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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Maciej Wierzyński’s column. Hub of the Universe

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I borrowed the title from Rafał Malczewski. Malczewski was a victim of the same passion as me: love for the mountains and Zakopane. In the last column I even wrote that only sport and the mountains are able to evoke in me a state of disinterested curiosity. Unfortunately, the so-called more important matters do not allow me to do what I really love and probably without reciprocity. I announced that next week I would do what I really like, and right now – even if it collapses and burns – I decided to fulfill my promise. So to the point.

It should be said about Poland that, for a large country, there are practically no real mountains, and to put it milder, there are very few of them. In Europe, it is hard to find a country more flat and monotonous in terms of landscape than Poland. It can be seen with the naked eye. Neighbors also noticed this and chose our homeland as a playground for political matches. The location may be a consolation for us Hungarian. They probably have it even worse, and that’s probably why they think they deserve it Slovakia and a piece Romania.

I believe that for the mental health of our nation, we should come to terms with this unfavorable situation as soon as possible and move from the position of megalomania to the position of safe micromania, despised and ridiculed by the President. In this way, we will avoid unpleasant disappointments that result from a false assessment of our own abilities.

The last example of this is, my job, dancing Andrzej Duda around the so-called “Lex Tusk”. He believed in the power of his own importance to Americans. I think he hoped that they would inadvertently swallow his signature to this bill, and when this calculation turned out to be false, he changed his mind and vetoed the bill. All in all, he turned out like Zabłocki on soap – doubly disloyal, untrustworthy.

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But let’s go back to the mountains. Years ago, I thought that the Tatra Mountains could meet everyone’s expectations: they would withstand the summer pressure of the proverbial ladies walking on Giewont in high heels and the winter attack of skiers. Years ago, together with Janusz Rolicki, we wrote the text “Zakopane jak Wołomin”, in which we set the development of the Slovak Tatra Mountains as an example to follow, with their electric railway serving the towns near the Tatras. However, we did not take into account that only slightly more than 20 percent of the Tatra Mountains area is within the borders of Poland, and the remaining almost 80 percent is Slovakia. They have something to manage while we can only protect our mountains.

And the Tatra Mountains are unique. They successfully pretend to be taller than they are and therefore worthy of protection. The Polish Tatras, due to their area, are not for the masses. Who wants and who can afford it, let him seek happiness in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rocky Mountains. One must also accept the obvious fact that the tension between what is mass and what is elite has existed and will always exist.

Decades ago, when the son-in-law of President Mościcki pushed for the construction of the cableway to Kasprowy, the same curses were rained down on his head by lovers of wild nature, which today fall on the heads of those who would like to organize the Olympic Games in Zakopane. Although at this point my natural radicalism softens and I admit that if we did it together with the Slovaks, it wouldn’t be so stupid.

Rafał Malczewski – one of the numerous victims of the spell cast by the Tatra Mountains on people from the valleys – described the charms of the Zakopane mentality in this way: “There is no town in the world small enough for the general population not to consider it the center of the world (…), one hundred percent of Zakopane’s citizens do not never doubted that their neighborhood was the center of the world and would be for ages and ages (…) Who knows, maybe it was true?”

This last rhetorical question indicates that the charm that Zakopane and the surrounding area cast on people was in fact Malczewski himself. A skeptical mask hid the truest infatuation. I know this feeling because I succumbed to it too. The culprit of the infatuation was my Father infected with the beauty of the Eastern Carpathians.

Speaking of infections, it is impossible not to notice how dangerous power can be as a source of infection. The so-called “patriotic camp” in our country suffers from infection with power. The disease is that they believe that without power there is no life. I assure you that it is and it is not worth sticking to it so tightly. You just have to be willing to get out of it, so go to rehab. Especially that – as the Sunday demonstrations showed – the nation is fed up with you. As a consolation, you can tell yourself something about the ingratitude of a nation that cannot appreciate its best sons. You consider yourself to be such.

As you can easily see, I have a personal relationship with Malczewski. One of the first texts I published in my life – it was 1962, just before the World Ski Championships in Classical Competitions in Zakopane – was entitled “Champions in the Navel of the World”.

Opinions expressed in columns for tvn24.pl are not the editorial position.


Maciej Wierzyński – TV journalist, columnist. After the introduction of martial law, he was released from TVP. In 1984 he emigrated to USA. He was a scholarship holder at Stanford University and Penn State University. He founded the first multi-hour Polish-language Polvision channel on cable television “Group W” in the USA. In the years 1992-2000 he was the head of the Polish Section of the Voice of America in Washington. Since 2000, editor-in-chief of the New York “Nowy Dziennik”. Since 2005, he has been associated with TVN24.

Main photo source: TVN24

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