I've never imagined it would be like this, yet it was obvious since the very beginning. Perhaps I even knew it, without knowing. That it would be like this. Anticipated it, without actually construing it... I didn't know I would have to take it so literally. First 20 years of my career gone, and beyond the magical frontier of 200 publications, I would face the Desert. Yes I spoke a great deal about the Desert, but I never took it LITERALLY...
And yet the Desert is upon me, literally, not as the absolute necessity of a new beginning, but as an ACTUAL BEGINNING. Among my 200 publications, it is hard to find 10 that would fill the ERC criteria. There are many honest, even good, sometimes even brilliant ones, as far as I can evaluate it, but there is none published in a "major international multidisciplinary journal". What's more, the most important ones are still written in Polish, that means nobody can read them, even if there was a real interest and a great deal of good will. I am naked, in the first day of creation, without even knowing I should collect greenery to cover my shame.
And I have no excuse. I cannot blame my context any longer. I've got my chance to be "in the West", this is my 2nd year already, and if mentally I'm still interwoven with such situations as the one mentioned in my last post, this is entirely my own responsibility and limitation.
Somehow it stroke me hard that I've actually got only 3 (three!!!) published papers in 2017 -- one of them just a souvenir, dating back from the times of my studies; two of them just souvenirs, because another one was the result of delving in my notes from 2003, even if I added a great deal to them). Only one, on the Portuguese-speaking literature after the end of Lusophony, including some results of my research on Guinea-Bissau, actually dates from 2016/2017. That is strange and striking for someone who apparently spends 12 hours a day, 7 days a week on proofreading mounts of freshly printed sheets of paper. Seriously, should reflect on it.
What happened? There is a dozen of papers scheduled for 2018 (as well as a book and an edited volume in press), and we are still in January. It promises to be some kind of annus mirabilis. So many things have been just shifted. But on the other hand, there was a couple of "mysterious disappearances" in 2017, one text rejected, one conditionally accepted in a way that I found scandalous (see the last post), one lost or forgotten by the editors (not again?!!). In fact, a great part of The coming humanities is composed by texts that apparently never reached the editors to whom they had been submitted (clearly, Google has to work on a more reliable e-mailing procedure). Right now, I'm waiting in vain for the confirmation concerning a text on Guinea I've submitted, even if I was explicitly asked to contribute it... The fact my problems often involve academic friends or people with whom I've collaborated for years makes me think that, somehow, the way I write repeatedly causes surprise and puts people, as they feel, in awkward situation.
It makes me think that the only practical solution is to collect my writings in a volume each year, even if I had to publish it on my own expense in Poland or anywhere. Anyway, this great bulk of work does cost money in a thousand different ways, and after all the Horizon 2020 does finance me, at least for a while; what's the problem, if I produce easily up to 15 papers? It would give a decent, timely volume every year, and even leave space for one well placed contribution or two, if I wanted to befriend any journal editor. At least it would help me to keep pace with myself, avoiding this great cloud of chaos revolving around my intellectual production and the eternal accumulation of dusty, unpublished papers, their ideas getting old and yellow. Especially now, when the things start to complicate (I'd hardly had any text rejected when I was young; problems with publishing my articles in Poland clearly multiplied when I started to grow better, and it means the end of a red carpet, if I want it or not).
But what is this Transylvania, do you mean a real country?! (allusion to an anecdote concerning a Romanian colleague of mine, whence in Oxford). It is only phantasmal to speak about my problems in Poland while I'm here and facing the ERC. A mental shadow on the bright screen of my future, that can only be European, because there is no alternative (I don't even fantasise any longer I might go and teach at the Ibn Tufail University in Kenitra, or anywhere else, as long as it's seashore; shameful to say, I did have such ideas when I was young).
Clearly, I'm undervalued, and I've proven unable to launch myself. I can't count any more the years I've spent on making order in my career, and the cloud of chaos is still slowly revolving around everything.
Perhaps it is due to some incurable excess of myself. I'm someone who just has to have these 200 shitty publications, while just 10 -- up to 10 proper ones -- are required by the ERC. I'm someone who just has to speak those twenty languages and more, instead of writing proper English. One day I might grow to be some kind of strange intellectual, some crazy Aby Warburg or anyone. I do believe I'm outstanding, in my own way. But how should I become an excellence level European scholar, this is by no means clear to anyone. Including myself. And in the meanwhile, even if it is shameful to say, I do fancy to be in the Academia Europaea one day. Perhaps it is only the Kenitra of my mid-40ties, to be tenderly laughed at in my mid-50ties and mid-60ties. Unless I finally manage to put my things right.