The ten years Stanisław Pigoń spent in Wilno (1921-1931) was a very important phase of his life. Wilno not only attracted a great deal of his research but also became the focus of a lasting emotional attachment, a sentiment which he reaffirmed in a memoir published shortly before his death in 1968. Although a lot is already known about Pigoń’s Wilno decade, there are some episodes that are worth a closer examination. One of them is a debate about Konrad’s cell which he triggered off just before leaving Wilno. The controversy concerns a cell in the former Basylian Monastery where Adam Mickiewicz was imprisoned in 1823 and where Konrad, the main character of his Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve) undergoes a spiritual transformation, the climax of the poetic drama. Pigoń contributions to this interminable debate exhibit a fine balance of scholarly precision and passionate conviction. This article not only looks at the origin and the early phases of the Konrad’s cell controversy in their contemporary background but also tries to show Pigoń’s involvement in the life of the university and the cultural and literary life of Wilno.
The article attempts to outline Adam Mickiewicz’s concept of subjectivity. He introduces it in his visionary poetic drama Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve) where a radically ambivalent situation is presented through the duality of the main character Gustaw/Konrad. The article describes this duality in terms of Paul Ricoeur’s distinction between cogito exalté and cogito brisé. In Dziady Mickiewicz dramatizes the transition from exaltation to dejection, the condition of cogito brisé (living with a wound). His romantic subject cannot throw away his past, but because he is acutely aware of his failings and his inadequacy he is able to free himself from delusions of grandeur and self-centered pride. The condition of uncertainty, inadequacy and chronic insatiability is like a gaping wound or a lack which may lead the ‘I’ to open up and seek the Other. It is a vision of man who knows he is deeply flawed but capable of pursuing a noble desire; vulnerable and fallible, beset by ‘endless error’ and yet able to act and get his act together; self-centered and yet, because of the relational nature of the human identity, capable of redirecting his emancipatory energy to Others. It can be summed up the concept of homo capax (homme capable) which, as this article argues, provides the key to Mickiewicz’s anthropology.