Milorad Pavic: The Dictionary of the Khazars. Male edition. (in Norwegian)
I took this book with me on the holidays, in the Southeast of Sweden (Aamaal and Stensvik), on the hunch that I could leisurely withdraw to a few pages now and then, and by that draw some concussed wisdom from it. I have read that book before and got the impression that it was full of beautiful stories which were just a few years of life-experience away from me when I read it (at 19 years of age). Presently I can report that 12 years werent that much of a help. I am not going to slaughter Pavic’s obviously masterful and inventive work, rather I feel like apologizing for my inability to concentrate. In the introduction the author proposes a deal where he would finish his writing before his dinner, so as to suppress the obvious tendency for authors to drown his reader in exaggerated detail, circumscribing style and other literary obsessions – while his reader would read each portion after digesting his dinner, so as to be prepared to be patient and prepared for whatever remains of the selfsame in the text. The Dictionary of the Khazars is a honest fabrication, which distinguishes it, along with Umberto Eco’s parodical novel Foucault’s Pendulum – from tiring and dishonest tripe such as Dan Brown’ s DaVinci Code (which I am sure to lambast one of these days, when I feel prepared to do so).
Among the circumstances which recommends the Khazars as a chosen topic of investigation are the fact that although they have been given much attention, especially in regards to Semittic and Slavic studies, and the interrelationship between indigenous East European and Russian tribes and the important Jewish demographic in the same areas – they are indisputeably still an enigma or a mystery to the selfsame scholars and researchers. For those with little or no grasp of the aforesaid areas of the humanities, even more so. In some sense the inhabitants of Khazaria for us is as exotic as the improbable but ponderable citizens of ancient Tløn (Borges) or for that matter, the fascinating but more accessible characters of MiddleEarth(Tolkien). Having read fantastical literature from the age of 10, even such intended for an adult and educated audience, I am by now well acquianted with the methods and techniques used so as to transform a net of exasperating diversity and plurality into a spearpoint; what the dictionary lacks is some kind of concrete climax, but as its form suggests, such a climax where never promised in the first place. I decided after failing Pavic to undergo a literary penance for my boredom and neglect by reading Jorge Luis Borges short prose, I suppose I shall have to report on the progress afterwards.
A high-point in my readership where my appreciation for the discussion of the dream hunters, the sect inspired by the poetess Princess Ateh: the mediatory and partly salvific, partly fatal realm of dreams gave me a glimpse of a literary and contemporary, mythological application of Hurqualya as we find it described by among others the founder of the illuminist or theosophical school of Shi’i Islam Yahya Suhrawardi, or the Terra Lucida described by the Manichaeans, you find them compared in Henry Corbin’s masterful books The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism and Spiritual Earth, Celestial Body. The triangulation of the meeting of dreamers and dream-watchers also suggested to me the constellation of the guide and the guided, and the angelic presence which manifests between the two, whose name in our own Judeo-Christian culture, in the interpretation of among others Corbin himself, would be the Holy Spirit: the completion of Adam Ruhania, who by Yehudah HaLevi (an actual literate of the 12th century, who apperently actually devoted an entire work to the Khazars or Kuzari) is compared to Adam Kadmon, which to me suggested the character of esoteric Mazdeism as well as Ismailiya Islam, Salman Pak/ Gabriel of the burnt wing, a Hermetic (if we regard Zosimos of Panopolis epochal work The Book of/on Omega as contributing to the later Hermetic corpus and tradition) as well as a Cabbalistical theme: an internalizing of the Tikkun Olam, which necessarely becomes the quest and greater jehad of the Soul for a restoration, reintegration, or as the renaissance and reformation humanism has given us, regeneration – of greater Man. A similar theme was already making curious formations in my unconsciousness as I have been studying Corbin’s Imago Templi in confrontation with the Profane, a paper he delivered at the Eranos Conference in 1972, the year I was born.
Therein he discusses the four phases of the Imago Templi, whose middle distance everyone who is born into the world but fail to apprehend and understand the context and meaning of such births find themselves: namely, my friend Jan Valentin Saether’s orientational theme – Exile.
The Temple, the sanctuary and dwelling of the Divine, the extraordinary, supramental, Sacred – that which participates in the degree of perfection, the good, the light, the progressive, revelatory, beautiful in contradistinction to whatever else manifests, arbitrarily or voluntarily, in any given universe: necessarely only is represented in history, in events which is projected from and to human minds, the distance between being filled by Grace, even in calamity, catastrophe and perdition – is represented in like manner in the mythopoetic
dream in Pavic’s work.
I will return to Khazaria, or rather the conjectured Khazaria contained between the binder of Pavic’s encyclopedic novel, later. Perhaps I will try to read it in one of the suggested alternative ways rather than from first to last page.
Some impressions remain with me, but I cannot claim to have comprehended or made sense of the work. Perhaps it is intended to be more of an exercise for the reader than what usually passes for fiction. We shall see.
Some sites I have found on the topics of Milorad Pavic`s Dictionary of the Kazhars.
Milorad Pavic: A brief Autobiography, at Khazars.com.
As a Writer, I was born two hundred years ago, Interview w. Milorad Pavic, by
Thanassis Lallas (Dalkey Archive Press)
Official site for Milorad Pavic, maintained by his wife, Jasmina Mihajlovic. www.khazars.com