I had started to read Musil when I was about 14, without much understanding, but great fascination in what I could not understand. His major work is "The Man without Qualities" which Musil spent over 30 years on but did not live to finish, indeed in its openness it was by its very nature incapable of being finished; the version of the book I originally read was a translation of the portion of the text Musil had allowed to be printed in his lifetime. Another section had been prepared for printing, but Musil had changed his mind and withdrew it. Over the years I have learnt to find my way through this maze. About six years ago a new English translation became available along with the section that Musil had withdrawn, this has been published with some of the many possibilities of continuation that Musil had left at his death. After delving into this newly available material I am now attempting to re-read it all from the beginning. This is hard, as so many of my assumptions and misunderstandings about the book I must lay aside, as in this newly available material there are contradictory possibilities of how to understand what went before.
"Precision and the Spirit" was the title of an earlier group of paintings, in which I tried to create a sort of geometry of the unknown. This title is based on Ulrich's ironic remark in "The Man without Qualities" that it was time to create a government department for marrying mathematics and the metaphysical. In "European Pastorals" I continue this exploration, but this time triggered by the incredible changes that were happening in Central Europe in the late 1980s..