The days passing by, and me still throwing papers. It's late, I know, I should be working, solving practical tasks, at least improving my French, but instead, I'm still among my books. I pack them into a bag, and when the bag is full, I take them to the public library. At the same time, I'm still slowly rambling across my Arberry, and I hear the classical Persian poet Rudyār commenting wisely upon my packing: Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet...
It takes so long, because I'm crying over my books in order not to cry later on every time I remember them, as Zielinski allegedly did. I cry now to get all the crying done before I go. Or rather, I understand now to get all the understanding done, of what happened to me. Largely beyond expression; the metaphors block our way, Nietzsche said, and all wisdom is in him (not Shakespeare).
As I throw all these books and papers now, the real question, the real matter that requires understanding is to know why I had never read all those things in their due time.
There had been some obscure psychological mechanism that prevented me. My apartment is full of accumulated things that I didn't dare to open, to look; books I copied because I didn't dare to read them. I translated intellectual appropriation into material possession. I postponed insight, because I didn't dare. Even now, clearly there is something I don't dare. Perhaps I don't dare to face my international career (a short name for something bigger and much more complicated).
Does it matter now to understand? Or do I rather get rid of the answers, of books carrying those answers. I remove the problem together with its answers. One of the books I pack in my bag was written by my colleague, another professor here at the old university. It is a short story about a student, one of those students in cultural studies, getting that woeful, 3rd class education we impart to them. The story is about old letters the student gets from her grandmother: an insight into the human condition she has in her hand as she reads them in a train. And her blindness. She reads, but she doesn't understand; she misses the meaning, because it's not the kind of thing she is after. She seeks something else, ignoring what is the essential to be sought. In cultural studies, in life. And in the meanwhile, the darkness is falling. At the end of the tale, she comes to her room, and tries to read again. There is no electricity, the battery in her phone is low, she switches a candle. And she tries to read something under the title "Memory, space and identity in the light of cultural anthropology". But the words are too long, the letters too small, the flame blinking...*
There has always been the light of cultural anthropology, and philosophy, and literatures of East and West burning bright on my table. And what have I done all those years?
I didn't dare to read and to see. I accumulated. I strive to read it all now as a punishment, as a compensation. But what's the tragedy, if I saw at the end?
I remove all those books and papers from my possession, in a frenzy, as I excrete the toxin of resignation, of blindness, of being minor. Of memory, space and identity in the light of cultural anthropology.
*Agata Sobczyk, Opowiadania o pogodzie, Nowa Ruda: Mamiko, 2012. The short story's title: "Metafizyczne śmieci", pp. 129-150.