Essay
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dies Irae: Nonmodern Sketches

This is an inspiring and invigorating read, something like a breath of fresh air in a musty enclosure

It might seem that the idea of chivalry, understood as a certain state, a way of life, and a collection of values proper to it and inseparable from it, is an anachronism today. In the best possible case, it is merely a historical term, interesting perhaps (for some), but somehow completely incompatible with contemporary life. After all, chivalry was born and developed in a completely different world: the world of feudalism, seniority, mystics, saints and wonder-workers; in the days of castles, cathedrals and scholastic argumentation. Can it, therefore, be anything more today than an admirable artefact from a misty, half-legendary, fairy-tale past? What has a Knight to do in the world of businessmen, corporate officers, creators of images, HR specialists, bankers and IT techs? In other words, can the idea of chivalry have for us, people of the twenty-first century, any meaning at all? Is the Knight not an impossible thing today, simply put? Despite the fact that – unapologetically – I am an advocate of the past, a cultural nostalgist, even I have had to deal with these questions when coming across the text of Ramon Llull’s The Book of the Order of Chivalry in the “Franciscan Authors” series. Of course: works of philosophy, theology or mysticism age very slowly, and the greatest among them don’t age at all – they are voices of Eternity, the Logos, which is going to resound until the end of the world. But what spiritual nourishment can be sucked from a “handbook” for a knight, written around 1275? Quite a lot, as it turns out. I admit that I fell in love with this little book from the very first pages. It is perfect in its sparing, and yet dignified, simplicity. Blessed Ramon Llull, from Mallorca, who lived between 1232 and 1315, a Franciscan tertiary and an educated man of wide talents, is aware of the fact that he is not addressing himself to scholars, but to squires and knights, and thus: to persons who may be well-born and in possession of indispensable bases of knowledge and refinement, but who have no devotion to theoretical research; he is addressing men of action. And so he speaks simply, passing by intricate logical argumentation, so fashionable at the time (with which Llull was not unfamiliar, by the way, being as he was the inventor of a famous combinatorial system of philosophy), striving through few, but powerful, phrases to grasp the very nature of the chivalric state, or the essence of the upright life, led according to a devotion to justice. And here we have the first, inalienable value of this little work: we quickly become oriented (despite the portions dealing with the inheritance of castles, service to the senior, exercises in the military art), that the Doctor Illuminatus is sketching for us a universal pattern of the honourable, honest, courageous man, ready for sacrifice on behalf of the common good. This little work is something of an instructional manual for one to become just that.

Excerpt translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Essay
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dies Irae: Nonmodern Sketches

This is an inspiring and invigorating read, something like a breath of fresh air in a musty enclosure

Publisher: Oficyna Wydawnicza ATUT, Wrocław 2022
Translation rights: Oficyna Wydawnicza ATUT, wydawnictwo@atutoficyna.pl

This is a reflection that emerges from delight and astonishment at the world. It contains meditations both on the order and harmony of the reality that surrounds us, and its threatening unpredictability. The current of writing in which it is embedded, which alludes to metaphysical sensitivity, constitutes the foundation of the modest little book by Bartosz Jastrzębski entitled Dies Irae. Its subtitle, “Nonmodern Sketches”, is no coincidence, as it describes the contemporary existential challenges, dilemmas and doubts that stand before us today from a perspective that is beyond time, appealing to universals such as are not subject to the categories of the passage of time.

The stamp of modernity seems to be an anthropological reductionism, that is, a limited view of man, in which there is room for the body and the psyche, but none for the soul and spirit, which evaporate. This is an optics in which spirituality is narrowed to diverse cultural epiphenomena, while the essence of the same remains entirely forgotten. In this sense, Jastrzębski’s essays are “nonmodern”, because the spiritual dimension appears in them as the constitutive element of our being. It is in this dimension, exactly, that the most important events in the history of man and mankind take place.

The author’s reflection circles about final matters, those that touch upon God, man and the relation between them; in other words, it touches upon questions of the destiny, vocation, essence and aim of our life. He is frequently led through these meditations by masters of spiritual life, somewhat forgotten, but discovered anew by the essayist – such as Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, William of Saint-Thierry and Ramon Llull. It is they who help us to reflect upon the order of the cosmos, and to discover the balance between the active and contemplative life; to stand before the mystery of evil and suffering, or to dare assume moral choices. This is an inspiring and invigorating read, something like a breath of fresh air in a musty enclosure.

Grzegorz Górny

Translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Selected samples

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Urszula Honek
Honek
Radek Rak
Agla
Mariusz Staniszewski
Staniszewski_Kartel
Paweł Rzewuski
Adriana Szymańska
Kazimierz Orłoś
Orlos
Rafał Wojasiński
Tefil
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Grzegorzewska_drama
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Sprawa
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Piatkowski_Oleksicki_Ekspozytura
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Droga
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Bunt-rojstow
Witold Szabłowski
Szablowski_Rosja-od-kuchni
Andrzej Muszyński
Muszynski_Dom-ojcow
Wiesław Helak
Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Jastrzebski_Dies-irae
Dariusz Sośnicki
Sośnicki_Po-domu
Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski_chodz
Jakub Małecki
Malecki_SO
אנדז'יי ספקובסקי
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jakub Małecki
Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Przemysław "Trust" Truściński
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło

69

Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
HKD
Jakub Małecki
Malecki_Horyzont
Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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