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After the Fall

On the Writings of Czesław Miłosz

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Tomasz Garbol

Tomasz Garbol’s book reconstructs Czesław Miłosz’s poetic vision of the world after the Fall. The entry point to this approach is the conviction about the ambivalence of previous interpretations of Miłosz’s works, especially about his bipolar poetic worldview (his intellectual and existential division between pessimism and ecstasy) and his understanding of the consequences of the Fall (reversible or fatalistic). The book is a literary studies take on the relationship between literature and religion. The main direction is that Miłosz’s main need in art comes from his yearning for contact with the meaning of reality, which he seeks in the activity of poetic imagination.

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Rhythm as Blood Pulsation

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In one of Unattainable Earth’s epigraphs, a fragment from Ars Magna by Oscar Milosz is quoted: “Rhythm is the ultimate expression of what we call thought, that is the constatation and love of movement” (Wiersze, Vol. 4, p. 29).1 Thought is described as the love of movement,2 movement which, in turn, constitutes the rule of reality; rhythm is here the expression of its affirmation. The volume Unattainable Earth ends with a reflection which is based on such understanding of the phenomenon of rhythm. In this untitled record, rhythm is contrasted with chaos and nothingness: “An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness” (NCP, p. 452).

Therefore, rhythm constitutes something more than just a category of narrowly understood aesthetics. It is a notion connected with the reflection on the phenomenon of the world’s existence. In rhythm, Miłosz sees quality rooted in transcendence. In another record of Unattainable Earth, he states that:

So, why do we read that God created man in his own image and likeness? This means, no more, no less, that God has the face of man and that in him, there is the human Logos, Adam Kadmon. This contradiction cannot be escaped. Perhaps it can, but only by believing in the Fall and in the human infinite ability to return to the divine humanity (Wiersze, Vol. 4, p. 77).

The human Logos constitutes the rhythm of the human existence...

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