... Ochiul roşu se stinse, şi în clipa următoare îl orbi, zguduindu-l, explozia luminii albe, incandescente. Parcă ar fi fost aspirat de un ciclon fierbinte izbucnit, în chip neînţeles, chiar în creştetul capului. „A trăsnit pe aproape", îşi spuse clipind cu greu ca să-şi dezlipească pleoapele. Nu înţelegea de ce strânge cu atâta putere mânerul umbrelei...
This is just a metaphor, I know it now. Or perhaps it is indeed so literal. Truth is but ein bewegliches Heer von Metaphern, it had been said. Be as it may, you don't hear any thunder, when it comes for you, you feel nothing, absolutely nothing. Only later on you realize.
The thunder came to me and I missed it totally. I have no idea whatsoever when and where it was. In Bucharest, at Easter, near the Orthodox church? In Warsaw? In Kraków? In Lisbon? In Amsterdam? Have I been in Amsterdam at Easter?
I wake up in my new skin and I slowly start to realize what happened. "A trăsnit pe aproape", I say, still grasping the useless handle of my umbrella.
Dominic Matei had striven to write a book, all-encompassing kind of book, but he couldn't break through the first chapter, down to the origins. In the reality it is the History of the Religious Ideas, in three volumes. It actually exists, I have it on the shelf near my bed as I write. The first chapter is remarkably weak, as if make-shift. Added in the last moment before handling the book to the editor, I presume. Just to make it round and feasible, as it otherwise shouldn't have been.
After the thunder, he needs it no more. Even if he had completed and published it, with the make-shift first chapter, it doesn't actually matter any more.
Yes, exactly as a number of my own first chapters matter no more.
I've told my student today it's like the final undressing to lie down in the coffin. With the difference of the thunder. An old age without being old, as much as a youth without youth. Lost in time, ahead of my time, anticipating myself, coming to be, and yet simply being.
There is one crucial thing I believe have discovered recently. The close articulation between two things I used to see as separate: research and what I call theory-making. I saw the necessity of coming back to systematic research on a single topic as a circumstantial and relatively unlucky requirement (they don't give you grants for theory-making, at least as far as I know; they give you grants for predictable research; yes, even if they claim to finance high-risk intellectual endeavors). But now the research in itself has a new appeal for me.
Certainly it gives a sense of mastery that the moving ground of emergent ideas rarely provides. I'd been fighting against what I used to call "being minor in humanities", and I won. No need to write any more about it, it's just another achievement the Tribal Wife brought home from her stay among the natives. Anyway, I'm completely thuis in humanities right now; I cannot claim any kind of minor condition in it, not even that of Kafka in Deleuze. At least not in function of my geographically and mentally locatable origins.
But here comes the research. I'm preparing a project revolving around the Adamic language and its early-modern becoming. And this is how I came to the figure of Guillaume Postel, a missing link between Llull and Vieira. An obvious discovery that the man is one of mine, and his idea of restitutio omnium fits in for many things. There is still a long shadow of Agamben close nearby.
So I go on thinking about it right now. I should have the project ready for Monday, and I want to stay for a year with it. It might squeeze in nicely before my main ERC project proposal on which I will toil this summer.
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.