DILEMMA - Mobile Academy of Dialogue - day 3

Dilemma w Użhorodzie - dzień 3 / 10.05.2024

In the Uzhhorod cemetery, the flowers planted on the graves are densely growing in strong colors amid Ukrainian flags and blue and yellow wreaths.

Andriy Lyubka told us about Maxim, one of the soldiers buried here, a friend who lived a life of freedom, confessed peace, and opposed violence. As we stood so clustered in the group, walked quietly along the cemetery path, right next to us a new row of graves was being created, another hole was being dug. Every day the memory of this place grows, overgrows the history of the land, of the thoughts, of the suffering. Yesterday's talks in Uzhhorod went on with these images in the air, looking for light and that which is beyond. It was suffering, as something that exists in the here and now, not to be relativized, to be reduced to a higher purpose, that made us look for a new language for the story of the present world. The practice and idea of Central Europe suggests that there will be many such languages, with stories revitalized by mutual differences. Trauma have that power to unite and divide in the same time, the one that created Central Europe, shaped history and drew borders, stripped identity and fueled the need to be someone else, to be not here, not oneself. As Marsi Shore said, human nature is inseparable from otherness, not only that which we find outside ourselves, but also that which is within ourselves. In spite of the fantasy of a certain wholeness, we have gaps and holes within ourselves, a space of freedom that opens up for action beyond the individual and our own. Maybe that's also why the idea of Central Europe has to fill itself again and again, to convince us that it exists towards tomorrow along with its past, trauma and memory. One of the texts important to Dilemma, is Milan Kundera's 1983 essay "A kidnapped West...," which does not work today as a truth, a finished story about Central Europe, but rather a historical testimony, a sign of a certain time, perhaps the source of many mistaken ideas, actions. Throwing Kundera into the Uzhhorod discussion, the difference in the positions taken by those reading the text proves fascinating. It becomes something different to read it in Belarus, where space is still closer to duality, where Russia is not on the outside, does not allow to occupy safe positions to move easily in search of new sources of light, something different in today's Poland with a completely different spacious imagination. This experience would have Central Europe negated again, after all, shows that even the starting points of discussion quickly blur into multiplicity. But Central European identity is built on the move, which is why it allows to accommodate a diverse, solidarity-based, neighborly memory, as opposed to a nation that stagnates in isolation, in the illusion of wholeness and stability. Reflecting on Kundera's text, one can see how difficult this space is to write down, how it only becomes real in acting, practical thought. When it meets the body of today's Ukrainian women, Ukrainians, it tells the story of how resistance, community and the future are born out of trauma.

fot. Piotr Szroeder