Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pain(t)ing history or: Human's got talent

Why would I while pondering about what Kseniya Simonova painted in sand (see previous post) suddenly come to think of Péter Esterházy and Patrick Desbois?

A touching story it was; a story in which - as a commenter stated - she 'united a grief of our people [i.e. the Ukrainian people], and also glory and pride, especially the victory over fascism'; a touching patriotic story that won her the contest "Ukraine's got talent".
Now is her specific talent such great that
the sand-paintress could have painted any story in the sand to win the equivalent of 125,000 dollar, would you agree?

Any story?

Would she have enthusiastically been awarded the winner, had she told a story about those Ukrainian countrymen who enthusiastically welcomed the invaders and joined them? Those Ukrainian countrymen who helped to humanly, i.e. not (!) bestialically* kill Jews and Sinti and other human beings they obviously also considered subhuman?

Do I hear anybody say this would not have been clever an idea?

Well, such kind of (hi)story would not fit to any nations glory, hm?

Human's got talent to repress certain unpleasant details.
Some human's got even talent to deny certain unpleasant details.

End of the beforegoing.

And now to the opening question. As for Patrick Desbois, just follow this link, and - in case you speak English, French and/or German you will understand why I came to think of him. You won't find anything in Russian and Ukrainian, though.

As for
Péter Esterhazy: I felt reminded of one sentence in his aureate speech when in 2004 he was awarded the Peace Price of the German Book Trade. Basically he said: All European nations do love the Germans. Blaiming them does spare us to deal with our own history.

The peace of the night.

* I decided to spare you details; at least for now.


  1. We gloss over the uncomfortable truths to make our past more glorious...

    I believe strongly nthat nations should state their past in the face, not to wear a hair shirt but to learn from it.

    Perhaps one day we will actually learn from history and not repeat past iniquities... I won't hold my breath though!

  2. Our Canadian National Anthems (same great music but different words in French and English) reflect the valour of our ancestors, without mentioning that we were fighting with each other, and wrestling the land away from the Natives (Aboriginals). The British and the French fur traders took advantage of what was called then "Eskimo Land". The Inuits are self governing only since 1999.

    Yet, we all stand together, as Canadians, and sing those words, with gusto, at all official occasions.

    We're still trying to fix up the damages our brave ancestors inflicted upon the true Kanata people. And some Québecois can't forget that the French lost the colony to the British, and were shamefully dumped forever by the Mother Country.

    Amazing history. The heros I celebrated in my early youth have a very tarnished reputation. In my mid twenties I thought I could do some good by going to our Northern Lands and nurse the people we had injured.I received from them a lot more than I ever gave. They taught me the meaning of pride and survival.

  3. Thank you for your interesting links, and your conducive thoughts about the way History is written. It certainly knocks any country down the pedestal some writers erect in the name of Nationalism. We're all immigrants from somewhere. And we all carry the sins of our ancestors. Sadly, as Jams mentions so well, as groups, we don't seem to learn from our mistakes.

    Yet, I think it's possible, as individuals, to change a behavioural pattern. On Westminster Wisdom's post on History, I said (using fire as a symbol) that Life had taught me it burned, and I didn't offer my hand to it, anymore.

    Maybe it's the way the world will change. One person, at a time, knowing better...

    You reach many of us here, Sean. Thank you for the teaching.:)

  4. My introduction to Germany came at the age of 14, on a school trip, and as the coach trundled towards Cologne I discovered in my rucksack a phrasebook my Dad had secretly put in there. It seemed very old, then I realised it was the one given to him as a 19 year old soldier about to head across the English Channel. I flicked it open and found that the first "useful phrase" it offered me was was "Hände hoch!". I didn't use it :) My best friend while doing my PhD at Cambridge was a German fellow student whose Dad had been a U-boat submariner, and like my Dad his had survived the war too. We were, are are, both so glad that times have changed.

  5. Just a thought on the above, a quote that popped into my head from Colin Thubron's book In Siberia, when he visits the appalling camps in the Far East of Siberia:

    "Yuri says: 'We're not the same as you in the West. Maybe we're more like you were centuries ago ... With us, time still goes in circles.' ... But his hand, which was tracing a circle, now tentatively lifts. 'But maybe we spiral a little,' he says, 'a little upwards.'"

    I think this is true, and not just for Russia.

  6. Before answering individually: Thank you all for your thoughts. Difficult (for me) to explain: I do appreciate them very much.
    sometimes it would be easier to sit vis-à-vis, hm? :)

    just one thought: Your 'fire'-example does not make me more optimistic.
    It's still true in the 21st century: Most children have to burn their fingers before they dread the fire. And, unfortunatly, still too many, once they have become adults, do still like to play with fire.

    Ah! Lovely example!
    I was eleven and half when I visited England (London) for the first time. I consider it a privilege. Three weeks around Easter that with hindsight were certainly very important for me/my way of thinking.

    praised be the moment that let pop this very quote into your head!
    Wish I could see coming true what you think.