“Running women” by Jiří Načeradský is a good example of Jan and Meda Mládek’s interest in figurative painting. This piece was made a year before Načeradský’s stay in France and following the isolation of the artist.
The main thrust of the interview concerns the process of upward social mobility and the forms of sociability of the new generation of Moldovan intellectuals (which the interviewee calls a “new wave” of intelligentsia). These people were of rural origin, but benefited from the opportunities of upward social mobility offered by the Soviet educational system. Despite being a product of this educational system, they began at a certain point to criticise the communist regime. The case of Ion Negură (which we may unreservedly consider to be a success story) is not altogether isolated. Most of the Moldovan intellectuals trained in the Soviet era came from a rural background, expanding the ranks of the first generation of intellectuals, after the almost complete disappearance of the “old generation” of the Bessarabian intelligentsia. Most of the intellectuals trained in the interwar period fled to Romania in 1940, while many of those who remained were deported by the Soviets. Ion Negură’s case shows the ambiguous nature of this mobility. First of all, any change in status involves a number of difficult challenges, which everyone faces according to his or her own skills and resources, with more or less success. We may notice the turning points through which Negură went during his life, according to the “challenges” that were imposed on him by “history” and the state’s modernising drive (war, famine, loss of his father, schooling, and recruitment in the army). Socialisation at two basic levels – the private environment, with relatives and friends, and the institutional one (school, university, workplace, etc.) – provided the subject with a double grid for “reading” reality and a binary pattern of behaviour; the effort to reconcile these two socialising levels marked his self-perception and life strategies. The Soviet state and its institutions were seen by Negură as a path for upward social mobility that he followed consistently. However, the ideological and moral discrepancies that he felt increasingly to be essential features of the Soviet official discourse (in relation to his own beliefs and the ethos of his native environment) and the obstacles he perceived to be put in his way by the party hierarchy at an advanced level of his career, made him develop an ambiguous attitude towards the Soviet state institutions. This life story shows the social promotion that Negură (and others like him) enjoyed thanks to the educational institutions (secondary school in the village, the Pedagogical Institute in Bălți, and the Moscow State University), but also because of his own skills and individual “legacies”. Also, we should notice the “alternative” socialising and educational pathways from which he has greatly benefited during his life – his family, circle of friends, literary circles, Romanian and world literature, etc., – which brought to his formal education the openness necessary for a balanced intellectual development. Attending these alternative sociability environments was likely to elicit a certain distrust from the representatives of the regime towards Negură (and others like him), who were suspected of “nationalism.” This suspicion had, in part, a real basis (because of the “alternative” socialising environments these people were involved in). At the same time, the mistrust of the party with regard to the new Moldovan intellectual elite (created within the Soviet system) had a “self-fulfilling” effect. Many young Moldovan intellectuals of the 1970s felt “stuck” at some level of their career and therefore, retreating into alternative circles of sociability, began sooner or later to spread critical attitudes towards the authorities and their ideals, which were at odds with the official mission that had been assigned to them by the party.
The private “cultural” circles or informal strategies of socialisation, which were characteristic of the new generation of Moldovan intellectuals, are a relevant example of cultural opposition. These gatherings, where people used to discuss politics as much as cultural issues, were quite well attended by writers and other intellectuals. The members of this new elite were individuals formed and severely constrained in their careers by the same system, as a result of a double logic of “social engineering”: training of professionals versus. political control. Eventually, they challenged the cultural practices imposed by the regime and created oppositional political languages, subverting the legitimacy of the Soviet system. During the years of perestroika and the “velvet revolution,” they became the vanguard that provided an alternative to the Soviet administration by embracing national values and later on the principles of liberal democracy. To a certain extent, they illustrated Alexey Yurchak’s concept of “being inside-out (vne)” (Yurchak 2006, 126–157), i.e. of articulating an alternative discourse inside the system, but at the same time creating spaces of alternative sociability outside the system. As is clear from Negură’s example, on the Soviet periphery nationalism became the most effective means of questioning and then openly opposing the hegemonic discourse of the party-state. Negură’s case is thus typical for a major part of Moldova’s intellectual elite, who assumed a militant and politically active role during Perestroika only to retreat back to the literary or academic milieu once their disillusionment with politics deepened in the first years after independence.
The multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural world of the French Foreign Legion, that throughout its almost two century long past has recruited its volunteers from among 150 nations, is well reflected by the manuscript “The Slang Vocabulary of the Legionnaires,” edited by Sándor Nemes, a Hungarian veteran residing in Course for close to 50 years now. It provides an authentic insight into the odd group identity of its many Hungarian recruits throughout the twentieth century. To better understand this, one needs to become acquainted with some basic facts of the Legions’ history. The French Foreign Legion, founded in 1831 by King Louis Philippe in Algeria, is still an active and legitimate French armed force, today with some 9,000 mercenaries, that still preserves much of its traditions, although since the 1960s it has been transformed from an old-fashioned colonial army into a modern elite force specialized for international missions of peace maintenance, humanitarian and anti-terrorist tasks, both in France and worldwide.
Ironically enough, the French Foreign Legion, due to several grave economic, political, and war crises, preserved for more than a century the traditional dominance of its German-speaking recruits (from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere), who left behind far-reaching effects even on the language use of the Legion’s command and its folklore, e.g., the military marches, which all used to be German songs. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that following 1945 and 1956, when more than 4,000 Hungarians joined the Legion, this newly arrived ethnic group also began to strengthen its cohesion against the challenging dominance of the “German mafia,” as Sándor Nemes and his fellow Hungarian veterans recalled in their accounts. This was, of course, but a limited and rather informal rivalry given the strict hierarchy and the wartime conditions (in Indochina, and Algeria!). Still a “two-front” cultural resistance emerged ever more markedly among the Hungarian volunteers, on the one hand against the mostly native French officers, and the German warrant officers on the other. In fact, at a closer look the Hungarian recruits (who were called “Huns,” “kicsis,” or “Attilas” in the common slang used by the Legion) were not homogenous either, especially as far as their cultural and political identity was concerned. Although the age difference between them was hardly more than 10–15 years, they belonged to two markedly different generations: the ’45-ers, or the “Horthy’s hussars,” recruited mostly from POW and refugee camps after the end of WWII, and the ’56-ers, who fled to the West when the Hungarian revolution was violently suppressed. The main difference between the active ’56-ers and the rest of the Hungarian legionnaires could be felt most in their attitudes and group identity, since the former were much more united in their common engagement in the revolutionary events and battles that they experienced as very young men or even minors. As members of the Hungarian veterans’ circle in Provence, they were the ones who kept in contact for decades and preserved the memory of the revolution up to the present day with their special group rituals (like banquets, memorial meetings, and the sharing of their revolutionary experiences and relics).These can be best illustrated with a number of funny, original, and telling entries in Sándor Nemes’s “The Slang Vocabulary of the Legionnaires,” especially in its Forward and in Chapters 2–6. (2. Slang and loanwords used by legionnaires; 3. Figures of speech, idioms, and proverbs; 4. The most common German phrases; 5. The most common Arabic loanwords; 6. Bynames of ethnicities and nationalities in the slang used by legionnaires.)
- Budapest Arany János utca 32, Hungary 1051
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Karel Nepraš's statues are rooted in the tragic years of the 1950s and the normalization periods that came after the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. These sculptures have an existential subtext and cannot be interpreted superficially. A clear example of this is his work “Dialog IV”, which is in fact a reflection on the impossibility of dialogue that the author felt from society in the period after August 1968.
Sculptures are made up of tubes, wires, textiles, stockings and other materials and represent an important reflection point from the point of view of the whole other sculptural work, which was further focused on the appreciation of various materials, techniques and technologies.
The subject of Bleiburg was banned in Yugoslavia, both in public discourse and in the scientific community (scientific research was forbidden). The topic was treated freely only in the diaspora, and the book The Bleiburg Tragedy of the Croatian People presents the most systematic treatment of the subject. An additional fact is that it was originally published in the Spanish language (1963).