Baczyński 2

Baczyński ani przez moment nie próbuje się ukryć. Używa metafory i innych figur (może początkowo nadużywa), ale nie jako kamuflażu. Szuka piękna świata i piękna języka, ale nie Baczyński does not try to hide even for a moment. He uses metaphor and other figures of speech (perhaps he overuses them initially), but not as camouflage. He looks for the beauty of the world and for the beauty of language, but he does not try to add anything to reality, nor to add anything to himself; he speaks simply, honestly and unpretentiously. He’s not fooling himself or anyone else. At times one gets the impression that he is in a hurry. But he is not running away. He hurries to see and to feel as much as he can.

Meanwhile, an entertainmen: a writer (Szczepan Twardoch) beats up a nobleman (Maciej Radziwiłł). As a descendant of several generations of Galician peasants, I have to admit, it gives me some joy. Although it is somewhat undermined by the fact that this is a bit like battle between a heavyweight champion and a bantamweight amateur. The champion pounds with one hand while waving to the audience with the other. But well, a bantam jumps into the cage out of his own free will, so it’s hard to hold a grudge. One could probably offer better arguments for the nobleman’s position (though rather not from the position of nobleman). I see some potential for at least a partial, better argumentation in Nassim Taleb’s work, for example in his anecdote about safari and looking for a lion amidst innumerable herds of giraffes, zebras and antelopes. The predator, as Taleb notes, is always an incomparably rarer phenomenon than the prey, and as such attracts much more curiosity, but in fact the predator is the king in appearance only, because real life is not about spectacular phenomena, but about the prose of whole crowds of victims living and cooperating in harmony. There is a kind of contract between the predator and the prey, whereby the predator has something to eat and has these five minutes to show off the efficiency and strength, but the prey is and always remains the vast majority and it is that majority’s fate that makes history (in this case, the genetic history). Except, of course, that has almost nothing to do with exploitation, oppression, and multi-generational wealth among people. To not want to see their consequences is a ridiculous hypocrisy.

And by the way, Taleb’s narration becomes a bit tiresome over time. The incessant geyser of brilliant cutting remarks, however engaging, dilutes the main message. Actually, this is probably a presentation of a kind of libertarianism that sooner or later eats its own tail (nomen omen - Taleb talks a lot about the “tails” of graphs representing risk dynamics). But then again, this is primarily satire, which has its own set of rules. All in all, Taleb’s words are not unwise, especially when he is serious. One example, quite marginal but spot on: a short little article from exactly a year ago recommending individual overreaction to the threat of the virus, despite the small actual risk to the vast majority of individuals, for the good of the entire system, which will collapse in the absence of those individual overreactions. So, even libertarianism need not always treat the mask as an assault on sovereignty.

What does all this have to do with Baczyński? Not so little. Skin in the game, despite the fact that its loss is guaranteed. In life, of course, but also in poetry. Moreover, a completely naked skin. Baczyński boldly faces his fate, which, as they say, has been arranged for him by others, at an exceptionally unfortunate moment, because there is no other fate available for him. He looks, says what he sees, and waits for fate to cut his head off. He is exceptionally moving in all this.

I’m looking at different songs. I recall Britten and Mussorgsky, and a kind of bridge between them: Shostakowich. I'm also looking into Crumb. I don't know how I missed John Jacob Niles before (having spent two years in Louisville, Kentucky). Fantastic.

I have the lyrics picked out. Three of them: Spojrzenie [The Glimpse], Wigilia [Christmas Eve] and Śmierć [Death].

(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)