I'd been struggling for a few days, till my struggle got exhausted and vanished. I understood that my problem is not about hedgehogs and the passages under highways, and not about international humanities. It is through myself that I try to squeeze, and it is all about my own standards, not those of MLA and ACLA.
By the way, I proposed a topic for the next ACLA Annual Meeting that is to take place in Utrecht next summer. Ironically, since my attempts at radical innovation had been rejected last time for the MLA in Dusseldorf, this time I proposed a radically traditionalist topic: the importance of the great figures of comparative literature. It is nonetheless the topic I would actually like to see in the program, since I have my thoughts about Edward Said, and I still work on his "classical" concepts, such as worldliness and the late style. On the other hand, if I can't get around with this, I'm planning to propose a paper for the queer/Lusophone seminar organised by Anna Klobucka, about my bubbles, intimacy and empire, in Pessoa's Antinoos. It is also an attempt at innovation, because I read Pessoa's "homosexual" poem to build a topological approach towards universalism: treating it as a "higher dimension" enabling the subject to get an insight into the sphere of intimacy, that had been lost, when empire became the sole reality available. I'd written a paper about it in Polish, and seemingly it was excluded from publication. This is the glass ceiling of innovation. When you start to be original, people don't know what to do about it, they have no place to put you. It is also hard to sound convincing, when you stop quoting, when you no longer repeat things that had been accepted before. For the moment, I'm trying to step back, to get roots in those things coming from behind, like Said's worldliness. And I look for the channels by which the innovation actually gets through in the academic world. One of the simplest and most obvious observations is that a conference paper is not a circumstance to bring forth such things. In a conference paper you are supposed to announce something that is in fact a tiny progress in relation to the current state of the art. There is no space for revolutions; and a conference is in itself a social occasion: you get together on a common ground.
Well, that's OK, all this. But it's below the expectations I have about myself. And I start to be vaguely worried. Perhaps there is not much terrain left to step back. The only way is to push through, and find the way, the circumstance, the strength to go on with my innovation, and to make it sound convincing without quoting. On the other hand, the only thing really bitter in all this is the fact that my innovation is not a real innovation after all. My topological approach is only a continuation of the same line of marrying mathematics with literary studies that gave many ideas in Moretti and in the digital "macroanalysis" -- ideas derived from the revolution that mathematicised life sciences...
Against my predicament, I get this new wisdom that comes from my reading Eliade in Romanian. I knew the Youth without Youth of course, but the language of the original gets it somehow back to the locatable, make the story of Dominic Matei so down-to-earth, so directly human, plausible, lived-through. All the ingredients become somehow palpable, including the recognition he would finally get in his town, that feels like a handful of dry sand, like a mouthful of ash. I've never been haunted by the vision of myself in Lublin, but here it is.
Reading Eliade helps me to build a distanced outlook of my trouble, to see the destiny as a whole. I'm not alone in my predicament, there had been people to get through the same way before. By the way, I also wrote about Eliade in my unpublished "topological" paper. Perhaps it was him, his life and the transcription of his destiny into literature that gave me a hint, for more than one thing.