A long time since I've written on this blog, time of crisis, of agony. A dark tunnel, and now I slowly emerge at the opposite end, still crawling. Like a hedgehog under a highway, I wrote months ago. What is the world?, I asked months ago.
And I've crossed the tunnel, crawling on my belly, half human, half worm, and I've emerged at the opposite end. And here am I, frenetically completing my research proposals and ready to rewrite all my intellectual agenda, again. Now I'm conscious of all the burden of originality, and the traps and the dangers of it. What it does cost and mean and involve to dare to be original, and to follow untrodden paths.
And my new agenda. I have my drawing with me, my secret map. It's full of unnamed trees; each tree represents an unwritten book, and the forest represents consistence, significance, becoming an important intellectual. Now I am at the very beginning of the path, at the zero level, and empty-handed. Yes, all my experience just served me to reach this forest and to cross the frontier of its shadow. I do not belittle myself. That's more than most people achieve in a lifetime of academic career. Anyway, I've left them behind, and I'm alone, even if I know I need new friends, new allies.
I've crossed the stage of emptiness, these last weeks, and I'm not sure if it is the end of it or not yet. But I am stripped bare. There is the famous triple metaphor in Nietzsche. The camel kneels down and wants to be well laden. “Was ist das Schwerste, ihr Helden? so fragt der tragsame Geist, dass ich es auf mich nehme und meiner Stärke froh werde.” Yet thank God I've been able to abandon all my burden, stop rejoicing and being froh and proud of it. Where are my papers now, 200 of them? Here comes the lion, and it cannot neither count nor calculate weights; no way of asking him how many papers he had written, in how many conferences. Countless, or so few, or none. What the lion wants and cares about is the desert, und Herr sein in seiner eignen Wüste.
And nonetheless, I saw how little the desert is, and to own it, and feind werden to one's last men and gods. "Du-sollst" liegt ihm am Wege, goldfunkelnd. This is how the Drache blocks the way. It says, Du sollst, and the lion says, Ich will. This is enough to stop and freeze the lion in his heilige Nein, and make him never come to the sacred yes, to the self-propelling wheel.
There was a moment when I was seeing the disjunction between study and creation, research and theory-making, merging with the background and sticking my own thing out. But certainly it's not like this, Agamben is the best author to see how the new things are actually done, the continuity between humus and blossom. And I also froze to confront my last men. Their limitations were shimmering, hypnotizing, their hate danced in the moonlight, goldfunkelnd. I saw them as opposed to what I am, I was in my heilige Nein. And I thought I should do something about them; for them was even more dangerous than against them. This is the dragon of "Du-sollst": our universities so low in the rankings, our culture so impoverished, so parochial, our academic journals so thin and far between. Auf jeder Schuppe glänzt golden: You can save them.
And what emerges at the opposite end is aus sich rollendes Rad. A scholar and a thinker that is there not to save or preserve or cultivate, but zu schaffen, having forgotten the meek nobility of the tiny and wee, and the decency of the modest. Ein aus sich rollendes Rad.