Friday, October 08, 2004

# Posted 5:38 AM by Patrick Belton  

NOT DEAD YET WATCH: One of the most interesting dimensions of the reigning pontiff, wherever you stand with respect to his tenure, is his prior life as a dissident intellectual in Poland - there aren't many senior clerics in any religion who had youth remotely comparable to his, spent working in a Kraków stone quary by day, and by night studying Husserl and helping to keep Polish intellectual and literary life alive during Nazi occupation, by helping to found underground organisations such as the 'Studio 38' experimental theatre group, meeting in basements in evenings following his days of forced labour . This is why it's truly wonderful that in spring of next year, the Italian publishing house Rizzoli will publish a transcript of a series of searching conversations on the philosophy of history the Pope had in 1993 with two Polish intellectuals, professors Josef Tishner and Krzystof Michalski. Memory and Identity, as it's to be called, apparently struggles with questions of the meaning of history in a world after the evils of war and collapse of grand Hegelian narratives. For my part I'll certainly be reading it.

Though his philosophical corpus from before his papacy still awaits collation into a convenient volume, scholars have finally begun to delve into the window into wartime and postwar Polish intellectual life provided by this fascinating man, Wojtyła: see, for starters, here, here, here, here, and here. Much of this, as would be expected, is by devout Catholics; it would be quite nice to see an interesting engagement with the topic from the perspective of more secular intellectual historians, as well.
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