Franz had consciously sought out death. In his last days, when he was dying and had no need to lie, she was the only person he asked for. He couldn’t talk, but how he’d thanked her with his eyes! He’d fixed his eyes on her and begged to be forgiven. And she forgave him.

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia?
One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms.

What remains of Tomas?

What remains of Beethoven?
A frown, an improbable mane, and a somber voice intoning Es muss sein!

What remains of Franz?
An inscription reading A RETURN AFTER LONG WANDERINGS.

Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

(Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

Yes, there is also some academic dimension especially to the last lines, or a dimension to academic work and working in academia. In this perspective it can be seen as characterising academia’s current stage: characterised by self-referentiality and the apparent need to hand control over to administrations or suggested “paradigms excellence” that are caught in confirming what we know, notwithstanding that the reality that we are supposed to analyse is changing and needs changing approaches.


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