed Magma Head.
He bowed his head over the Holy Book of Walser and in a tone of dulcet, he did read:
“One learns very little here, there is a shortage of teachers, and none of us boys of the Benjamenta Institute will come to anything, that is to say, we shall all be something very small and subordinate later in life . . .”
Greg Klymkiw is a writer, teacher and filmmaker. He produced films by Guy Maddin, Cynthia Roberts, Alan Zweig and many others. For 13 years he was Producer-in-Residence and Senior Creative Consultant at Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre. His writings on film can be found at KLYMKIW FILM CORNER and ELECTRIC SHEEP.
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Dr. Aaron Schneider completed a PhD. in Canadian Literature at Western University where he currently teaches courses in public speaking, political rhetoric and Canadian Literature. He is excited about bringing together his interests in World and Canadian Literature. He is the co-founder and co-editor of The Rusty Toque and Western's online student journal Occasus.