Should the defense of madness be lifted

Defense of passion

From Lemberg to Gliwice, from Gliwice to Krakow, from Krakow to Berlin (for two years); then to Paris, for a long time, and from there to Houston for four months year after year. My first trip was compulsory due to international agreements that sealed the end of the Second World War, the second out of an ordinary thirst for knowledge (the young Poles thought at the time that the best education was in old Krakow). The motive of my third trip was curiosity about the other, the western world. In the fourth, "personal reasons" were involved, said in confidence. My fifth trip (Houston) was again out of curiosity about the world (about America) and - to put it mildly - from economic considerations.

In Lemberg, the capital of Galicia and part of the Habsburg Empire for over a hundred years, Western European cultural influences combined with the radiance of the East (which was of course less noticeable here than in Vilnius or even Warsaw). Gleiwitz, a provincial and Prussian garrison town, whose history goes back to the Middle Ages, was awarded to Poland by three elderly gentlemen after the Second World War; At school I learned Russian and Latin and privately English and German. The fact that my family was forced to move from Lemberg to Gleiwitz was symptomatic of the tremendous upheaval. Although my country was added to the Eastern Empire in 1945, paradoxically, it physically shifted westward at the same time, which would bear fruit much later.

My grandfather was bilingual and Polish was his second language. He was raised by the German family of his mother, who died young; but it would never have occurred to him to add himself to the German “people's list” during the occupation. As a young man he wrote a dissertation in German on Albrecht von Haller, which was published in Strasbourg around 1900.

In Krakow, I felt the best of Polish traditions - echoes of the Renaissance expressed in the architecture and museum exhibits. I felt the liberalism of the nineteenth-century intelligentsia, the energies of the two decades between the wars and the work of the democratic opposition.

At the beginning of the 1980s, West Berlin seemed to me to be a strange synthesis of the former imperial capital and a metropolis fascinated by Manhattan and the avant-garde (some intellectuals and artists apparently viewed the Wall as another creation by Marcel Duchamp). In Paris I no longer met the great spirits, the important judges of civilization, I was too late. Instead, I experienced the beauty of a major European city that was one of the few to keep the secret of eternal youth (not even Baron Haussmann's barbarism had been able to destroy the continuity of urban life). At the end of my short list, I got to know Houston on one level, a city with no history, a city of evergreen oaks, a city of computers, highways, and oil (but also wonderful libraries and a great philharmonic orchestra).

Gradually I realized that I could derive a certain benefit from the war disaster - the loss of my hometown - and later travels if I wasn't too lazy to acquire the language and literature of my changing places of residence. And so I am now like the passenger of a small submarine that has not just one but four periscopes. The main periscope shows me my family tradition; the second opens up to German literature, to its poetry, to its former pursuit of immortality; the third looks at French culture, with its keen mind and Jansenist moralism; the fourth on Shakespeare, Keats and Robert Lowell, the literature of the concrete, the passion and the conversation.

Sometime in September, Europe was in the process of intense relaxation, we spent two weeks in one of the most beautiful European landscapes, in Chianti in Tuscany. A chamber concert took place in the inner courtyard of a lordly estate, a monastery from the 11th century that had been expanded into a palace and was surrounded by a magnificent garden and had long since ceased to accommodate monks. The audience was of a special kind: with a few exceptions (including myself) wealthy people, owners of neighboring palaces, mansions and villas; an international society - numerous English, Americans and of course Italians. Some only spent the summer in Tuscany, others lived here all the time. The concert began with a Mozart quartet; four young women made excellent music, but the applause was limited. That annoyed me, and it occurred to me that one had to defend the enthusiasm. Why were these rich people unable to appreciate such a great interpretation of Mozart? Was it the wealth? Why did an enthusiastic interpretation of Mozart not produce an enthusiastic response?

Among the books I took on vacation back then were essays by Thomas Mann, including “Freud and the Future” from the 1930s. Is there a connection between the mild reaction of a wealthy concert audience and an essay by Thomas Mann? Maybe the fact that I was working on the novel next to the essay at the same time Joseph and his brothers worked and looked for a foundation for his mental reorientation, also noticed a rather mild, ironic attitude. Of course, this had absolutely nothing in common with the attitude of my blasé concert audience. In his essay Mann compares Freud's basic intention with the work of a pioneer in a minefield: it is highly explosive material; the ancient myths harbor grave dangers; they are like bombs that have not yet been defused. Of course you have to read the essays historically and in their context. Thomas Mann interpreted Nazism and Fascism as a return to the energies of the mythical world, to the destructive power of archaic myths; He tried to counter the wave of terror with the soothing nature of humanistic irony, an irony that was not defenseless, abstract and intimate, but grafted onto myth, albeit in its own way, by animating life and renouncing violence.

So did Thomas Mann win? Because similar tones can be heard today in modern and postmodern circles. Irony is no longer a weapon against the barbarism of a primitive system that triumphantly established itself in Europe, but rather articulates disappointment over the crash of utopian visions and the crisis caused by erosion and compromise of those ideas that have transformed the metaphysics of religious beliefs through eschatological political theories should replace. Irony as a desperate protective shield against barbarism - this time the barbarism of communism, its soulless bureaucracy - has been used by many Eastern European poets (today that too has an end; isn't neo-capitalism a skilful ironic?).

But no, it was not Thomas Mann who won, but a different variety of irony; in any case, we are in a more ironic and skeptical landscape; all four periscopes show me a similar picture, it is probably only in my homeland that the last bastions of an assertoric relationship to the world are defended.

Some authors use irony to criticize consumer society, others continue to attack religion, and still others the bourgeoisie. Sometimes the irony also expresses something else: being lost in a pluralistic world. And sometimes it only covers up a lack of thought. Because if you don't know how to act, irony is not a bad way out. Then we'll see.

Leszek Kolakowski also praises the irony in his essay “Fool and Priest” (1959), a text that is famous not only in academic circles and that was torn from hands in Warsaw, Prague, Sofia, Moscow and certainly also in East Berlin. The brilliant argument promised a new perspective. She conjured up the ubiquity of theological traditions, even if they were presented in contemporary garb. He contrasted the dogma of the hieratic priest - the intelligent reader recognized the passionate criticism of Stalinism - with the astute, proteinaceous fool who ridiculed petrified, doctrinal civilization. This text, which has retained its strength and freshness to this day, was an original contribution to the criticism of communism at the time. It resonates with the many hilarious student cabarets that produced their exuberant anti-Soviet humor in Gdansk, Warsaw and Krakow. There are also related tones in poetry (in Wislawa Szymborska, whose poems should be read alongside Kolakowski's programmatic essay).

Kolakowski has left his manifesto behind - he is increasingly concerned with theological problems (which, by the way, have always interested him); the brilliant “technician” of philosophy, the author of Main currents of Marxism approached faith asymptotically, as if he wanted to tell us (never directly, he is not a poet) that one cannot live permanently in the situation of a fool, since this is exhausted in polemics, in incessant attacks on powerful opponents.

In the essay “Odwet sacrum w kulturze s’wieckiej” (The vengeance of the saint in secular culture), Kolakowski says: “A culture that loses the meaning of the sacrum loses all meaning.” The priest can do without the fool; but nobody meets a fool in the desert or in the forest hermitage. But our age that Puer aeternus of history, idolizes contradiction. It is not without reason that Bakhtin's conception of the “carnival”, a revolt against hierarchies, appealed to literature professors so much.

In the Expulsion of man from art Ortega y Gasset refers in the chapter with the significant heading “Condemned to irony” to the ironic character of the avant-garde, to their aversion to pathos and the sublime: “It is clear that the new art is extremely unifying because of this inevitable ingredient of irony is given a uniform coat of paint that can drive the most patient to despair. "

Lingering too long in the world of irony and doubt arouses the need for more nutritious food. Perhaps we long to read Plato again Banquet with Diotima's classic speech about the vertical migration of love. But it can also happen that an American student says about Plato: “He's such a sexist”, and her fellow student, commenting on the first stanza of Holderlin's elegy “Bread and Wine”, realizes that there is no real darkness in our big cities, none real twilight more, as lamps, computers and energy never go out. As if he did not want to take note of what is really important, namely the transition from the bustle of the day to the meditation that the night, “the stranger”, offers us.

This gives the impression that our present favors only one stage of the eternal, never-ending wandering, the one with Plato's concept metaxu is so well described: the in-between existence between our earth, between the (supposedly) familiar material environment and transcendence, the mystery. Metaxu defines the human situation as that of a being who is “halfway”. Simone Weil and, in a different way, Eric Voegelin (both thinkers who hated totalitarianism and whose writings tell me about Platos metaxu learned) have used this term. Voegelin even made it the central category of his anthropology.

We can never permanently settle into transcendence (we never recognize its meaning). Diotima rightly encourages us to approach beauty and more beautiful things, but nobody will settle in the highest Alpine regions, pitch their tents there or build a house in the eternal snow. We will go down every day (to stay overnight ... the night has two faces: it is the “stranger” who calls us to meditation, but also the time of indifference, sleep, and sleep demands a radical extinction of ecstasy). We return to normal: after the epiphany, after writing a poem, we go to the kitchen and think about what to cook for lunch; then we open the letter from which a telephone bill falls. So we constantly oscillate between the inspired Plato and the matter-of-fact Aristotle ... Fortunately, because there is a threat of madness above and boredom below.

We are always “in between”; and always on the move, in a certain sense we always reveal the other side. Entangled in everyday life, in the trivial routine of practical life, we forget about transcendence. Striving for the divine, we neglect the ordinary, the concrete and overlook the pebble, to which Zbigniew Herbert dedicated a beautiful poem, a hymn to its stone, sovereign presence.

The relationships between high and low levels are complex. Let's look at Chardins beautiful Still life with plums from the Frick Collection in New York: Apparently we are only dealing with a thick-walled drinking glass, with shiny enamel, a plate and a bulbous bottle. We have learned to love specific individual things. For what? For the fact that they exist, that they are indifferent, that is, incorruptible. We have learned to appreciate objectivity, precise descriptions and accurate representations - especially in a time that, especially in Central Europe, liked to use lies.

Metaxu is more than a state of suspension between heaven and earth; to those who try to think and write, this category also contains a serious warning. Since we are not allowed to petrify - neither above nor below on earth - we have to watch ourselves closely and, if we strive for a sublime life, beware of rhetoric against which the pious in particular are not immune. It almost seems as if religiosity sometimes leads to unbearable conceit and the unctuous priestly tone that one hears in some temples. But we don't want to exaggerate. In her autobiographical work The Land Unknown says poet and philosopher Kathleen Raine: “Modern practice tends more and more to simply reverse the rules of what or what not to say. It is considered more honest ’and in this sense also truer to express lower thoughts instead of bearing witness to the premonitions that only appear in those moments when we transcend our usual self. The claim to have seen sublime or beautiful things is considered hypocritical self-arrogance ... ”

And Benedetto Croce was wrong when he said in his 1939 Oxford Defense of Poetry: “They [the critics] are endowed with a strange immunity that allows them to spend their lives studying poetry, they Editing and annotating, discussing interpretations, researching sources, collecting biographical information without running the risk of igniting the poetic fire. " And about the priests: "Great spirits and very simple people feel religious fascination, but not necessarily those who handle the sacred vessels, priests and sacristans who indifferently and sometimes without any reverence perform the rituals."

On the other hand, it is easy to “petrify” in irony and vulgar everyday life, and that - not the priestly arrogance - seems to me to be the real danger of our time. Moreover, passion and irony are not coherent; but only passion is a basic building material for our literary constructs. Irony is just as indispensable, but it comes later, it is, as Norwid said, “the eternal corrector” and has a similar function to windows and doors, without which our buildings would be solid monuments and no habitable dwellings. The irony makes useful openings in the walls, but if there were no walls it would have to perforate nothing.

We have learned to appreciate things because they exist. In a time of insane ideologies and utopian nonsense, things persisted in their small but unshakable dignity. Not only that: we have also learned to respect things because everything that concerns them is clearly and precisely defined. No smoke screens, no rhetoric, no exaggeration. But it can happen that even Plato's Diotima sails full of exhilaration in the direction of pathos, and who knows, maybe we will be ashamed of her. And our theologians, don't they like to leave the factual banks, the territory where we can still follow them? And our romantic poets, haven't they gone too far?

The students who try to fathom the meaning of Diotima's speech and the opening verse to “Bread and Wine” defend themselves against the pathos, as if they feared the destructive, driven by the voice of the ironic prompter, the voice of our skeptical aunt of the era Power of ecstatic experience. But because of this, that which is as great as it is archaic and always current remains va et vient between finiteness and infinity, between sober empiricism and intoxication with the visible, between the concreteness of life and the divine - it remains in its lower phase, not only the students stop it, but all the many who are in the pressure and express on the internet, our spiritual (or, better, mental) legislators, our cultural leaders, our respective bien pensants.

Uncertainty is not the opposite of passion; when you get the tension of metaxu sustained, uncertainty (not identical with doubt!) never becomes a foreign body, because our being here and our beliefs are never absolutely and permanently sanctioned, however much we strive for it. Irony, on the other hand, is the removal of uncertainty; when irony is central to thinking it becomes a rather perverse variety of certainty. Of course one can make out various ironies; in the poetry of Zbigniew Herbert it mostly refers to the person who expresses their opinions, the truth or the law (nomos) and it often turns into self-irony - the seeker of truth looks at himself skeptically (still beware of superfluous arrogance / look at your fool's face in the mirror) and not the truth or the law, as is often the case with modern authors, who seldom find themselves but like to doubt everything else.

In difficult times, the movement towards the “beautiful” sometimes grows out of a guilty conscience, out of morally dubious situations. “The burning Paris, a wonderful sight!” mocks W.G. Sebald on the enthusiasm of Captain Ernst Jünger. In his critical essay “The Writer Alfred Andersch” he writes: “In Cherries of freedom [Andersch's autobiography] is the talk of the Sunday and feast day escape into the aesthetic, which allowed him to die celebrate the rediscovery of his own lost soul in the melting of the glazes of Tiepolo ’." I am not particularly familiar with Andersch's work; as a young man he came to terms with the Third Reich, I suspect that Sebald is right on that point. Incidentally, he does not mention another significant sentence by Andersch: "I responded to the total state with total introversion."

Anyone wondering about the state of literature should be aware that among the paths that lead to the Platonic Mountain there is also the path of hypocrisy. However, we must not overlook the fact that the other paths are not or cannot be free from hypocrisy and that the hypocrisy accused of Andersch is probably rampant above all in totalitarian systems, i.e. is a phenomenon that Australians, Eskimos and Kathleen Raine are hardly likely to know. Perhaps today's young generation doesn't know much about it either. Beauty in totalitarianism - but that is a particular problem; that is Mandelstam in Voronezh, who longs for Schubert and Ariost, and Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz in Podkowa Les’na, a great poet and outright opportunist. An essential correction could be made here: excursions to the “mountain” should only be undertaken in the possession of inner honesty.

And the sense of humor? Can he coexist with passion? In the posthumously published Cahiers Cioran says: “Simone Weil has no sense of humor. If she had it, she would not have advanced so far in the spiritual life. Because the sense of humor removes us from the experience of the absolute. Mysticism and humor do not tolerate each other. " The next note clarifies this statement; Cioran has noticed that he has written down a half-truth and adds: “… Assuming that the sacred can coexist with moments of humor, even with the humor itself. But if it wants to survive, it cannot tolerate irony as a system ... ”

One can well imagine that Meister Eckhart laughs, goes wrong. I don't see any fundamental contradiction between humor and mystical experience; both tear us away from reality. We throw our heads back when we laugh or when we suddenly feel pious!

Paul Claudel's beautiful sentence: “Artur Rimbaud was a mystic in a state of savagery” could apply to all poets who are passionate about searching for hidden truth. And more, also to all mystics. Can you imagine a domesticated mystic, a calm one, a mystic with a permanent position? A poet who is satisfied with his booty? Unfortunately, we know from experience how easy it is to meet complacent poets and theologians. But you can only go on a search “in a state of wildness” ... Paul Claudel is an example of this. His Five great odes contain splendid wild fragments, while his later religious poems often bear witness to advanced domestication.

"We must have really committed crimes that such calamities fell upon us, because we have lost the poetry of the universe," says Simone Weil. Someone could argue against this: Maybe, but we have gained something else in return, empathy for the misfortune that happens to our neighbors and us, we have freed ourselves from the indifference that is sometimes characteristic of the disciples of poetry. Not only that; we have also gained critical stance and have become attentive observers of social reality. I don't want to ignore that; critical stance (abstracted from the dogmatism of Marx's metaphysics) is immensely important, and if I emphasize the need for a different search here, it is not because I want social criticism to be replaced by religious unrest. After all, the Eastern European dissidents will probably never be forgotten, even if their interests have changed in the meantime, how difficult honest, courageous criticism is.

But what is poetry?

In the catalogs of the large libraries one can find an infinite number of essays on the subject of “Defense of Poetry”, a genre of its own with a venerable tradition and one that is close to despair. Even the titles sound like surrender. We are most likely to be convinced by authors like Joseph Brodsky, who defends poetry so passionately - and not without enthusiastic arrogance - that he forces the opponent on the defensive (unfortunately the opponent does not even notice that he is on the boards; defenses of poetry are only read by friends of the authors!).

Fortunately, we don't know exactly what poetry is, and we don't necessarily need to know it analytically. I also do not have the ambition to define it. But it would be tempting to see poetry in motion “in between” as one of the most important vehicles that pulls us up; and to understand that passion comes before irony. Passion; the fiery song of the world to which we respond with our imperfect song.

We need poetry just as we need beauty. Beauty is not for aesthetes, beauty is for everyone who is looking for a path to be taken seriously; it is an appeal, it is a promise - perhaps not of happiness, as Stendhal wanted it to be, but of a great, never-ending journey.

The misfortune of our time lies in the fact that those who are not wrong are wrong, and those who are wrong are right. T.S. Eliot (in On the concept of culture) and other conservative authors are wrong in analyzing the situation of modern man, perhaps not “ontically”, but they cannot cope with 20th century history and are unable to take the phenomenal (albeit fragile) advantage of a liberal Recognize democracy; those who analyze our political problems and react to injustice, on the other hand, are often mentally overwhelmed and at a loss. Perhaps Charles Taylor's brilliant observation in his book will help us here Sources of self: In our age, at least in the West, the values ​​of the Enlightenment triumph in public institutions, while we suffer from romantic inadequacies in private life. In public decisions and community interests we approve of rational procedures, but at home, in seclusion, we keep searching for the absolute and are unable to accept decisions that we accept in the public sphere.

An anti-metaphysical, politically honest liberal left (or rather, “middle”) and a potentially dangerous right, which, however, knows the weight of intellectual life, that is how we could describe our strange dilemma.

Do we not continue to deal with the figures of the Zauberbergs to do with the sympathetic Settembrini who is now appearing on the Tagesschau or is a commentator for a leading daily newspaper that advocates democracy and humanistic values? We listen to him with interest, read his columns, but sometimes we resent him for a certain superficiality. And the demonic naphta, which we don't like very much, doesn't it sometimes surprise us with intuitive insights into the world of culture? Naphtha is rarely seen on television, its tracts appearing in elite magazines hardly known to the fortunate majority of common mortals.

When parliamentary elections are approaching, we instinctively tend to Settembrini, because we feel that for all his exaggeration he can show us the camp that will probably not redeem us (after all, elections are not about redemption!), But neither disappointed nor disappointed leading the abyss.

But afterwards, when the election fever has subsided and a decent modern civilization has re-established itself, won't Settembrini gradually tire and bore us, and won't we sooner look for the interesting Mr. Naphta? Wouldn't we rather talk to Naphtha about our metaphysical unrest? He knows his way around. Won't he fascinate us with his reflections on the fundamental unity of the world? We forgive him his dubious sense of humor, his clumsiness; The main thing is that it arouses in us the strange, exciting philosophical shudder which we sometimes need and which the good Settembrini is unable to give us.

In Ludwig Rohner's great collection German essays (1968) I found Ludwig Curtius ’“ Meeting at the Apollo von Belvedere ”from 1947. In it he reports on the (real or fictional) encounter with a young architect who fought as a Wehrmacht soldier on many fronts but escaped the slaughter safely. The man, badly affected by the horrors of war, spends three evenings with the author and gives three unusual lectures. The starting point is Apollo von Belvedere, admired by Winckelmann and Goethe, who fell out of favor with some art historians when it was discovered that, like many other statues, it was only a Roman copy. However, the young architect remains loyal to him and discovers in him a rare quality, “dignity”, which he believes is lacking in many newer works of art. On the second day he talks about the importance of “proportions” in evaluating and even more so when experiencing architectural works of art and on the third day about the “secret” that is hidden in great works like the kernels in apples.

On the fourth day he embarks for Argentina. Forever. And the reader ponders whether he is dealing with an allegorical or a concrete figure. Because you can read the text as a farewell to the metaphysical element in German culture. The older and more experienced author, entranced by the intelligence of his interlocutor, says goodbye to the future of German intelligence in the person of the architect.

If the character is not formed from allegorical material, one would hope that it is not someone who has reason to flee the Allied courts (the action takes place in Rome, and that wasn't exactly the best in the post-war years Call). This doubt is symptomatic and almost automatic. Passion, metaphysical seriousness, strong judgments are suspect these days; they land immediately in the dock without a long, careful investigation. But I admit that I also suspected the architect.

But the general question is: Is the spiritual division, the shift in characteristics, the division that is constantly accompanying us, Settembrini, who loves the Enlightenment, and Naphta, who prefers the Middle Ages (or romanticism), a division that brings with it that whoever feels religious passion is almost automatically suspected of having a “right” attitude - is this a permanent condition, or is this modern disease curable?

But not all writers fit into this schism. Simone Weil took the exam in the binary categories of Zauberbergs certainly not to be feared. Or consider the poetically and spiritually opulent work of Czeslaw Milosz, who disregards the arithmetic of easy ideological classification. In his work he laments the indifference of our time towards metaphysical problems and wistfully notes the withering of religious imagination. But he must by no means be regarded as a “reactionary” writer, a follower of Naphta. His essay “Seduced Thinking” is still read with passion in all those countries where the intelligentsia can only dream of a constitutional state (as I hear, recently also in Cuba).

The followers of the two very different books will certainly not find a common language, they belong to camps that do not talk to each other. But Milosz succeeds in combining his interest in a liberal civilization with a strong metaphysical longing. As in his poem “Mittelbergheim” from 1951:

I still closed my eyes. Fire, violence, power,
Don't push me because it's too early.
I have lived through and felt like this for many years
Dream that I will touch the moving limit
Behind which color and sound come true
And where on earth things come together.
Do not open my mouth by force yet,
Make me trust, believe that I'll achieve it
And let me rest in Mittelbergheim.

I know I should. Fall and wooden wheels and the
Leaves under the roof stand by me.
Here and everywhere is my country
Wherever I turn, in whatever language I also
The nursery rhyme, the conversation between lovers
Listen More happy than the others, I record
The look, the smile, the star, the silk,
Which folds on the line of the knee. Cheerful, open
Should I walk through mountains in the mild glare of the day
To cities, paths, waters, customs and traditions.
Fire, violence, strength you make me
Hold the furrows in the palm of your hand
How huge ravines are from the south wind
Smoothed that you give security
In the hour of fear, in the weeks of doubt;
It's still too early, let the wine ripen
The travelers like to sleep in Mittelbergheim.

The Alsatian Mittelbergheim, a village or a small town where friends had invited him (the name itself is a beautiful onomastic coincidence; it contains the mountain and denotes center and home), made it possible for him to be reborn within, it gave him a cosmic experience of " something else ”that one could no longer experience in Paris, the metropolis that in the forties and fifties was soaked like a sponge with ideology. Mittelbergheim opened up a dimension for the poet that transcended the ideological disputes typical of the time; the Alsatian place or simply world, an archaic and at the same time modern world of mountains, viticulture and the old thick walls of the farms.

Almost in Milosz's entire work we find an incessant journey between ideas and transcendence, between the need for sincerity and transparency in the life of the community, the need for kindness and the insatiable longing for greater things, for epiphany, for ecstasy in which there is a higher one Meaning revealed (never to the end, never very clear). Milosz's extraordinary ability to endure great pressure, his ability to move from the social realm to the metaphysical level, has given him a poetic energy that is seldom encountered today. He managed to improve the condition of the metaxu into life-giving pilgrimage, into the activity of a long-distance writer.

The chtonic myth of Antaeus, popular with Nietzsche disciples, which only gains its power when it touches the earth, could serve as the starting point for a new formula. In his poetry, Milosz revised the Antaeus myth to the extent that Antaeus acquired his power when touching the earth as well as the sky.

Milosz's fortunate poetic-essayistic dual talent, his conscientious exploration of the truth of community life and the higher truth of enthusiasm enabled him to create a work that Naphta and Settembrini also have to pause before - not only with great respect, but also with deep sympathy . So it can happen that real passion does not divide, but unites. And does not lead to fanaticism or fundamentalism. Maybe one day the passion will lead back to our bookstores, to our minds.

Published 11 April 2016
Original in Polish
Translated by Henryk Bereska
First published by Adam Zagajewski's Obrona zarliwosci (a5, 2002) (Polish version); A Defense of Ardor: Essays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004) (German version); Defense of passion. Essays, Edition Akzente, Carl Hanser Verlag 2008 (German Version)

© Adam Zagajewski / Edition Akzente / Carl Hanser Verlag / Eurozine