Maria Todorova and “A Falcon drinks water from the Vardar”

2 May

I wrote in “A Falcon drinks water from the Vardar”: Good-bye to Macedonia”  that:

“The six simple lines of this beautiful Macedonian song:

A falcon drinks water from the Vardar.
Oh Jana, white-throated Jana.
O falcon, hero’s bird, Have you not seen a hero go past?
A hero go past with nine heavy wounds?
Nine heavy wounds, all from bullets.
And a tenth wound, stabbed with a knife.

…encapsulate all you need to know about the Balkan cult of blood and tragic masculinity, which is the root of everything horrific you’ve read and heard about the region, yet, fortunately — or unfortunate, at least,  for those who, as they say, can’t hold two contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time — the foundation for everything so stunningly beautiful about it.”

imagining the balkans

Maria Todorova, the Bulgarian historian, writes in her Imagining the Balkans, a book which does for the Balkans what Said’s Orientalism  did for the Arab Middle East, that — I don’t have the book with me, this is a very rough summary and paraphrase — the West’s constantly describing the Balkans as “male” is one of the primary ways of exoticizing it and stigmatizing it as inherently violent and backwards.  She’s right.  I want to avoid that.  And yet, it’s hard.

(Click on all photos.)

Men in Montenegrin cafe, date unknown.

Montenegrin men in cafe

Traditional Montenegrin male costume, all red and gold braid — I’ll find a color one.IMG_0409Men in traditional costume in Cetinje, Montenegro’s old royal capital – date unknown — and traditional coffeehouse in Cetinje.IMG_0535

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Žablak, Montenegro, the town kafene today.

IMG_0419

FK Rudar Pljevlja won the first double in the four-season history of Montenegrin football, with their three trophies also making them the young nation’s most successful club.

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Serbia’s water polo team at London Olympics 2012.

3511340708_6831b076e3_o copyThe Montenegrin team.

London Olympics Water Polo Men

The cover of Said’s Orientalism contained a detail from the 19th-century painting The Snake Charmer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) — painting used on first edition of Said’s book. (Click)

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

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