Pajak’s Manifesto blends personal memory with history, biography, memoir, travel writing, and aphoristic fiction. The resultant narrative register—spectral, echoic, image rich, materially preoccupied—suggests the improbably varied source material of the self ... This is to be desired in art: that it outpace the terms of its own interpretation. Pajak is attuned to this ambiguity, an opaque quality that lends the drift of his pages a satisfying blur, like landscapes seen from a train ... His topics are unstable, often decaying rapidly, as if lingering too long on one might cause the truth of another to expire ... When writing about himself, Pajak is far cagier, even elusive.The scattered images, scenes, and unattributed quotes, the digressive strangeness, the bits of biography and fiction: they are the individual shards that once constituted a mirror, Pajak’s own.
At first, the book feels something like a stack of random pages ripped from Pajak’s sketchbook, notes haphazardly compiled rather than meticulously ordered. Though, as the book progresses, a greater arc emerges ... by the end of this first volume, one gets a sense that Pajak has set about concocting some kind of balm, something to ward against the dangers of entrenched ideology ... A reflection on the nature of fascism, likely felt important when the first volume appeared in French in 2012—in 2019, Uncertain Manifesto’s arrival in English feels vital. In less capable hands, such a genre-defying, heady enterprise might have sagged under the weight of its own ambition; here, it’s full of wit and life. Powerful precisely on account of its subtlety.