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  • Evocatio Matthaei
  • Mihai Nasta (bio)
    Translated from Romanian by Vladimir Cristache

YOU’VE crossed the threshold of non-being. And now: “the memories come of themselves”…

Re-viewing and re-calling, in and from within this inmost space of reminiscence, a conversation, an interlude serene: Cluj, you, Ion, and I, the first few hours of an afternoon, one last time. In the Gasthaus of the University, in the echo of a bare room, you’d just broached The Libertines of Oldencourt,1 and: I can see you, hear you, think you over (not quite “over”: yet again), and the Mateiesque creature of then… of there…, accords the effigy of Pantazi.2

So you come, returning so, and cross “the threshold of non-being.” You’ve crossed that most ineffable assay, Matei, in the twofold incarnation of your being, and likewise, twofold, do those voices and those dialects still bring you, leaving every seal unbroken. [End Page 219]

FIRST to come: a document of searching thought, testimony of those woes encountered on the threshold of non-being.3 In fact, coming more visible, distinct, signed “M” – insignia of things endured – is the Portrait of an alter ego, a herald of ephemeral youth. It was indeed the only flame to burst before the twilight, and again it’s he, returning here, among the living: angelus Domini.

Thus comes true “the story of a life [“M”’s] or the attempt to find meaning”; and, as a dedication, inscribed upon a volume sent our way on February 17, 2004, reads: thus “my son’s tombeau, from which I’ve learnt so much” gives testimony.

I THEN resumed the thread of your of extensive reflections on modernity and the labyrinth of its “faces,” or “stances.”4 Therein we could glimpse a path singularly significant, a passage of and toward knowledge. Although your Rereading was of the same mold, I keep to the other threshold, where you took up, only to go beyond, a debate begun by H.R. Jauss, a debate that has become a sort of address to contemporary culture or, put differently, Kulturgeschichte als Provokation!5 Along the same path, and persistently so, the call for a lucid confrontation with cultural development reverberates and pushes the normal lector to find objective-“ontological”6 landmarks of the latter. That’s why I return, like you, to those traces of time passed, and watch you suddenly locate that Achilles’ heel…

SO WE asked ourselves, in your company and echo, what the idea of modernity may still mean today, in the age of globalization. I came, then, to reread with delight how you found therein, in a thicket of references, Pascal’s same thread: those of today, wise or unknowing—the resident-expert of a famous laboratory or the CEO of a corporation, a trade-working youth or some better-intentioned scholar—every one of them, albeit without realizing it, “modern dwarves,” climb up to stand on the shoulders of those who’ve come before: the giant predecessors of antiquity. But few of our contemporaries take this route because, as you go on to show, they are [End Page 220] no longer able; at the level of the vicissitudes proper to the literary world, filmmakers, authors, poets, playwrights, come and go, all with their troop of fictional beings—a few tangible creatures, the fruits of their creativity, and many zealots bearing borrowed masks. Hence, as you ingeniously explain, the more the protagonists of a literary movement, pronouncing themselves with critical authority, give orders (much like the commanders of an army), the more the idea of avant-garde takes root, so that canons, artworks, monuments, and even “the world of seem in all its joyful dream”7 all have to be overturned. Through successive deconstructions, the dynamism of the literary, its inevitable development or becoming—within the scope of a history of critical consciousness—comes into view, and we inexorably reach a new threshold—or, the “third face” of modernity—as the worm of degradation cunningly slips into the apple of wisdom. Thus the idea of decadence takes root, and thus we (readers) come to resign ourselves to this to-and-fro, after having naively believed...


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pp. 219-222
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