Păltiniş: The Quiet Delight of Conviviality
Andrei Pleşu
 
Translated by Sorana Corneanu

Anca Manolescu: There is a passage in the Tescani Diary where Păltiniş is seen, in terms of season-wise symbolism, as a sort of preparatory stage looking ahead to times to come. ?The winter of philosophy?? The winter of circumstances? Maybe. But also the winter of inner respite, of communion; winter as a strategy for an active, if sheltered, survival until the coming of spring.? Was there, back then, a sense of follow-up? Or were you experiencing the context, the moment and the meeting in their intrinsic substance?

Andrei Pleşu: The fragment you are speaking of dates back to 1989, when the Păltiniş episode had already come to an end, but political change still seemed improbable. There was nevertheless a sharper sense of crisis and expectation than at the beginning of the ?80s. Some sort of edginess filled the air, although I did not believe then, in November ?89, at Tescani, that the regime was about to collapse. It?s even less accurate to think we lived the Păltiniş episode as a safe island, as some kind of ?station? on the way to liberation. We were simply enjoying what is gemütlich, as the Germans say, about winter. There is a winter idyll, an indoors atmosphere, replete with the pleasures of a warm room, in consonance with the frost outside when you see it as a spectacle of beauty, not as a threat to one?s physical integrity. And there is a winter conviviality: sitting there in a warm room, in the company of a couple of friends, drinking tea or boiled ţuica and talking philosophy. Rather than the fierceness of the season, or of the times, winter meant to us the fairy-tale air, the inner comfort that go with it and are made of conviviality and isolation within a private space. We did not think of Păltiniş as an outpost, as a place where you take arms against a world of circumstances, or as a waiting room where you keep looking out of the window in expectation for the train of history. It was neither. It was, indeed, a place where we lived the quiet delight of conviviality. It was winter seen from behind the windowpanes, where it is warm and you go about things you take comfort in. The Păltiniş episode was a truly invigorating experience for us. Each of its winters ended up in a sense of plenitude, a wealth of projects and the stamina to do things. We always felt as if we went there for a re-loading of our batteries, which we lived for its own sake and in pure joy. ?Easing off? was the key word of those times. There was nothing grim or hardened about our life in Păltiniş. Nor about our study. We did our reading and talking in a way that had nothing of the sourness, stiffness or grand manner of school proceedings ? we did it, I will say it again, in conviviality, convinced that we were offering ourselves primarily a time of joy. It was a space of joy and therefore a tonic solar space, not one of cramped attempts to survive. It was not survival: it was living, pure and simple, it was life in the most substantial sense of the word.

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