I set sail. It was hard in the beginning. I was scrambling nervously, unable to come to grips with anything – all the while trying to steer, hoist half-finished sails onto masts and navigate, what is particularly challenging and dangerous in coastal waters. Finally, in an act of desperation, I chopped off one of the masts completely. The yacht will be slower, but easier to manoeuvre. Or, looking at this imperfect metaphor in a slightly different way, I may have thrown the chief mate overboard.


In the end, I’m writing the libretto myself. The collaboration was promising in many respects, but its dynamics were part of a completely different time horizon than the one before me. If we were to arrive at a version of this complex story that would be satisfactory to us both, if we were to establish the key themes, characters and events that resonate with us both, and if I was to learn to use Małgosia’s special, unique, and absolutely wonderful language, adding a whole new dimension to Pamuk’s language as if it were our own, we would need very many additional weeks. Or perhaps that would never happen. Or maybe I’m as dumb as a post. Either way, I am alone with it and even though I feel the weight of this decision with all of me, I have calmed down.


I didn’t want to, I couldn’t go back to the harbour anymore. There is no more harbour for me. I stopped at an anchor for a while, to read the entire book again. I got Quran. I’ve watched all available Ottoman miniatures. I have also flipped through a huge number of papers, more or less scientific, but also those that were as far away removed from science as possible; serving as better or worse contributions to interpretation. Most of this I have already thrown overboard immediately – it would be just unnecessary ballast. But I’ve found a clue. This novel has layers, just like the Tower of Babel. It is impossible to convey all of those layers in the libretto and on stage; it would simply be a recipe for an incomprehensible and boring disaster. But there is a way to recreate these layers, between the work itself, the world, and myself and my own life.


I’ve been burning some bridges. They are burning with a penetrating sadness, but I see no other way forward.


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)