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A dragon with two rumps

Kuba Głaz
27 of January '23

The column is from the A&B 01/23 issue

The December issue of A&B was supposedly funny. In order not to come off as a grump, and in order to laugh every now and then while reading, I asked the good folks to tickle me time and again. This assistance was legitimate, right down to the work of Oskar Grąbczewski, whom, like him to me, I also respect—as a man, a friend and an architect.

However, Oskar was also commissioned to be a columnist. As a result, I no longer had to ask to be tickled. He entertained me effectively with his excellent pastiche of polemics, the author of which discusses not what has been written, but what he thinks about the writing. That is, in short, he boxes himself in with his own impressions.

Those who haven't read Oskar, I report to him that—looking for matter for the column he has been entrusted with—he took on other columns: Kuba Szczęsny's and mine. Once noticing consciously that each of us writes differently and about something else, and once lumping us together as one thing—saying and thinking the same thing. As if we were not two Cubs, but Dwukuba, a one-headed but two-headed dragon—breathing resentment towards everything Polish.

Already the vision of a dragon with two rumps that I drew from Oskar's method struck me as funny, but the best joke went to him when he wrote about the immensity of the good that Christianity has provided people and the superiority of the Church's good deeds over the bad. Here I could go on at length about why I laughed like a mink, but I generally try to stick to the topic, and I decided that for „A&B” I was writing about space and architecture after all. It is, after all, neither a „Sunday Visitor” nor a weekly „No”. If the church manifests itself, nomen omen, in my texts, it is on a par with other phenomena, because, after all, architecture does not float in a vacuum above the waters. Nevertheless, I was amused to read at Oskar's that I „smack of comparing Wojtyla with Swierczewski,” noting the simple fact that where they used to hang Swierczewski on the walls in schools, they now do it with Wojtyla. And that they were both named Charles? Well, they had. That's how it worked out. And I smudge.

A good pastiche, however, has it that some people take it seriously. The best example is „Fa Soap,” a song that, being a mockery of disco polo, became one of the biggest hits of this trend. I must therefore preemptively defuse a few sentences of Oskar's, which, when read seriously, have a selective relationship to reality.

Oskar writes, truthfully, that when I mention some native inadequacies, I provide a „positive counter-example” for balance. But then he adds that I cast in this role „the widely understood West, or to put it simply—Germany—where it is neat, clean, smart and good.” I didn't know that Germany has already absorbed the Netherlands, Scandinavia, France, Burkina Faso and Spain, because I've cited examples from those very regions in columns as worth noting. Examples that are not only good, but also ones that are a warning. And if anything could be attributed to me, it's rather holandiophilia. I even sometimes wish we had been under Dutch partition.
And here's another mine to defuse. Sticking the dragon out of me and Szczesny, our counter columnist informs: „There is also a prescription—what should be done to make us better off. Here both columnists agree—it's best to leave—the farther away, the better. To warm countries, to the exotically vibrant corners of Rio de Janeiro or at least Palermo, or even to that Berlin nearby. Because here in Poland, at best, we face oppression, depression, a dark, long and unheated winter.” Well, I wade through my own writing and look for where and when Dr. Glaz wrote such a prescription. Nothing. Void. Where did Palermo come from?

Yes I appreciate traveling, but I like even more to be inspired by the good things I saw during my travels. So that later in Poland I can improve this and that without breaking down the open door. But not to leave the country, especially to fly away to warm countries. Here with Kuba Szczęsny I have a very separate opinion. I've written that inspiration should be sought primarily in areas with similar climates and underexposure to sunlight, rather than pretending that Poland is on the Mediterranean.

Now it's time to disarm Oskar's very subtle joke, who writes that "instead of taking delight, like any reasonable observer, in the fact that in Germany it's clean and in Poland it's dirty, that there are a lot of nicely restored, clean monuments there, and in our country, not knowing why, not many, and they are dirty and poorly maintained, etc. etc. etc. I decided to prove the thesis of the superiority of our neighbors, using examples of favorite buildings."

Oskar, however, fails to do so. For he enumerates the advantages of several objects of Polish architecture over their German counterparts. That's the end of it. Instead, he doesn't bend to the overall landscape and spatial order, and in general he lived two years in Germany, saw some unpleasant people there, and returned to Poland, and that it means something. Beautiful is a pastiche of opinions heard more than once in Poland: "well very nice there, but so not Polish. And life is also better, but a few times in a dark street walked by such types, I would not want to live there."

Finally, writes Oskar, the leitmotif of my and Szczęsny's texts is that, among other things, "people are unhappy here (in Poland) [...]. Because they are backward, complacent, uneducated." Again, a miss. I do not label my compatriots with such adjectives. Instead, I constantly draw attention to the tendency to disregard analytical thinking, long-term strategies, comprehensive concepts. Such tendency is shown in our country by people with diplomas, without complexes, sometimes progressive in one way or another.

And this is basically what I write about in my columns: the waste of the country's available talent, people, time and space. About the prevalence of thoughtless action over prior thought. About all the things that cause us to waste opportunities and not sufficiently benefit from others' experiences. That we neglect coordination and teamwork. And also about the fact that we still have a lot of potential, a lot of talented people, single examples of really good architecture, and we know how to joke about our weaknesses, which allows us to maintain mental balance. Oskar also knows how to joke around. Oscar from the parish of Good Shepherd.


Jakub Głaz

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