Perhaps I could make my own manual, better than Čolić (of course, his is in fact an anti-manual, because his exile proves to be disastrous). Coming back to Adorno's Minima moralia, and the duty of feeling not at home in one's own home. But there is more to exiles than just the morality. There is the mastery of time, as crucial as the mastery of language. The time of exile tends to be particularly unsubstantial, it flows between one's fingers easier than any other time, and harder to control, to pinpoint, to capitalise. The time of nomads, eternally lost, meandering between not yet and no more like in the old qasidah Banat Su'ad, is certainly not like the time of sedentary people.
I think about Proust, and growing up to write. There is still something blocked in me, a decision to take. To dedicate myself to the proper writing. The missing commitment that the nomads know not.
It is an obvious shortcoming of my imagination to comprehend the Dutch as sedentary people, just because I saw them so well established in their brick houses. But they rely on solidified exile, just like these walls are build on timber thrust into the mud. On nomadic time that had coagulated. On what de Vliegende Hollander managed, through the squall, to bring home.
I remember so vividly Marinus Boezem's installation last winter in de Oude Kerk. The sound of the wind in the gelid temple of an obsolete religion, and this vision of what this very church might have been, hallucinated through the squall. As well as the smell of the Chinese witch-hazel, in its full late-January blossom, behind the Rijksmuseum. If I had nothing earthly to grasp any more, that witch-hazel blossom would remain with me.
But it is so silent and sunny here in the Loire Valley, and a collared dove coos smoothly on the tree in front of my window. Just as it used to coo when I was a child squeezed on half a square meter of a communal flat somewhere in eastern Poland. And I wonder why anyone would sculpt an avalanche of pocket watches on the wall of his house, and what does it actually mean in Dutch: alle tijd. Altijd? All of them are time? Ter é tardar? There is time for everything, I believe they want to say. They are so rich they even have time.
There was also a Dutch painting in the museum in Prague. A stilleven accumulating many objects of aesthetic and intellectual appreciation, and a rose petal captured just as it was falling from the bloom. Not a vanitas. I believe this painting speaks of savouring the time, as it flows between our fingers. Not the time of Su'ad lover, gone astray, but the mature time of a sedentary man, finally found, capitalised, and conscientiously possessed at the end of many exiles.