7 November 2010 Late joyful knowledge of Michał Paweł Markowski

Yesterday in the Hall of the Centre of Humanities Studies at the Jagiellonian University a special meeting was held – its guest was the Artistic Director of the Conrad Festival – Professor Michał Paweł Markowski. The publishing house “Czarne” has just published his book entitled “Słońce – możliwość – radość” (Sun – Possibility – Joy), which the discussion was devoted to. Every publication of Markowski is always a great event in the world of the humanities and is a real treat for the faithful readers of his books – because they are far from dry theoretical considerations and boring erudite rants. Any reading of Markowski's literary essays is always a unique and fascinating intellectual adventure.

Pictures: Paweł Ulatowski

In the beginning Grzegorz Jankowicz, the host of the meeting, quoted with some irony one of the statements about the newest book, defining it as a record of “late joyful knowledge of Michał Paweł Markowski.” The author himself has called the collection of essays the most personal publication in his rich output: “For me, this book is ground-breaking in some way” he said. “I put it together while moving from Krakow to Chicago.” We remind you that Professor Markowski won the contest for the Head of the Faculty of Polish Language and Literature at the University of Illinois in Chicago, where he already works. During yesterday's meeting he also said that “Słońce – możliwość – radość” takes place “between the picture and the story, between the percept and the concept.” The collection contains essays about Bacon's paintings, a loud text on Hopper's work, about photography and its relations with literature and art. The reader will also find an unusually interesting discourse, which is significant also in the context of this year's Conrad Festival. Markowski wrote an essay entitled “Other worlds, other languages”. This slogan was the leading motif of this year's festival. “This is a book about the impression, which is rarely the subject of intellectual reflection as such,” he revealed yesterday. “Avoiding meaning gives me most pleasure”. “I write for myself as someone else, for the other one in me.”

He also told the large audience about taking walks, which are an “existential event” for him and during which he attempts to solve the difficulties associated with writing: “It is not a simple transfer of concept into text” he said. “I'm not interested in the answers at all” he continued. “I am interested in the questions which cause me to change the location from which I speak.” At the end of the meeting he received such a round of applause that had not yet occurred at this year's Conrad Festival. For many it was a farewell with the beloved Professor. Already, however, full of optimism after reading or just before reading his latest book, we look forward to his next texts ... from overseas.