The main question is classical: what makes a given literary work participate in the universal literary space, rather than, f.ex., a national literature. For sure not the choice of "universal" topics or subjects. It is also quite misleading that it depends on the "literary value" (only the "best" texts participate in the Weltliteratur). Well, I defend that the inclusion of a given writer in the universal literary space depends on topology of his writing. Universal literary space is defined by transcultural condition of the writer and, as a consequence, of his or her text. To make my presentation easier to comprehend, I use the old story on Flatland, by Abbott and I start with the modernism. The modern writer, be it Joyce, Pessoa, Cioran or Miłosz, is like an inhhabitant of Flatland tired not only with the surrounding opression, but also with his or her own flatness. The third dimesion means liberty.
Exile or linguistic dispatriation are the ways of escape. But the core of the problem is the "flat map" in which homelands and empires are inscribed. The search of the perpendicular in relation to this "flat map" may lead into intimacies, such as, in Pessoa, the homoerotic realm that emerges with Antinoos, oblique both in relation to the Roman idea of empire and in relation to the Portuguese idea of decency. The flat subject may also search for his or her way of escape through heteronimization. In any case, the main reason to escape the "flat map" is given by the terror of the History. The flat subject experiences fully the multiple temptations leading to the betrayal of the core values. Pessoa loved charismatic leaders, and so did Eliade, greatly admiring Salazar, and worse than him. They participated in that generalized Portuguese and Romanian love of dictators. Miłosz, as he wrote The Captive Mind, didn't dissociate himself fully from the human condition of those who impersonate that mind. But he managed to find that point of emergence that led him into a different topology, into a manifold developing perpendicularly to the surface. This is how I try to describe, in geometric terms, the paradox of non-dissociation and distance that makes the analysis feasible. Miłosz is able to dissect the captive mind as a subject exterior in relation to the object of his analysis and at the same time as a subject non-alien in relation to this captivity. This paradoxical situation gives, as the result, the remarkable humanism and empathy of his vision.
To grasp it all together, this transcultural condition I speak about in this paper has to do with Europe and European civilization that produced both fascism and communism. Miłosz, as he looks through his window on the Pacific, seeks the true universalism. Truer than that epitomized in the Parisian "Rue Decartes". And he finds it in the memories brought from his native Lithuania. Yet this "Lithuania" shouldn't be taken for a place on the "flat map". It is a connected, yet separate topological manifold, opening a space beyond the map. This is how the values get preserved against the cataclysm, and this is how they may be recuperated; not to reintroduce them on the "flat map" of historical or political destinies, but to enlarge, cultivate and explore the dimensions that exist beyond the map. That's where, in a kind of intellectual extasis, in a state of being-outside-the-world, we actually live.