Mean War project

What one feels seeing the part of one’s immediate childhood and youth bombed? Now I know, sort of . 

Dnipro city after a bombing of a civil housing building in the centre. April 19. 2024. Photo: Elena Gordienko. IR ©

One gets up on Friday morning, to see the view of one’s childhood and youth bombed, in flames, destroyed. One struggles to believe that one’s view from one’s own windows from one’s birth and well into one’s twenties has become this rubble and destruction. 

It is easier to see everything in real-time in our life today, and it doubles the blow. I’ve got the picture after the Russian bombing of my hometown and the place where I grew up and lived with my family in three hours after it happened. The bombing of a huge and well-designed housing building forming one part of the large square near the railway station happened just after five in the morning. My friends who still live there, in the house just opposite, and forming another part of the square, have sent me the photo at eight am. And this is my picture of the day. And far ahead, obviously. 

I had a lot of things to do this Friday morning. Preparations for Shabbat, preparations for Passover. Projects, articles, phone calls. But I am staring at the place where we were going to our local bakery several times a week during the first third part of my life, watching the flames over it on the related video over and over again. 

I know that I have to get disciplined and to do all those things which I’ve planned for today. But I am following the very same view which I saw from the window of my family apartment during all my formatting years, and seeing it ugly, totally and violently destroyed on a sunny April morning. This kind of Friday morning. 

Being a historian, the one who deals with the 1930s and 1940s, I saw thousands of photos of war and landscapes of bombing. Following the Mean War which Russia has started due to its primitive version of an imperial complex, I am living through tears, fears and horrors seven hundred and eighty six days of it, an equivalent of one third part of the Second World War already. Due to nuances of human perception, and how our subconsciousness works, war pictures are expected to be black and white. This is how our generation was brought, due to the technology range available in the 1940s.  It is still popular today, to emphasise a drama. 

For some while, I have been thinking that nothing emphasises drama so screamingly as the sun over the ruins. And today I am seeing it in real-time, and from the very recourse of my window in my apartment in Dnipro city in Ukraine. Seeing it and seeing it. And seeing it again. 

And I am getting it, on an ultimately personal level, what it is like to witness one’s house and its surroundings destroyed by an evil will. The feeling is numbness. With a big N. And now I know why our parents and grandparents did not like to speak about the previous war. I am not in a speaking mode either. 

If those morons in that incurable – and it is incurable – citadel of idiocy, which has been cursed by its size, geography and nukes, think that people whose houses were bombed so brutally and so stupidly, whose so many lives were taken with no reason at all, whose innumerous quantity of invalids were left, as well as orphans and widowers, whose cities and villages were raised to the ground because of arrogance of its militant neighbour,  whose parks and gardens were annihilated, and whose country has been put on fire because of nothing at all, but a muscle impulse in the wrong place, would ever forget it to them, they are deeply mistaken. As they usually are. 

The thing is that they are unqualified to think. And they are doing all in their total power in that huge country to impose this inability all over their incoming generation, at least one, but more likely, a couple of them. The latest from the Russia’s general school program ongoing modification: taken away are The Life & The Destiny of Vasily Grossman, House on the Embankment by Jury Trifonov, Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov,  Orwell’s 1984, Camus’s The Stranger, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. And the process is ongoing. 

Don’t ask what they got into their school program. Cheap, stupid, pro-imperialist pathetic garbage, a lot of it. They are determinedly applying the process of formatting their new generations literally following the instructions described in The Metamorphosis and 1984.  One can detect some awkward symptoms of this progressively altered from decency views already now among some of the people behind the new Iron Curtain. 

They – their country – are always right. A priori. By definition. Anything happening is somebody else’s  fault. 

They do not need any physical new Curtain. They built the mental one, or are in the process of building it at this very moment, this is after reading all Shalamov’s testimonies from inside the Gulag and all Orwell’s painful truth in his dizzy satire . This new, mental Curtain is much more dangerous and negative than the previous one which fell to our total happiness and joyful, sincere misbelief in the end of the 1980s. Because it is self-imposed, it is cynical, distorted from reality, deprived of objectivity. It is harsh and cruel, ready for anything and justifying crimes, which their country commits for more than two years in its immediate neighbourhood, with starking self-justification. Not all of Russian society, of course, but even some are enough, and there are much more than ‘some’ of those people there who have chosen to adapt to the current line of their aggressive, irrational and brutish state. 

I do not wish for any of them to have this kind of Friday morning when one is awakened to see the place of his childhood and the house of his family being bombed senselessly.  Just to note that barbarians, even if thoroughly self-justified, are staying barbarians in the eyes of anyone else who knows that the sum of two and two is four, in a real, not Orwellian world. Doubly so in the   second-hand version of Orwellianism.