Garden and Desert. On art of intellectual life
Ogród i Pustynia. O sztuce dobrego życia intelektualnego
Languages of publication
The essay presents two entwining metaphors of intellectual life: a well-watered Garden with many springs and sources of influence, and an arid Desert where the thinker is confronted with the primordial purity of emptiness. As crucial exemplification, we read a fragment of the diary written by young Eliade during his trip to Italy. The temptation that haunts him not only in Tivoli in 1928, but also 13 years later in Lisbon is the encounter with a charismatic figure of an erudite, a master or a leader, strangely invested with floral exuberance. While the gardens of Tivoli symbolize the abundant sources of intellectual life, inundating the thinker with manifold inspiration to the point of depriving him of any perspective of originality, what appears at the opposite pole is the temptation of the Desert, just as for the Flaubertian Saint Antoine, who fears and escapes Alexandria as a place of superabundant ideas and influences. The emptiness of the Desert becomes a space for original creation and a promise of return to the Eliadian illo tempore, time of absolute beginnings. As a conclusion, one may say that the art of intellectual life consists in uninterrupted oscillation between the extremes: the Garden of crisscrossing influences and the Desert of original solitude.
Publication order reference