There’s recently been a lot of hype in the Belarusian blogosphere around a new undertaking nicknamed the Göttingen process. Last February, a group of the Belarusian intellectuals gathered in Göttingen, Germany, to discuss the problems of the Belarusian culture. They came up with a document entitled “The Unity of Culture Declaration.” (Belarusian version here)
The key message of the text is in the following:
We, active participants of the cultural process in our Homeland, are not divided or alienated by anything produced within the Belarusian culture, tradition, language, or mentality.
We perceive the highest goal of the modern cultural policy is to form the Belarusian nation as part of the global world. All divisions between us come from other spheres of civil and public life.
The document is quite positive and tries to urge the Belarusian culture figures to be more united, less aggressive towards one another (as it happens once in a while). But it seems to me, this declaration is just words, no real value. In culture, it is very hard, maybe even impossible, to motivate creative people to align themselves under one banner, to form up in one rank, etc. As it comes to culture, such things do not work. And guess what, they shouldn’t. Had they worked, the books we read, music we listen to, movies we watch wouldn’t have been so diverse, so intriguing, so inspiring.
Yes, I understand, Belarusian opposition needs more unity, our democratic leaders should quarrel less for the sake of all. But art is not politics. Art never happens in unison. Moreover, it crosses borders and is not supposed to serve some particular political goals. Belarusian authors, artists, musicians have quite different worldviews. Many of them live abroad, some write in foreign languages, some openly hate each other. The same is true about Polish, German or American culture. The unity of culture is quite a myth even if all creative Belarusians subscribe to that declaration.