"Almost Nothing is Happening": Miron Bialoszewski's Kairotic Everyday

Joanna Nizynska, University of California, Los Angeles

In my presentation, I will focus on the prose works of Miron Bialoszewski (1922-1983) published after 1970 (i.e., after the publication of A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising) in order to discuss Bialoszewski's idiosyncratic vision of the everyday. This most "private" author of postwar Polish literature disregards discourses of history so deeply embedded in the Polish literary tradition; rather he focuses on the mundane aspects of the everyday life, usually from an autobiographical perspective and using an overtly colloquial language. Although Bialoszewski's works have stirred many discussions, most of these have focused on his treatment of genres and language (to mention only criticism of Michal Glowinski, Janusz Slawinski, and Stanislaw Baranczak); few critics, notably Anna Sobolewska and Ryszard Nycz, explored Bialoszewski's representation of the everyday.

Through questioning the self-explanatory nature of the everyday on the basis of the works of Maurice Blanchot and Henri Lefebvre, I will explore the central paradox of Bialoszewski's "life-writing," namely the fact that although the everyday retains its mundane character in his works, it simultaneously acquires a new value--"something more," as Glowinski put it. However, how can the everyday become something more while maintaining its status? I approach this paradox from a perspective of Levinasian ethics in which the everyday as the space for the ethical is intricately connected with Bialoszewski's idiosyncratic treatment of temporality (especially the dialectics of two types of time, chronos and kairos).