How many times did I swear: the word shall be on my lips forgotten ("wyraz na ustach zapomniany"). Isn't it rather an open wound bleeding in me? How many times did I say: that wound is closed now? I've heard that some crippled people go as far as denying the fact that their limbs are paralysed, or missing.
In any case, I'm in the last moment to gather my wits about me, accelerate my work, become serious. Some limbs are lost, other are not. And those limbs that are still alive are: intellectual work, originality, commitment with truth.
In four years and five months I will be able to apply for Dutch nationality, and this would be when my political problem will have a new name, a certain meneer Wilders, if I'm not mistaken and if he lasts that long. Well, apparently he has been a kind of trendsetter in terms of manes, and his mane is no more what is used to be. In any case, I cannot help remembering him every time I enter the library, at the sight of the long rows of qur'ans and hadith collections (he claimed the book should be forbidden in the Netherlands; the Qur'an, I mean; I'm not sure about the hadeeth; and I always wondered how far such things would be feasible in the Netherlands; in any case, as far as I know, this very university was created soon after they got rid of the book-forbidders and other inquisitors, and the first use the Dutch made of their freedom was to mount a printing press and start selling all sorts of forbidden books across Europe; also Arabic has been taught here uninterruptedly for more than 400 years; I suppose it takes more than just one meneer Wilders to bring such things down; but I must confess History is something I see at an increasing distance from my understanding).
Be that as it may, I should spend more time learning the language, using it more actively. At least the way of saying nee.
I've read in Gazeta Wyborcza that there have been people who poured benzine all over themselves and stroke a match, right in front of the government's buildings. To no avail. We've had a new Jan Palach in Warsaw lately, but it remained a mere fait divers. We've had all imaginable sort of scandals, one after another. 45% of people, 65% in some regions of the country, considered it just a lie. A fake news. And they voted, democratically, as if nothing happened. Event is no more. Is this the end of History? or just a section break?
I can't expect them to notice my absence, certainly they won't. I didn't even die after hours of agony, having burned my skin into living flesh. I merely did what I was trained to do: I've translated my nie into nee, to as little avail as everything else.
It is interesting to observe what happened since my last post, the one about the Point of No Return. How the hope has been, for a brief moment, rekindled by the new document on victims of paedophiliac priests, and then it was overwhelmed by darkness, when the government used the opportunity to introduce new, draconian laws that will soon help spreading terror across the country.
It had been seen before; this is the very well known game of the Snake and the Ladder, of the competence of Ministry of Love in 1984, by George Orwell. One gets attached to it; the game guides human emotions into a very well known vicious circle: hope, pain, love. There is nothing, not even a novel discovery, to search in it. Only the all-pervading sensation of déjà vu, and a sort of feeling of being old, very old, and very tired, that comes with it.
I had already seen it all before I turned fifteen. I hoped, and I felt pain, and I was afraid. I only never managed to love. Or I loved, but managed to forget it.
Perhaps I never loved, because I never had enough hope. I was always ready to dismiss, to let go, even as a child.
It is time to let go.
Certainly, it is my private Point of No Return. Especially since I've posted on this website the photos of my library filtered in black and white, as if they corresponded to some source reality, done and gone long ago. And what does it mean, when half a van of old books is someone's last attachment to a homeland?
My new attachments are forged. Attachment to English as my new language. New little vriendjes at the university. New research project that I see more and more clearly. Even a new discipline, although in fact it is my old one, my dreamed one. Taste for local food, especially for the wijting and the rode poon that comes directly from Katwijk on Saturday mornings. And the image of that big white swan in the Rijks Museum that won't let go. Not by patriotism or anything taught or imposed upon me. By sheer instinct of possession, the very firm grip that sometimes characterises individuals like me, who had already lost everything before their story truly had time to begin. This piece of land in the middle of the swamp is what I chose to have.
Several months passed by since my last post. The events that caused my hope before turned out to be mere strategic moves in a campaign that risks to bring my country to a really sticky end. Now it seems to me again that I see some symptoms of the turning tide. For no reason in particular. It is just the general morphology of the cultural phenomena, idea to which I am so sorely attached. National colours may fall out of fashion simply because they have been worn so intensely for such a long season. Simply because the human being is greedy of seasonal change.
I remember how it all began, long before the European Union; I was eighteen at the time. In the first free elections in Poland, a certain political adventurer hardly speaking any Polish at all, passing by the name of Stan Tyminski, appeared out of nowhere and was about to become the freely chosen president of the country, against Wałęsa, Mazowiecki and that sort of people. The day was saved in extremis by a handful of intelligentsia representatives who spread the rumour (later on broadcast on the television) that Tyminski used to beat his wife. I read today that he was also accused of being a Libyan terrorist, a Colombian drug dealer, and a mental patient; yet it was the accusation of beating his wife that somehow found its way to the popular Polish awareness, and Wałęsa ended up winning the elections. This is why, during my last trip to Poland, I was not surprised to see, on the front page of a right-wing gazette, the news that Biedroń, the present-day leader of the opposition, beats his mother. The only difference is that, in the meanwhile, it became normal and acceptable to beat one's wife. And the only sensation I had was that of a déjà vu. We are under the realm of the Eternal Return of The Same.
It is my nature to be prepared for all eventualities. Also for the Turn of the Tide. A few months or even weeks ago, I believed it is wise to maintain some academic contacts in Poland, just for the eventuality that I might come back one day, after the Turn of the Tide. In the meantime, I grew more attached to the Netherlands, to Leiden. On several occasions, I had that impulse at the bottom of my brain, put the formal clothes, don't wear that sweater, since you are a scholar at your university. Stick to a minimum of decency your status requires. And I was wearing the sweater only at night, when I was going to the library after the dinner.
Leiden is like a garden, like some sort of hortus conclusus transformed by the work of generations, complete and perfect, bright mirror of Creation. Verweile doch, du bist so schön, my only worry is to make my present life last. It has been decided already that I stay for another year, and hopefully, after that year, for another five years. And after those five years, for all the remaining years.
What can the Turn of the Tide do or not do to me? I suppose the decision that remains to be taken is that I won't sell the flat in Kraków yet. If Poland remains in the Schengen. Still waiting to see the result of the elections in the autumn. But how and for what does it serve me now? I suppose it has only a sort of psychological use. For that knowledge that some sort of mediocre stability awaits me there, if one day something happens. Sort of insurance against utmost unpredictability, perhaps against an unexpected quitclaim, an unnamed relinquishment. A use, thus, that would have a name only in Spanish: donde caer muerta.
My life is transforming slowly, but irrevocably. There is no Turn of the Tide in it; I would say my life has a different general morphology as a phenomenon, in comparison to Polish history. A non-tidal morphology; perhaps because my life has no moon. It has an overwhelming logic of Exodus. Leaving closed spaces in favour of larger ones. It is the pattern of diffusion, that the laws of physics prevent from being inverted. This is how I had left my family, the sore limitations of my social class, Lublin, the narrowness of my universities. Now my horizon is truly global, my hobby is to complete the survey of the countries in my "Travel&Literature" section. In Leiden, what I enjoy most is the global ambience, all those people coming from the four corners of the planet, telling me their Bactrian stories during the coffee breaks. Stories that I've never expected to hear from a living mouth.
I came from darkness into light, and I shall not step back from light into darkness. And by darkness I don't mean just the nationalists shouting, at their meetings, that the EU makes the deviants educate our children. By darkness I mean those debates at the University of Warsaw, at the fabulous "A+" faculty where I had spent ten years of my life. There is no conceivable tidal change in this domain; ignorance is stagnant like a pond.
Better talk to me of Khorasan, lad.