Causing “A defiant silence”

Article published on March 16, 2008
Article published on March 16, 2008
© The New Europe Journal -- Kira Tatyanina, May, 17, 2007 Vladimir Matskevich. A defiant silence – Moscow, “Variant”, 2006. – 240 pages. “Categorical thinking – is not so simple as it might seem at the first glance!” Public Wisdom Transcendence is transcended towards someone who transcends – this is a real event of parenthood in trans-substantiality.

A joke

“Inescapable loneliness” – is such a beautiful word-expression. This is a tragic condition. Since people are not the God, they are doomed to live in the society, generality, public life and relationships between each other. Vladimir Matskevich tells about loneliness, and critics in their turn echo his “inescapable loneliness”. About total misunderstanding of surrounding people, Matskevich knows as well. The state of loneliness – is wonderful, when it is already outlived and assigned. After an unbearable discomfort, which you could not avoid 24 hours a day, you suddenly feel a firm ground under your feet and a small island is completely enough for you. There you can live and consider it to be your own territory, protect it, but at the same time leave the boundaries open. It is necessary for understanding, for an establishment of new contacts, for coactivity, and at last for individual activity, which will be, however, perceived and understood by someone else. Otherwise the loneliness will be unbearable.

This topic or something else of such kind (except the openness of the borders, because V.V. himself preferred to create obstacles), was the subject of Vladimir Matskevich’s commentaries to the book “A defiant silence” in his LiveJournal (2006). The main chapters of the book had been already published in 2000 and were known under the name – “On eggs that torment a hen in dialogues” or just “On eggs”. The plot of the text was the dialogue of public-political forces of Belarus “About constitutional contradictions” (the first Belarusian president: if he is alive or dead) under aegis of OSCE.

In 2006 in order to give to the "virtual" text the material embodiment, Matskevich changed the scandalous name for paradoxical, as the silence in the dialogue is really “defiant”. Well, and the silence concerning this very “defiant silence” is absolutely “defiant”. I mean the reaction to the printed text. So, the ambiguous situation about the silence becomes clear enough, what is, actually, not a surprise for our glittering/blinking country – “Soviet Belarus – Today’s Belarus”.

And the book hasn’t lost its urgency: there is once again a prospect of one more public-political dialogue under supervision of Europe. And instead of discussion there was the polemics, flashed among the Christians of “new generation” on using non-normative lexicon (we live in postmodern epoch, so it is not surprising; the only thing I can not understand well enough is why Vladimir Vladimirovich justifies on this matter so much) and two reviews, anticipating the book, not even reviews, but responses.

Actually these two reviews-responses represent this book and its author completely enough, as it is said – not to change a single word. Empty (as it is metaphorically-poetic) and constrained-panegyric review of Maxim Zhbankov, it is intended for professional intellectuals and devoted ones, and those who are personally familiar with Vladimir Matskevich and do not consider him to be demonic and dangerous, those who feel an admired regret towards life and mind activity of the author (what a great talent the society loses!).

The second, literary-genre review of Hannah Kislitsyna (Silence like a challenge or belorussian intellectual's confession) is directed more on other kind of readers, in order to stop any of their fictional expectations initially. First of all Kislitsyna suggests to pass a test to those ones, who want to read the book from the beginning and up to the end; those, who pass the given test, can easily go on reading, but those, who will “stumble” on the first paragraph or will not recollect, who Kim Hadeyev is, shouldn’t be upset and not close the book at once: Hannah offers the guidebook in the most interesting places. Actually, as professional literary critic Hannah Kislitsyna speaks, anyway, it is necessary to read.

It is a shame to confess, but this review, for such an uninitiated person like me, is most interesting in the book.

M. Zhbankov, whom Matskevich does not mention in his text, is also rather paradoxical: to read – is almost impossible, not to read at all – too. Kislitsina echoes him: «the book has to be read». Who and what for? One question troubles me: Why, why is there no one to write a serious review though for one opus of Vladimir Matskevich? Otherwise, there is again a reason for him to declare himself as an incomprehensible and unheard martyr, who fights for Belarus people, the only one, who “thinks of Belarus” according to the rules and “pulls for ears the electorate on the desired level of the nation” (M. Zhbankov).

Pardon, but it seems to me that we deal with the President №2, who, as we know, is also busy with extremely ungrateful business: grazes his flock, his people who cannot do anything without him and will be gone without his everyday cares. But the first one is a regressor, and the second one is a progressor, the means of the first one is "people", and of another one is… Actually, and what has that another one? Categories, is something that is invisible and untouchable (it is possible to see "people" on posters, at least some of its representatives).

I agree with the author, that the thinking is a complicated and hard, it is undoubtedly necessary in a society which considers itself modern. But is it really so necessary to shout about it everywhere?

The fact that is impossible to disagree with is that Matskevich is extremely fair. He writes everything about himself. We read: "… During that period when "A challenging silence" was written, the condition of the author was very critical, maybe, even worse, than the state of his making mischief and sneering hero. While attributing the hero different kind of words, retorts, conditions, the author was overcoming it himself, was getting rid of dust and slag in himself ". As Matskevich thinks logically and grammatically correctly, it is absolutely easy to read: a critical condition ("the country is forced" and by whom – by statesmen!), was getting rid of dust and slag, and also got rid of angriness.

The only thing I do not understand – is it really necessary to tinker with it (if it is not "Ioann Bogoslov's Revelation ")? There are elementary rules of hygiene (garbage dumps – are a nursery of microbes), and there is a cultural norm: it is not right to dig up someone's black linen if you do not earn additionally in any tabloid.

Someone can quite reasonably object me: but we talk about a socially-important issue, about the socially-political dialogue, to hell with it. And at last we talk about the destiny of the country. Enough! It is all the same, and Matskevich never hides the motives: "I am interested in Belarus to have intellectuals, they should receive a vote, and I as the representative of intellectuals demand a vote right to myself and I must be heard ".

In the Matskevich’s ideal there is such place for intellectuals, it should be in any modern country (he believes so and there is still no one to make him change his mind). But on his arrival to Belarus (from mother country) Matskevich has not found out such place. Now he equips it, using everything, that will come to his a hand. For example, Belarus, which he thinks about, an education system, which he reforms, a civil society, political parties, mass media and etc.

Vladimir Matskevich – is a compound, baroque person, full of tragedy and civil pathos. On the one hand, he is Warwik, a Count, the maker of kings, and on another - Joseph Kneht (servant), who likes to play in glass beads, "to serve categories" faithfully. The question is not in (let’s periphrase M. Zhbankov’s words) whether V.V. searches for understanding in right people and whether such people exist in nature, whether V.V. expresses his ideas clearly and rationally enough. A question is, whether he wishes to be understood. Probably, the role of the sacrificial sufferer for a place for intellectuals in present Belarus satisfies him and a role of “a dead dog” whom each one kicks, suits him as well .

He wishes to be heard. He wants someone to listen to him. He wishes to preach in meeting… But this is not my theme.

P. S. The joke, used in the epigraph, has an author: Levinas E. "Totality and infinity".


[1] What is a general meaning of a word "parrhesia"? "Parrhesiazesthai" etymologically means "to tell everything/all" - from "pan" (everything/all) and "rhema" (that is told). The person who practices parrhesia, parrhesiastes, is the one who speaks everything, that is on his mind: he conceals nothing, but completely opens soul and consciousness to other people by means of speech. (M.Fuko. A discourse and the truth: a problem parrhesia)