This article is a translationi of Mircea Popescu’s El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha and mister Andrei Pippidi (2009), and based once again on a helpful first-pass by nouvelle assette gabrielradio.
I’ve been reading Andrei Pippidi’s regular column in Dilemaii for about two years now. At first, I read it religiously – it’s rather short, you see – then after a while, only about once every two times, and now I’m at the point where I only check it de temps en temps, just to see if it’s still there.
Well, it’s still there.
Today, let’s look at two issues with the honorable gentleman’s reasoning (there are two because, as faults in reasoning tend to do, they go hand-in-hand with still other faults in reasoning).
First off, construction quality. For example, in his last article.iii This is what we’re troubled with:
(Would you look at what comes out of the photographing a newspaper page. Just like cavemen do.iv )
Dear Sirs, let us look at the truth with eyes both clear and cold. These are not houses, these are wains with no wheels, these are provincial cosmelii.v God forbid if one of them is demolished, Bucharest’s architecture would be ruined ! Yea, right.
For comparison, let’s look at some real historical buildings, wherefrom there is an actual history, a history actually means something.
Not every 3-4 room house, with its pair of faux columns in front, with its faux beams with rounded corners, just because it was built before 1920, is a piece of history, just like that. We’re not in Wisconsin over here.
At most, it can be the personal history of the honorable gentleman, but this matter is only of interest to him personally. Let him buy it, restore it, admire it and be happy.
So, the very first problem is the lack of any anchoring in the actual world. The mind of Andrei Pippidi melancholically slides over any ruins it so happens to cast its gaze upon, suddenly ennobled in its view by the mere ruinous state alone. That’s what it is – there isn’t any reasonable limit to it – and there’s no actual selection. All that’s come before, all that’s now withered, is regrettable, valuable, and should be restored and kept as nearly and dearly as possible. So as to suffocate us.
And that’s just not a healthy attitude.
We can’t, we don’t want to, nor is it a particularly good idea to keep all of history’s junk. We must get rid of some from time to time. This is going to be easy for some and hard for others, but time passes without asking for permission, reducing our options to either acceptance or ridiculousness.
Obviously, there are people in society whose job is to demolish old houses. This is a simple fact of such stunning banality that it’s barely worth noting, except that it here appears necessary. We can’t – providing that we’re sane people – imagine that there is any place on Earth where they don’t demolish old houses.
Now, there’s little doubt that said people whose job is to demolish don’t have the most refined judgement and that they don’t have the best capacity for discerning between important junk and unimportant junk – historically speaking, culturally speaking, and so forth, but it’s not necessarily a fault of their own, or something to be ashamed of. They know demolition, just like the barber knows shaving. They don’t have to be good at weaving if they’re barbers.
In a normal society, in a functional world, people who know history and people who know culture would actually endeavour to help the demolishers. Yes, help them.
In praxis, this means understanding the absolute necessity of demolitions, respecting the demolisher’s job, as well as the demolisher himself, which in doing so, historians contribute to the world a knowledge of which buildings must be demolished last. Naturally, with a whole array of discussions, explanations, and debates, just like real humans do.
But instead of taking a normal person’s stance, Andrei Pippidi takes an entirely different tack, articulated in several important points.
1. Demolishers are not people. They are whatever you desire : goths, visigoths, ostrogoths, barbarians, drinkers of the blood of their people and their country, anythingvi but the brothers and sisters of Andrei Pippidi.
2. Demolishers lack legitimate causes. Without frankly addressing the issue of the absolute necessity of demolitions, Andrei Pippidi prefers to dance in delicately suggestive circles around the immediate incentives. So demolishers are greedy, demolishers are rich, and demolishers are the scum of the earth religiously-affiliated sort, (again) wrecking the people and the country.
3. Public authority absolutely must intervene to apply serious corporal punishment, as soon as possible, to these non-people with evil causes.
Andrei Pippidi is making mistakes worthy of a simpler man. First, in dealing with otherness ; separation and refusal are on the one hand bad strategies, and on the other hand rudimentary.
Second, the notion that he who does not share your opinion is inspired by the devil has a long history of being appliedvii and an absent history of actually solving anything. It’s the weapon that’s been fired a million times without ever having the desired effect. Do you think there’s any point in carrying this rusty old lance with us anymore ?
Third, the idea that solving problems can be done by intervention of the public authority is of overwhelming naïvety.viii Do you think that I have the time every week to go beat up the demolishers for busting Andrei Pippidi’s chops again ? Do you ? What state could possibly have the time and resources to send the gendarmerie to defend the life and ideas about the world of every gentleman, every single time it’s necessary ?ix
The solution will only come from negotiation, not from quarrel, and especially not from having someone intervene by force.
So, Honorable Mister Pippidi, let’s leave that rusty old lance aside and quit using that shaving basin as a helmet, let’s stop with the idea that windmills are very dangerous dragons, and put an end to the crying once and for all.
Let’s do something useful for a change.
I know it can be done.
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- That is, this is an adnotated translation with a healthy dose of my own pen’s clarification, re-iteration, and even expansion for the English-speaking audience. Not pure enough for you ? Too bad. [↩]
- Original footnote: Dilema Veche, “Old Dilemma” in English, is a magazine covering social, cultural & political matters. [↩]
- Pippidi’s article seems to have been disappeared off the face of the Internet. No one could’ve predicted, etc. [↩]
- Original footnote : Speaking of which, why aren’t the pictures alongside the text on the online edition of Dilema ? Why doesn’t Rares Avram have a normal website, where you can find its photographs ? What sort of barbarism is this ? Why isn’t there, on the whole world wide web, a picture of Icoanei Street ? Are we Papuan or something ? [↩]
- Original footnote : Small, old, rotten house (derogatory).
Pete’s footnote : In English, “dilapidated shack” or “chicken coop” seems to come closest. [↩]
- Maybe demolishers are even jooz ! [↩]
- See Burn the witch ! [↩]
- Principally because intervention of the public authority pretty much inevitably leads to iatrogenics and other twat diddling. [↩]
- As a consequence of western “society’s” ever-increasing dependence on the inherently inept bureaucracy it “elected,” the masses of woebegone nobodies that may, in a different time and place have individuated into adults, instead acclimate to the path of least resistance, which is fine, but with the braindamage that “the customer is always right” closely in tow, which isn’t fine, resulting in lulziness such as “Anybody else in the same boat that wants to launch a suit against these pirates?” aka. “SOMEONE should do something about this (but not me, never me) ! Where’s Batman when you need him ? Why can’t we just make more Batman clones already ? Isn’t this Liebniz’ best of all possible worlds ?!” and related hurr durr.
This, dear friends, is the equalitarian, politically correct world for you : a featureless, spineless soup of little girls roaming the plains with deluded senses of self-importance (they think they’re grown-ups like you and me!) who run to mommy every time their pigtails are pulled.
Not quite as you imagined, is it ? Not quite as liberating either, eh ? Or are you just waiting for the NEXT coming of
Jesus ChristPresident Bahamas to save you. Sure, Marxism will work next time, it just needs better marketing. [↩]