Well, it is really the time to stop being minor, if I think seriously about staying here, on the top of the planet. After all, if I plan to become the new Agamben when the old one is dead, I should think a bit about fame, so to speak. Yeah, recognition, or how to call it.
I'm checking my h-index and the number of citations on Google Scholar and such things. I'm by no means any better in comparison with very normal colleagues in Poland, and as I estimate, less cited than my Western colleagues by the factor of 10. Although it is in fact a bit hard to check, since such people as Petra or Stefan appear not to have cared about even creating this kind of profile.
In the meanwhile, I have, very obviously, persistent habits of being minor. Right now, just to give an example, I feel tempted to contribute for two journals that I found in a Comparative Literature newsletter. One in Iași, Romania, the other in Sofia, Bulgaria. I planned to contribute to it before, because I somehow felt sympathy for its elderly editor. Certainly, even to think about making an international journal in Bulgaria is an act of intellectual bravery. The result is modest, but I appreciate the attempts of those who roam against the current. In any case, that is at least a new territory, better than to go on with the same old habits of publishing in Poland, where, as I suppose, no one has any particular sympathy for me or waits with particular impatience for my texts. But of course, bad, good or outstanding, these publications won't increase greatly my Google Scholar statistics.
I know, Tylor&Francis is the name, if I want just to stand on the same ground with my Western colleagues. On the other hand, I suppose even more crucially, I need to change the very nature of my endeavours. Stop writing little literary criticism. As bright as they might be, my readings of West African poetry won't make me famous.
Yes, once again, I know what I should do. Simply put my own project into practice, without waiting for the European Commission to send shower of gold over my head.
Even if I do care for Bulgaria, I should at least comment on one of those novels that are mentioned in the Focus 3 of my research proposal. What about Bensalem Himmich? Fouad Laroui? An invisible power prevents me from even touching their books. The power of my invincible minority? The overwhelming fear of success? The fear of launching myself into my own adventure?
The fear that one day I might actually become a famous intellectual, not an ignored profesorka from Warsaw, marginalised by her dean who preferred nicer, better behaving girls to shine brighter?
Here, on the top of the planet, am I not out of that sort of schemes?
In any case, it's time to change the narration. I might have been Polish intelligentsia's victim, or not. But it does not count for anything now. I submitted my ERC project through Leiden University NOT because the dean of the Faculty "Artes Liberales" offered me no support. NOT because at the Jagiellonian University they did not even take me seriously. I SUBMITTED MY ERC PROJECT IN LEIDEN, BECAUSE I GREW TIRED OF BEING ETERNALLY UNDERPAID, OF TRAVELLING THROUGH EUROPE ON BUSES, OF SLEEPING IN STINKING HOSTEL DORMITORIES AND HAVING THEIR EMPLOYEES LAUGH AT ME WHEN I PUT "UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR" IN THE REGISTRATION FORM. And this is not to mention the eternal shortage of books, the lack of materials, sources, updated publications to put me in the context of the ongoing debates.
I SUBMITTED MY ERC PROJECT IN LEIDEN, BECAUSE LEIDEN UNIVERSITY IS UP IN THE RANKING, WHILE UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW IS DOWN. And that is only to politely avoid mentioning the political problem ("What political problem?", candidly asked a colleague of mine at Humboldt's in Berlin).
Yes, they did not love me in Warsaw, because they knew I would never be their faithful bitch. I understand their reasons. I acknowledge they were right. And it is a closed chapter. Now, I am here, on the top of the planet. And I need to launch my project, claim my place, not in any local elite of Kraków or Warsaw. I need to claim my European visibility, my participation in those things that really matter. In those things that will still matter in a thousand years from now.
I found a funny table gathering the names and affiliations of those on the top of Google Scholar. Number one is Michel Foucault with a mind-boggling 885 000 citations; Derrida is much lower, with merely 276 000; much less than Freud and Bourdieu. Giorgio Agamben does not appear on the list.
This Google ranking is funny indeed, funny as a toy. I even found there my old Marie Curie University in Lublin, 1 666th in the category "Excellence rank" (wow, nearly as good as University of Zielona Góra), and 1 177th as for its "Presence" (overall, it's an honourable 1 761st position in the world). By curiosity, I also checked what is the last one (last in Eastern Europe). It is a university collage in Kosovo, 19 301st (??!) in the world ranking. I wonder if they have a Comparative Literature journal.
Meanwhile, the worse university I have personally visited (and even published there - sic!) seems to be Akademia Polonijna w Częstochowie, 12 768th in the world ranking. It was called Wyższa Szkoła Języków Obcych i Ekonomii, or something like that, when I used to go there for conferences on translation. Perhaps I should carefully remove such data from my CV. Now that I am on the top of the planet.
Here I come perhaps to the gist of my problem. I simply enjoy this kind of academic adventures. I would gladly visit that university collage in Kosovo, just to see what does it mean to be at the very bottom of everything. Oh, no, this is only the bottom of Europe, there is yet another standard for the bottom of Eurasia, belonging to a certain University of Management Sciences in Bangladesh.
Oh my God, there is even more to delve into the abyss!... The worse university in Poland according to this Google ranking is a Wyższa Szkoła Handlu i Usług w Poznaniu, 28 431st on the planet, right below Nadbużańska Szkoła Wyższa w Siemiatyczach (28 389th in the world, with an Excellence Rank of 6115th: wow, that must be something!). I guess Częstochowa is a great place to be, compared to those; they don't even have any conferences, so I couldn't even possibly be there, even if I tried very, very hard.
But this exploration of the bottom of the world actually makes me sort of surprised and puzzled. After all, this is about the same place in the global ranking where the worse universities of Africa lie. Namely, a certain Darul Hikmah University in Mogadishu, Somalia, ranked 28 690th in the world. Is Nadbużańska Szkoła Wyższa really just as bad as a House of Wisdom in Mogadishu? Hard to compare, but in any case, the analysis of my ranking indicates that the worse universities in Poland are worse than the worse universities either in Bielorus or in Ukraine. And that is curious, because as I believe, many people come precisely from Ukraine to study in such places. Probably because it's closer from home for them than Mogadishu...
Jokes apart, I think that overall some institutions may be very low in this ranking, because they are extremely small (this is why I can see on the bottom several Max Planck research schools). Just as I am undervalued in the citation business, since I have published in Poland on topics no one cares about and that I am often the only one to research. Who will cite those papers? Nonetheless they form, at least partially, some sort of outer horizon of insight.
But those academic Mariana Trenches set apart, better let me write my paper for Iassy (1100...), lower in the ranking than Sofia (800-something). It seemed to me to the contrary, that Bulgaria lies below Romania...