4 November 2010 In search for the key to “other worlds, other languages”

Yesterday’s meeting at the Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Krakow titled “Other worlds, other languages” was entirely dedicated to the subject of reports, its varieties, as well as traditions of this genre that is popular today. Jan Sowa’s guests were young, but already known Polish reporters: the author of the awarded “Rondo de Gaulle’a”, Olga Stanisławska, the creator of the collection “Czwarty pożar Teheranu” nominated for the Beata Pawlak Award – Marek Kęskawiec, as well as Mateusz Marczewski, who is the author of the appraised collection of texts dedicated to the culture of Aborigines. The participants of the panel tried to answer the question of what is report and whether a cohesive definition can be created at all, whether there exists a perfect vision and indisputability of fact (here opinions varied), what power does the creator of a report hold, as well as what position will this genre hold in the future dominated by the Internet.

Among others, Jan Sowa asked about the existence of the “world outside of Poland”, which existence is “proven” by writers-reporters in their work, by creating their own texts at the similarity of translations from languages, traditions and foreign cultures. Does travelling around exotic and often dangerous regions of the world bring some noticeable changes in the way the world is viewed, or oneself, Poland? The answers of the participants were surprisingly close to the idea of the Conrad Festival. Kęskawiec said: “For me it is above all a journey deep within oneself... They have forced me to test how I cope with new situations, how I suppress fear and how I work in interpersonal relations. I found out that the world has moved and how as a Pole, I live in that better, central, safer part of the world. These experiences have given me some distance towards the reality in which I live every day. About Poland I found out that the problems it has are – in comparison to the “worse” half of the world – a chance. We have our five minutes and we should take advantage of the opportunities – like e.g. Brazil does”. Here, Jan Sowa couldn’t resist to comment ironically: “Let’s not lose hope – let’s choose a woman for president...”.

The author of the collection of reports dedicated to the culture of Aborigines “The Invisible” – Mateusz Marczewski added: Travelling and getting to know the world allowed me to forget a little about Poland”. For Stanisławska “other worlds” gave a new outlook on the Polish lost multiculturalism. The continuator of Conrad and Kapuściński’s road – as Wojciech Giełżyński defined her – Olga Stanisławska is at present working on a new book: “My experiencing of the world has shown me that otherness and diversity is more natural than homogeneity. At the moment I am writing a book about Poland during the interwar period. My father was raised in this multicultural, rich and differentiated, and through this, fascinating world. A year in Sarajevo allowed me to understand that time better”. Then the author mentioned a little incidentally, perhaps the most important words during this meeting: “The key to our own past may lie somewhere else, outside us and our country”.

Jan Sowa along with the participants of the meeting dedicated quite a bit of room to the issue of fictionalising the report, manipulating the form. The debaters gave a lot of thought to the famous question which Marquez and Kapuściński once dedicated much time to. The host reminded about the workshops with the participation of both great authors, at which the Columbian novel writer and honoured reporter asked Kapuściński: “Is it permissible to add to a suffering woman a tear flowing down her cheek?”. Marquez claimed that it was. Asked about this, the author of “Caesar” replied only with a smile. The figure of the latter constantly returned in time to the discussion in context of Artur Domosławski’s recent publication, which caused such great debate long before the book came out.

The public gathered there was captivated by the question of an older lady, as it turned out, a loyal fan of Jan Sowa’s radio broadcasts, who came to the meeting especially for him to ask about this... what is the chemical composition of the tears of sadness and joy? Surprised with the difficult question, Sowa promised he would activate his contacts and research the out. After a moment of consideration, however, he put forward a courageous hypothesis: “The tears of joy must be salty – the tears of sadness sweet. So that there is balance”.