These are exhausting days. Not for research or writing; on the contrary, I look forward to serious things as a respite. This is the labour of digging a gap, and ufff, after these breaking months of travel and recollection, my gap is hopefully quite advanced.
I talked to a guy from a relocation enterprise, they say they can take my stuff to Amsterdam for 1000 euro or a bit more, depending on quantity. And the quantity tends to be less and less. I get rid of things. Perhaps in a year, having finished my French research, I might land on Schiphol with a mere hand-luggage.
I've been so much preoccupied with all sorts of material possessions; books are the last section perhaps. Certainly the most difficult. I see my library more clearly now, the ideal library, made of travels and many languages, and perennial things. The vision has little to do with the reality of my dusty shelves. Well, the perennial things are there, but they need to be isolated, put in relief, enlivened with many more illustrious acquisitions.
There are moments, at the end of the day, that I feel like an Oxbridge scholar, with all my erudite readings. A respite after so much digging, in the evening. From dawn to dusk, I'm reading (and getting rid of) so many not-so-erudite things, conference proceedings, journals, articles, interviews with Agata Bielik-Robson. That's the small world. Over hundreds and hundreds of pages of the Polish academic publications, one can find many things, but not going further outside than Gayatri Spivak, and (rarely) a lonely mention of Edouard Glissant. There is no more horizon than this, and also no more history than this. The great bulk of humanity lays beyond. I myself lay beyond, and I look upon myself and across those twenty years of my own career as if I were looking into a doll house, from without and from a different scale.
But also digging gaps is childish; I wish I could get through quicker, and see myself free of all these things.
... men en af dem, som var god, sendte ham en gammel kuffert og sagde: “Pak ind!”
Hans Christian Andersen, Den flyvende koffert
I'm packing. Not only clothes, that's easy now; also books and papers, and that's not easy yet. But I brought several carton boxes and sheets of bubble wrap, and I go on slowly, lingering on books and reading the journals before I get them down to the recycling bin. There're lots of things accumulated, practically since the beginning of my academic career, and even earlier in the 90ties. A final insight into a becoming. Their becoming, not mine. I'm feeling my difference, my non-belonging, so intensely.
There is an old Armenian song of exquisite and lacerating beauty; it's called Our Es Mayr Im; this is what I listen to as I pack. It fits this kind of intellectual epic, bitter, inglorious and sublime.
How childish it was to believe myself minor in the humanities, in bondage to the margins! I'm in the major thing now, very far away, and packing for a far journey. It tastes smoothly melancholic to throw dusty papers into the recycling bin. The other that stay, in person and in their writings, while I'm taken higher up and away on a Caucasian tune, in my flyvende koffert. Feels like a kind of lonely Christmas. A kind of proud sadness, and being happy and glad of being, finally, alone.
Wonder what the neighbours think of me, as they hear me playing Our Es Mayr Im over and over again through the open windows. But nothing is strange at a time like the one that is upon us.
I indulge in erudition, literally biting at the old Arberry's volume of Classical Persian Literature. All those things that I'd unconsciously denied to myself when I still believed in being minor. They lay open to me now like a plain lays open to a nomad conqueror; that's only a question of time.
And all the languages of humanity whispering so temptingly to my ear! I just can't stand not knowing Farsi to enjoy more fully those examples that Arberry brings forth to enliven his argument. But only a week ago I've spent over 80 reckless euro in La Valletta, on Maltese books. Not mentioning that new Bengali grammar because it was on sale. Nor the method of Turkish, because I said myself I need it for my research on Postel. Nor the package of materials for Japanese, because I said myself I need it for my research on Jesuits.
Anyway, I think there is a bilingual volume of Rumi somewhere among my papers. And the immortal story of Dominic Matei that I printed from the internet months ago, when I understood that now I'm in my own tinerețe fără de tinerețe.