LEONIDAS DONSKIS – A FAREWELL
and so in that one moment, everything that was the barely-just-begun future, the getting-ready for the flight, the notebook densely filled with things-to-do lying on the desk just now placed there with a view of the Nevėžis valley, the meticulously interconnected web of ideas, desires and dreams stretched upon the horizon of the newly built home so close to Miłosz, like a fisherman who has carefully organised everything during the night so that at dawn he can sail out to sea …;
and so in that one moment, our common plans for travel to Vienna and beyond, for books written together, for symposia, for the spiritual pedagogical province in the Polish-Lithuanian borderlands, for our Kastalia, for which we already laid the foundations, for the building together of invisible bridges – the only real passages to the shores of the Other accessible to us …;
in that one moment, did everything become merely past tense, Leonidas?
Your heart stood still? No movement?
Many things came to be. You were a writer, a philosopher, a teacher, an engagé intellectual, even a politician. You were an ideal conversation partner, as we discovered more than once in Krasnogruda, and reading your dialogues with Bauman or Venclova. You were a builder of moral imagination, the kind of imagination that, in the epoch of “liquid emotionality”, gives support to love and friendship. You were the living testimony of truth, and as history confirms, searching for truth is identical to effectual doing.
But our time, Leonidas, is not yet past perfect. I will just remind you how we repeated to ourselves that this category of time does not exist in the craft of bridge-building. Things are no different now that your heart has stopped. There is movement around your heart, Leonidas, movement that will stir it awake, that will continue to wake it and bring it to people, without ceasefully. There is no “you were”, there is only “you are.” And there is only the future imperfect which, after all, is the same as the past imperfect, for once time is liberated from the burden of necessity, closing us into the finite and past, time begins to follow its own rules, beyond death..
I am pleading, there is no “you were”! The moment, entered into the calendar of fate under the date of September 21st, changes only one thing: that you are will no longer be determined by your sleepless nights, your unwritten books, your restless travels, but by us, your brothers and sisters of this and future generations through whom will flow the movement of your heart, we who will lay the next stones on the foundations of Kastalia, who will translate and publish your work, who will meet in dialogue and deed to continue your search for truth, goodness, and love.
This is the moment, Leonidas, when there falls upon us the voice Miłosz heard in a dream, a voice he deciphered as, “an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:/ day draw near/ another one /do what you can.”
Translated by Ewa Kanigowska-Gedroyć and Marci Shore
Leonidas Donskis in Borderland