Genius as a thief - part one (of four)

Paweł Kuczyński introduces “Light Denied”,

a screen riff on Nietzsche’s madness.

During the debate “Cultural status of a creator. Genius or madness” organized by the Philosophy and Sociology Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences Pawel talked about the assumptions behind the film:

“Light Denied” attempts to work through a narrator’s fear of entering too deep into the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. In a documentary part appear Werner Krieglstein (College of DuPage), Alan Rosenberg (Queens College), Hope Fitz (Eastern Connecticut State University), Victor Krebs (The Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) and Karl-Otto Apel (University of Frankfurt am Main). In a fictitious part the film follows a philosophy professor (Krzysztof Janczar) obsessed with Nietzache. At the beginning a director/narrator set the stage:

“Dare to think! Reject all dogmas! Follow the light! These demands have frightened me ever since I was a teenager. I suspected that Nietzsche lost his mind because of the depth of his inquires. I was almost driven insane by his call to embrace the light of Dionysus. Hence I retreated waiting for years to approach Nietzsche again. (...) I returned to Nietzsche, when a fictitious philosophy professor Felix Lewińsky appeared in my films. He too badly wanted to find the truth.

The fact that Friedrich Nietzsche is an important writer is obvious even to his ardent opponents. Early on in “Light Denied, prof. Karl-Otto Apel explains:

“I am not a Nietzsche fan. Nietzsche, of course, as everybody knows, is a good writer first of all, exciting writer. I was never a fan of Nietzsche. For ethical reasons.”

Calling Nietzsche a genius is subjective. It springs from individual preferences and group/social/cultural setups. What exactly then in an individual, contemporary and subjective perspective could mean referring to Nietzsche as a genius?


The Bauman’s Window

Before the screening of “Lawnswood Gardens
organized by Polish Sociological Society
and Warsaw University Students Association

A panel discussion afterwards. Prof. Nina Kraśko - the moderator,
Paweł Kuczyński - director, Andrzej Chrzanowski - co-producer,
Piotr Rejmer - head of post-production.

“The film is brilliant. (...)

There is no such thing as a Bauman school.

However, there is a Bauman window”.

- Prof. Monika Kostera, Ph.D.

This comment refers to two elements of the film. The first comes from an informal talk where prof. Bauman’s says (in Polish):

“I don’t think I am going to leave behind something like the Bauman school for example, because in order to form a school of thought, you have to discover a method which distinguishes this school, and then any person who wants to do a Ph.D. has to prove that he can use this method adequately. This to me seems like schooling in conformism and in following a recipe, like unexperienced cooks who surround themselves with cookbooks and know (to add) 5 grams of that, 10 grams of that, here 5 minutes boiling, there 6 minutes etc. I’ve never created anything like that. What’s more, I think something like that would be against the sprit of the humanities.”

the second is a quote from “Modernity and the Holocaust”:

“...(the analysis) showed beyond reasonable doubt that the Holocaust was a window rather than a picture on the wall. What I saw through this window I did not find at all pleasing. The more depressing the view however, the more I was convinced that if one refused to look through the window it would be at one’s own peril.”

While filming I considered exploring views from various places where the Baumans lived and naming the film “The Bauman’s window”. Even though I abandoned this path something from that concept must have filtered through into the final version.

photos by Anna Polańczyk


A short poem

to be read alongside “The angriest dog in the world” cartoon.


and "Lost Highway" and "Mulholand Drive" films:

We think that we don’t ...

but we do.


The independence of ideas, part two.

High above our minds

there is a platonic world where ideas float

waiting for the human race

to mature enough to grasp them fully.

So don't kid yourself:

you don’t think ideas

they merely allow you to play with them

testing your character, assessing

if you are worthy of them.

Once an idea realizes

that you are not honest

that you’re using it

that you don’t respect it

it goes away leaving with you

a shallow caricature of itself

to carry on its revenge

to make a fool of yourself.

If your transgressions are

truly malicious and harmful

an idea stays within you

and kills you from within.

High above our minds

ideas await our maturity.