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The ANAMED pieces

Virginia Sommella, ANAMED PhD Fellow


In the vibrant jungle of academia, a peculiar phenomenon has been quietly unfolding at the heart of ANAMED. A delicate ecosystem of scholars from varied fields of study, boasting a cacophonic mix of personal interests, exotic sleeping and eating patterns, colorful personalities, and divergent musical tastes, were drawn together by an irresistible force. What is possibly inspiring such a captivating convergence, compelling them to forsake the solitude of their research and willingly surrender their evenings, even on Friday and Saturday nights?

This tale begins in the first weeks of October, when an intriguing discovery was made in the unlikeliest of places. Initially, this anomaly was tucked away, almost eluding the keen eyes of those who passed by the ANAMED lounge room. Sumptuous breakfasts and peaceful yoga sessions had been taking place just in front of this hidden treasure, patiently awaiting its moment within the confines of the closet that cradled the television. It wasn’t until a few intrepid members stumbled upon it that it was finally unveiled.

The unsuspecting explorers, undeterred by the ordinary surroundings, discovered an uncanny box lying dormant among the cables and electronic paraphernalia. Once removed, the content of the box would not return to its container for many months; perhaps it never will. Contained within the box were pieces, thousands of pieces, each exhibiting myriad pigments and shapes—almost resembling a living, breathing entity. The room, in response, beckoned, inviting those daring enough to venture into its depths to behold the raw, secure beauty of an untamed world. Since that day, it goes by the name of ‘Puzzle Room.’

Puzzle Room

The intellectual spectacle unfolding within the ANAMED Puzzle Room is not a mere result of chance. It is, perhaps, more akin to a magnetic force, drawing members of the fellowship towards it like moths to a flame. Deep into the evenings, under the soft glow of lamplight, historians, archaeologists, philologists, musicologists, and scholars from various disciplines find themselves entangled in the intricate web of pieces. Each tessera they place in the scheme contributes to a vibrant mosaic of discourse about equally colorful topics.

Certain Island

Yet, when the industrious fellows gather around the puzzle table, immersed in the intricate task of piecing fragments together, they find more than a pastime, but a respite, a tangible bridge spanning the vast unknowns of history and the reassuring certainty of a completed image. Piece after piece, the grand picture is revealed, errors are identified and corrected, and, most crucially, the ultimate aim is attained. In this seemingly simple act, they unearth a profound sense of resolve that transcends the convolutedness of their chosen academic disciplines.

The Puzzle Room, with its allure of clarity and achievement, becomes a beacon of certainty in the tumultuous field of historical exploration. Upon the puzzle table, each question finds a specific answer, and every argument appears to connect perfectly to the others. For every idea or historical reconstruction conceived during the day —lingering in the vast sea of possibility and plausibility —a corresponding piece confidently falls into its predetermined place in the puzzle during the night.

Never Retreat, Never Surrender

As fellows, we have undertaken the completion of one puzzle after another—some discovered within the meanders of the Puzzle Room, others hunted down in the bookshops of Tomtom. Some puzzles easily came together amid pleasant conversations, while others demanded titanic efforts, reconstructing vast monochrome expanses and deciphering subtle shades. The latter were often surrounded by a hushed, almost religious (or better said, academic) silence. They even plunged us into moments of doubt, pushing us to the brink of considering surrender deep into the night’s darkest hours. Yet, we refused to surrender and ultimately won the challenge as a surprisingly sweet rush of dopamine just before the break of dawn!

Our nights spent grappling with the puzzle stand as an enduring testament to our ability to navigate uncharted territories and face ambiguity or embrace the missing pieces, all without giving up. However, a poignant distinction exists, as in our research, the prospect of relishing a seamless and gratifying ‘final image’ remains an elusive dream.

The Scholar’s Journey

The puzzle nights increased in number and length as more fellows began to frequent the Puzzle Room. Eventually, it transformed into the enclave of intellectual intrigue that it is now. Around the puzzle, a sense of fellowship blossomed, giving way to the emergence of new ideas for future projects. In this collaborative atmosphere, articles involving four, six, or even eight contributors were meticulously crafted, and even new loves broke out.

For this, we express our gratitude to ANAMED and its pieces, with the hopeful anticipation that more mysterious boxes will materialize in the Puzzle Room’s future! Who knows, perhaps one day the pieces will secure their rightful place on the walls of ANAMED—a symbolic representation of the scholars’ journey, one puzzle piece at a time.

 Virginia Sommella