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Bruno Schulz, Witkacy and Jerzy Ficowski
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Author: tomasz
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Tomasz Neugebauer

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 

   Bruno Schulz, Witkacy and Jerzy Ficowski

I attended a conference this morning, on the life and work of the writer illustrator Bruno Schulz.

One of the guests at the conference, the wife of the poet Jerzy Ficowski spoke about her husband's life-long fascination and search for Schulz' work. Towards the end of her talk, she read a quote from a letter that Bruno Schulz wrote to Witkiewicz (aka Witkacy):

I think that the rationalization of the vision of things rooted in the work of art is like the demasking of actors. It is the end of the game, it is the impoverishment of the question of the work. Not because art is an anagram with a hidden key [and] philosophy is this same anagram--solved. The difference is more profound. In the work of art the umbilical cord is not yet cut that joins it to the whole of the problem. The blood of the mystery is still circulating; the ends of the vessels escape into the surrounding night and return full of dark fluid.

Sklepy Cynamonowe [Cinnamon Shops] was published in 1934, and is available in English translation as The Street of Crocodiles. The conference included the screening of a film with that title by the Quay brothers that was inspired by Schulz' work.

After reading Sklepy Cynamonowe, Ficowski sent a letter of gratitude and admiration to Schulz, who likely never received it due to the tragic circumstances of nazi occupation. Bruno Schulz was killed by a Gestapo officer on the streets of the Jewish ghetto in Drohobycz in 1942. Ficowski tried to collect and make available as much of Schulz' work as possible, but some of his work, such as The Messiah, was never recovered.

The second film screened was a documentary interview with Jerzy Ficowski, Amulety i definicje czyli szkic do portretu Jerzego Ficowskiego. The documentary ends with the following Ficowski lyric:

"I'm a poet, I patch the holes in umbrellas with raindrops."
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