In the middle of the summer of the year that has just passed, by chance – or not by chance, as a consequence of an expected but still sudden and moving farewell, I came across a piece of writing that bewildered me. The bewilderment that has stayed with me to this day was caused both by the text itself and the place where I found it, and it was then heightened by the desire to use that text, which I did not expect of myself.
The text is old. Its origins and authorship are unclear. It was and still remains controversial. It inspires disputes regarding the interpretation and the place in tradition that it deserves. Canonical for some, inconvenient and negligible for others. Uplifting at times. At times sad. Another time bitter and virulently malicious, or humorous, given the historical evolution of humour, which I can only assume.
I got to know it starting in the middle, reading it then in two ways, from beginning to end, and from end to beginning, and then many more times, in a completely random order. I can hardly think of a better way. I came across passages as surprising as the first, middle phrase, as well as well-known, one could say – trite, which I did not know, or had forgotten that they came from there.
A challenge text. A trap text. Challenging the tradition that it originated from. And on the other hand, equally, legitimizing or perhaps giving credence to that tradition. Against the fundamentalist, mono-perspective aspirations. It is a good thing it wasn’t lost, probably along with many other manifestations of human doubts about what exists. The fact that it wasn't lost – touches me.
On to other thrills and surprises – a film, a kind of a documentary, about natural history, a quasi-autobiography – a word-and-visual tale of a man’s encounter with an octopus, My Octopus Teacher. Last year’s production, from South Africa. It takes place mostly underwater. Its form is simple. The narrative – straightforward. A naive, non-specialist, private reflection, a random observation of underwater life, focused on one particular cephalopod living in a glade of algal forest near the Cape of Good Hope. The whole thing is clumsy in a way, but nevertheless – or perhaps even more so – pretty.
In the coming weeks, I'll be tackling a not-so-large piece for a not-so-large choir, with a text composed of several excerpts of the text I mentioned.
Meanwhile, everything has been covered by snow. But it will be gone soon, just like everything else.
(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)