It was only after I boxed my archival material (my research of the past 10 plus years), shredded my course notes and readings from when I was following a tenure-track career (seven years worth of teaching material), and rearranged my bookshelves in the order of everything I use now and will use in the future that the affect of exile —finally— abandoned me. Mind the occasion please. Once more. Its not that I did finally return to the country where I was born in; the terroir, which, for the past two years, is sending me its stimuli only through resonance via the Greek peninsula. So, both the physical separation, and the condition that dislocated me from that piece of land is still very much present. And yet, no more its affect. No longer do I feel in exile. And, it is because of this that I set down to write; to think about this very strange occurrence by way of writing, which I tried many times before, but which, for reasons that are still unclear, has not allowed me to. Don’t get me wrong. Ever since I left ‘the country which shall not be named’ (my country?) on my own volition, and set foot in here, exile is the one thing that clouded the actual conversations, exchanges, and encounters with its ever persistent ghostly presence in the shape of a background materialized into a landscape of muffled sounds, recurrent noises, fleeting scents, vivid stenches, familiar tastes, and unforgiving shapes. As such, as undesirable as it is, it nevertheless had formulated the primary condition that introduced me to the local community, and shaped the terms of my intellectual landscape here.
It is with the comfort of being able to use a past tense that allows me to write my notes on the concept of the exile.
Yes, exile is a dislocation for sure; but not from the territory of the country you are born in, instead from your intellectual pursuit, from your intellectual wandering, the wandering that defines the road of thinking. The topology of thinking. Any treatise on exile needs to problematize the question of the topology of thought.
Exile (of the intellectual) is a condition that is only marginally related to whether or not that intellectual is denied access to the country s/he is born in. At least this is how it should be conceptualized. I am in no position to deny the groundedness of knowledge. Whatever fantasies people may have about intellectual production as being a product of the intellect, of the solitary individual, of the thinking man alone in his solitary world, we have every reason to doubt it. Its because of not nothing that the university is named the university, a community that eats together, sleeps together, teaches together, goes on breaks together, takes a vacation at the same time so that they could be together after a long period of solitariness. Togetherness is as much part of the intellectual production as is solitary contemplation.