adam zagajewski


TS: I want to follow up this idea, because behind your intellectual presence—which is quite welcoming—I sometimes see a desire to provoke. Maybe this is overstating things slightly, but you seem to enjoy suggesting ideas which you can examine and retract later, if necessary, all the while taking the ideas very seriously. It’s not a game, necessarily, but you are reserving the right to revisit or reconfigure ideas. In the poems as well as in the prose. I wonder whether this ability itself stemmed from your study of philosophy, which allows the ability to keep ideas at a distance at which the thinker can walk around them, so to speak, and view them from different perspectives.

AZ: You never know. I don’t think it’s just from my studying philosophy; I think I belong to a family of minds that are hopelessly implicated in the quarrel between what Leo Strauss calls being “between Athens and Jerusalem.” I’m not claiming that it’s the best family of minds; I see it more as a kind of disaster—this impossibility of making a clear choice. It’s rather an aesthetic philosophy. Early on, I had this need to clarify something which cannot be clarified, or to be exposed to this wind of ideas, which clears your mind. But it’s basically anti-poetic, to a large extent. And at the same time, I had my moments of inspiration, and which drew me in a different direction.

more from the interview at AGNI.