Friday, December 12, 2008
Klemens Logewnik: A Brief Introduction to an Important Figure
Upon learning the extent to which the thought of Kraków-based labyrinthologist Klemens Logewnik proved to be formative for Philip Cunha’s post-New Constructivist onto-labyrinthology, I resolved to learn more about the rather obscure 20th century thinker. Much to my consternation however, Logewnik’s publications are precious few, limited to several untranslated articles which were published in Polish and Czechoslovakian labyrinthology journals in the 1940's. I asked Cunha if, time allowing, he might be able to provide to me with something of an “essential Logewnik,” and, to my delight, he responded this morning, sending me an email containing a handful of extremely edifying passages from Logewnik’s lectures, articles, and notebooks, two of which I’ve posted below.
From Cunha’s reverent words about the seminars which he remains grateful to have been able to participate in, and the labyrinthological positions articulated in the passages which I’ve been fortunate enough to read, it is clear that Logewnik should be considered a vital figure in neo-exteriorism and recognized as a major catalyst in Western labyrinthology’s turn away from constructivism.
Logewnik was writing at a time when New Constructivism was in full swing, spurred on by the acerbic, polemical writings of Fiser and Anvar. Labyrinthologies which focused on issues of centrality and exteriorism were very unpopular at this time, but despite this virtually hostile critical climate, Logewnik lectured and published articles on such progressive topics as intersubjective navigation (effectively coining the term "internav"), decentralization, egression and bio/eco-labyrinthology. Take for example the following passage, excerpted from an article entitled “Na Ciałach w Labiryncie” (“On Bodies in the Labyrinth”), published in 1946 in the Polish labyrinthology journal Korytarze:
“We cannot, as Fiser maintains, endeavor to separate our corporeal experience of the terrain of the labyrinth from whatever psychical understanding of its structure that we may possess. Our experience of centrality is not a purely cognitive phenomenon. Our body and senses are bound up in the naturally occurring przyciągać centrum ("draw of the center") to the same extent that our minds are. On the subject of decentralization, a notion which proves particularly problematic for the interiorist project, I argue that only in extreme cases of deficient navigation should such drastic measures be taken. It seems to me that it is far better to experience authentically the center’s magnetism; only in the most dire navigatory circumstances should egression be our principal focus.” (trans. Cunha)
In a lecture from the Spring term of 1973, Logewnik addresses the question of intersubjectivity in labyrinth navigation, an important topic on which much ink has been spilled in the last several years. He writes,
"How may we understand the Other as he exists with us within the passageways of the labyrinth? Is it possible to experience proper empathy within the labyrinth? Does our perception of the Other as subject change or remain consistent? To answer such questions, we must determine whether or not the world of the labyrinth, and our subjective experiences of this world as they occur within its walls, are open to the possibility of being shared. I argue that within the labyrinth, the same basic structure of the intersubjective exists, but that it operates in a distinct way. Moreover, I argue that intersubjective navigation is the foundation of labyrinth ethics as such. To understand the labyrinth as an intersubjective domain alters one's subjective experience of its object-ness. The labyrinth is no longer something which is in each case mine, but something which belongs to myself and to the Other with equal priority." (trans. Cunha)
I anticipate critical interest in Logewnik will surge with Cunha's rising popularity in international labyrinth circles. I asked him if he had any plans to edit or translate Logewnik's lectures and notebooks. He responded that while he has not endeavored into such projects, he would not be opposed. I for one will be waiting with bated breath.