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  • Re-Reading "Re-Reading Grotowski"
  • Leszek Kolankiewicz, Kermit Dunkelberg, Antonio Attisani, Kris Salata, and Lisa Wolford Wylam

To the Editors:

In TDR, 52:2 (T198) Summer 2008, "Re-Reading Grotowski," my name appears here and there. Some of the authors polemicize with me or even attack me. I regret to say that it would be hard for me to enter these polemics, since my views have not been correctly related. I will give two examples, the first that come to mind.

Antonio Attisani reports: "Kolankiewicz cites Hans Jonas as the highest authority on Gnosis" ("Acta Gnosis," Attisani 2008:84; trans. Elisa Poggelli).

Attisani here borders on an insinuation. In my book Dziady. Teatr święta zmarłych (Forefather's Eve: Theatre of the Feast of Dead [Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria, 1999]), Jonas's name appears only once in nearly 500 pages of text, in the following sentence: "Hans Jonas devotes an entire chapter in his The Gnostic Religion to it [i.e. Song of the Pearl]" (1999:132). This sentence is to be found in a passage on the poet Czesław Miłosz, who translated Song of the Pearl into Polish; it serves as a bibliographical note. Can one claim, based on this sentence, that for me Hans Jonas is the highest authority on Gnosis?

Nota bene, the chapter from which this sentence was taken does not at all mention Grotowski-it is dedicated to completely different issues, as is the entire book as a matter of fact. In none of my texts on Grotowski is there any reference to Jonas's book. May I continue to omit it?

Lisa Wolford Wylam, on the other hand, is filled with wonder: "I find it especially peculiar that a native speaker would misrecognize the Polish term bos-used by some collaborators to address Grotowski-which I was told means 'one without shoes' (thus the hidden pun in Attisani's phrase 'barefoot philosophy') for the English 'boss'" ("Living Tradition: Continuity of Research at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards," Wylam 2008:130, fn3).

Wolford Wylam amazes me. I do not deny that I am a native speaker of Polish (and even an MA in Polish language and literature studies), yet only from Lisa Wolford Wylam have I learned about the existence of the common noun bos in Polish-and its alleged meaning. The word boss exists in Polish and means-I quote from Nowy słownik poprawnej polszczyzny PWN (PWN New Dictionary of Correct Polish Language)-"a chief, a superior; also: the leader of a political or mafia organization." In this case it is, however, impossible to find any hidden pun in Attisani's phrase-certainly unfortunate for the Polish language, isn't it?

As referring to Grotowski-and in that case capitalized-this word became a proper noun already in the Opole period of the Laboratory Theatre in the beginning of the 1960s. In written correspondence it took on a Polonized form with one "s," but it was declined according to the paradigm of the common noun boss: nominative/accusative Bos, genitive Bosa, dative Bosowi, instrumental Bosem, locative/vocative Bosie. The spelling with one "s" meant that it was precisely a proper noun referring to Grotowski and indicated that the person using it belonged to the inner circle of the Laboratory Theatre-as if initiated. [End Page 12]

In the text "Grotowski w poszukiwaniu esencji" (Grotowski in Search of Essence), I wrote: "For years, we addressed him [i.e. Grotowski]-I speak here of his close collaborators-only as 'Boss'; it was, of course, a euphemism for 'Master'" (in Wielki mały wóz [Big Little Vehicle], Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria, 2001:263). The plural used in this sentence ("we addressed") in this case refers to the people collaborating with Grotowski in the '70s and in the beginning of the '80s, and thus not only to me, but also, e.g., to Jacek Zmysłowski. At the time, it seemed to me that I knew in what sense I was using the word when referring to Grotowski. This vocative had something from the "Rabbi" used by the Hasidim when addressing their tzaddik, and something from...


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