Cultural Aura of a Nation …

… or a Defect in the Main Mirror

Linked with Lina Kostenko – Ukraine.

There is a tradition at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NUKMA) to have someone of a great scholarly repute and wide renown deliver a lecture on the Day of Knowledge, September 1.This year, Lina Kostenko, a poetess and a scholar, was invited to address herself to the NUKMA students and faculty with a discourse upon Ukrainian culture. At a solemn ceremony, held right after the lecture, Lina Kostenko was awarded a diploma and a mantle of the NUKMA honorary professor.What follows is an excerpt from Lina Kostenko’s speech.Find the full text of the lecture at http: //
So, Cultural Aura of a Nation. It seems to be a pleasant combination of words for the ear, doesn’t, Cultural Aura of a Nation. It seems to be a pleasant combination of words for the ear, doesn’t it? Every nation has to have its own “cultural aura” which unites the whole complex of sciences and liberal arts, dealing with all the spheres of social life, including literature, the arts – in their relation to the world culture, and in their, no doubt, unique national garb. But let me first define more precisely the words used in the title of my presentation. AURA. In the dictionaries of the Soviet period this word was defined as a medical term only: a warning, subjective sensation that precedes a seizure or other neurological disorder, or a specific state of the organism at the verge of being afflicted by an illness. Probably, this definition was taken from among other possible meanings of the world becouse of the Bolshevik dislike for the occult. Aura, apart from other possible definions, is an energy field, invisible light that surrounds material objects, human beings in particular, that can be seen by the clairvoyants. If the look into the etymology of the word we’ll discover it comes from Latin which in its turn has borrowed it from Greek. In those languages it had several meanings, most of them centring on “a light breeze”, “gust of wind” or on “gold” …

… The first thing – to assess the situation, to get a new set of lenses and mirrors, made in Ukraine. To develop its own cultural policy, to establish its strategy and priorities. To make itself known to the world through a paradox: a new state with a thousand-year history, whose free development had been blocked because of many historical reasons. WE should have made ourselves an exciting discovery for the world. It is not what refuses things foreign but asserts its own that is effective. Instead of doing all this, Ukraine kept on moving along the old lines under its own momentum. We accepted a good-natured but debilitating statement “We have what we have” as true and did not try to change the situation. Without producing anything that could oppose misinformation being spread about Ukraine, we began our entry into Europe with a hundle of anachronistic problems. Our nation turned out to be unprotected. The aureole, aura, is very thin matter, it’s not a suit of armour, it’s not a shield, but those nations whose auras have been created through many cinturies of development, are protected better. It has been observed though that empires are always afflicted with the megalomania and the oppressed peoples tend to self-flagellation. Another thing – the Ukrainian writer and, incidentally, the first ever prime minister said way back that it’s impossible to read about history of Ukraine without a sedative. This phrase now gets repeated over and over again in such manner that the Ukrainians of today are beginning to feel responsible for the blood-curdling horrors of our history. But is there any history of any nation about which one could read without taking sedatives? … (full long text).

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