Oksana Zabuzhko: Czytam, oglądam, słucham

 1. I READ

I’ve just swallowed, in a one-day gulp, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen – an investigation which reads as the black crime novel (with the victims counted, by now, in mass numbers!) - or, if you wish, as a 21st century version of The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, only this time nonfictional, and thoroughly documented. All the pieces of the historical puzzle are put together here, and you get a fully convincing account of how post-Soviet Russia, once hungry to grip for its dissolving national identity, fell to its “Arturo Ui” - a small-minded, immoral, and, very likely, psychologically disturbed KGB operative, - and how, before anyone noticed, a grotesque and sinister neo-Stalinist empire has re-emerged out of the void, with a manic ambition “to rule the world”. A must read for everyone willing to keep one’s eyes open to the pitfalls of modern history - or simply to learn how dangerous human ignorance could be, especially when combined with wishful thinking. 


Eldfjall (Volcano) by Rúnar Rúnarsson is one of those rare films which you really want, after having watched it in a movie theatre, to keep in your DVD library, to be able to give it a second thought. I first saw it last fall, and now in all earnestness name it my “film of the year”. I keep reviewing it, slowly, shot by shot, to discover where the magic is hidden - long, pensive close-ups of an ordinary family life routine; a tragedy springing, like in the ancient Greek theatre, out of nowhere; a wonderfully sculptured main character leaving you with a total lack of a moral judgement, yet with the strange emotional mix of sympathy, revulsion and reverence in the same time… A painfully beautiful, ruthless film which reaches as deep to the heart of a human condition as could be done by means of a visual art. 


I’m fully under the spell of the new program Doroha zi Skla (The Glass Road) by Sestry Telnyuk (The Telnyuk Sisters) – and, let me assure you, not because most of the songs in it are to my lyrics! Telnyuk Sisters have since long been known as one of the most innovative and sophisticated Ukrainian groups, yet Doroha zi Skla, with its classically trained celloists (“Telnyukaliptika”, as critics have immediately dubbed it!), beats everything they’ve accomplished so far. A true “feminine mystique” at its best, a music endowed both with the strength of primeval love incantations, and with the artistic elegance able to give you cheers of delight. Don’t miss the album when it’s released next year - meanwhile one can listen (as I do) to the records from the concert tour at http://www.glassroad.info/