Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Zouaves of the vacuum

A splendidly received and widely commented debut of a young historian of ideas

The death of God affected all of Europe, eliciting a different response amongst the na- tions with traditions of Roman civilisation than it did among the Germans and Russians.

The former did not greet this event as joyful news. Because of it, their lifestyle, their principles and forms of life, the sensitivity which moulded their saints, their knights, kings, and artists, ceased to be self-evident. The realisation that Providence was not watching over them sowed anxiety in their souls. This unease arose from the fact that now, it seemed, the greatness of which Latin civilisation was constituted was based on no unshakable metaphysical foundations, such as could never be destroyed by anyone. The order that heretofore prevailed amongst them proved historical, that is to say fragile, crumbling. They gazed uneasily at the ruins of Rome, which now no longer were mon- uments of an ancient glory that still endured, but evidence of the fact that the lives of nations and empires were fleeting, and that not much at all is needed in order to interrupt them. By some miracle, the civilisation that had been trodden underfoot by barbarian hordes had once sprung to life again. But now, everyone was learning that it could disappear once more– that it was indeed a miracle that it had emerged from the dense fog of past history in the first place. The magnitude of the effort that it cost to rebuild it did not constitute any guarantee that such huge efforts were not in vain. In the church there was no longer any God. But even without God – the church was beautiful.

The news that God was dead found a different reception in the North. There, it had long been intuited; people had readied themselves for it. No forms of human life were anchored in any foundation firmer than history; there are no values capable of subduing time. Just as epochs change, so does human nature. Everyone was now conscious of the fact that nothing stood in the way of the transformation of man. Prohi- bition and taboo are mere illusions; the world, it was acknowledged, can be made over. The heavens are empty. Since Heaven does not exist, the path is free for the creation of paradise on earth. It was believed that the transformation of the world and man lies in man’s power. The last words of this conviction were Nazism and Bolshevism.

The frontiers of Roman and Catholic conquest define the border between reactionary nihilism and its revolutionary counterpart. The first of these, Mediterranean nihilism, is focussed on the past, in which history has revealed what is most valuable in man and his works. The Roman nations sought measure in the greatness of their history. Northern nihilism boldly looked toward the future; for it, history imposes no obligations, only burdens. It was not seen as a reserve of examples and lessons, but rather as ballast that impedes freedom of movement. The Northern nihilist does not wish to learn from history, or study the principles, from which developed the conditions that fostered the flowering of humanity. He wish- es to free himself from it. He doesn’t want to match, to equal, greatness, for he intends to create the new. Revolutionary nihilists are not interested in man as something shaped by centuries of experience – centuries of subtle pressure, deepened by Catholicism, by an entire sheaf of benevolent influences; they are not interested in the type of person who appears in the portraits of Titian – of whom Eugenio d’Ors once said that man was never closer to superman than he is there. Rather, they wish to transform human nature themselves, without a view toward anything that might increase the happiness of humanity. Although God had disappeared, the Mediterranean nihilist wished to set upon the altar neither Race, nor Caste, nor State, nor Man. The throne remains empty, awaiting His return. The Northern nihilist took the situation in hand with- out the slightest scruple. It adored the German nation, the proletariat, or man himself, who – so these nihilists would have it – can do anything, including taking the world apart in painstaking detail and transform- ing human nature in accordance with his own plan. The latest incarnation of revolutionary nihilism – con- temporary liberalism, a type of liberalism such as had never before existed among the Latin nations –has founded the Church of the individual. The individual person, and his each and every desire, have become sacrosanct, and the setting up of boundaries to his whim is now blasphemy.

excerpt translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Zouaves of the vacuum

A splendidly received and widely commented debut of a young historian of ideas

Publisher: Teologia Polityczna, Warszawa 2019
Translation rights: Teologia Polityczna,

Zouaves of the Vacuum is Krzysztof Tysz- ka-Drozdowski’s first book. The author, born in 1991, is associated with the University of Warsaw. His work has appeared in the conservative journal Arcana, as well as in Political Theology.

This debut volume is made up of eight essays, which in the main are portraits of various artists sketched in the margins of interpretations of their works. The main focus is on French writers, chiefly Henry de Montherlant, with Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras being recurrent figures. Poland is represented by Henryk Sienkiewicz. These are the eponymous ‘zouaves of the vacuum’. For they have encountered contemporary nihilism; they knew of the death of God, and they ‘waited in expectation of His return’. They did not succumb to the temptation of setting the ‘idols’ of race, ethnicity or caste upon the abandoned altars. Revolutionary radicalism being foreign to their natures, they felt themselves to be the inheritors of dying Europe: Latin, Mediterranean, Roman Europe. They were both patriots and Europeans, manifesting a paradoxical attitude, which Tyszka-Drozdowski reconstructs and comments upon.

This multiple portrait of the ‘zouaves of the vacuum’ is the main, yet not the only, theme of the book. It is allied to attempts toward a critical characterisation of the Northern nations, to reflections on history and politics, to an analysis of dandyism, to an apologia for classicism, and to descriptions of the oeuvre of El Greco.

Zouaves of the Vacuum oscillates between essay and manifesto. The spirit of the essay can be seen in its broad and not self-evident erudition, the digressive ease with which the author weaves together various strands, and finally his aphoristic language, which flashes at times with great beauty. (For one example: ‘When our ideals end in catastrophe, we reject them out of cowardice. When they triumph, we reject them out of delicacy’.) The manifesto can be seen in the clarity of the solutions offered, the serious passion with which the author sets them before us, as well as in his appeal to his contemporaries to imitate the greatness exemplified by the heroes of his book.

Zouaves of the Vacuum is vibrant proof that the superb tradition of Polish essay writing is alive and well, enduringly strong, and able to offer us such marvellous, thought-provoking books.

Maciej Urbanowski, translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Selected samples

Julita Deluga
Wojtek Wawszczyk, Tomasz Leśniak
Anna Kańtoch
Andrzej Bobkowski
Wisława Szymborska
Zdzisław Kranodębski
Andrzej Nowak
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jarosław Jakubowski
Anna Piwkowska
Roman Honet
Miłosz Biedrzycki
Wojciech Chmielewski
Aleksandra Majdzińska
Tomasz Różycki
Maciej Hen
Jakub Nowak
Elżbieta Cherezińska
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
作者:沃伊切赫·維德瓦克(Wojciech Widłak), 插圖:亞歷珊德拉·克珊諾夫斯卡(Aleksandra Krzanowska)
文字:莫妮卡·烏特尼-斯特魯加瓦(Monika Utnik-Strugała), 概念和插圖:皮歐特·索哈(Piotr Socha)
作者:亞格涅絲卡·斯特爾馬什克(Agnieszka Stelmaszyk)
尤安娜·日斯卡(Joanna Rzyska)、阿嘉妲·杜德克(Agata Dudek)、瑪格熱妲·諾瓦克(Małgorzata Nowak) Druganoga出版社,華沙2021
艾麗莎·皮歐特夫斯卡(Eliza Piotrowska)
米科瓦伊·帕辛斯基(Mikołaj Pasiński)、瑪格熱妲·赫爾巴(Gosia Herba)
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
瑪麗安娜·奧克雷亞克(Marianna Oklejak)
拉法爾·科希克(Rafał Kosik)
亞歷珊德拉·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Aleksandra Woldańska-Płocińska)
巴托米耶·伊格納邱克(Bartłomiej Ignaciuk), 阿嘉塔·洛特-伊格納邱克(Agata Loth-Ignaciuk)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
羅珊娜·延澤耶夫斯卡-弗魯貝爾 (Roksana Jędrzejewska-Wróbel)
作者:普舎米斯瓦夫·維赫特洛維奇(Przemysław Wechterowicz) 插圖:艾米莉·吉烏巴克(Emilia Dziubak)
尤斯提娜·貝納雷(Justyna Bednarek) 插圖:丹尼爾·德拉圖爾(Daniel De Latour)
尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
瑪格熱妲·斯文多夫斯卡(Małgorzata Swędrowska)、尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
Jan Kochanowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Olga Tokarczuk
Władysław Stanisław Reymont
An Ancient Tale
Stanisław Rembek
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Maria Dąbrowska
Stefan Żeromski
Bronisław Wildstein
Zbigniew Herbert / Wisława Szymborska
Karol Wojtyła
Wiesław Myśliwski
Czesław Miłosz
Anna Świrszczyńska / Melchior Wańkowicz
Tadeusz Borowski / Gustaw Herling-Grudziński
Wiesław Helak
Góra Tabor
Adriana Szymańska
Paweł Rzewuski
Mariusz Staniszewski
Radek Rak
Urszula Honek
Kazimierz Orłoś
Rafał Wojasiński
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Józef Mackiewicz
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Józef Mackiewicz
Witold Szabłowski
Andrzej Muszyński
Wiesław Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dariusz Sośnicki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Jakub Małecki
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
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


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

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Wojciech Chmielarz

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Anna Kańtoch

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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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