'Homesickness or the home of sickness'. Text by Vakhtang Kebuladze, photographs by Mykhaylo Palinchak.
'Philosophy is properly homesickness'
It is a sad trait of people to realize the value of only when they lose it. Therefore, the value of one's home becomes tangible for many only through its loss or the threat of losing it. If we believe the German poet and philosopher Novalis that philosophy is homesickness, then at thе moment of the threat of losing one's own home, the deep foundations of one's existence are revealed.
This traumatic experience was and is being experienced by many citizens of Ukraine due to Russian aggression against our country. Some lost their home in a terrible literal sense because the Russians destroyed it, and some had to flee their home to other regions of our country or even to other countries, saving their lives and the lives of their children and parents from Russian murders. However, even those who remained do not feel at home because the home is threatened, because at any moment it can be destroyed by Russian missiles even at a great distance from the front line, not to mention the front-line cities and villages, which Russians are trying to destroy with all the weapons they have.
Home is where it is comfortable. Home is the shelter of life. However, today, the whole Ukraine is threatened by the Russian world of death. The Russians came to kill us, so even in our own home we do not feel protected and safe from Russian evil.
However, our home is not just a territory; our home is our way of life. This is what the ancient Greek word ‘ethos’ expresses, from which the concept ‘ethics’ comes. Therefore, homesickness is not so much a longing for a place in space as a longing for normal life, for the values on which it is based. In the routine course of daily existence, we hardly notice them, and only political crises and historical catastrophes bring them to light.
A clear majority of citizens of Ukraine realized the values of freedom and dignity only when Yanukovych's gang, and the Kremlin puppeteers of this gang led by Putin, tried to deprive us of these values. We came out to Maidan (Independence Square in Kyiv) in 2013-14 to protect them. It is not by chance that we called this event the Revolution of Dignity, and its main slogan was the statement: ‘Freedom is our religion’. For Russians, the values of freedom and dignity are not just incomprehensible, they are hostile to their way of life, they are aliens in their terrible ‘dead house’. In the Russian state, there is always a gang of vicious criminals ruling over a mass of oppressed slaves. Therefore, it does not matter who is at the head of this darkness - the tsar, the general secretary of the Communist Party, which has more power than the tsar does, or the president who dreams of becoming a tsar. The vicious circle closes up. Therefore, Russia is, in the end, not a home for people where one can be happy, but a terrible place for the horrible stranger who entered our human world. Russians are destitute and unhappy, and at the same time, they enjoy the feeling of their own degradation, which permeates the so-called Russian culture. They are a threat to whole humanity and, therefore, to themselves. They hate any home because their own home is unbearable for them. And from this, Russian necrophilia is born, the Russian cult of death, the thirst to destroy. Russian homelessness is precisely what gives rise to the hate of home as such.
But in the end, the home of humanity is the our planet. Love for one's home, for one's planet, and love for life is an ineradicable feeling of the truly human experience. Instead, Russian barbarians are not only committing genocide against the people of Ukraine today, but they are also committing ecocide, killing nature. The cruelty of the Russian invaders to animals, incomprehensible to civilized people, horrifies us, but it fits into the general necrophilic plan of the Russian invasion — if we do not want to be like them, then they destroy not only us but also our land, from which our way of being grows. The existence of free people with dignity is unbearable for them, so the logic of the Russians is too simple: if you are not destined to be happy, then you must destroy the possibility of happiness for everyone else. It is sweet to be miserable together, it is unbearable and humiliating to be miserable alone. This is how Russian masochism gives rise to Russian sadism. After all, this is a very infantile consciousness. A child who did not receive the desired toy does not just want to take this toy away from another child but wants this toy not to be there at all. Homeless Russians do not long for a home but want to deprive everyone else of a home. They want to deprive us of our home. They threaten to destroy our planet in a nuclear apocalypse. The Russian cannibals cry: ‘We don’t need a world without Russia!’ However, do they treat Russia itself as their own home? If this were really so, then they would have set in order their own country instead of forcefully imposing their own perverted way of life on their neighbors.
Photographs by Mykhaylo Palinchak
The text has been written on the occasion of HOME programme organized by Open Eye Gallery and Ukrainian. Photographies that took place in Liverpool in May 2023. The programme has been commissioned by Culture Liverpool / Liverpool City Council for EuroFestival. Funded by DCMS, The British Council, Spirit of 2012, Arts Council England. Supported by Ukrainian Institute, Liverpool ONE, Liverpool BID.
Vakhtang Kebuladze is a Ukrainian philosopher, publicist and translator.
He is Dr. habil., full professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, associate professor at National University of «Kyiv-Mohyla Academy», co-chairman of Ukrainian Phenomenological Society, member of editorial board of Philosophical Thought Journal (Ukraine), member of Ukrainian PEN International, member of academic council of LIBRI VIRIDES book series (Germany), member of academic council of The Interlocutor Journal (Poland), prize-winner of Ukrainian PEN International 2016.
MYKHAYLO PALINCHAK is a Ukrainian documentary photographer currently based in Kyiv.
The focus of Palinchak's work is the exploration of the documentary essence of the photographic medium. His works have been published globally, including TIME, The New York Times, Esquire, El Mundo, Wired, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, and The Guardian.