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Thursday
Oct042012

Shevchenko Idolatry

I have found this interesting blog of an icon writer, and a journalist writing about Orthodox issues, and on it an even more intriguing story from last year...

It seems that the worship of a second rate poet, but talented painter, (it wasn't me, it was that Ukrainophobe Gogol') Taras Shevchenko, has reached new level of idiocy in some circles.

Couple of fools in Poltava decided to create an "icon" of Shevchenko. The "icon" was made by a member of a collective "Poltavian Singers", Ivan Hrytsko. He took a self-portrait of a young Shevchenko, and inserted it into an icon frame. This creation was then presented on a press conference by the president of the association, "Civic Society", Volodymyr Stepanyuk.

This is what Stepanyuk had to say in his defence, I translate:

Remarks have already been made to us that we cannot not make an icon out of the image of Shevchenko. But we believe that he is our prophet and martyr, that's why we can do it.   

Prophet they say? Shevchenkologist Oles' Buzina confirms that Shevchenko is often called "a prophet of Ukrainian nation", and his collection of poems, the Kobzar', its bible. Unfortunately for those that make such claims, Shevchenko never spoke about Ukrainians. Never once did this prophet of the Ukrainian nation use the words "Ukrayinets", "Ukrayinka" (English: "Ukrainian" in the ethnic sense, masculine and feminine forms). The primitive village patois that he wrote his poems in simply had no knowledge of such terms.

But if the Kobzar' really is a bible of the Ukrainian nation, what does it teach those Ukrainians that Shevchenko never spoke about?

Maybe bloody class warfare?

 Кровi менi, кровi! Шляхетської кровi, бо хочеться пить... 

Translation:

I want blood, blood! Blood of the nobles, because I want to drink... 

Or maybe that black people are not humans:

Продаєм; Або у карти програєм; Людей… НЕ НЕГРІВ… а таких; Таки хрещених… но простих

Translation:

We sell; or we lose in a game of cards; People... NOT NEGROES... and such; Baptised as we are... but simple

Simple Shevchenko certainly was, but was he a martyr? From the point of ecclesiastical martyrology, Shevchenko does not qualify by any stretch of an imagination, just like that creation above cannot be called an icon. But did he at least die for a cause, say the cause of Ukrainian nationhood?

Not at all, Shevchenko died rather young of an illness. Oles' Buzina makes a compelling case that the nature of Shevchenko's illness was venereal. More specifically, he caught gonorrhea from banging prostitutes. He was paid rather well for his work. For paintings shall I say, because his wealthy patrons were not interested in poems about drinking blood of the nobles. Shevchenko happily wasted that money on hookers and alcohol.

Back in the days of Shevchenko, this kind of disease was cured by rather barbaric methods, with mercury, which not only killed the disease, but also killed the treated organism.

So much for Shevchenko's martyrdom, the blog of an icon writer has some interesting comments under the post in question, I translate:

Where I am from, priests from KP (the so called Kiev Patriarchate) cross themselves while passing around the monument to Shevchenko, but do not cross themselves when they pass around our Orthodox cathedral which is 20 metres away.   

Pseudo-Orthodox priests who hang around nationalist demonstrations, and who's unrecognised organisation lifted the anathema from Mazepa? Why does this not surprise me? Why would they cross themselves when they pass around a church of an institution that they view only as an imperialist arm of Moscow? They are a proper (from national, but certainly not from an Orthodox point of view) Ukrainian Church, led by an over-ambitious, born again patriot Denisenko.

Further down is a poem from 1965, by a more recent Ukrainian poet, Dmytro Pavlychko, who like Deniseko first obediently served the Soviet government, and when the ideological climate changed, became a big time patriot. Miroslava Berdnik (who runs one of my favourite blogs) called him "shit of the nation" and "former snitch of the KGB." It is a mockery of Lord's Prayer called simply "Molytva" (the prayer in English), perfectly in the traditions of Soviet atheism. The Soviet government also promoted a cult of Shevchenko:

Отче наш, Тарасе всемогущий, Що створив нас генієм своїм, На моїй землі, як првда, сущий,
Б’ющий у неправду, наче грім.Ти, як небо, став широкоплечо; Над літами, що упали в грузь;
Віку двадцять першого предтече, Я до тебе одного молюсь. Да святиться слова блискавиця,
Що несе у вічну далечінь; Нашу думу й пісню. Да святиться; Між народами твоє ім’я. Амінь.

I translate:

Our father, Taras almighty, who created us through your genius, On my land, like real truth beating into untruth as thunder. You, as heaven, stood up broad-shouldered; Over the ages which have fallen to burden; Forerunner of the twenty-first century, I only pray to you. Blessed be the words of a bright light, Which carries us to eternally far away, Our thought and our song. Blessed be your name among the nations. Amen.

PS: I hate translating poetry, from Ukrainian especially, some translated passages might differ from the original but I tried my best to keep the original meaning. By the way, I have not ordered the verses in a column, because I do not know how to here.

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Reader Comments (20)

Oh my, here we go again...

Leos - If Shevchenko was a 'second rate poet', then how can one classify you and your third rate attempts at writing something here??

'Shevchenko happily wasted that money on hookers and alcohol'

A hundred years from now (10 years?), their wont be any interest at all in Leos Tomicek, no one around to write your epitet:

'Tomicek happily wasted his money on maijuana and video gmes' :-) :-) :-)

(keep 'em coming though, the stuff you print is comical!)

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Amused Hack

@ Hack

Dude, if I ever had a cult following, some people will certainly say that about me, and maybe many more things that you don't even know about. But, thanks God I do not.

It does not change the fact that Shevchenko was second rate, and if he wasn't picked up by Ukrainian nationalists, his name as a poet would not amount to anything. And it also does not disprove that this so called prophet liked hookers and alcohol, we have plenty of evidence for that.

Shevchenko is comical, and his followers even more, I'm glad you admit that. ;-) I would not be writing these posts if I didn't have fun. ;-)

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Leos - your's and Busema's moronic attempts to try to somehow cast aspersion on Shevchenko the poet is certainly an uphill battle. Thousands of serious scholarly books and articles devoted to Shevchenko's literature, I'm sure will withstand your sleezey attempts at denigration here. Stick to what you know best...'marijuana an video games' :-) :-) :-)

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Amused Hack

@ Hack

Buzina sells thousands of books, and his books are even being pirated, his internet articles are read by thousands of people, and he fills book shops and halls. There are even scholarly articles written about Buzina and his writings about Shevchenko. Buzina is a phenomenon, even Motyl hates him.

Buzina is not casting aspersion on Shevchenko, he bases his stuff on actual evidence. What he attempts to do, is to dispel the ridiculous cult that has grown around this figure, stuff like that I speak about in my post above, which you have yet again not addressed.

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

From what I can gather here at your blog, Shevchenko's greatest shortcomings were that he liked to have a drink with his pals, and was an unrepentent skirt chaser....

Imagine that, and being an artist too??........Certainly enough for the likes of you and Bozina to keep busy crafting 'careers' for yourself!

Like I said, 'keep 'em coming' :-) :-) :-)

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Amused Hack

@ Hack

Well, I am not the one calling him a martyr, am I?

But look at you! When I completed the post, I sent an email out titled "Svidosrach will start promptly". I was right! Did I just kill your sacred cow? Well screw you, and screw your sacred cow! I had enough of this svidosrach, you have nothing to say.

This conversation is over! :-)))

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Oh my, the big 'S' word comes out again...and so soon??.....and the obligatory 'This conversation is over!' I'm impressed! :-) :-)

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Amused Hack

@ Hack

I'm off to writing more interesting stuff than comments to you, to put it another way. ;-)

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

I can hardly wait....I don't even have to read the 'Onion' anymore to get my daily dosage of humor!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Amused Hack

Leos - rereading yesterday's important addition to trivia surrounding Shevchenko, you seem to indicate that you have some difficulty in translating his Ukrainian poetry into english:

' I hate translating poetry, from Ukrainian especially, some translated passages might differ from the original but I tried my best to keep the original meaning.'

and yet earlier on you indicate that Shevchenko's language, well:

' The primitive village patois that he wrote his poems in'

Isn't Shevchenko's 'village patois' the same one that you've been propogating all over this blog as being so close to Russian? Or, is it some other type of 'village patois"....??? :-) :-) :-)
oe

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVillage Patoising Hack

@ Hack

I had no problems translating those passages I quote from Shevchenko, my remark follows a poem by Pavlychko. ;-)

October 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Pavlychko then must be using some other sort of 'village patois' then? (the one with so many polonisms...but to my ear Czech and Polish are so very similar...aren't you fluent in Czech?...having a hard time with the 'polonisms' within the standard 'village patois' ) .:-)

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVillage Patoising Hack

@ Hack

It is not that I do not understand it on its own, rendering it into English is another issue, it is at times difficult.

October 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

I'll be perfectly honest with you, although I understand that numerous Polish loan words can be found in the standard Ukrainian, I still find the two languages to be quite different. I even actually grew up as a kid, with an occasional Polish baby-sitter. She knew Ukrainian and would speak it to me in Ukrainian, but would speak standard Polish to her own family. Of course I could understand most of what she said, but I knew that it was some sort of garbled, (baby talk) variation of Ukrainian:-). My point being, Polish and Ukrainian are definately two separate languages. As is Ukrainian and Russian. The first time that I ever really heard Russian was when I was 15 and I visited what was then Soviet Ukraine. I had an extremely difficult time understanding Russian then. They too are separate languages. After many years of picking up Russian though, I now see the similarities between the two languages...but they are separate nevertheless!

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVillage Patoising Hack

@ Hack

I never claimed Russian and Ukrainian are not separate. I never claimed, as some do, that Ukrainian is a dialect of Russian. I said that Ukrainian was formed artificially at the end of nineteenth century, and it was created via de-Russification. The Polish element in the village patois was given preference and other words were imported from mainly Western Slavic languages, primarily Polish.

It did work in Galicia which was part of Poland since fourteenth century, and where Rusyns lived next to Poles. But the further East you go, this is less and less the case, and therefore Ukrainian is more and more alien to these parts of Ukraine. Local village patois was closer to Russian, and locals used Russian for centuries to convey messages more complex than agriculture and songs. Social mobility meant speaking Russian, after all there was no other language of high culture. And Little Russians contributed greatly to the development of Russian. Russian was not just a language of Greater Russia but Little Russia as well, it was Obshcherusskiy, a common Russian. Therefore a unified linguistic space existed, and it exists today as well.

The Ukrainian nationalists, the only true believers in Russian Ukraine adopted this newly created language for ideological reasons, but their publications often lacked subscribers, and had to close down. When the Bolsheviks decided to stamp out Little Russianism, they met with the same problem. The independent Ukraine also confronts the same problem.

Now, you are from the diaspora which is very much formed by true believers, and is a largely Ukrainian speaking community. The reality of the diaspora is however to say it mildly, detached from the real deal...

October 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

I said that Ukrainian was formed artificially at the end of nineteenth century, and it was created via de-Russification.'

Ukrainian in fact, the one based on the 'village patois' as you put it was around as long (if not longer) than the Russian patois' that formed the Russian' language. History shows that the original Rus migration went from south to north, not the other way around. No one would argue that the formation of the literary Russian language preceeded the Ukrainian, enjoying imperial protection and patronage, whereas the Ukrainian (Little Russian) discrimination and censure. Your theories about the formation of the Ukrainian language due to some sort of 'de-russification' are laughable, if not unprovable. What 'Russian' (not slavic) words by the way were eclipsed in the formation of Ukrainian anyway?? :-)

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Political Hack

@ Hack

They are not unprovable. ;-)

October 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

бред!

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Political Hack

@ Hack

I am planning a post on this, I will happily watch your idiotic reaction to it.

October 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

promises, promises....we've heard them before....

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Political Hack

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