The Arc of Life

What if you are old? If I were much older, I would want to continue living but if not given a choice, I’d accept my own untimely death from at least one perspective: I’d never have to become old and feeble.

I’m not old, I’m first-half GenX — John Bender, not my younger bro Dante Hicks. There are young’uns who will continue to need me for a long time to come. I’m fit, in good health and I had a good life. I want nothing more from life where it’s not in service to those who need me, other than occasional quiet moments alone. That’s all I want for myself.

Do I have any great works, great projects to complete, any self-realization? LOL boomer no. I maybe, maybe, might compile choice blog-posts here and spend some of my own money on self-publishing them into several copies of a glossy paperback. I’ll give those copies to my immediate family and friends and several copies to my extended family and in-laws in Poland. I think all of my young-adult relatives over there know English. The book would be divided into two sections: general interest and Poland-related. I have a few years to think some more about this. As long as our civilization lasts, which it will.

My maternal grandfather was an officer in the Home Army. Combat kills, then twice wounded when advancing on Berlin with the Soviet army, the second time seriously and he was left behind to die. He and grandma were harassed by judeo-stalinist authorities in the years immediately after the war. He published essays and poetry in his middle years in clandestine press under a pseudonym, writing under a Communist regime. As an eleven-year-old in 1981, I loved a satirical poem he wrote. I asked him to recite it to me over and over, it never got old. He had great delivery, a feel for verbal drama, which I do too.

In high school in the United States I gave a dramatic reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” I had half-memorized Poe’s poem, reciting it while looking at my audience, only from time to time glancing down at my book. I still know the first two verses: “Once [slow it down now and deepen your voice, feel the rhythm] upon a midnight dreary…”

I wrote about forty poems between age 19 and 21. Pen on paper, later typed them all on an electric typewriter. I hadn’t read them in something like 25 years even though they are two feet away from me right now, in a folder inside my filing cabinet. I’ll have to take a look at them at some point out of curiosity.

My grandfather also read some of his other poems to me at my insistence but I didn’t understand them as a preteen, it was adult-level. The next time I saw him, I was almost thirty years old. He had earlier suffered a stroke. His mind was as sharp as ever but he had difficulty speaking. Nevertheless, he remembered the poem I liked and for old times’ sake he recited it to me from memory.

He passed away several months later, in the late 1990s. I had a plan for what I wanted to do with my life at that time. Fortune in fact smiled the following year, I’m still reaping the benefits of my gamble and of chance events there and then. I had just moved to Boston with a couple of hundred dollars. My dad helped me with the cost of a one-way rental of a small truck and I had a low-paying but interesting job waiting for me there. Life had begun and everything was possible.

***

open thread

Thou shalt not steal

I am stealing Suburban_elk’s film-rating system. It’s a zero-to-two scale with Zero = don’t bother, One = worth seeing once, Two = more rewarding after multiple viewings.

Given that I watched all ten installments of the Decalogue (1988) many times over in my youth and then after a nearly twenty-year break watched Decalogue 7, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” approximately ten times over the past few weeks, it’s a Two on Elk’s scale. After all that time and so many times having seen that particular episode, I still find new ways in which the theme of Theft figures in the story, in addition to the nominal act of theft that was done to and then by the protagonist. I did just this morning, in fact, think of yet another treatment of that theme.

Another thing that’s worth observing is one’s own response to a film at two very distant points in his life. One of those is his attitude toward child-characters that are central to a film’s conflict. A childless young man, as I was when I first watched Decalogue 7, will likely sympathize with the young-adult protagonist. He might grudgingly grant a much-older antagonist his due, but his heart’s not in it. As to the child-character in the world of adult leads, he or she is an abstraction in the drama, sometimes just buzzkill. Young childless viewers don’t think much of children (or fatherhood) one way or another.

Twenty years later, one sees the same film but this time with an instinct, an imperative, that overrides all others. Namely, that a child, above all considerations, must be protected. With that new perspective after two decades, seeing Decalogue 7 was an even more profound experience.

Below, I am linking to Dekalog 7, which is on YouTube in three parts. Unfortunately, not with English subtitles. It’s subtitled in Spanish. I’m also providing a detailed plot summary to make it easier for you to follow the story, should you want to see this one-hour film and you don’t speak Spanish. I recommend that you see it. The cinematography and acting are worth it. To summarize the film, I used Infogalactic’s plot summary as my starting point to save effort. The translations of dialogue are mine.

I don’t plan on doing this with any of the other episodes of the Decalogue.

This is one of only two episodes in the series in which the recurring, mysterious “angel” character does not appear. But there are moments in this one that have an otherworldly air, like something out of Grimms’ tales of forests and peril.

Prior to the events of the film: Ewa is the mother of 22-year-old Majka. She was unable to have children after Majka, though she wanted to have more. She worked as principal at Majka’s high school, where she hired a young literature professor, Wojtek. As then-16-year-old student, Majka had a romance with her teacher Wojtek that resulted in a pregnancy. To avoid a scandal and because of Majka’s young age, it was arranged to have their illegitimate daughter Ania raised as Ewa’s daughter and Majka’s sister. Wojtek was possibly willing to start a family with Majka and their baby but ultimately, then-teenager Majka agreed to her mother’s arrangement and Wojtek avoided criminal charges for seducing a minor by walking away.

Decalogue 7:

Part 1 of 3. [An Argentine public television host introduces the episode for about the first four minutes, then it begins.]

Twenty-two-year-old Majka, who still lives with her parents in Warsaw, is expelled from the university during her last term and wants to flee to Canada with Ania. She needs her mother’s signature, however, to obtain Ania’s passport. Six-year-old Ania has recurrent nightmares and can only be consoled by Majka’s mother, Ewa. Majka’s father, Stefan, spends his time fixing a pipe organ in their apartment. Ewa is just as cruel to Majka as she is affectionate to Ania.

Ewa takes Ania downtown to watch a theater performance for children, and then the kids in the audience are invited onstage. Majka manages to get backstage and lures Ania away with her. Ewa is shattered by Ania’s disappearance. Ania, meanwhile, believes that all of this is just a game with her “sister.” In the scene with the merry-go-round, Majka tells her that she is not her sister, but her mother. Ania seems to understand and then asks who her father is. That scene begins at 15:00.

ANIA: [Riding on the carousel, giggling] You kidnapped me?

MAJKA: [Smiling] What?

ANIA: You kidnapped me. Like in that fairy-tale “A Kidnapping in Tiutiurlistan.”

MAJKA: [Stops the carousel, becomes serious] You’re a big girl now, aren’t you?

ANIA: Mom tells me that I am.

MAJKA: Exactly. [Pauses] Look at me. Mom… mom is not your mom.

ANIA: I don’t have a mom?

MAJKA: You do. Your real mom… I am really your mom.

Part 2 of 3. Majka and Ania go to Wojtek’s house in the country not far outside of Warsaw. He now earns a living by making Teddy bears. They meet for the first time in six years, and Wojtek is surprised and somewhat uncomfortable to see his daughter. While Ania sleeps, Majka and Wojtek discuss their past. In her sleep, Ania grabs Wojtek’s finger and he begins to warm to her. Majka goes out to call her parents from a phone booth.

Part 3 of 3. Majka calls her parents in Warsaw and tells them her conditions regarding Ania, namely that she be legally recognized as the little girl’s mother and that they be left alone. Majka’s dialogue with her mother Ewa that begins at 0:41 is important:

EWA: Hello?

MAJKA: She’s with me.

EWA: [sigh of relief] My God, she’s with you…

MAJKA: Did you report this to the police?

EWA: Yes, we did. But never mind that. Where are you?

MAJKA: Call it off. Tell the police that you found her. Do that first.

EWA: Yes of course, we’ll do that. Where are you? We’re picking you both up. [Yells at Stefan to hurry up with her cigarette.]

MAJKA: Somewhere. I’m not telling you. You have to change everything.

EWA: Like what? [Stefan lights her cigarette] What am I supposed to change? I don’t understand.

MAJKA: Everything. Ania must be mine.

EWA: [Sits down] That’s impossible.

MAJKA: She must be.

EWA: Nobody knows about this. [That Majka is Ania’s real mom]

MAJKA: They’ll find out. I’ll prove it.

EWA: You’ll prove nothing. Ania is mine. She’s my child in all the records, only Jadwiga knows that you gave birth to her but she’ll never tell. [Long pause] Where are you?

MAJKA: Father knows.

EWA: Your father knows nothing, absolutely nothing.

MAJKA: And Wojtek knows.

EWA: You’re better-off not counting on Wojtek. When I retire, I’ll tell you a few things about him.

Now at 2:05 Majka accuses her mother of theft, the heart of Decalogue 7:

MAJKA: Listen carefully. You stole my child, it wasn’t supposed be like this. You stole my child, and my motherhood. Also love. You robbed me of yourself, of you both, everything. I’m giving you two hours to think about it and then I will tell you what you have to do. [Hangs up]

In the meantime, Ania has woken up and engages in conversation with Wojtek who is now very affectionate towards her. Majka comes back and in an increasingly tearful scene, asks Ania to address her as her mother, but the little girl can only call her “Majka.” Later that night, Majka’s father calls, but Wojtek lies and tells him that he has not seen her in six years. Ewa begs Stefan to call up his former political acquaintances to help them find Ania.

Ania falls asleep again. Wojtek tells Majka to consider going back to her parents’ house, since the trauma of the entire ordeal will be too much for Ania. At 10:50 he tells her:

WOJTEK: If you are planning on going somewhere alone with her…

MAJKA: Where?

WOJTEK: Wherever. Somewhere far. She won’t endure it. Your shouting, your impatience, your hysteria. She is delicate. […] You’ll destroy the child. […] You should go back. She must have a normal home. Her own bed, her own toys, her own milk. Do you understand?

Wojtek also reluctantly tells her that she and Ania can either stay with him, or have his house and he’ll move out. Majka pretends to agree and Wojtek promises to get a friend, who has a van, to take them back.

When Wojtek returns with his friend, Majka and Ania are gone. (As they were leaving, Majka told Ania that Wojtek doesn’t want them there.) Majka calls Ewa from the phone booth again and demands that she agree to all her previous conditions and sign the necessary documents to get Ania’s passport and visa for Canada. Ewa tries to negotiate but Majka is relentless — either Ewa agrees to her demands or else she will never see Ania again. After a moment’s silence Majka hangs up, just as Ewa is about to agree to her terms. The phone rings again at Ewa and Stefan’s. It is Wojtek; he confesses to his earlier lie and offers his help in locating Majka.

Shortly after the 18:00 minute mark: in predawn hour, Majka and Ania stand under a bridge to hide from Wojtek’s oncoming van. I will not spoil the final scene. It stays with you, in the characters’ expressions, camerawork and the music.

This is why Europe needs internal borders

Diversity doesn’t work. Even when very similar people are in the picture, because their small differences then become amplified. I’ve had this post the draft folder, I’m not sure if I’m handling it in a way that would be of interest to a broader audience, but here goes anyway.

It involves a recent situation involving a German business owner operating in Poland, near Gdansk, one day losing his cool. He is recorded by his Polish female employee, and the recording is quite funny, in a sad way. Their dialogue is in English, though he throws in a few German and Polish slang words. He says, and I’m condensing: “I hate Poles more and more. It’s not that I dislike you, I hate you. Should I kill [my employees]? should I stand them against the wall? I want to! I will kill every Polak. You are worse than Africans. Yes of course I am proud to be a Hitlerite. This country made me that way.” He makes a gunfire-sound several times during his outburst.

Like I said, funny and sad in a way. Sad also, because one suspects that he would never say anything remotely hostile to African or Asian migrants in his own country. The female employee who recorded him testified in court and to a television newscaster that this wasn’t a one-off loss of composure on his part, but an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior, which is why she finally recorded him. Of note — she says this and more in one of her television interviews — he singled her out for abuse because he found out that she supports the right-wing Law and Justice party. As a presumed left winger, he insulted her for her traditional values, including her modest style of dressing.

She sued for his company to donate money to a local museum that commemorates a WWII mass-murder of Polish civilians. As far as I can tell she is not asking for any money/damages personally for herself. A wonderful woman, by the way. Every generation has this type of young man and woman — intelligent, deeply patriotic, with evident personal courage. She is now married to a Law and Justice Party member of parliament and they have a son. She’s the one not wearing glasses in the interview linked below.

And I will reiterate this, that Europe will never submit to a single government nor should it ever blend out the brilliant differences between its native nations. Schengen and its free movement of labor was a crime against all Europeans. An invasion of one half of Europe, a theft of youth and talent from the other half of Europe. My favorite German phrase: Ausländer raus!!!

His rant begins at 3:09. It is a bit difficult to understand at first but the audio becomes clear shortly after.

The Decalogue

Here are short summaries for each of the ten installments of “Dekalog,” also known as “The Ten Commandments” and “The Decalogue.” I wrote these summaries just now from memory, without looking them up online. I watched them multiple times, most recently about fifteen years ago. “The Decalogue” was directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski in 1988 as a television series. It consists of ten one-hour films, each short film exploring — rarely in obvious ways — a character’s struggle with a moral dilemma related to the episode’s Commandment.

The episodes briefly feature a mysterious young man, sometimes a tram driver, a road surveyor, and so on, who observes each of the key characters at their moral crossroads. He never interacts with anyone, merely watches man freely choose his action. This mysterious character is not explained by Kieślowski. In most interpretations he is said to be an angel.

1. Thou shalt not have other gods before me. The first and most tragic episode of “The Decalogue” is about a man, who is an engineer or something similar, calculating the expected thickness of ice on a nearby pond to be sure that it’s safe for his nine-year-old son to skate on. Though all of his data and methodology are correct, the ice breaks anyway.

The opening scene of Dekalog 1 is one of the reasons why Kieślowski, who died at a fairly young age in 1996, is not merely the storyteller of then-newly reunified post-communist Europe. He is the prophet of the present European cataclysm. This opening scene shows this “angel” character as a drifter or a vagabond. He looks into the camera, directly into the viewer in the most chilling kind of foreshadowing. His gaze penetrates to the soul, commensurately with the the tragedy that this episode covers, as well scaling up to the attempted murder of Europe itself that we are presently living through.

“Thou shalt not have other gods before me” is the first and thus the most important Commandment. It is the key to beating back the demons that swarm about our lands.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. An oncologist holds a human life in his hands, in the most unwelcome dilemma. Not his patient’s life, but the life of an unborn child. His cancer patient has a mixed prognosis. The doctor has to tell his patient’s wife what her husband’s odd are, in his medical opinion. She had just confessed to the doctor that she is carrying a child from an affair that her husband does not know about. She tells the doctor that if he expects her husband to recover, she will abort the child but if he tells her that he will die, she will keep the baby.

Kieślowski’s films are inseparable from Zbigniew Preisner’s music scores. It really is a fusing of image and sound, you almost don’t know where one ends and the other begins. They collaborated on 1988’s “Decalogue” and remained lifelong friends and artistic partners, notably in Kieślowski’s later French-language works, “The Double Life of Veronique” and “The Three Color Trilogy.”

This is one of the evocative scenes in “Dekalog 2.” The dying patient, perhaps miraculously, begins to heal. He observes a honeybee that was drowning in a glass of fruit juice dramatically pull herself from certain death. It’s clearly a metaphor for overcoming a terminal disease. What else, on a larger scale, could that small insect’s powerful will-to-life struggle symbolize…

3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. A family man who goes through the motions of being the dutiful father and husband in a cold marriage is confronted by his old flame. She accosts him on Christmas Eve, which is Poland’s most sacred holiday, manipulating him into spending an entire night in pointless wandering around nighttime Warsaw with her. She has a haunting kind of beauty and is something of a femme fatale, but also lonely and despairing. He must choose between honoring the Holy night and his old passion for this woman, a feeling that is now sublimated into a sense of responsibility for her.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother. A high school girl and her widowed father had always suspected that something is not fully normal between them. She finds herself sexually attracted to him and he, as a man, sometimes can’t help but notice her precocious beauty. What they have always suspected, on a downright instinctive level, is that he is not her biological father. There is a sealed letter his late wife, her mother, had left for the young woman that will resolve the uncertainty.

5. Thou shalt not kill. This is the best-known of the “Dekalog” installments, also made into a full-length film. A young man with sociopathic impulses murders an innocent taxi driver. He is sentenced to death for his crime and executed by hanging. I am not venturing into details and subplots in any of these films, for the sake of keeping this brief. Each episode requires the length of a full blog post to start appreciating. There is a great deal of complexity behind each moral dilemma, as well as in the characters’ personal situations.

The taxi driver is not a sympathetic figure, maybe a little more so than the nasty old woman killed by young Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment.” On the other hand, the viewer is drawn to sympathize with the killer in “Dekalog 5.” I’ve had conversations with liberal academics in Boston, who pointed out how this film makes a solid case against capital punishment. I disagreed with them twenty years ago and I still disagree. When I watch the execution scene, I feel sincerely sorry for the kid but I am also satisfied that the punishment redeems his humanity, the victim’s, and ours.

Here is Preisner’s film score for “Thou shalt not kill.”

Here is the execution scene.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. A lonely, awkward teenager spies on his neighbor. She is an attractive thirty-something single woman who has many flings and boyfriends. She discovers his spying on her and catches on to his pattern of creepy and nuisance stalker-behavior. She invites him over so that he can consummate his infatuation with her.

7. Thou shalt not steal. A teenage girl and her domineering mother go to extremes in their fight over a six-year-old girl. The child is an illegitimate daughter of the high school girl and the young lady’s handsome teacher, but raised to think that the older woman is her mother. The real mother, understandably for a teenager, originally agreed to that arrangement but then changed her mind.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Another way of saying that, is “don’t lie.” Two women meet in Warsaw for the first time since the German occupation of Poland in WWII. One is an older Polish woman, a university professor, if I recall correctly. The other is a somewhat younger visitor from the United States, an affluent Jewish woman who survived the war as a little girl and shortly after emigrated to America. She returns to confront the other woman over her refusal to shelter her during the war. As it turns out, there is more to the story, and the original grievance is misplaced.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. I don’t remember the plot of this one too well. I recall that it involves a well-to-do couple’s adultery. There is a sublime subplot involving the husband, who is a charming cardiologist, and his platonic relationship with a young opera singer. She is his patient, being treated for a career-ending heart condition. No doubt, a precursor-thought to Weronika/Veronique in Kieślowski later film.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. This is a farce/comedy similar to the later “White” of the “Three Color Trilogy,” including the same principal actors. It involves the theft of a priceless stamp collection but I don’t recall it in detail.

The entire series is available on popular to-your-home streaming services, with English subtitles. Also on DVD if interested.

Offerte vobis pacem

That’s the title and a line in the refrain of the 1986 performance shown just below, “Let us offer each other a sign of peace.” Original: “Przekażmy sobie znak pokoju.” The video features a group of one country’s pop music artists, apparently inspired by – ahem – Englishman Bob Geldof’s similar assembly two years earlier called Band Aid, and USA For Africa the year after that. The Communist world behind Europe’s iron curtain was an imitator, not innovator, in the field of popular entertainment. It was backward, its bureaucrats allegedly wore ill-fitting tweed jackets and no deodorant, and it was not cool.

It had no fancy black people, no Cindy Lauper with her rainbow hair. It sang not of feeding Ethiopia but of giving one’s estranged friends an offering of peace, a Cold War metaphor. With such meekness on display, it’s no wonder that the Berlin Wall fell and the superiority of free markets was affirmed unto the end of history. The unfree-market Eastern Europe of the 1980s:

A man and a woman singing together into the same mic has its frisson. Just a passing observation.

I only recognize two artists in that video. The blondish woman who gets several solo parts, and is also shown in the video still image above, that’s the legendary Edyta Geppert. I once featured her performance in a blog post that led off with Greg Eliot’s great comment, his endeavor to justifie the ways of God to men as John Milton did three hundred years earlier.

The other artist I recognize is the short man with the dark mustache, wearing a black tuxedo. That’s Andrzej Zaucha. He will have died five years later, in 1991. French film director Yves Goulais shot and killed him, along with Goulais’s ex-wife, over an affair that the two of them were having. Zaucha’s signature song is the meditation “C’est la vie, Paris in a Postcard.”

Moving on — in 1979 the greatest-pop-band-ever rang in the Eighties with Happy New Year:

It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we’ll find
What lies waiting down the line
In the end of Eighty-Nine

What if Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid of four decades ago could see the Sweden of 2019 from back then? They would have been horrified, I’m certain. But they are alive in 2019 and each of them probably thinks that everything is fine. It’s not good for the individual human mind to bend this much over its arc of life…

Tonight it’s the end of the decade. Who can say what we’ll find at the end of Twenty-Nine? For now, let’s just offer our each other, and our friends and family, a sign of peace.

The customary style-template says “now link to a contemporary song to tie it all together.” Eh, no. What’s above is perfect. But there is this portal swirling in the air. It’s the year 2020 with its trumpets. See you all on the other side.

A Normal Country

petersw2

Best kinds of comments under PeterSweden’s tweet are along the lines of “What a great example for the rest of us!” Exactly. The worst kinds of comments, and thankfully there were very few of those and I only saw them from European female posters: “I wish I could move to Poland.” Poland in the present moment is an example of a White Christian society that is free to be itself. This makes PeterSweden’s statement “feels like a normal country” mean more than it does on its face.

An anecdote from my most-recent visit there, which was three years ago. I was in the historic downtown of one of the smaller cities. My brother-in-law and I were at an outdoor table of a restaurant. Next to us were two men, maybe mid-twenties. They discussed something. One of them was passionate about the subject and the other was listening. For the first time ever in all of my visits to Poland, I felt that my SMV is behind the curve there. Age does its thing, of course, but that wasn’t it. Rather, after twenty years of my regular visits, I felt that… the young men there suddenly looked taller, better dressed, more intelligent, less awed by a shiny foreigner, more ready to give you that piercing look like they can make it hurt. They are healthy people who see the same global war on Whites that I do, encircling their country. The difference between me and them, is that I as a sort-of American represented a conquered people and they represented free men. What a difference that makes.

Poland had its 101st anniversary celebration of national independence today. I looked for a video from the Warsaw march to post today. I imagine that it will take a day or two for short, artistically edited, high-definition, narrated and subtitled videos to be uploaded to YouTube.

When searching in Polish by “marsz niepodległości 2019,” I mostly came across two- or three-hour-long reports from the march, or mainstream media discussion panels. Those aren’t blog-friendly format. I did watch YouTube Live from one of the news sources there during the march. A reporter among the participants in the march gave a street-level view. Being virtually embedded there as a viewer, from the vantage point of his cameraman, gave me a nice sense for what it was like in the march, among the participants. The turnout looked as massive as it’s been in recent years. The sky was overcast. It was cold, judging by people’s scarves and winter hats. Red-and-white flags everywhere like trees, the glow of familiar red flares all around.

The reporter raised my suspicion as to his motives. He approached people for short interviews. None of the people he walked up to were militant-looking or with aggressive banners. All were ordinary people, none carrying anything more than a Polish flag. He was evidently baiting them for “extremist” soundbites. No one that I saw took the bait. He asked a young couple, working class by appearance, what they thought about people who oppose their idea of Polish patriotism. The young man politely sidestepped that entire frame, simply saying that everyone marching today is a patriot, and that is a good thing.

The reporter then stopped to speak with a middle-aged couple that was standing among the spectators on the sidewalk. My translation of their short conversation:

REPORTER: How important is Independence Day to you?

WOMAN: [smiling] It’s the most important day after Christmas for us. That’s how I felt today.

REPORTER: It’s clearly very important to you. But I’d also say that this day is not very important in every home. To put that delicately.

MAN: I must say that having traveled all over the world, having seen all kinds of countries, having come across all kinds of different people and all kinds of situations, I am happy to have my own country. I am happy to be a Pole. It’s a reason to be proud.

“Normal country.” Ordinary people in a normal country aren’t going to be defensive or get in your face. Nor will they hem-and-haw like a normie-cuckservative who watches his words lest a non-lie slips out. What they will do, is patiently and politely tell you the simple truth because they are not ashamed of anything.

Meanwhile, when searching in English for “poland independence day 2019,” I got a lot of unedited, low resolution videos. Along with many foreign media films with alarmist headlines about the “far-right” and “nationalists.” But I did find a short, watchable video that gives a good snap-impression of today’s Independence Day march in Warsaw:

The formerly-Communist countries of Eastern Europe are in a better position than their western brothers to raise alarms — and to defy — the communism of our day. This is why the world, Poland’s well-wishers as well as those with malice toward that country, watches Poles celebrating their national holiday with such attention.

The communism of our day. You should look up the Pitesti Prison in Romania. Communist henchmen between 1949 and 1951 tortured Christians there. The prisoners were priests and nuns, seminary students, as well as Romanian patriots who refused to renounce Jesus Christ. The tortures were obscenely sacrilegious. True to the nature of the ultimate enemy, who mocks God. He mocks the beautiful and the true. That is what Satan does and that is what the men and women who serve Satan do.

All of the West is in a death-struggle against that Enemy. Satan’s mockery of human dignity on the “free” side of the Iron Curtain became blatant right after WWII, with the teaching of West Germans and Americans to be ashamed of who they are. The forcible desegregation of neighborhoods and schools has wasted so much. Such mountains of lies and hypocrisy now tower over us. Then the humiliation of Rotherham, the interracial agitprop in advertising, ads that groom children into homosexuality. The demon-transsexuals and their access to children. A mockery of the very God-granted human spirit.

This is why Poland is so unusual to Western observers. It is a normal country in which men are masculine and women are feminine. PeterSweden’s flattering comment about Poles should be as banal as an observation that the people there have two arms and two legs each. Yet it’s a startling observation because proper masculinity and femininity are under attack. Under these circumstances, Poland is paradoxically an extraordinary normal country. And so be it. It’s Poland’s task and honor to show that it’s normal to worship God and dream of a White Europe of brotherly nations. That Communism can’t be accommodated, as the countries of Eastern Europe have learned. That the works of the devil must be renounced in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A merry fighting song

Typing this, I look forward to seeing what happens in Warsaw on November 11, the day that over the past several years saw Poland’s Independence Day march grow into the largest and best organized pan-European nationalist celebration event in all of the West.

Meanwhile, I discovered this song. It is performed every August 1st on the anniversary of the start of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. It’s part of the annual “Forbidden Songs” concert, featuring songs that were illegal under the German occupation as resistance anthems, and later under Communism because the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) resistance was considered fascist by the Communists. Here is a performance of one such song last year:

It is titled “Pałacyk Michla”, or Michler’s Palace, named after the landmark building around which the song’s author was involved in combat. It was written during the 1944 Uprising by Home Army soldier Józef Szczepański, internet handle pseudonim “Ziutek.”

Who won World War II? In a way, Poland did. Though the victory came with a price, not in the least the ten years of Judeo-Stalinist terror after the war. Yet post-war Poland’s borders were restored very closely to what they were at the country’s founding in 966 AD; her population went from as low as only about 65% ethnically Polish in some regions before the war to entirely homogeneous and it almost doubled from 1945 to 1990. Poland was spared the Cultural Marxist indoctrination that the “free world” got soaked in, along with the mass immigration. Faith was strengthened, rather than weakened.

I told someone in 2001, and this person thought I was crazy: “Today everyone goes on about what we can learn from the West. But in twenty years it’ll be, what can the West learn from us?

I translated the lyrics below… some of the ’40s era slang might be inexactly rendered but it should be close enough. The lyrics are very much in the playful street-vernacular of its time. The best part is just watching the video and seeing no Diversity, just a lot of people of all looks and ages having a good time under the magnificent Cross. You can even catch glimpses of aged Uprising veterans in the audience. Nobody coerced any of those people to be there, many with their kids way past their bed time. Entirely apropos are this week’s words of Millennial Woes:

Even now, the progressive elites have to hide their true beliefs from the public. We don’t. We can be very honest with the public because we are not opposed to the public. We do not despise the public. We are not trying to betray, trick, replace, or destroy the public. [link]

The August 1st concert is not some mandatory-attendance Communist pep rally. It’s the genuine will of the people in its robust, joyful, collective, and unadulterated expression.

Michler’s Palace

Michler’s palace, Żytnia Street, Wola district
Umbrella Battalion boys defend them
They set their traps for Tiger tanks
They are Varsovians, handsome lads!

Refrain after every verse, x2
Be alert boys, keep your senses sharp
Flex your young spirit, work in double-time!

And every gent wants to get wounded
’cause the field nurses – they’re pretty gals
And should a bullet hit you
Ask one – she’ll give you a kiss – hey!

Behind us, it’s the logistics
Various supporters, assorted helpers
They cook the soup, they boil black coffee
That’s how they fight for the cause – hey!

Our top brass is awesome too
They’re in the combat zone with us
And the coolest of the officers
Is our own “Miecio” with his bad haircut – hey!

Our boys are fighting, our boys are singing
The Krauts are fuming, their faces livid
They try their tricks
They keep sending us their rockets – hey!

But their rockets and grenades are for naught
They get their hides tanned
And every day the moment’s closer
To victory! back to a civilian life – hey!

The moral of the song: you too can start your 75-year-long folk festival project.

“The Reply”

The poem/song “Odpowiedź” (The Reply), in English translation. Open thread.

It’ll be a night in heavy snow / To będzie noc w głębokim śniegu
Which muffles footsteps / Który ma moc głuszenia kroków
In the shadow that transforms / W głębokim cieniu co przemienia
The body into two pools of darkness / Ciało na dwie kałuże mroku
We lie down holding our breaths / Leżymy powstrzymując oddech
And even the softest whisper of thoughts / I nawet szept najlżejszy myśl

If the wolves don’t track us down / Jeśli nas nie wyśledzą wilki
Or the man in a fur coat who swings / I człowiek w szubie co kołysze
Rapid-fire death from his chest / Na piersi szybkostrzelną śmierć
We must spring into a run / Poderwać trzeba się i biec
To the dry applause of brief salvos / W oklasku suchych krótkich salw
Onto that longed-for shore / Na tamten upragniony brzeg

Refrain
Everywhere the same soil, it teaches wisdom

Wszędzie ta sama ziemia jest, naucza mądrość

Everywhere man cries clear tears, mothers rock their babies
/
Wszędzie człowiek białymi łzami płacze, Matki kołyszą dzieci

The moon rises and builds our white home 
/ Księżyc wschodzi i biały dom buduje nam

It’ll be a night that follows hard reality / To będzie noc po trudnej jawie
A conspiracy of the imagination / Ta konspiracja wyobraźni
It tastes like bread, is light like vodka / Ma chleba smak i lekkość wódki
But the choice to stay / Lecz wybór by pozostać tu
Confirms each dream of palm trees / Potwierdza każdy sen o palmach

The dream interrupts the entry of those three / Przerwie sen nagłe wejście trzech
Made tall by rubber and iron / Wysokich z gumy i żelaza
They’ll check the name check the fear / Sprawdzą nazwisko sprawdzą strach
And order you to go down the stairs / I zejść rozkażą w dół po schodach
They won’t let you take anything along / Nic z sobą zabrać nie pozwolą
But the watchman’s sympathetic face / Prócz współczującej twarzy stróża

[Refrain]

Hellenic, Roman, Medieval / Helleńska, rzymska, średniowieczna
Indian, Elizabethan, Italian / Indyjska, elżbietańska, włoska
French above all, I think / Francuska nade wszystko chyba
A bit of Weimar and Versailles / Trochę weimarska i wersalska
So many homelands we carry  / Tyle dźwigamy naszych ojczyzn
On Earth’s one back / Na jednym grzbiecie jednej ziemi

But the one that’s guarded / Lecz ta jedyna, której strzeże
By that most singular number / Liczba najbardziej pojedyncza
Is right here where they stomp you into the ground /
Jest tutaj gdzie cię wdepczą w grunt

Or with a shovel’s hard ringing / Lub szpadlem, który hardo dzwoni
They dig a large hole / W tęsknocie zrobią spory dół

—–

Original poem “Odpowiedź” (The Reply) by Zbigniew Herbert, 1986. Music and vocals by Przemysław Gintrowski. My translation to English.

August 1st

If all of the memory of human history were to be wiped out but for one event, the one event that ought to be remembered forever would be… on the short list is the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. (As distinct from the Ghetto uprising of one year earlier). Sixty three days of asymmetrical urban combat to save their home from the twin foulness of foreign occupation and Communist juggernaut. It was a tremendous, and on its face futile, sacrifice. Then perhaps by the winding path of divine grace, a rebirth.

Retired colonel Kazimierz Klimczak is the oldest living veteran of the Warsaw Uprising. From the interview he gave last year at age 105:

KLIMCZAK: I go to schools and sometimes discuss things with young people. They ask me, “If there were a mobilization, don’t you think that we would also take up arms?”

JOURNALIST: Would they? Do you think they’d fight?

KLIMCZAK: Yes, they would because dire circumstances bring us together.

The anniversary of the outbreak of the insurgency is commemorated with a minute of silence to the howl of air-raid sirens when the clock strikes 5:00 PM every August 1st. This nonverbal PSA honors the living veterans of the Warsaw Uprising. In that story, two elderly veterans can’t make it to their Armia Krajowa (Home Army) combatants reunion but younger generations step in to make something nice happen.

The subtext is about the continuity of blood. The younger characters recognized themselves in these old heroes, just from a different time and living under different circumstances.

What makes those short films such a big deal?

The late filmmaker Krysztof Kieślowski sought to understand the relationship between liberal western Europe and post-Communist eastern Europe and how those two halves make a whole. He saw, in the West’s liberalism, seeds of self-destruction, most vividly depicted in Blue. But he also recognized the lineaments of human kindness behind that impulse. Red shined a light on that. A softer quality like a balm to soothe man during those quiet moments in history. Simple acts of recycling had their flashes of approval in his films.

The big deal about these short films on YouTube? Free men have use their public institutions as an extension of them, so they make videos and memes openly. Unfree men, ones whose public institutions, including their governments, hate them and want them to die do their creative work anonymously. They know that their very breath is illegal.

The other video, the one at the end of this post, features a series of young people (theater students, is my guess) reading fragments of didactic poems written by three different insurgents during the ’44 Uprising. At 1:25, a girl recites:

The soldiers went forth, brave and young, no rifles
Against the tanks armed with bottles of petrol

A young man continues:

They’ll get their rifles
They stood up to Panzer divisions
And for that history’ll repay them.

Imagine no diversity tokens. These students do no less than affirm their very right to exist. They assert their claim on their past and their future. And they do this with the support of their public institutions — universities, national remembrance organizations, and on up to their government’s ministry of culture.

“They’ll get their rifles”

The Home Army was well armed in pre-war military equipment and homemade small arms. Błyskawica (“lightning”) is the famous submachine gun sometimes seen in historic photos. Approximately 700 were made in private shops during the Occupation. It fired 9×19 mm Parabellum rounds from its 32-round magazine at maximum rate of 600 per minute and with 200-meter effective range.

Blyskawica1

Błyskawica fired by a Home Army soldier in the Warsaw Uprising

What is the point of these homages to a historic event?

Nobody, be it in Poland or the United States or anywhere else, would bother with making identitarian propaganda if this something weren’t in the air right now. A gut-understanding that something wants us destroyed and the Third World is its weapon. It’s just that in Poland, the state and its institutions are an extension of patriots, not their enemy.

About the video below. This is the natural way of young Europeans when times become dire. Men take the lead in affirming the higher ideals. The women are beautiful and feel safe at home supporting their men’s idealism. What you don’t see is hedonism and rebellion against tradition. Those are universal temptations of youth but without Jewish control of national institutions, they don’t metastasize into full-blown Leftism.

If you’re a nationalist of any background, your heart will beat faster. If you’re anti-White, you’ll fear their attitude as fascist:

The Death Of Hamlet

It’s my translation of Zbigniew Herbert’s “Elegy of Fortinbras” (1961). Fortinbras is William Shakespeare’s fictional Norwegian prince and conqueror of Denmark. He appears in the final scene of “Hamlet.” The themes that are of interest to us now:

  • The finality of the death of the old regime
  • The imposition of martial order over a cucked country (Mister President?)
  • The unbridgeable gap between Romanticism and Realism
  • Matter and spirit

Here is the musical interpretation. It is perfect. Below is the original and translated text, with my brief commentary in bold type leading off each verse.


Verse 1. – Fortinbras confesses of his fondness for the lifeless enemy. 

Teraz kiedy zostaliśmy sami możemy porozmawiać książę jak mężczyzna z mężczyzną
chociaż leżysz na schodach i widzisz tyle co martwa mrówka 

to znaczy czarne słońce o złamanych promieniach 

Now that we’re alone we can talk Prince man to man
though you lie on the stairs and see no more than a dead ant
nothing but a black sun with broken rays

Nigdy nie mogłem myśleć o twoich dłoniach bez uśmiechu 
i teraz kiedy leżą na kamieniu jak strącone gniazda 
są tak samo bezbronne jak przedtem To jest właśnie koniec 
Ręce leżą osobno Szpada leży osobno Osobno głowa 
I nogi rycerza w miękkich pantoflach

I could never think of your hands without smiling
and now that they lie on the stone like fallen nests
they are as defenseless as before The end is exactly this 
The hands lie apart The sword lies separate The head separate
and the knight’s feet in soft slippers


Verse 2. (1:35) – His eulogy shifts to from private to public matters. 

Pogrzeb mieć będziesz żołnierski chociaż nie byłeś żołnierzem
jest to jedyny rytuał na jakim trochę się znam 

You will have a soldier’s funeral though you weren’t a soldier 
it is the only ritual I am somewhat acquainted with

Nie będzie gromnic i śpiewu będą lonty i huk
kir wleczony po bruku hełmy podkute buty konie artyleryjskie 

werbel werbel wiem nic pięknego  

There will be no candles no singing there’ll be cannon fuses and salvos 
Crape dragged on cobblestones helmets studded boots artillery horses  
drumming drumming I know it’s nothing exquisite

to będą moje manewry przed objęciem władzy
trzeba wziąć miasto za gardło i wstrząsnąć nim trochę

those will be my maneuvers as I assume control
one has to take the city by the throat and shake it a bit


Verse 3. (2:46) – On Hamlet’s errors.

Tak czy owak musiałeś zginąć Hamlecie nie byłeś do życia
wierzyłeś w kryształowe pojęcia a nie glinę ludzką
żyłeś ciągłymi skurczami jak we śnie łowiłeś chimery
łapczywie gryzłeś powietrze i natychmiast wymiotowałeś 

Anyhow you had to perish Hamlet you were not for life
you believed in crystal notions not in human clay
always twitching as if asleep you hunted chimeras
wolfishly you bit at the air only to vomit

nie umiałeś żadnej ludzkiej rzeczy
nawet oddychać nie umiałeś

you couldn’t do a single human thing
you did not even know how to breathe


Verse 4. (3:35) – Candor, judgment, a touch of envy.

Teraz masz spokój Hamlecie zrobiłeś co do ciebie należało
i masz spokój Reszta nie jest milczeniem ale należy do mnie 

wybrałeś część łatwiejszą efektywny sztych 

Now you have peace Hamlet you accomplished what you had to
and you have peace The rest is not silence but it belongs to me
you chose the easier part an elegant thrust

lecz czymże jest śmierć bohaterska wobec wiecznego czuwania 
z zimnym jabłkiem w dłoni na wysokim krześle 

z widokiem na mrowisko i tarczę zegara 

but what is heroic death compared to eternal vigilance
with a cold apple in one’s hand on a raised chair
with a view on the anthill and on the clock’s dial


Verse 5. (4:23) – The two worlds part ways.

Żegnaj książę czeka na mnie projekt kanalizacji
i dekret w sprawie prostytutek i żebraków 

muszę także obmyślić lepszy system więzień 

gdyż jak zauważyłeś słusznie Dania jest więzieniem 

Adieu Prince I have tasks a sewer project
and a decree on prostitutes and beggars
I must also elaborate a better system of prisons
since as you justly said Denmark is a prison

Odchodzę do moich spraw Dziś w nocy urodzi się  
Gwiazda Hamlet Nigdy się nie spotkamy

To co po mnie zostanie nie będzie przedmiotem tragedii

I go to my affairs This night is born
a star named Hamlet We shall never meet
what I shall leave will not be the subject of a tragedy


Coda. (5:12) – The coffin is lowered but some things are immortal.

Ani nam witać się ani żegnać żyjemy na archipelagach
A ta woda te słowa cóż mogą cóż mogą książę

It is not for us to greet each other or bid farewell we live on archipelagos
and that water these words what can they do what can they do Prince


(open thread)