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I get accepted to Johns Hopkins School

Sherwin Nuland


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The inscrutable world of radio transmitters

Adam Zagajewski - Poet

Chapter two begins here, namely with the time I spent in Gliwice where I lived until I finished high school. I hardly travelled anywhere – if I did go away, it was only on short trips but at that time, people didn't go on lots of journeys even around Poland, so I had almost 18 years of Gliwice. And there was the normal routine – I mean, almost normal educational routine – of primary school where I remember my first teacher of those early classes who spoke a little Silesian, in fact her Silesian was better than… I mean, she didn't speak entirely correct Polish, but let's leave her to rest in peace in her grave.

My father, as he'd anticipated, was employed by the polytechnic and had a career there. He became a professor, vice-rector, dean, so considering what life was like then in the PPR he coped reasonably well, and I believe he felt he was succeeding. And yet, there's a different sort of contradiction here. On the one hand, there were his achievements: he was publishing technical textbooks. I remember how I was already fascinated by books and my father had published a few, for instance, a thick volume called Radio transmitters since that was one of the areas in which he specialised. Initially, that was his main area of specialisation, and I understood nothing of that book since it was so very specialised, but I was proud that it existed. I was intrigued by radio transmitters because I'd always liked the radio. I liked it very much and I imagined it provided an extraordinary contact with another world. There was its green eye which would expand and then die, there were short waves, there were broadcasts by Radio Free Europe which were heavily jammed, and there were broadcasts by the BBC which weren't jammed quite so much, and I was proud that my father was writing about radio transmitters... although I couldn't understand a thing, there were a lot of mathematical equations there.

Oliver Sacks - Scientist
Philip Roth - Writer
Donald Hall - Poet