It is sometimes hard to avoid the overwhelming sensation of preternatural guidance on the path of God. It is not me who make myself an intellectual, an intellectual is made of me whether I want it or not. The universe contributes to put my things right.
I might be modest and weiblich and write articles in Polish, but an invisible hand will disarrange my freshly printed pages and remove the red carpet from under my feet. And from all the year's effort of a hamster running in her wheel I will get only THREE articles published (that's a fourth or a fifth of the actual production), one of them my tiny old paper from Lublin (sic!) that I found on the bottom of a drawer. And even if I wanted to stay in my comfort zone, the comfort zone fell into pieces right above my head, leaving me naked and exposed and homeless, and forced to find a solution.
For some reason, I didn't make any papers for the "major international multidisciplinary journals", even if I seriously contemplated this necessity three years ago. For some reason, in three years, I did nothing about it. I wasn't rejected; also i wasn't the fear of being rejected that stopped me. Somehow I failed to find a meaning in it, contrary to the meaning (oh, illusions!) that I used to find in "enriching our domestic humanities" and "being with the people". The mere perspective of fame or recognition or material gain (if the grants are conditioned by these publications) failed to put me on the move.
And yet I do crave for recognition. I'm overflowing with anger and frustration, and isolation, against those years of working "to be with the people". Those people need me for nothing and would rather get rid of me. It was always like this. Maybe this is the reason why there was such a strong drive in me to gain a place among them.
But the anger and frustration liberates my individualism, burns down that primary instinct of being in a group, that tribalism the ERC supports not. I fail to put publishing "in the major international multidisciplinary journals" as my aim; perhaps I'm tired of journals of any kind. Yet I wish I had an editor. I wish I could write books, real books, in such a way anyone could find them in that Athenaeum bookshop near the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. I wish I could enter the bookshop and find myself on the shelves in the second room on the left.
I'm surprised to discover that in 2017 I've actually reached the bottom. It was the nadir of my achievement, it never happened since 2006, and only happened twice in my entire career, in 2001 and 2006. But this time I didn't actually have the sensation of being in crisis of any kind (yeah, I know perhaps the posts on this blog tell a different story). But I was working, never stopped to work. As if the crisis came from outside, was bestowed upon me. As if I was thrown out of my old ways onto a new path.
I still cannot construe myself in those major international Taylor & Francis, etc. journals. But I can construe myself as an author. Author of books of essays, like Steiner or Agamben or those I value in my own library. It is to this library that I want to add. Clearly, their writings, in terms of genre, are not identical with Taylor & Francis excellent papers. And in their career, as far as I know or can imagine, there was no such a stage as publishing this kind of papers. They were always writing books, even clumsy and not so excellent books, like that on the idea of pose that Agamben did when he was not Agamben yet. My excess and chaos are materials for this kind of writing, as much as they are hindrance on the way to Taylor & Francis.
These are the things that remain. Books, essays, insight. While Taylor & Francis merely represent the passage of time and illusion of glory. Their promise is to be quoted and forgotten by those in constant search of the newest references. This is not my race, not my idea of scholarship. Never was.
In three years, I've never moved my small finger to publish in major international multidisciplinary journals. But I sent two or three book proposals, to Verso and I don't remember to what other leading editor. They didn't accept it, but I don't feel it as a rejection. I recognise our negotiations were somehow unserious and unsubstantial, because there was still a long way to go to the real book at that moment. But this is what I really want to do and these are the key people in my business.
And there is also another thing. I don't resign myself to the minor or marginal status, not even that of a crazy, interestingly obscure thinker to be discovered one day. I do not fancy this idea. I want recognition, and a recognition far beyond the usual academic framework, beyond being quoted, offered grants, admitted as a part of the system. What I really want is to stand on the shelf between Steiner and Agamben in the library. Every decent library East and West.