Πέμπτη, 30 Απριλίου 2015

Research on post-communist transition


Χάσμα γενεών εμφανίζεται στην ερμηνεία της μετάβασης από τον Κομμουνισμό στη Δημοκρατία

Είκοσι χρόνια μετά την πτώση του Σιδηρούν Παραπετάσματος, ευρύ γενεαλογικό χάσμα έχει εμφανισθεί στο πώς οι κάτοικοι της Ανατολικής Ευρώπης αντιλαμβάνονται τη μετάβαση στον καπιταλισμό και τη δημοκρατία, σύμφωνα με πρόσφατη μελέτη. Οσοι γεννήθηκαν την εποχή της πτώσης του Τείχους του Βερολίνου εμφανίζονται θετικοί στη μετάβαση σε πολυκομματικό σύστημα διακυβέρνησης και στην οικονομία της αγοράς, από ό,τι οι εκπρόσωποι των παλιότερων γενεών. Η μελέτη που διεξήγαγε το ινστιτούτο Pew σε εννέα κράτη της Ανατολικής Ευρώπης, θυμίζει σε πολλά εκείνη του 1991. Η νέα σφυγμομέτρηση αποκαλύπτει υποχώρηση των ποσοστών αποδοχής της δημοκρατίας και του καπιταλισμού, με την τάση αυτή να είναι ιδιαίτερα εμφανής σε Βουλγαρία και Ουκρανία.
Στην Πολωνία, για παράδειγμα, 44% των ερωτηθέντων ανέφεραν ότι είναι ικανοποιημένοι, σε σύγκριση με 12% που είχαν δώσει την ίδια απάντηση το 1991. Σε άλλες χώρες, όμως, η μεταβολή υπήρξε λιγότερο έντονη. Στη Βουλγαρία και την Ουγγαρία, μόλις 15% των ερωτηθέντων δήλωσαν ικανοποιημένοι φέτος, ενώ τα ποσοστά το 1991 ήταν 4% και 8% αντίστοιχα. Παράδοξο αποτελεί το φαινόμενο ότι η ενίσχυση αυτή της ικανοποίησης συμπίπτει με την πεποίθηση ότι η ζωή σήμερα είναι χειρότερη από ότι ήταν επί κομμουνισμού. Στην Ουκρανία, 62% των ερωτηθέντων εκτιμούν ότι τα πράγματα είναι χειρότερα σήμερα, ενώ την ίδια άποψη μοιράζεται το 45% των Ρώσων. Μόνο στην Τσεχία και την Πολωνία, η πλειοψηφία του πληθυσμού εκτιμά ότι η ζωή σήμερα είναι καλύτερη από ό,τι ήταν πριν είκοσι χρόνια. Το 50% των νέων Πολωνών εμφανίζεται ικανοποιημένο με τις σημερινές συνθήκες διαβίωσης, ενώ ικανοποιημένο εμφανίζεται μόλις το 29% των Πολωνών άνω των 65 ετών. Ανάλογο γενεαλογικό χάσμα παρατηρείται και μεταξύ των αντιλήψεων για τη μετάβαση από τον κομμουνισμό στον καπιταλισμό. 60% των ερωτηθέντων Ρώσων ηλικίας 18 με 29 ετών ανέφεραν ότι εγκρίνουν την αλλαγή σε πολυκομματικό πολιτικό σύστημα και στην οικονομία της αγοράς, ενώ μόλις 27% από τους μεγαλύτερους των 60 ετών εγκρίνουν τη μετάβαση.
Η δημοσκόπηση έδειξε επίσης ότι 74% των Ούγγρων εκτιμά ότι η ελευθερία του λόγου αποτελεί κορυφαία κατάκτηση, ενώ μόλις 37% των Ρώσων έχουν την ίδια άποψη. Πάνω από 60% των Βουλγάρων εκτιμούν ότι οι ελεύθερες εκλογές είναι ιδιαίτερα σημαντική εξέλιξη, έναντι 39% των Λιθουανών, που αναφέρουν το ίδιο. Η σφυγμομέτρηση αποκαλύπτει επίσης την άνοδο του ρωσικού εθνικισμού, με 54% των ερωτηθέντων να αναφέρουν ότι η Ρωσία πρέπει να ανήκει στους Ρώσους και 47% να τονίζουν ότι η Ρωσία πρέπει να είναι αυτοκρατορία.

                                                                                     Καθημερινή/ Aassociated PRESS  02-11-09   

Τρίτη, 28 Απριλίου 2015

Maks Velo: Nudot nje nga arsyet pse me denuan


Alma Mile, “Maks Velo: Nudot nje nga arsyet pse me denuan”, Panorama 19/01/2011           

Pas nje qendrimi njemujor ne Spanje Maks Velo percjell per publikun eksperiencen e tij ne kete vend dielli permes nje ekspozite ne galerine DIDART te titulluar Spanja. shte munduar te preke pak nga te gjitha qe nga natyra tek njerezit arkitektura te cilen e sjell permes vizatimeve. Artisti tregon per eksperiencen e tij spanjolle por edhe per koherat kur nudot ishin arsye per tu burgosur. Cili ishte fati i veprave te krijuara para burgosjes dhe cfare mundi te shpetonte. Riktheheni me pikture por kesaj here me motive spanjolle si lindi kjo ekspozite.

    Ne vitin 2005 studion time e viziton nje grup danez mes te cileve nje galeriste nga Kopenhageni dhe presidentja e fondacionit Valparaiso Beatriz Beket. Fondacioni eshte krijuar ne vitin 1992 dhe ka ngritur nje qender ne Spanje. Kane kaluar aty rreth 1100 artiste nga e gjithe bota. Aty cdo muaj shkojne tete artiste. Muajin qe isha une ishim kater piktore nje nga Rusia Irlanda Meksika une dy shkrimtare nga Barcelona nje fotograf anglez dhe nje kompozitore nga Lisbona. Kishin krijuar kushte shume te mira secili kishte apartamentin dhe studion e vet por te krijuara sipas mendesise daneze. Nuk kishte as televizor as radio as gazeta. Une qe e kerkoj vetmine perfitova nga rasti dhe krijova rreth 120 pune. Ketu jane 30.

  Duket se keni prekur pak nga te gjitha Spanje... Ekspozita ndahet ne 5 lloj grupime nese do ti kategorizojme. Jane vizatimet nga qytete si Barcelona Madridi Malaga dhe Granada vizatimet abstrakte me grafit nje cikel per toreadoret ku jane edhe dy monotipe natyra e qete dhe disa nudo. Keto ishin ato cka me terhoqen me shume nga Spanja. Per here te pare shkova ne nje lufte me dema. Me thene te drejten u tmerrova shume. Vrasja e 6 demave ishte e tmerrshme. Ishin kafshe aq te bukura dhe ndiheshe keq se te gjithe ishin kunder demit. Megjithate simbolika e saj do te ishte fitorja dhe respekti mbi natyren. Spanja eshte nje vend me te cilin kemi shume gjera te ngjashme e mund te marrim shume eksperience cka nuk e bejme fatkeqesisht. Si ne urbanistike ndertime turizem hapesira skulptura te parqeve pemetari... shte nje popull punetor pa fjale qe respekton ligjin e do shume natyren dhe artin. Nuk eshte e rastit qe artistet me te medhenj te shek. XX jane spanjolle si Pikaso Dali Miro edhe Gaudi ne arkitekture. Spanja me ka lene pershtypje te vecante dhe e mbylla edhe nje kuriozitet timin. Kisha vizituar muzete e Pikasos ne Barcelone e Paris dhe doja te vizitoja edhe Malagen ku ai ka lindur ku eshte edhe nje muze. Ne Granade eshte muzeu u Lorkes. Kur isha ne Spac kam vizatuar kopertinen e nje drame te Lorkes. E nxorem nga Nentori dhe e lidha me vete ashtu me ato mjete rrethanore qe kishim dhe mendoj tia coj atij muzeu. Ne Madrid vizitova muzeun Prado qe eshte i nje karakteri klasik dhe muzeun e ri te ngritur ne vitin 2005 Reina Sofia sipas shembullit te Pompiduse.

  Atmosferes se ngrohte spanjolle nuk i mungojne edhe nudot cvend zene ato ne krijimtarine tuaj. Nese lexon ekspertizen e Lidhjes kur jam denuar dhe vendimin e gjyqit atje flitet edhe per nudot. Une kisha nje cikel te tere nudosh mbi modelet qe kishim ne Institut qe u konfiskuan dhe u dogjen. Ideatori ishte Kujtim Buza. Kam shume deshire te pikturoj nudo sepse te jep nje kenaqesi dhe te lejon te shprehesh por te jemi realiste mundesite tona nuk jane. Edhe dy nga nudot e ekspozites i kam pikturuar me mend. Grate spanjolle me terhoqen shume sidomos kur dilnin ne arene pas luftes me dema me veshjet e tyre karakteristike. Nuk kam pasur modele. Ndersa per njeren kam bere nje vizatim ne Paris ne nje fshat ne dimer ne studion e nje piktori ku vinte nje studente dhe pozonte nudo. Po te shohesh veprat e mira qe tashme jane rreth 2000 nuk ka kufij te percaktuar. Me pelqen te bej cdo gje edhe kungujt edhe nudot edhe abstraktet vizatimet e qytetit natyren perdor te gjitha teknikat... Kam nje kenaqesi te madhe te punoj por mundesite i kam pasur te pakta. Nuk me dhane studio kur u dhane te gjitheve. Gjithnje me kane ndjekur me kane djegur burgosur dhe as tani nuk me perkrahin. Mjafton tju them qe nuk me lejojne te ekspozoj ne Galerine e Artit. Jane nje grup personash qe gjithnje mundohet te me pengoje ndoshta shfaqja ime i erreson ata. Ndaj falenderoj pronarin e Didartit Theodhor Dhoska qe me nxiti dhe ma hapi falas ekspoziten. Gjithsesi vazhdoj te punoj me sa mundem edhe nudo edhe pse tashme shume pak e punojne ate. Eshte e veshtire per tu vizatuar eshte tabu apo nuk shijohet nga publiku. Nudoja eshte gjeja me e veshtire.

Edhe nudot e ekspozuara ne galeri jane te realizuara ne akademi ne Rusi Itali Greqi Rumani por jo me vone. Kane qene nudo te realizuara nen drejtimin e pedagogeve. Nuk eshte ceshtja se nuk mund te realizohen nudot sepse te gjithe kane studio por problemi eshte se kane frike dhe i shmangen nudos. Nudoja gjithmone eshte konsideruar si gjeja me perfaqesuese e botes qe do te thote nisur nga format nga linjat e nje nudoje ku perfshihet linjat e maleve fushave pemeve kafsheve. Une shoh qe tek ne as nuk vizatohet dot. Si eshte e mundur ku qendron problemi eshte problemi i shkolles shmangia e realizmit.

Shmangia e detyrimit per te mesuar mire vizatimin per mua eshte gabim. Nese di te vizatosh je perfekt edhe ne abstraksionizem. Dhe fakti qe studentet nuk dine te vizatojne por merren me karrige me gure dhe me xhingla tregon qe shkolla nuk eshte e afte ti mesoje te vizatojne nderkohe qe duhet te bente pikerisht kete gje. Kur dalin nga shkolla ata nuk dine te vizatojne asgje askush nuk di te beje nje pllakate apo nje vizatim humoristik dhe ka mbetur vetem Bujar Kapexhiu ne kete fushe. Kjo tregon se shkolla nuk eshte hic ne terezi. Dhe konceptualja per mua eshte nje kamuflim. Nuk ke sesi te besh konceptualen pa kulture. Sot nuk gjen askend qe te beje nje skulpture ekzakte. Mjaft te marrim shembullin e monumentit te Nene Terezes ne Rinas qe eshte nje llahtar. Ne i mbulojme gjerat gjoja me modernitet. Thate qe ju kane sekuestruar dhe ju kane djegur shume pune pas denimit. Ka shpetuar dot ndonje pjese e veprave te asaj kohe Nje pjese punesh kane shpetuar. Nje pjese ishin te ngaterruara njera mbi tjetren dhe nuk i kane pare ato qe kisha hedhur ne qilar shpetuan nderkohe qe me nje pedagog francez te gjuheve te huaja kisha nisur rreth 35 pune ne Paris perpara se te me arrestonin. Atje ndenjen gjate gjithe kohes qe isha ne burg dhe i kam marre ne vitin 1992. Jane pune interesante te realizuara nga viti 1964 deri ne 74-n. Nderkohe qe kam marre ne Ministrine e Brendshme fotokopjet e fotografive te puneve te mia qe kane bere perpara se ti djegin. Nje sekretare qe punonte ne gjykate Ruko Sako me tha qe i kishte djegur ne kaldaje. Mora fotografite dhe i kam ribere riprodhuar. Keshtu qe kam nje fond prej 100 punesh te asaj kohe. Ndersa punet e realizimit i kam te gjitha pastele portrete te cilat nuk i moren qe shkojne ne rreth 200 pune. U sekuestruan pikturat abstrakte nudot. Djegia e puneve ishte nje procedure qe ndiqej per te gjithe artistet e denuar. Jo kjo ndodhi vetem me mua. Bashkevuajtesve te mi Edison Gjergo dhe Ali Oseku nuk iu dogj asgje. Por kjo ndoshta sepse une levroja artin abstrakt. Kush ka qene ne gjyqin tim e mban mend se si i ekspozuan ato ne sallen e gjyqit. Madje mua me cuan edhe ne spitalin psikiatrik per ekzaminim. Ndersa te tjeret zhvillonin art modern por me tema te socializmit por jo abstrakt sic eshte piktura e Edison Gjergos apo Mbjellja e pemeve te Edi Hiles. Ndryshimi dukej edhe tek denimi. Per agjitacion e propagande ishte 3-10 vjet. Mua me denuan me maksimalen te tjere me me minimalen.

Δευτέρα, 27 Απριλίου 2015

Gulag on Vorkuta USSR


Γκουλάγκ στήν Βορκούτα



Τά στρατόπεδα του αργού θανάτου στή Σιβηρία, τά Γκουλάγκ, υπήρξαν τόπος εξορίας γιά εκατομμυρία ανθρώπους διαφόρων εθνικοτήτων, κομματικών στελεχών ή μή, χριστιανών ή άθεων. Τό κομμουνιστικό σύστημα είχε ανάγκη από σκλάβους γιά νά κτίσουν πόλεις ή γιά νά δουλέψουν στά ορυχεία. Αρκούσε μία ψευδομαρτυρία, μία υποψία, μία λέξη γιά νά συλληφθεί κάποιος καί νά οδηγηθεί γιά καταναγκαστική εργασία στά γκουλάγκ. Μία τέτοια περίπτωση ήταν αυτή της Βορκούτα. Η Βορκούτα είναι μια πόλη, 100 μίλια βορείως τον Αρκτικού Κύκλου, περιτριγυρισμένη από αφιλόξενη τούντρα, όπου ο χειμώνας διαρκεί 10 μήνες και η θερμοκρασία πέφτει συχνά στους -40 βαθμούς Κελσίου. Η Βορκούτα ήταν ακατοίκητη ώσπου γεωλόγοι ανακάλυψαν αποθέματα γαιάνθρακα κάτω από την παγωμένη γη της. Οι πρώτοι φυλακισμένοι έφθασαν εκεί το 1931, ύστερα από εξάμηνο ταξίδι, και ως το 1954 δύο εκατομμύρια ψυχές είχαν σταλεί στα 80 ορυχεία. Μερικοί από αυτούς ήταν μικροεγκληματίες, άλλοι ήταν τα θύματα των εκκαθαρίσεων τον Στάλιν που τιμωρούνταν για ανύπαρκτα «αδικήματα» - όπως για τη συγγένειά τους με ξένο ή γιατί έφθασαν καθυστερημένοι ένα πρωί στη δουλειά τους. Ο Νεγκρέτοφ, θύμα των διώξεων του Στάλιν μας περιγράφει τήν εμπειρία του:

Αμέσως πiστεψα ότι είχα φθάσει στην κόλαση. Ο πρώτος ενάμισης χρόνος ήταν ο χειρότερος. Υπήρχαν τρείς οκτάωρες βάρδιες. Από τους στρατώνες μάς συνόδευαν μέσα στο χιόνι υπό την απειλή του όπλου ως τα ορυχεία. Είχε συνεχώς πηχτό σκοτάδι και παγωνιά αλλά ο αέρας ήταν το χειρότερο. Συχνά αναρωτιόμουν γιατί οι γονείς μου με εiχαν φέρει σε αυτόν τον κόσμο. Ημουν πετσί και κόκκαλο και γεμάτος πληγές.  Οι φυλακισμένοι κοιμούνταν ανά ζευγάρια για να ζεσταίνονται. Ξάπλωναν στο πάτωμα, πάνω σε ένα σακάκι, και το άλλο το έριχναν πάνω τους για να ζεσταθούν. Τις μπότες τους τις έκαναν μαξιλάρι για να μην τους τις κλέψουν όσο κοιμούνrαν και τύλιγαν τα πόδια τους με το παντελόνι τους να να μην πάθουν κρυοπαγήματα. Κάθε πρωi μας ξύπναγε ένας θυμωμένος στρατιώτης φωνάζοντας. Αυτή ήταν η χειρότερη στιγμή - να ξυπνάμε κατάκοποι για να αντιμετωπiσουμε μια ακόμη ημέρα.

    Καθημερινά στη Βορκούτα φυλακισμένοι πέθαιναν από την πείνα και από το κρύο η τους εκτελούσαν οι φύλακες ή έχαναν τη ζωή τους στα ορυχεία. Η Μemοrial, της οποίας επικεφαλής ήταν ο πυρηνικός φυσικός Αντρέι Ζαχάροφ ως τον θάνατό του το 1989, κατάφερε να εξασφαλίσει πρόσβαση στα αρχεία σε μια προσπάθεια να υπολογίσει τον αριθμό των θυμάτων. Σύμφωνα με αρχικούς υπολογισμούς, αυτά ανέρχονται σε μισό εκατομμύριο.

Tzvetan Todorov: Ο φόβος και η ταπείνωση


Λιλυ Εξαρχοπούλου, ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΤΥΠΙΑ, 22-1-2011

Πολυμεταφρασμένος και στην Ελλάδα, ο γαλλοβούλγαρος φιλόσοφος Τσβετάν Τοντορόφ στο παρόν βιβλίο ασχολείται με το άκρως επίκαιρο θέμα της επονομαζόμενης, κατά Χάντινγκτον, σύγκρουσης των πολιτισμών. Πριν προχωρήσει στην ανάλυση της σημερινής κατάστασης, ο Τοντορόφ θέτει τους βασικούς ορισμούς του πολιτισμού και της βαρβαρότητας και μετέρχεται των απόψεων των αρχαίων συγγραφέων καθώς και, σε μεγαλύτερο βάθος, των κορυφαίων Γάλλων Διαφωτιστών. Στον πρόλογό του αναφέρει επιγραμματικά τους επιμέρους τομείς της ανάλυσής του, η οποία χωρίζεται σε πέντε κεφάλαια με τους εύγλωττους τίτλους: «Βαρβαρότητα και πολιτισμός», «Οι συλλογικές ταυτότητες», «Ο πόλεμος των κόσμων», «Πλέοντας ανάμεσα σε σκοπέλους» και «Η ευρωπαϊκή ταυτότητα». Στο συμπερασματικό κεφάλαιο «Πέρα από τους μανιχαϊσμούς» διατυπώνει κάποιες σκέψεις για τον διαπολιτισμικό διάλογο και προτάσεις για την πολιτική των δυτικών χωρών.

Από το πρώτο ήδη κεφάλαιο δηλώνει ότι «πολιτισμένος είναι, παντού και πάντα, όποιος μπορεί να αναγνωρίζει την ανθρώπινη υπόσταση των άλλων», ενώ βάρβαρος αυτός που δεν την αναγνωρίζει. Στη διαμόρφωση της σκέψης του πρωτεύοντα ρόλο παίζει η τυπολογία του Dominique Moisi, ο οποίος κατηγοριοποιεί τις χώρες σε ομάδες ανάλογα με το πάθος που τις διακρίνει. Ετσι έχουμε την ομάδα της λαχτάρας, που «ο πληθυσμός τους νιώθει συχνά ότι ... έχει κρατηθεί μακριά από την κατανομή του πλούτου· σήμερα έχει έρθει η σειρά τους», τις χώρες της μνησικακίας, που «είναι απόρροια μιας ταπείνωσης πραγματικής ή φανταστικής, που υποτίθεται ότι υπέστησαν από τις πλουσιότερες και ισχυρότερες χώρες», του φόβου, οι οποίες είναι οι χώρες της Δύσης που κυριαρχούσαν σ' όλο τον κόσμο επί αιώνες και της αναποφασιστικότητας, «υπολειμματική ομάδα ...τα μέλη της οποίας ενδέχεται να υποκύψουν μια μέρα στη λαχτάρα ή τη μνησικακία». Σήμερα η κυρίαρχη αντίθεση δεν είναι ανάμεσα σε θρησκείες ή πολιτισμούς αλλά μεταξύ των χωρών του φόβου και των χωρών της ταπείνωσης. Διευκρινίζει ότι ο πολιτισμός (civilization) δεν πρέπει να συγχέεται με τις κουλτούρες (cultures) που «δεν αντιστοιχούν σε μια άχρονη ηθική και διανοητική κατηγορία, αλλά σε ιστορικά μορφώματα που εμφανίζονται και εξαφανίζονται».

Κομβικός στην ευρωπαϊκή σκέψη υπήρξε ο Διαφωτισμός, ο οποίος συνάρθρωσε την οικουμενικότητα των αξιών και την πολλαπλότητα των πολιτισμών. Ο πολιτισμός συνδέεται με τις αξίες και τη σκέψη και όχι με έργα και πρακτικές των τεχνών, όπως είναι η διαδεδομένη παρανόηση. Υπάρχουν κουλτούρες, όπως αυτή των Ζουλού, που γνωρίζουν είδη και μορφές έκφρασης τις οποίες αγνοούν παντελώς οι Ευρωπαίοι. «Η ανθρώπινη κουλτούρα είναι συνώνυμο των πνευματικών και ηθικών ικανοτήτων των ανθρώπινων όντων», λέει ο Τοντορόφ και παραθέτει τον Μοντεσκιέ, ο οποίος δήλωνε «άνθρωπος κατ' ανάγκη, και Γάλλος μόνο λόγω του τυχαίου περιστατικού της γέννησής του σ' αυτό τον τόπο κι όχι σε κάποιον άλλο». Το θέμα του πολιτισμού ή της βαρβαρότητας είναι ρευστό: «Καμία κουλτούρα δεν είναι καθεαυτή βάρβαρη, κανένας λαός δεν είναι οριστικά πολιτισμένος· όλες και όλοι μπορούν να γίνουν τόσο το ένα όσο και το άλλο». Τα παραδείγματα της «πολιτισμένης Δύσης» αφθονούν: από την Ιερά Εξέταση ώς τον Χίτλερ. Γι' αυτό και αισθάνεται υποχρεωμένος να ορίσει τον βάρβαρο: «είναι αυτός που πιστεύει ότι ένας πληθυσμός, ή ένα ον, δεν ανήκει πλήρως στην ανθρωπότητα και επομένως αξίζει όρους μεταχείρισης τους οποίους επ' ουδενί δεν θα δεχόταν για τον ίδιο».

Εξηγώντας τις συλλογικές ταυτότητες ο Τοντορόφ διασαφηνίζει ότι η αρχική ταυτότητα επιβάλλεται κατά την παιδική ηλικία και απαρτίζεται από την κοινή γλώσσα κι ένα σύνολο κοινών αναφορών που έχουν ονομαστεί η «ουσιώδης κουλτούρα». Ενα ακόμη χαρακτηριστικό είναι ότι το κάθε άτομο δεν διαθέτει μία αλλά πολλές πολιτισμικές ταυτότητες, είναι επί παραδείγματι, Αμπελοκηπιώτης, Αθηναίος, Ελληνας, Μεσογειακός, Βαλκάνιος, Ευρωπαίος, άντρας, ιδιωτικός υπάλληλος, σινεφίλ, Παναθηναϊκός κ.ο.κ., άρα η ατομική ταυτότητα συντίθεται από τη συνάντηση πολλαπλών συλλογικών ταυτοτήτων. Κάτι αντίστοιχο συμβαίνει και με τις κουλτούρες: «Δεν υπάρχουν αμιγείς και νόθες κουλτούρες· όλες τους είναι μεικτές (ή "υβρίδια" ή "επιμειξίες"). Οι επαφές ανάμεσα σε ανθρώπινες ομάδες ανάγονται στις απαρχές του είδους ...». Οι κουλτούρες μετασχηματίζονται συνέχεια και στη σημερινή εποχή αυτό συμβαίνει με μεγάλη ταχύτητα, πράγμα που γεννά την αμυντική στάση κάποιων ομάδων που υποστηρίζουν με φανατισμό την αρχική τους ταυτότητα. Κάθε αντίληψη είναι μια κατασκευή και αναμειγνύει «πραγματικότητες» με «μυθοπλασίες». Ταυτοχρόνως ομάδες που στο παρελθόν είχαν υποστεί αδικίες και κακομεταχείριση αγωνίζονται να αναγνωριστούν.

Ο Τοντορόφ προσυπογράφει την άποψη του Αμάρτια Σεν ότι μια αναγκαία συνθήκη για την έκρηξη της βίας είναι «η αναγωγή της πολλαπλής ταυτότητας σε μοναδική». Ωστόσο συχνά υπάρχει εμπλοκή της έννοιας της κουλτούρας με αυτή του κράτους, ενώ το κράτος: «είναι μια διοικητική και πολιτική οντότητα με καλώς ορισμένα σύνορα, που περιέχει προφανώς άτομα τα οποία φέρουν πολυάριθμες κουλτούρες». Κατά συνέπεια κάθε κοινωνία και κάθε κράτος είναι πολυπολιτισμικά και «Η διαφορά δεν είναι ανάμεσα σε πολυπολιτισμικές και μονοπολιτισμικές κοινωνίες αλλά ανάμεσα σ' αυτές που, κατά την εικόνα που σχηματίζουν για την ταυτότητά τους, δέχονται την εσωτερική τους πολλαπλότητα εκθειάζοντάς την κι εκείνες που, αντιθέτως, επιλέγουν να την αγνοούν και να την υποτιμούν». Μιλώντας στη συνέχεια για τη σημερινή γαλλική πολιτική καυτηριάζει τη δημιουργία από τον Σαρκοζί, το 2007, υπουργείου Εθνικής Ταυτότητας, επισημαίνοντας ότι αντιφάσκει με τις αρχές του κοσμικού κράτους, και διακρίνει τις ταυτότητες σε: α) πολιτισμική (πολλαπλή), β) πολιτειακή και γ) την ταυτότητα ως «προσχώρηση σε κοινό πρόσταγμα...».

Αναφερόμενος στη σημερινή απειλή των ισλαμιστών, ο Τοντορόφ διαχωρίζει το ισλάμ (θρησκεία) από τους ισλαμιστές, τους φανατικούς θρησκευόμενους. Θεωρεί ότι οι μαχητές επωφελούνται από την παγκοσμιοποίηση και την ταχύτητα της επικοινωνίας που προσφέρει το Διαδίκτυο και επισημαίνει ότι η στρατιωτική ισχύς δεν βοηθά στην εξουδετέρωσή τους, μια και δεν πρόκειται για στρατό αλλά για μεμονωμένα άτομα «που δεν διαφέρουν σε τίποτα από τον υπόλοιπο πληθυσμό». Η διασπορά των μαχητών σε διάφορα μέρη του κόσμου και η άγνοια για την κουλτούρα τους προξενεί φόβο στη Δύση. Ομως «ο φόβος είναι κακός σύμβουλος και πρέπει να φοβόμαστε όσους ζουν μέσα στον φόβο». Για τον Τοντορόφ η μάχη που θα δοθεί πρέπει να είναι ιδεολογική και πολιτική. «Πρέπει να καταπολεμηθούν οι πηγές αυτής της συμπάθειας [προς τους μαχητές], άρα οι όλως πραγματικές αδικίες», και παραθέτει τα λάθη τού -κατά Μπους- πολέμου κατά της τρομοκρατίας ή και κατά του κακού, και στιγματίζει την επικίνδυνη μανιχαϊστική αντίληψη, καλού - κακού. Η κριτική του στρέφεται κυρίως κατά της Αμερικής αλλά και της διστακτικής πολιτικής της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενωσης, η οποία συχνά σύρεται πίσω από τις ΗΠΑ. Παρουσιάζοντας ενδελεχώς τα βασανιστήρια στο Αμπου Γκράιμπ και το Γκουαντάναμο, αλλά και το Torture Memo (2002) της αμερικανικής κυβέρνησης κάνει, μεταξύ άλλων, δύο σημαντικότατες επισημάνσεις: 1) την υιοθέτηση ολοκληρωτικών συμπεριφορών από τις δημοκρατίες χωρίς αλλαγή της γενικής δομής τους, 2) την πειραματική διαπίστωση ότι «τα ανθρώπινα όντα έχουν πάντα την τάση να απαντούν στην επιθετικότητα με ακόμα μεγαλύτερη επιθετικότητα, γιατί το κακό που υπέστησαν τους φαίνεται πάντα μεγαλύτερο από το κακό που προκάλεσαν».

Στο «Πλέοντας ανάμεσα σε σκοπέλους» ο συγγραφέας επιχειρεί να ερμηνεύσει αλλά και να κρίνει τρία διαφορετικά περιστατικά που δημιούργησαν ένταση στις ευρωπαϊκές (και όχι μόνο) μουσουλμανικές κοινότητες: τη δολοφονία του σκηνοθέτη Τ. Βαν Γκογκ στην Ολλανδία, τις γελοιογραφίες του Μωάμεθ σε δανέζικη εφημερίδα και την ομιλία του πάπα Βενέδικτου του ΙΣΤ' στο γερμανικό Πανεπιστήμιο του Ράτισμπον. Ο συγγραφέας εξετάζει αναλυτικά το κάθε περιστατικό, ενώ ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον παρουσιάζουν οι απόψεις του για τα όρια της ελευθερίας του Τύπου, όπου καταλήγει στο συμπέρασμα πως: «η ηθική της ευθύνης αρμόζει περισσότερο στην πολιτική δράση απ' ό,τι η ηθική της πεποίθησης». Το νόημα της ευρωπαϊκής ταυτότητας αναζητείται όχι μόνο στη μακραίωνη ιστορία της αλλά και στην επισήμανση της πολλαπλότητας των εθνικών παραδόσεων, τον ρόλο του Διαφωτισμού και την ευρωπαϊκή παράδοση της άσκησης κριτικής σκέψης. Θεωρεί ιδιαίτερα σημαντική «την ύπαρξη [στην Ευρώπη] πολλών κρατών συγκρίσιμου μεγέθους [πράγμα που] εμποδίζει την εγκαθίδρυση μιας αυτοκρατορίας ή μιας συγκεντρωτικής εξουσίας»· υπενθυμίζει επίσης την κατά Ρουσό «γενική βούληση», η οποία ορίζεται ως ένα «άθροισμα διαφορών», μια οπτική που λαμβάνει υπόψη τις διαφωνίες, αλλά ενεργεί στο όνομα του γενικού συμφέροντος. Συνεπώς: «Η ευρωπαϊκή ταυτότητα συνίσταται ...σε έναν τρόπο αποδοχής και αξιοποίησης της πολλαπλότητας των οντοτήτων που αποτελούν την Ευρώπη». Στη συνέχεια, ο συγγραφέας επιχειρεί να εξηγήσει τις διαφορές ανάμεσα στις ΗΠΑ και την Ε.Ε. και να ορίσει τα σύνορα της Ευρώπης, που εν πολλοίς καθορίζονται και στα προαπαιτούμενα για τις προς ένταξη χώρες. Στα επιμέρους κεφάλαια ο Τοντορόφ διατυπώνει κάποιες προτάσεις που ο εκάστοτε ενδιαφερόμενος, είτε πρόκειται για τις ΗΠΑ, την Ε.Ε., τη Γαλλία ή τις μουσουλμανικές χώρες και τις μουσουλμανικές κοινότητες στην Ευρώπη, καλείται να μελετήσει. Συμπερασματικά διαπιστώνει πως: «Για να είναι αποτελεσματικός, ο διάλογος πρέπει να πληροί μια διπλή συνθήκη. Αφενός, πρέπει να αναγνωρίζει τη διαφορά των φωνών που συμμετέχουν σε αυτόν και να μην ορίζει προκαταβολικά ότι μία από αυτές αποτελεί τον κανόνα, ενώ η άλλη ερμηνεύεται ως παρέκκλιση ή διαφορά φάσης ή κακή θέληση». Μια επίκαιρη, βαθυστόχαστη μελέτη για τις κοινωνικές συνθήκες στην εποχή της παγκοσμιοποίησης, τις συλλογικές και ατομικές ταυτότητες, ελευθερίες και ευθύνες, αφιερωμένη στη μεγάλη γαλλίδα ανθρωπολόγο Ζ. Τιγιόν και στον εμβληματικό παλαιστίνιο διανοητή Ε. Σαΐντ.

Πέμπτη, 23 Απριλίου 2015

‘Death and the Penguin’; Andrei Kurkov and writing in Ukraine - Postcommunist world


During the Ukraine study tour, the British Council arranged a session with Andrei Kurkov, Ukraine’s most famous living novelist. With his impeccable, colloquial English and knowing way of dealing with Westerners, Kurkov maintains his diffidence while deftly playing the media game. Kurkov’s early training in Japanese and his slipping the net of Russian intelligence service recruiters to wait out the fall of communism as a prison guard in Odessa hint that this is a writer who will not be pinned down.

He thinks the Orange Revolution changed the mentality of Ukrainians, making them less passive and politically indifferent, but adds; ‘I have no illusions, it was essentially a bourgeois revolution’. He talked to us affably and optimistically about Russian and Ukrainian writing in Ukraine, cultural policy and the national arts scene. He also spoke about censorship, saying “there are no clean politicians in this country, unless they are very young or very unimportant.”

Kurkov occasionally writes for European newspapers but is best known for ‘Death and the Penguin’, a black comedy set in modern day Kyiv. It’s quite fitting to write in a blog about ‘Death and the Penguin’. Its protagonist, Viktor, is a writer who starts and finishes the novel “trapped in a rut between journalism and meagre scraps of prose”.

Viktor craves recognition as a proper novelist, but doesn’t have the talent or drive to manage anything longer than a short story. Employed by a newspaper editor and a major underground figure to write obituaries of the living, Viktor soon comes to dread the publication of his ‘obelisks’, the cryptic eulogies of Ukraine’s notables that obliquely point to who’s next on the assassin’s list. His companion is a dolorous penguin, Micha, rescued when the zoo ran out of money. Micha pads sadly around Viktor’s apartment eating frozen fish and peering at himself in the mirror, missing his old companions. His only pleasure is a rare swim in a cold bath.  While studiously ignoring his pivotal role in a series of political murders, Viktor unwittingly collects an assortment of people that approximates a nuclear family, complete with pet. Everyone ends up at least as lonely as they were at the beginning, if not more so, or dead.

Which sounds depressing. It really isn’t. Death and the Penguin is certainly melancholy. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s about melancholy and an unspoken yearning for the camaraderie of the old days. Because when all the youth leagues, may days, and workers of the year evaporated in 1991, it turned out that communism had actually done quite well at eradicating bourgeois sentimentality. Without the forced companionship of enthusiastic believers, there weren’t enough social ties to get moody ex-communists out of the house on a winter’s evening. And winter is long. Even for a penguin.

So ‘Death and the Penguin’ is about loneliness, which is as universal a theme as you can imagine. Micha’s depression expresses the loss of purpose and friendship that must have made Ukraine a rather subdued place in the 1990s. Micha’s ‘family’ live amiable but parallel lives, occasionally reaching out for companionship but never feeling their way to intimacy.

For all that, it’s funny. Because ‘Death and the Penguin’ seems so redolent of Bulgakov and his talking communist dogs, I kept expecting Micha to speak. He never does. The book never over reaches into slapstick. Its black humour is mostly implicit in a clever plot that you can just as easily read as back story. Events may occasionally prompt Viktor to act, but the plot has less effect on his feelings than the weather. It’s up to the reader to figure out what’s really going on, or just stick with Viktor to see if he will ever make a connection to another human being. ‘Death and the Penguin’ is a wonderful book, widely available in translation.

Kurkov is often criticised for writing in Russian rather than Ukrainian, but friction between writers’ political and literary ambitions is nothing new. In the late nineteenth century, as cultural nationalism bloomed all over Europe, writers in Ukraine struggled to create a literature in Ukrainian. As many of Europe’s nations came to discover - or more accurately to create – themselves; alphabets, grammars and ultimately literatures were built onto illiterate peasant tongues.

Ukraine’s writers tended to be from the urban and educated classes; so they spoke Russian first and best, and picked up Ukrainian from wet nurses and street markets. Choosing Ukrainian meant turning aside from the great Russian literary tradition. No small feat when you consider how many Russian writers came from modern day Ukraine: Gogol (whose ‘Dead Souls’ is set in eastern Ukraine), Akhmatova (born in Odessa), Vasily Grossman (writer of ‘Life and Fate’), Chekhov, and Bulgakov (born in Kyiv, slightly appalled by his rustic countrymen, as ‘The White Guard’ shows). 

Kurkov belongs firmly in the Russian literary tradition, with a pedigree in absurdist social satire that runs via Bulgakov directly back to Gogol. Listening to Kurkov, it seemed to me that literary Ukraine shows the same combination of the shambolic, the corrupt, the tenacious and the enduring we saw in every other part of life there. He says the Ukrainian stall at the Frankfurt book show is a mix of generals’ memoirs and agricultural journals, the whole thing got up as a money laundering effort.

Kurkov’s use of the surreal is fitting in a country of bizarre contrasts, dramatic events, and unbelievable turns of fortune. Ukraine’s heroic venality demands Kurkov’s deadpan approach. A couple of years ago, Kurkov wrote a book about a handsome politician who is poisoned by the Russians and loses his looks but gains power. The thing is, the book pre-dated the events precipitating the Orange Revolution by about eight months. Ask Kurkov about the almost magical absurdity in his novels, and he smiles and says he only writes about what he knows.

Kurkov believes Ukrainian writing is more vibrant than the current Russian literature scene. Russian history certainly left a huge gap in Ukrainian literature. Imperial Russia disapproved of ethnic and linguistic difference and so did the Soviets (apart from a brief period in the 1920s). When literary censorship was lifted in 1991, the fifteen hundred members of the old Soviet Writers Union were set loose to write what they liked, as long as they could find someone willing to pay for it. The market for hack writing of communist propaganda dried up over night.

Today, young writers are rushing to begin Ukrainian literature all over again. Kurkov describes this generation of writers as being in a learning phase, intoxicated by its own freedom and the radical changes of society, uninterested in its soviet history,  producing what he calls ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ writing. The independent publishing industry is still developing, and just as subject to patronage and corruption as anything else in Ukraine. But you can only feel envious of a generation of writers steeped in but unfettered by the Russian greats, openly ambitious and ready to take on the world.

Παρασκευή, 17 Απριλίου 2015

Jorge Guillen: Τελευταία γη της εξορίας


Jorge Guillen

Τελευταία γη της εξορίας

Εδώ παίρνει τέλος η εξορία,
τούτο το τυφλό βάθος δεν είναι καμιάς χώρας.
Ποιος, αγνοώντας τ’ όνομα από πάνω
δεν τοποθετεί, ωστόσο, σ’ ανθρώπινο τόπο το νεκρό.
Δεν είναι πια τούτα τα βάθη του κοιμητηρίου
η τόσο μακρινή πατρίδα, όπου εμείς οι άλλοι
είμαστε μελαγχολικοί ξένοι.
Ενθάδε κείται εκείνος που υπήρξε απών,
τελευταίο ρίζωμα του ξεριζωμένου.

Edward Nawotka, “Frogs in a Well: Literary Life in North Korea”


North Korea is without a doubt among the most mysterious of countries, which begs the question: What kind of literary life is there in North Korea? The answer — according to two new books about the country, Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (Spiegel & Grau) and The Cleanest Race by B.R. Myers (Melville House) — is nothing short of surprising and alarming.

“Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is popular in North Korea,” says Demick during an interview with Publishing Perspectives. Her book is drawn largely from interviews with North Korean defectors and covers several decades of recent history, focusing on the industrial city of Chongjin. “The parallels between the American Civil War and the Korean War, that brutality of divided nations, of brother against brother, interests them.”

Demick explains that foreign books are, by and large, only available at The People’s Study Hall, which is the showcase library in Pyongyang, and a place only open to the elite. “North Korea isn’t anti-intellectual, it’s just anti-outside ideas. There are a very limited number of foreign titles available at the library, including some books by Russians, as well as Jack London — who is popular, and some others, like Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and some by Sidney Sheldon.”

“Apparently,” she adds, “there is a list of one hundred approved books — ‘The 100 Books’ — that the elite are allowed to read.”

Like in many dictatorships, the paper supply is kept under tight control; but in the case of North Korea there has hardly been any paper to control as there has been serious paper shortage for some time. As a consequence, students are forced to photocopy books whenever possible and many textbooks used by schoolchildren are virtually unreadable reproductions of reproductions.

“At the end of the day,” says Demick, “literature is totally subservient to propaganda, which is there to preserve the myth of North Korea’s greatness.”

Recent works of historical fiction have also touched on international figures, such as books about US President Jimmy Carter’s visit to North Korea and about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

Narrative Propaganda

B.R. Myers warns that “North Korea is country in which all cultural activity is subjugated to the needs of the Workers Party. Even a simple love story, for example, will carry a propaganda message — a man will fall in love with a woman because she has the right attitude toward working for the state.”

Another typical story might be: A solider is lazy and not sweeping the floor of his tent, so a comrade does it for him. The bad soldier comes in and sees what has been done and bursts into tears and says he’s sorry.

More often than in the West, that soldier might be a woman rather than a man.

Absent Fathers

Indeed, “Fathers are virtually absent from North Korean narrative,” says Myers, citing the example of Kim Il Jong, who he says is deliberately depicted as a hermaphroditic parent figure, more mother than father, because the state itself is seen as more of mother figure than a father.

“In almost every North Korean narrative a character is a widowed mother or one of the children who grow up under them,” notes Myers. The result of this fatherless society, he says, is the celebration of “rash, impetuous behavior.” Accordingly, in North Korea “they solve differences with their fists and there is frequently spontaneous violence.” This too is something reflected in the narratives, which often include a character who is “mad as hell” which leads to “an explosion of purgative violence.”

As for structure, North Korean literature tend to eschew the convention of suspense: “Narratives tend to start with final scenes — with the hero being rewarded,” says Myers. “They don’t like suspense because if you’re not sure what is happening, your mind will go in directions that the Party can’t control.”

No Literary Underground

Myers says that one of the common mistakes Western observers make when discussing North Korea, whether politically or culturally, is to assume that it is similar in character to the former Soviet Union. “Don’t extrapolate that the scene is anything like there was in Soviet literature,” says Myers. “There is no samizdat underground literary scene.”

Another error is to view the excesses of North Korean propaganda as little more than a joke. Myers notes that it’s a key to the Party’s power: “This a state that manages to survive twenty years after the end of the cold war not because it’s repressive, but because it still manages to give its people a message that inspires them.” (The message is that North Korea is the most racially and culturally superior country in the world.)

Myers’s book from 1994, Han Sorya and North Korean Literature: The Failure of Socialist Realism in the DPRK, looked at the man who was chairman of the D.P.R.K.’s Federation of Literature and Art from 1948 to 1962 and was responsible for the iconography of Kim Il Sung. “He got too big for his britches and they had to purge him,” says Myers. “That is why now the state decided not to link the myths of the leader to any particular writer. You now have multiple writers doing historical narratives about the leaders.”

Carter, Lewinsky, and James Bond

Recent works of historical fiction have also touched on international figures, such as books about US President Jimmy Carter’s visit to North Korea and about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal — which, of course, presume a familiarity with world events, again reinforcing the idea that books and fiction are for a very small privileged elite.

In fact, Myers says that there are generally only two ways to become a writer in North Korea: You are one of the elite students and have a sterling Party background or else, on occasion, the Party will select a talented amateur who has sent in something praiseworthy about the country to the government.

These days the literature is not monolithic and, because more and more South Korean media is slipping over the border, whether in the form of DVDs or radio, the propaganda has been forced to compete with these other distractions. As a result, recent North Korean novels have more of a “James Bondian element” to them.

However, despite these mass-market touches, reading is not an especially popular activity in North Korea or, even, South Korea. “Koreans are more inclined toward group activities and not solitary activities, such as reading,” says Myers, who cited a recent poll which indicated the South Koreans read half as much as Americans and were near the bottom of developing nations. “In North Korea, the leaders are not keen to push novels because they isolate people.”

All said, there are a number of lessons that can be extrapolated from a study of North Korea’s literature and literary life, not the least of which is the fact that so many stories that celebrate rashness and spontaneity and end in an act of “purgative violence.”

“If they knew just what kind of state they’re dealing with,” says Myers, “politicians would be talking about the nuclear problem with more urgency.”

Πέμπτη, 16 Απριλίου 2015

Tzvetan Todorov, “LA LIBERTÀ DELLE VOLPI E DELLE GALLINE


Tzvetan Todorov, “LA LIBERTÀ DELLE VOLPI E DELLE GALLINE”, La Stampa  12/04/ 2011


Dopo il secolo dei totalitarismi, un nuovo mostro tirannico l’individualismo senza freni che distrugge la società.

Perché un potere sia legittimo, non basta sapere com’è stato conquistato (ad esempio con libere elezioni o un colpo di Stato), occorre ancora vedere in che modo viene esercitato. Fra poco saranno tre secoli dacché Montesquieu ha formulato una regola per guidare il nostro giudizio: «Ogni potere senza limiti non può essere legittimo». Le esperienze totalitarie del XX secolo ci hanno resi particolarmente sensibili ai misfatti di un potere statale illimitato, in grado di controllore ogni atto di ogni cittadino.

In Europa questi regimi appartengono al passato ma, nei Paesi democratici, restiamo sensibili alle interferenze del governo negli affari giudiziari o nella vita dei media, perché queste hanno come effetto la soppressione di ogni limite posto al suo potere. I ripetuti attacchi del Presidente francese o del premier italiano ai magistrati e ai giornalisti sono una dimostrazione di questo pericolo. Tuttavia lo Stato non è l’unico a detenere poteri all’interno di una società. All’inizio di questo XXI secolo, in Occidente, lo Stato ha perso buona parte del suo prestigio, mentre è diventato una minaccia l’ampio potere che detengono alcuni individui, o gruppi di individui. Eppure questa minaccia passa inosservata, perché questo potere si orna di un bel nome, di cui tutti si fanno forti: libertà. La libertà individuale è un valore in crescita, i difensori del bene comune oggi sembrano arcaici. Come si sia prodotto questo capovolgimento, lo si vede bene nei Paesi ex comunisti dell’Europa dell’Est. L’interesse collettivo oggi è sospetto: per nascondere le sue turpitudini, il regime precedente l’aveva invocato così spesso che più nessuno lo prende sul serio, lo si considera una maschera ipocrita. Se il solo motore del comportamento è in ogni caso la ricerca del profitto e la sete di potere, se la lotta senza pietà e la sopravvivenza del più adatto sono le dure leggi dell’esistenza, tanto vale smetterla di fingere e accettare apertamente la legge della giungla. Questa rassegnazione spiega perché gli ex burocrati comunisti abbiano saputo rivestire, con una facilità sconcertante, gli abiti nuovi dell’ultraliberismo.

A migliaia di chilometri di lì, negli Stati Uniti, in un contesto storico completamente diverso, si è sviluppato da poco il movimento del Tea Party, il cui programma inneggia alla libertà illimitata degli individui e rifiuta qualunque controllo del governo: esige di ridurre drasticamente le tasse e qualunque altra forma di redistribuzione delle ricchezze. Le sole spese comuni accettate riguardano l’esercito e la polizia, cioè ancora la sicurezza degli individui. Chiunque si opponga a questa visione del mondo viene trattato da criptocomunista! Il paradosso è che questa visione si rifà alla religione cristiana, mentre questa, in accordo con le altre grandi tradizioni spirituali, raccomanda di curarsi dei deboli e dei miserabili.

Si passa, in questi casi, da un estremo all’altro, dal tutto-Stato totalitario al tutto-individuo ultraliberale, da un regime liberticida a un altro, di spirito «sociocida», per così dire. Ora il principio democratico vuole che tutti i poteri siano limitati: non solo quelli degli Stati, ma anche quelli degli individui, anche quando rivestono i vecchi abiti della libertà. La libertà delle galline di attaccare la volpe è uno scherzo, perché non ne hanno la capacità: la libertà della volpe è pericolosa perché è la più forte. Attraverso le leggi e le norme che stabilisce, il popolo sovrano ha tutto il diritto di restringere le libertà. Questa limitazione non tocca allo stesso modo tutta la popolazione: idealmente, limita coloro che hanno già molto potere e protegge chi ne ha molto poco.

Il potere economico è il primo dei poteri nelle mani degli individui. Lo scopo di un’impresa è generare profitti, senza i quali è condannata a sparire. Ma al di fuori dei loro interessi particolari, gli abitanti di un Paese hanno anche interessi comuni, ai quali le imprese non contribuiscono spontaneamente. Tocca allo Stato liberare le risorse necessarie a prendersi cura dell’esercito e della polizia, dell’educazione e della salute, dell’apparato giudiziario e delle infrastrutture. O della protezione della natura: la famosa mano invisibile attribuita ad Adam Smith non serve a molto, in questi casi. Lo si è visto con la marea nera nel Golfo del Messico, nella primavera 2010: lasciate senza controllo, le compagnie petrolifere cercano i materiali da costruzione poco costosi e dunque poco affidabili. Di fronte allo smisurato potere economico di individui o di gruppi di individui, il potere politico si rivela spesso troppo debole.

La libertà di espressione a volte viene presentata come il fondamento della democrazia, e per questa ragione non deve conoscere freni. Ma si può dire che è indipendente dal potere di cui dispone? Non basta avere il diritto di esprimersi, occorre anche averne la possibilità; se non c’è, questa «libertà» non è che una parola vuota. Tutte le informazioni, tutte le opinioni non vengono accettate con la stessa facilità nei grandi media. Ora la libera espressione dei potenti può avere conseguenze funeste per i senza-voce: viviamo in uno stesso mondo. Se si ha la libertà di dire che tutti gli arabi sono degli islamisti non assimilabili, essi non hanno più quella di trovare lavoro e neppure di camminare per strada senza essere controllati.

La parola pubblica, un potere tra gli altri, a volte deve essere limitata. Dove trovare il criterio che permetta di distinguere le limitazioni buone da quelle cattive? Soprattutto nel rapporto di potere tra chi parla e colui di cui si parla. Non si ha lo stesso merito se si combattono i potenti del momento o si indica al risentimento popolare un capro espiatorio. Un organo di stampa è infinitamente più debole dello Stato, non c’è dunque ragione di limitare la sua libertà di espressione quando lo critica, purché la metta al servizio della libertà.

Quando il sito Mediapart rivela una collusione tra poteri economici e responsabili politici, il suo gesto non ha nulla di «fascista», qualunque cosa dicano quelli che sono presi di mira. Le «fughe di notizie» di WikiLeaks nulla hanno di totalitario: i regimi comunisti rendevano trasparente la vita dei deboli, non quella dello Stato. In compenso, un organo di stampa è più potente di un individuo e il «linciaggio mediatico» è un abuso di potere.

I difensori della liberà d’espressione illimitata ignorano la distinzione tra potenti e impotenti, il che permette loro di coprirsi da soli di alloro. Il redattore del quotidiano danese Jyllands-Posten, che nel 2005 aveva pubblicato le caricature di Maometto, cinque anni dopo torna sulla questione e modestamente si paragona agli eretici del Medioevo bruciati sul rogo, a Voltaire nemico della Chiesa onnipotente o ai dissidenti oppressi dalla polizia sovietica. Decisamente la figura della vittima esercita oggi un’attrazione irresistibile! Ciò facendo, il giornalista dimentica che quei coraggiosi praticanti della libertà di espressione si battevano contro i detentori del potere spirituale e temporale del loro tempo, non contro una minoranza discriminata. Porre limiti alla libertà di espressione non significa sostenere la censura, ma fare appello alla responsabilità dei padroni dei media. La tirannia degli individui è certamente meno sanguinosa di quella degli Stati; eppure anch’essa è un ostacolo a una vita comune soddisfacente. Nulla ci obbliga a rinchiuderci nella scelta tra «tutto-Stato» e «tutto-individuo»: abbiamo bisogno di difenderli entrambi, e che ciascuno limiti gli abusi dell’altro.

[Traduzione di Marina Verna]

Δευτέρα, 13 Απριλίου 2015

The last spiritual will and testament of St. Luke of Crimea


SAINT LUKE ARCHBISHOP OF SYMFEROUPOL AND THE CRIMEA, A PROFESSOR OF SURGERY

THE VARIOUS STAGES OF HIS LIFE
A PUBLICATION OF THE HOLY MONASTERY OF SAGMATA

1877.  He was born in Kerts, in the Crimea.  He grew up in Kiev where in addition to his studies; he studied also art in the School of Fine Arts.

1898-1903. He studies medicine and majors in surgery.

1904-1905. He was a volunteer military doctor in the Russian-Japanese War. He was married to Anna Vasilievna and they were blessed with four children.

1905-1917. He worked in various district hospitals. He prepares his dissertation on the importance of scientific studies.

1917.  He moves to Tashkent. He is appointed as a university professor in the field of topographical anatomy and surgery.

1919.  His first arrest took place.  His wife Anna dies.

1921.  He is ordained a priest

1923-1926. He is ordained a bishop. He is arrested a second time and exiled to Siberia.

1924. He attempts his first kidney transplant from an animal to a human.

1930-1933. He is arrested for a third time and exiled to northern Russia.

1934-1937. His famous study is circulated on “A Study on Festering Sicknesses.” He works intently on scientific discoveries.  His investigations bring him very close to discovering penicillin.

1937. He is arrested for a fourth time.  He suffers two years of difficult interrogation in Tashkent.

1939. He is exiled to Siberia.

1941. He is assigned to be the first surgeon at the military hospital in Krasnogiarsk.

1943. He is elected Archbishop of Krasnogiorask.

1944. He is transferred to Tambof as the chief medical doctor and Archbishop.

1946. He is decorated with the first prize of Stalin.  He is assigned as Archbishop of Symferoupoleos and in the Crimea. He slowly loses his eyesight.

1961. He fell asleep in the Lord on June 11 in Symferoupolis having served the people of God as Chief Shepherd and doctor in sacrificial love and self-denial.  His memory is commemorated on June 11.

 

THE SPIRITUAL LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF SAINT LUKE

It is with a great deal of joy that we publish “The Spiritual Will “ of Saint Luke, which up until recently was unknown and unpublished.  It had been kept by the niece of St. Luke, Maria Dimitrievna, who lives in Symferoupolis and  she had the special blessing to have lived with the Saint for the last fifteen years of his life.

When in 1946 when Saint Luke undertook the shepherding of the Archbishopric of Symferoupoleos in the Crimea, he took up residence in a small residence on Gospitalnagia Street opposite the Church of the Holy Trinity.  The small apartment had many rooms.  It was a time immediately following the war and a fearful majority of the people in all of the Soviet Union lived in horrible conditions.  There was poverty, want, and starvation that plagued the people.  Saint Luke made great efforts to alleviate the pain of the people.  But in doing this he did not forget his family.  He invited some of them to Symferoupolis to take up residence in his apartment house and the neighboring houses.  His relatives and their children helped the Saint and stood by his side in this effort.  The experiences of interacting with the Saint are many and the memories are vivid.  The person who specifically helped the Saint in his philanthropic outreach was his niece Vera Prozorovavkagia, the daughter of Vladimir and the mother of Maria.  Many personal items of Saint Luke were preserved by the family of Vera and when the museum of the Saint was established in the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity, the family gave these to the museum.  A very few items remained with his niece.  One of these things that was left with her was the Spiritual Will of the Saint which was left in the care of Maria Dimitrievna.  The Spiritual Will is directed to his children, to his nieces and nephews, and the grandchildren of the Saint.  We must note here that along with their father, the four children suffered also.  They endured being orphaned by both of their parents (the mother died and the father was in jail or exile) and then they were persecuted.  They were considered the children of the enemy of the people and they encountered many difficulties.  It is understandable that they would consider inconceivable the decision of their father to seek holy orders.  Through all the terrible things that the family suffered, they blamed the Church.  And the question that always burdened their souls, as well as many people who knew him was; why would a famous and successful professor of surgery make such a difficult decision to be ordained a priest and especially during the persecution of the Church?  How could such a successful scientist dedicate himself to the service of an idea of the past, the Church that belongs to the past?  What did this immensely brilliant surgeon have to gain from the priesthood?

In many of his letters the Saint tries to defend himself and explain to his children the reason he decided to take that road of martyrdom.  The children indicate that they do not understand him.  And this was also another cross that Saint Luke had to carry.   Right up to the moment of his death, he did not stop admonishing and praying for his children who along with that whole generation  had been so influenced by antireligious propaganda.

His letter to his oldest son Michael is very emotional written during the mid 40’s.  “Remember Michael that my monastic life and the oath that I gave; my position in the Church, my decision to serve the Lord constitute for me the greatest, holiest and foremost responsibility.  Sincerely and from the depths of my heart I abandoned the world and my career, which certainly, could have been very successful, but now does not have any meaning for me.  All my joy and all my life is to serve the Lord, in Whom I believe.”

In the summer of 1956 the Saint is in the city of Alousta in the Crimea.  He had lost his eyesight.  He was almost at the end of his 84th year of life and he felt that his strength was failing him.  He therefore decided to write his Spiritual Will  for his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. It is his one last effort to help his children abandon the trap of atheism. He wanted them to stand against the antichristian movement of the time. He wanted them to discover that the greatest truth is Jesus Christ and the best way to live is by observing His commandments and serving the needs of the least of all Christ’s children, their suffering fellow humans beings.   We have the feeling that the Spiritual Will of the Saint is even today extremely timely.  It is directed to all of us, the spiritual children of Saint Luke who we honor and love.

May we also imitate his example.  And according to his promise, his intercessions and prayers will protect us now that he stands before the throne of our God and Creator.

Archimandrite Nektarios, Holy Pascha, 2009

***

TO MY THREE SONS, MY DAUGHTER, MY GRANDCHILDDREN AND MY GREAT GRANDCHILDREN
MY SPIRITUAL WILL

I am now 79 years old. My heart is weak and my strength is failing me and it is evident that my time of departure from this world is near.  St. Paul left a will to all the Christians. “Become followers of me, as I am of Christ.”  I certainly do not dare to say this to all the Christians but to you, my children; I can say follow my example just as I have followed the example of the Apostle Paul.  My life has been tough and difficult but never did I pray to God to make it easy.  Because “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” MT.7:14.

For more than twenty five years my life was identified with the work of a rural surgeon and professor of surgery. And for eleven years I suffered persecution for the name of Christ by being jailed and exiled.  From 1944 I combined the toilsome ministry of being a Bishop along with the healing the wounded at Tambor and only in 1946 did I stop being a surgeon and I continued as a Bishop.

Amongst most of the people it was inconceivable to understand how a great surgeon, who was honored with the First Prize of Stalin, could abandon a profession in surgery and become a Bishop.  Yet there was nothing unusual about that because from my youthful years, the Lord destined me to the high position of service to Him and to the people.

When I finished high school I received from the dean of the school my high school diploma. I placed this in the Book of the New Testament.  I had read the New Testament before but now, when I read it again, I heard the words of Christ that were directed to the Apostles say: “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (MT 9:37-38) My heart responded and I cried out in silence: “Oh Lord! Are you lacking workers?”

Many years went by.  I became a doctor of medicine and I thought that I would write the book “A Treatise on surgery in treating festering wounds.” When I made that decision, the following strange thought came to mind:  “When that book is finished, it will be signed by a Bishop.”  I could not understand from where that thought came. But a few years later, I understood that it was a thought that was sent to me by God because after my first arrest, in the office of the head jailer, the first edition of my book was published and on the facing page I wrote: “Bishop Luke, “A Treatise on surgically treating festering wounds.” 

Two more years went by.  I was in my first exile to Siberia, in the city of Geniseisk.  A monk suddenly came to meet me from Krasnogiarsk.  In this city, all the priests had compromised the faith and the faithful of the canonical Church had sent the monk to be ordained a priest but not to me at Geniseik but to Minousinsk, to a non-canonical orthodox bishop.  But there was an unexplainable force which directed him to me at Geniseisk.  When this monk saw me, he was startled and froze. He could not speak. He revealed to me, that when he saw me, he knew clearly that I was the same hierarch that he saw in an unforgettable dream ten years ago. That Bishop ordained him to the priesthood. At that time I was just a country doctor in the city of Perezlavl, Zaleski.

The Lord God has blessed me with different talents.  In high school, I finished my studies in the School of Fine Arts in Kiev.  I was very talented in artist and I decided to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Leningrad.  But in the middle of exams I abandoned this effort because I thought that I should serve God and His people, in work that is more beneficial than art.  Even though at that time it was clear to me the direction my art would take if I didn’t abandon it; it would  purely be a religious direction or I would follow in the footsteps of V. Vasnetsof and Nesterof.

From that time theological issues concerned me very much.  The driving force in my character was a strong desire to serve God and His people, only because of that. But in spite of my opposition toward the physical sciences, I took exams for medical school at the University of Kiev and I graduated with honors.

My talent was revealed at the university in anatomy and surgery and my fellow students didn’t want to hear that I desired to become a rural doctor.  They had decided unanimously that I would become a professor of anatomy or a surgeon.  From what you now know, they had prophesied my future correctly.

As a rural doctor, I worked for thirteen years twelve to fourteen hours a day.  I was thinking seriously of abandoning the rural hospital in order travel to distant villages where the people were poor and dying because of the lack of medical help.  But the Lord had decided differently for me.  He sent me to Tashkent where I was one of the organizers of the University of Middle Asia and became a professor of topographical anatomy and the chief surgeon.  This was at the beginning of the decade of the 1920s.

During the years of the antireligious demonstrations during which they derided the Lord Jesus Christ, my heart was saying: “I cannot keep silent.”At that time there was a clergy-laity congress taking place in Tashkent.  I was present and during the discussions on some important issues I made an impassioned speech.  That speech made a great impression on Bishop Innocent of Tashkent and at the end of the congress he said to me; “Doctor, you must become a priest.”  That was something that was completely unexpected by me but the words of the Hierarch brought forth a calling through his lips and I did not hesitate one second in answering him: “Of course, Your Eminence, if that is the will of God, I will become a priest.” And the following Sunday, I, the professor of medicine, with a borrowed robe, appeared before the Bishop who was standing on his throne and I was ordained a sub-deacon and then during the course of the Divine Liturgy I was then ordained a deacon.  Within two weeks I became a priest and the pastor of the Cathedral Church.

One and a half years before that great event in my life, my wife and your mother died.  The smallest of you, Valentine, was then six years old and the oldest was fourteen.

Two years and four months later, the Lord made me worthy of being elevated to the rank of Bishop.  It was divine providence for me and for you, my children that was revealed to us at that time when the Lord called your mother to eternal life by allowing her to get sick with tuberculosis. By this happening to her the road was opened for me to enter monastic life and the hierarchical ministry.  All the responsibility for you, my children, I gave over to the care of the Lord and truly, I was not made a liar by believing in Him.  Your care and upbringing was provided for by sending me an unknown woman, Sofia Sergakevna Veletskagia, who during the times I was jailed and the three times I was sent into exile she provided for your care. With a great deal of self-sacrifice and love she lifted the heavy cross for your care during those years of the plague. She raised you successfully and gave you a good education.

Later on all three of you and my daughter, with the protection and the help of your guardian angels, completed your advanced studies.  Michael for some time now has become a professor, while Aliosa and Valia are teachers in the medical and biological sciences and in a little while they will become professors.

The Lord accepted all the sacrifices which I have offered Him and not only did He accept them but He changed and corrected many of them.  I abandoned doing any more surgeries so that I could spend more time preaching about Jesus Christ.  I was not concerned with the fame of a surgeon which certainly I deserve.  While this glory is important and belongs to God, the new freedom I had increased the power and content of my sermons. My well-known and famous book “The Treatise on surgery for festering wounds” was completed while I was in exile and when I was Archbishop.  My determination to sacrifice everything for the glory of Him, the Lord gave me another talent, that of preaching.  The nine volumes of my sermons have been recognized by the Spiritual Academy of Moscow as unique in contemporary ecclesiastical theology and a treasure of commentary on the Holy Bible.  And I, a self-taught theologian was chosen to be a member of the Spiritual Academy of Moscow.  For the Church, my sermons will have greater meaning than my “Treatise on the surgery for festering wounds.”

In addition to this, the miraculous events which I spoke about earlier which were directed by the Lord without my realizing it led me mystically to the Hierarchical ministry.   I often physically felt the presence of God in my communion with Him, in my spiritual life and in my prayers.      

But if I have not said enough for any of you to convince you of these things  then I think his (Michael’s) involvement with the physical sciences have bewitched him so much that he does not want to hear those things that I have lived; the things I have undeniably felt many times.

In other words, I will tell you just the way it is, how astonishing and clearly the Lord God reveals His desire for those who fear Him and love Him.  When I was in Leningrad for an operation, during the time of a memorial service, the Lord in a miraculous and shocking way caused me to tremble with fright when He gave me this command: “Shepherd my sheep, feed my lambs.”  The years have since gone by and I, under the spell of a cunning diabolical spell, forgot that command of God and Satan again placed in my soul that great urge to return to surgery.  And this is why the Lord punished me by allowing the retina in my eye to tear.  My eye was operated on twice unsuccessfully by professor Ontintsof because God’s punishment had to remain with me. 

The day after the second operation, when I was laying flat with my eyes bandaged, the strong urge to do surgery again overwhelmed me when the Lord sent me a shocking dream: I was in a Church without lights.  The only lit up place was the altar.  A little beyond the altar was a casket of a saint.  They had placed on the altar a wooden board and on this was a naked human body.  In the back and next to the altar I saw students and doctors smoking cigarettes and I was teaching them anatomy of the human body.

I was then startled by a noise and when I turned my head, I saw that the covering of the saint’s casket fell off.  The saint sat up in the casket, he turned and looked at me with a look of pain and shock.  I finally realized the great burden of my sin, of my disobedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to “shepherd my sheep and feed my lambs.”  For the last fourteen years I begged the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive me remembering clearly my dramatic dream with the body and the dead person lying on the Holy Altar.  Lately I have been informed by God that my sin has been forgiven. Day after day, I see the body less and less on the Holy Altar where it finally disappeared completely. 

And now, my children let me offer to you my last will and testament.  I believe deeply in God and I have built my whole life upon His commandments.  And I bequeath to you that you offer your lives to God and build all things upon the commandments of Christ.

For a long time and with great determination I sailed through life against the current of the world and to you my children I bequeath that you sail against the current, as difficult at that may be.  Turn your attention and your heart away from the great majority of human beings who pursue not the higher goals but those which are easy to acquire.  Do not accede to the great majority of people who live according to their own thinking and with the mind of their leaders.  They anchor their lives not with the commandments of Christ but on the directives of people who have the power to lead them not to the Kingdom of Heaven but to the riches of the earthly kingdom. The purpose of life is to seek after the highest truth and to never divert from that road even when they force you to serve the purposes of the lowest form of  truth by trampling upon the truth of Christ. You should be ready even to be martyred since you are sailing against the current.  Keep your faith firmly in your thoughts, in your husbands and in your wives just the way I kept it. In your scientific endeavors and in your efforts to study the mysteries of nature, you should not look for your own glory but only to lessen the pain of your sick and helpless fellow human beings.

Remember that I, your father, sacrificed all my life in doing these things.  Imitate me just the way I imitated the Apostle Paul and do not work for your stomach but to help those who without your help cannot free themselves from the tortures of poverty and lies.

If you fulfill all these things that I bequeath to you, the blessing of God will come upon you in harmony with the  words of David the prophet. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103: 17-18.)                     

I have always prayed for that blessing and grace of God in my life for you my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren and surely I will always pray for your eternal life when I will stand before the throne of my God and your God, my Creator and your Creator.  That time is most likely near because my heart and my strength have been weakened.

Your father

Alousta, July 22, 1956

Translation
Fr. Constantine J. Simones, Waterford, CT USA.