One Photo Story (2) – Friends

I’ve loved them dearly since 2006.

Ania (left) is truly wild, unpredictable and a rather mysterious soul. For example, who would ever imagine her getting married? Certainly not me and not Piter (middle), to be clear, not the groom at this particular party. Regardless, he is definitely my and Ania’s favourite man.

For the last month or so, we see each other every Sunday (because “remember the S. day and keep it holy”), since we discovered Technology: we can see and hear each other despite living in 3 different countries, cultivate old friendship and make the time for others one of the top priority. About time, I know. Well, the virus did this to many of us, I guess.
Anyway, we now talk for hours into the night (my night, that is, they are just missing lunches), solving the world’s most pressing problems, laughing at our past and present fuck ups and thinning those dark clouds in my head.

As you know, I don’t do people, but I do love MY people and I’m forever grateful for their patience for my restless soul.

Cherish your loved ones, is what I’m trying to say. Peace.

Why I won’t watch Jojo Rabbit.

Auschwitz — Birkenau, 2011.

Over Sunday family lunch, one of the conversations led to me making a bold statement, that I refuse to watch “Jojo Rabbit” the movie, because I disagree with the principle. I don’t want to see Nazi being tamed by introducing them into popular culture, I said, making it goofy and “lovingly funny”. This sparked a whole new discussion, as some people around the table had watched the movie.

“But you know, in the end, Hitler and his ideas are discredited”.
“But you know, the boy’s mother is hung at the end”
“But you know, it’s a well know New Zealand director with Jewish heritage”

I know.
Regardless of a movie being well made, well directed, having the best actors or delivering a compelling story, I don’t want to see little boys hailing Hitler. I don’t want to see Hitler being funny. Because he wasn’t. For me, the genocide is not material for a light hearted comedy, even under the excuse of the blackest humour.

Then someone asked, so have you actually watched the movie?
No, I didn’t, I said. And she won’t watch it, added S., with whom we were discussing the issue previously.

I can honestly describe myself as an opinionated person, but it’s not as simple as it may sound. In my head, I’m constantly questioning my beliefs, opinions and statements. I work through my thoughts over and over again, justifying them in front of others, but even more so, in front of myself. Usually late at night, instead of sleeping. I know how easy is to fall into the trap of seeing the world as black and white, as “us and them”, as “agree or disagree ball bouncing”. However, inspecting the issue from different perspectives, quite often makes our bold manifestos verging on the ignorance / misunderstanding / being short sighed. In other words, there is always “yeah, but” hiding behind the corner, hunting me every time I find myself feeling strongly about something.

So that Sunday, lying in bed at night I was thinking, should I watch the movie to be able to fairly judge it?

Still, the answer is no.
Because I’m not judging the movie, I disagree with the principle.
And then, asking myself what does it actually mean, I went through a simple mental exercise.

If restaurant “X” serves food only to white people, do you need to have at least one meal in that restaurant to be able to fully justify your decision of refusing to go there, because you disagree with their policy of racial segregation? Does it matter if the food is well sourced and well prepared or cooked by the well know chef?
No, because I’m not talking about the kind or quality of the cuisine, I disagree with the principle.

Then my internal demagogue came out and questioned the deeper appropriateness of this example. Ok, for the sake of the logic, we could argue that this is not comparing apples to apples. Fair enough.

So let’s try this: What if this was a movie about a paedophile? Or a rapist? Would we expect a victim of either or their family member, or their next door neighbour or actually anyone, to watch a camp for small boys being taught how to become a rapist or a paedophile? With a rapist/paedophile light heartedly portrayed as funny, silly and yes, proven wrong at the end, but still?

So, I guess my opposition to the concept of the “Jojo Rabbit” movie comes down to the question: How well are we teaching history today?
Given the fact, that “the next generation” knows the movie / YouTube / Instagram celebrities better than historical characters, let’s imagine a person, born in a country other than Central Europe after the 2000s. When asked about Hitler, what do we think will be the first thing to come to mind? The boring voice of their school teacher talking about names and places that can hardly be pronounced, and are located so far away in terms of time and distance, who would really care? Or that Hollywood movie with Scarlett Johanson? Yeah, Hitler, a man who was solely responsible for a mass murder of 5 to 6 milion people in the most inhumane way, was bad guy, but also funny, right?

One Photo Story (1) – Home

Yesterday, on the occasion of my “Name Day” (a Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic tradition of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one’s given name, in some regions of Poland as popular as a Birthday, if not more. This year was also the first year when S. didn’t ask why all those Polish people are calling me today?!, as he was determined to [quote]: “embrace the strange and absolutely foreign concept of Name Day and not forget about it for the 6th consecutive year”. It just took him few good hours to figure out what “Ela’s anniversary” in his calendar means) a significant number of people wished me “plane flights, safe and available soon”, which is exactly what I wish for, every minute of every day these days.

I’m missing home. And this is a photo of a court in the park where I spent pretty much every afternoon (after homework was done) y. 1997–2000. I didn’t learn as much about basketball (that came later), as about life, friendship, that it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are and how you look, because everyone is head to toe covered in dust anyway and playing ball and laughs was all what mattered then, and finally it was also revealed to me then that there is a Universal Cosmic Law: the dogs look like their owners and vice versa.

Czytelnia (6) | “Love in the Time of Cholera”

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This marvellous book provides you with the fascinating displeasure of meeting a man you should fear more than the Devil himself.

The other way to look at this book is that… it’s not about love as a romantic concept. Love could be just a metaphor of an idea, passion, desire, prejudice, beliefs or anything that sometimes becomes so strong in a human’s mind that makes us blind. We subjugate our whole life to it and use it as an excuse for our choices, even when they cause pain or harm to others.

This book also beautifully portrays how our life choices are influenced by many different factors and we can learn to be ok with that. When you look separatedly at the lives of Fermina Daza and Juvenal Urbino, you can see the grand decisions of marriage, love, hate, family relationships are not made according to the romantic ideas written in the golden book of eternal rules. They can be a result of an impulse, pure calculation, they can be contradictory, logical or irrational, they may also change over the years and whatever they may be, THEY ARE ALL VALID. They can lead to happiness or misfortune, most likely to both, but we are complex creatures and life is messy, so lets stop lying to ourselves that there can only be one true love and it is the only thing that will makes us truly happy.

Czytelnia (5) | “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars”

“Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars” Nathalia Holt

It’s inspiring and mind-blowing to read about all these women who crunched the numbers, plotted rocket trajectories and tested rocket designs to finally become one of the first computer code writers. It makes me smile broadly and want to high-five the invisible hand of our old friend Irony, while thinking about the laboratory, where since 50’s the policy was to hire only female.

As much as I found the American space exploration and female computers that played significant part in the process fascinating, I am rather mildly interested in JPL’s ladies giggles, outfits, love stories etc… I understand though, that there are still people out there in XXI century that require explanation and proof that being a female/wife/mother and scientist/mathematician is not mutually exclusive. Moreover, it is physically and mentally possible to want to pursue the role of both and succeed in it. I know, how wild is that. And there happened to be man (rare, exceptional cases, but still), husbands to be precise, who supported that – in 50’s and 60’s!

So, even though I really didn’t need all those “girly stories” in between, I appreciate where the author is coming from and I see her point in documenting the lives of women, who were not only pioneers in their profession, but also in their personal lives. The “rocket girls” worked outside of the home when only 20 percent of women did so, had children and returned to work, went through divorce when it was first becoming socially accepted, and witnessed the first wave of feminism, not to mention other social revolutions in the decades that spanned their careers.

In short, we need more stories like this, the stories about the real “girl power”.

Wentworth Memorial Church and Quo Vadis public architecture?

The church sits on the hill, tightly surrounded by the high-end residences. I can see its tower every time I go for a local spin on my bike and I was always curious about its modern architecture. When I’ve heard, that the church is on sale, I thought I would better go and explore it now before it’s too late, when whoever buys the land will close it up for public for good. When one Saturday we went to see the church, we found a big red sticker on the board saying SOLD, so, clearly, we were already trespassing. With cold blood and in the name of Architecture I walked around one of the most fascinating sacral sites I have seen.

With so cleverly designed journey from the bottom of the hill, through the walled courtyard, up to the entrance, covered with the physical and visual extension of the main roof, you can see the clear form of the church from many different perspectives. I have also found a little timber door on the side wall of the church with no lock on it. With the attitude that nothing can stop me from appreciating the architecture in full and I’m ready to be arrested for that, I sneaked in. What a space.

The church is an example of Sydney School style of architecture, designed by Donald Gazzard c.1965 and was built as a memorial to the serviceman and women who served during WWII. Since 2012 it’s heritage listed.

Since our visit to Wentworth Memorial Church, I have been wondering what will happen to the building in the future. It cannot be demolished but if it doesn’t serve the religious purpose anymore, what function can it accommodate (the land is zoned as residential)? What activity these days would be appropriate for the citadel-like siting, in the area of few kilometres radius with nothing else but big houses and expensive cars parked along the streets? What can we do to keep this building open to the public, what would bring people there and at the same time be profitable for the owner? Where the elevated and almost spiritual way of approaching the entrance can lead?