Being Together
"Friendly gossip", Eugene de Blaas, 1901, source: Wikiart (public domain)
Dreams and Visions

Being Together

Wojciech Bonowicz
time 10 minutes

In uncertain times, we feel a stronger need to belong. What does it take for a circle of friends to become a real community?

A significant tension runs through contemporary Western culture, which values individualism and emphasizes the separateness of each person, their personal dignity, freedom and rights. As a result, something resembling an invisible and simultaneously impenetrable boundary emerges between me and others. I will never be able to fully understand them, and they will never fully understand me. Not only are our inner worlds inaccessible to one another, but also this inaccessibility is rather fundamental. We exist “next to each other” rather than “together,” “in relation to” rather than “for one another.” We can work together, help each other in different situations, and even save each other, but our bond is marked by a kind of anxiety: “can I really rely on you?” And “what can you expect from me?” This is the price we pay for personal freedom.

And yet, in the individualistic culture of the West, there is also some room for a search for rooting, connection, and thus, the opposite of separateness. This need develops especially whenever a crisis—economic, humanitarian or otherwise—arises. With it come the questions: What do we owe to others? What is the extent of our responsibility towards them? What is this responsibility based on and what form should it take? No man is


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Great Writing
Mieczysław Wasilewski, drawing from the archive.
The Other School

Great Writing

Maciej Wesołowski

More-or-less at the same time as the invention of the wheel, a second, perhaps even better, idea was born: writing things down.

In the beginning there was the picture, or, as writing scholars would say, the pictogram. A hand, a tree, a plow, an eye, a bird, the sun, water (indicated by two waves, one on top of the other). Simple rebuses were made out of individual symbols: mouth plus bread equals food. Pictograms and rebuses made it easier to trade, keep track of things, count. Yet over time, pictograms and rebuses were not enough. In the second half of the fourth millennium BCE in Sumerian country, at the delta of the Euphrates and the Tigris (later lands of southern Mesopotamia, and presently Iraq), a cuneiform system of wedges emerged—signs somewhat similar to nails or the letter “T,” drawn or carved (or simply pressed) in clay with a reed stylus. A combination of three vertical and four horizontal “nails” represented a head, four slanted ones were barley, and to depict bread, you would carve three “nails” standing on a fourth. Written symbols transformed to become increasingly abstract. After two thousand more years, around 2800 BCE, it became possible to record the sounds of human speech.

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