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BORDER IDENTITY. LECTURE BY PIOTR MATYWIECKI

- Persons, who simultaneously  feel Polish and Jewish  very often consider their situation  sensitive and even extreme. Many of them do not consider themselves  "people of the cultural borderland". Also, many do not see the possibility of some cultural syncretism that could soothe their conflicted identities, Piotr Matywiecki remarked during a lecture in the "Man of the Borderland" series. 

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The cycle of open lectures sponsored by the Professor Bronisław Geremek Centre Foundation was conceived as a direct reference to the Patron's intellectual output, his social and academic interests and also his attitude to the world and human beings.

On 28 November 2012 the Foundation hosted Piotr Matywiecki, who delivered a lecture titled Polish-Jewish Identity. Conflict? Harmony? Problem?

Piotr Matywiecki is an outstanding poet, essayist and literary critic. He debuted with a volume of poetry titled Podróż (Journey) in 1975. From his very first poems  he has remained  faithful to classical trends, forms and themes, expressing them within the framework of modern poetry. Simultaneously, Matywiecki is the author of distinguished collections of essays, including a work considered preeminent in this sphere - namely Kamień Graniczny (1995), in which he made a philosophical vivisection of problems pertaining to the Holocaust.

Matywiecki attempted to interpret the formula contained in the title of the lecture applying cognitive tools  proposed by Karl Jaspers - especially his concept of "border situation" -  and by Emanuel Lévinas. Drawing on personal experience, memories of WWII and March 1968, he highlighted the peculiar character of the Polish-Jewish identity, which rejects the soothing point of view of contemporary cultural syncretism, replacing it with a distinct awareness of "the border".

His analytical and interpretative observations were reinforced and legitimized with literary examples. According to Piotr Matywiecki "the literary experience is something akin to  internal dialog that every man conducts with himself. Sometimes, it takes non-verbal form. Then, it may happen that he is not fully aware when he is himself and when he is observing himself, when he thinks about himself -  and when he thinks something that can be called his core being. When literature addresses severe aspects of existence I feel inner pain". 

Jacek Głażewski