It starts to be difficult. In fact, it is since a couple of days that I have great difficulties in concentrating. I try to read the only book I brought, Olga Tokarczuk Flights, but I just cannot understand its content. I struggle through obscure, meaningless sentences, and the only sense I get is the impression of a stifling atmosphere of all her travels. Is it true that the book simply misses a larger breath?
I wish I could write. Writing is the only thing that kept me upright these days, although I'm not sure if I went such a long path in it. I wrote only a bit, at the beginning, before the habit of constantly refreshing the tables with numbers of deaths and new cases took over.
I need a discipline. It's sad to see what the Zauberberg made of me in only ten days. It's hard to believe that it was only the last Monday that I came up to Entrecampos, enthusiast and expectant, only to see that the National Library had been closed. I tried to write a chapter for a publication projected in Silesia. A peer-review of my last paper in Polish came, but I was strangely stressed even to read it. Everything crumbles into dust. And I try to close my eyes, imagine myself in Leiden, in Oxford, in my future home and library, among new books, not yet written. Old Arabic poetry in sumptuous editions, insightful essays, travel books, but not like that one of Olga Tokarczuk. Describing Syrian journeys not before, but after the war, climatic strolls through Damascus, shadows and patches of light under quince trees. Ruins, paintings, theological treaties, glass tesserae of mosaics, glittering with golden foil.
The plague will be over. The books will be recovered unscathed. The dust will be removed. Hungary was lost even before the first case of infection, it never ceased to be lost. The old people who are dead now only lived on a borrowed time. The Bloemenveiling in Aalsmeer will sell flowers again, by millions. Damascus will be a fashionable destination. And I will be in the middle of all that, slimmer, more elegant, wiser, and better writer.