Hope, radical and ultimate, appears when we expect a happy ending, yet we don’t know from where it might come. It’s radical because the crisis of culture embodied in its most important representatives: poets, statesman and inspired prophets, is heading towards a still absent, yet positive solution. It’s not an optimistic hope of cheap social ideologies, because chances of being and not being saved are equal. In a sense such hope creates a new type of courage that one takes up a risk in a situation when there’s no certainty what should be done, when every choice might turn out a tragic one. It’s a model of weak courage founded on the ruins of the long-gone world and on the consciousness of a lost cause.
‘Everybody is fuckin’ high!’ says Polish rapper Goss. If drugs are really so popular, if it is really true that yesterday I was diagnosed by a doctor who is a heroin addict, an alcoholic policeman intervened in my case, if little kids who are not able to stand the presence of adults resort to increasingly strong drugs, then maybe the time has come to admit that the contemporary world is a madhouse! More and more actions that not so long ago wouldn’t be considered normal become the norm. Let’s imagine for a moment that it is really the truth, that new standards are set by freaks and weirdos. What then? Won’t we be forced to admit that not only man’s environment, but himself and his nature has changed, and that there is no going back from drugs? I keep on meeting people who say that men need to be high on something: be it sex, weed or internet, to be able to survive the pressure of the speeding train of civilization. Should I believe them?
I have read that pioneers of mathematics presented a pragmatic attitude towards its foundations. This brought conclusions, calculation methods and results. These were taken over by physicists searching for new results. Eventually technicians emerged and by using only end results added new calculations. This way machines were created. When everything was in full swing, mathematicians suddenly realized there was something at the foundations that did not fit well with the rest. They looked at the very bottom and found out that the whole structure hung in mid-air. But the machines worked! We should therefore accept that the whole of our modern existence is based on the madness of machines and a human error, and perhaps wouldn't be possible without them.
Ancient Greeks lived as if they were asleep. The sobriety and toughness that characterized them was weakened by a serious and inspiring experience of a myth. Events like those when a god kidnaps Europe, Athena moves Paris from the battlefield to a safe place and Diomedes hurts her in a battle frenzy, belonged to the present time and occurred before the eyes of men and gods. Greeks didn't have to believe in reality of these events, they saw them with their own eyes. But even though they identified themselves completely with everything that happen to them, they felt that the source of existence lay somewhere else, somewhere beyond these revelations. They also knew that man was meant for things higher then self-satisfaction. Man has to become an artist, an athlete of existence, because beauty – beautiful life and life in beauty, is for him the last and final justification. There is no other. There is nothing more important.
In the face of death we are like children. We deny its experience, we carve pumpkins to minimize its terrifying magic. We wish to finish death out with laughter, but first of all, we pretend that it’s not here, so its permanent presence doesn’t bother us anymore. Death has been enchanted in polyclinics, pharmaceutical corporations into a mere ailment. Indeed, one difficult to treat now, but in the long run completely curable. Today we pass away not among our close ones, but in hospitals and hospices. It became almost a rule. Thus, the curse of our modern culture is a vaudeville-like and obsessive concentration on life with an exclusion of the phenomenon of death and dying. We want to be immortal. We want to be like gods.
University of the old type was a place where the past related to the future via the contemporary and the present. Today it is neither necessary, nor possible because university is supposed to relate only to the present, mainly to suit the requirements of the market with its narrow, material needs. The university of today is not run by scholars, but by business and administration. Unquestionable submission, efficiency, perfection, and internationalization are a valuable merit here. Managers of the university try to meet the challenges of our civilization not knowing, or not admitting it even before themselves, that it’s impossible. Material reality is always a few steps ahead of them. They forgot, or perhaps they never remembered in the first place, that the most sacred duty of academia is thinking, which is free of any utilitarian obligations.
Theatre is composed of actors, directors and the audience. First ones speak from the stage the greatest, often unsurpassable words like those of Sophocles, Shakespeare, or Molière, and sometimes they fall prey to an illusion that they themselves are as wise as authors of Antigone or of Measure for Measure. Taking as theirs what doesn’t belong to them they begin to talk nonsense about current politics or their private lives. They do that in an authoritative and irrevocable way. The same goes for today’s directors, who rarely produce plays by great writers, and if they do, they play them against their authors and deceive the audience, who grows less and less competent. And being left on its own, abandoned and helpless, the audience falls prey to impostors and swindlers and is not able to stand up against their overwhelming acts.
The Apocalypse, the non-historical element of history, abolishes chronology. It undermines the concepts of progress and of development. Irreversibly all leans towards the end, which gives history its meaning. With the question about eschaton history surpasses its own limits and thus becomes visible and acquires sense to itself. Not all are able to grasp this. Those who cannot are caught in the present moment as if in a cage, they always have time to decide and are never in a hurry. The cycle of their lives turns their decision into an empty gesture. Immersed in the natural sequence of events they are completely indifferent to the act of decision making and to history. There will be no Apocalypse for them.
Up until the 18th century, before Napoleon took over, the results of wars did not concern civilians. Subjects of a German or an Italian prince often did not know, that their lord was at war. They might have observed the movements of armies, but understood very little of it. War concerned brave men. It was a matter of courage, honour and of an ability to risk one's life in the name of non-utilitarian values.
Pain is a deaf and numb language of the body. It’s an animal feature. Ants suffer, pelicans suffer and so does man, but only man gets sick. Illness is a human answer to an inhuman, unbearable and long-lasting pain. Illness is created by man, pain is inflicted by nature that he is a part of. We understand this relation less and less and we barely recognize it at all. We multiply illnesses and invent even less effective cures. Only pain is doing well, only pain does not want to go away.