Ghandy And His Misconception About Poles|
This article is supposed to be an attempt to counter some of the statements made by Ghandy/[S]carab in his article entitled "Poles And Their Folk Tale", first published in Amiga Jurassic Pack, issue #09. The apparent point of said article was to state that Poles have never played an "important" role to the scene, moreover insinuating that they are intentionally separating themselves while simultaneously behaving like big-headed stuck-ups. I have to say, I completely disagree with such alarmingly false accusations, so allow me to quote some of Ghandy's remarks and then comment upon them critically. As I read through the article, I felt that this one simply cannot be left to its own, so let's begin!
"...can polish sceners look back at a scene history that goes back to the earliest times where it all began? Did they even play an important role five years later? And again the answer must be NO!..."
Similar to most stereotypes, this sweeping generalization possesses a number of logical flaws. First, the judgment is not objective at all. While one can truthfully say that there was no period in the history of the Amiga demoscene which was completely dominated by top-quality polish productions, stating that the Poles have never played an IMPORTANT role is simply boorish ignorance. Although the whole concept of comparing the Polish and German scenes does not really make any sense (due to many complex issues that will be briefly discussed later on), it must in all fairness be said that Poland has born and bred many excellent artists whose outstanding skills and significant contributions have been appreciated by thousands around the world. Take, for example, musicians such as XTD, Scorpik, Dreamer or Revisq... Or international graphic artist superstars like Lazur and Fame. Can you truly deny that we have produced excellent demos, beginning in the golden era of A500 and continuing into the current times when massively expanded A1200/4000s are king? If you please, honestly consider the way it looks these days. How many stunning works have been released this year by Madwizards? Did you forget Potion's spectacular performance at MS2002 and ASM2002? These are the Polish sceners who kick away all perceived boundaries, using PPC to show the PC freaks that Amiga can mean something more than just recycled tunnels and poorly designed 2x2 pixel 3D effects. And, if somebody thinks that AmigaPPC is not "genuine", then let me remind you of Amsterdam Blessings/Madwizards, a demo claimed by many non-Poles to be the best 68060 release they had ever seen. Beyond my continued, admittedly biased boasting, there is really no sense in pointing out all the titles and nicknames now, as most everyone knows these things claimed by Ghandy are far from the obvious truth.
As I evaluate the situation, it seems to me that such unfair statements stem from the fact that the Polish scene has never been 100% integrated in a "global" sense. Indeed, the patterns for Polish scene development were quite different than those of Scandinavia or Germany. Ghandy sees it following way...
"...so why do they now think it's good and correct to separate their activities from the rest of the demo scene? Do we really need bigmouths like Azzaro thinking they are the forming the peak of the scene?..."
Let's just leave behind all these personal clashes between Ghandy and Azzaro and talk about the facts. The reasons why Poles have always been a bit isolated are obvious:
1) THE SO-CALLED 'HARDWARE DELAY'
Before the collapse of communism and the whole "iron curtain thing", it was immensely difficult for the average citizen in Poland to obtain a C64 - let alone an Amiga. If you even had a chance to see one in a shop or so, it was required that they be paid for in USD while the turnover of the foreign currency was maintained, controlled and ultimately LIMITED by the government. Luckily, in the early 90s everything changed. We restructured to form a liberal democracy, and there was a sudden, rapid economic transition towards free market and liberalism. Poles were finally able to buy the same things their western European colleagues had been buying for years, at least in theory. The problem they still had to face was the typical side effect of such a systemic transformation: a totally incomparable (as far as western European democracies are concerned) condition of home budgets. That is to say, computers were in shops, but few could really afford them. With the passage of time, the 'hardware situation' has been constantly improving, but it is still far removed from what you can observe in countries like Germany or Scandinavia.
2) A MILESTONE OF COMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT: THE INTERNET AND POLAND
Nowadays, the scene seems to be functioning thanks primarily to Internet-based communication... But here again, the Poles are lagging far behind the West. Although Internet access is common and covers almost 100% of the country, the market is brutally monopolized, the cost of such services thus being absolutely ridiculous. As a matter of fact, Internet in Poland happens to be the highest priced in Europe as a whole. If we therefore begin to compare the average income on both sides, it becomes woefully apparent that there is simply no chance that the typical Pole can do much more than shoot off a bit of e-mail or browse the web for a couple of minutes each day. Forget about chatting, and forget leeching the latest scene releases.
3) ME NO ENGLISH :)
The so-called language barrier... Not long ago, proper command of English was definitely a skill reserved for the Polish elite. The primary foreign language taught at schools around the country had been, for over 45 years, Russian. It is therefore no secret or surprise that the average Pole will be speaking considerably worse English than his western counterpart for some time to come, yet there are paradoxes: the average French person speaks similarly butchered English although they have been part of "modern, post-war-enlightened Europe" since the late 1940s. And as far as Germans are concerned, please note the difference between the western Germans and those of eastern descent. I'll bet those of you who have had a chance to talk to both have easily noticed the significant difference in terms of foreign language command. The situation in eastern parts of Germany is similar to that which we have in Poland. In fact, we could successfully link ALL of the issues Ghandy mentioned with each and every country in middle and eastern Europe (eg. Czech, Hungary). What is particularly interesting to notice is that, against such background, overall scene-performance of Poland is remarkably good. Again, and not to pick a bone, but what about French? Where is your complaint against that nation? Did you see many of them at this year's Mekka-Symposium? There were over fifty Poles in attendance at MS2k2. Does this really sound like people who are attempting to separate themselves from the rest of the scene? Any references and comparisons are completely senseless. Each nation has its own spirit and ways of achieving certain goals, both in the scene and in real life. Besides (and equally senselessly), Poles could accuse an alarming number of Germans of spending 90% of their time at parties furiously leeching warez instead of having a blast outside the hall. :)
"...an attempt of an analysis so what do we have here, why do they act in the way they do? One fact is that the poles are a community of people living in one of the poorest countries of Europe..."
These kind of reproaches are ridiculous. First of all, arguing that Poland is the poorest country in the region is a prime example of the TOTAL misunderstanding of some basic economic issues. Any comparison of ANY post-communist country to a EU member is completely senseless; there is a yawning gap between them in terms of time-period they have been developing their free-market-based economy. The level of average income should not be taken into consideration, but rather its growth, which is much higher here than in Germany, for example. Obviously it will take many years until the living conditions here equal or exceed the European average, but it is certain that current Poles suffer no inferiority complex. However (as has been confirmed by much scientific research), such negative mechanics have been widely noted in eastern parts of Germany. As a whole, the so-called 'Ossis' feel they are much lower than the citizens of those apparently luscious west-German lands. This is not the point, however; I only wanted you to know that Ghandy often simplifies things.
"...Is that the reason why pride has such a high importance for them? Is the nationality playing there such a big role because they're proud about what they've shown the members of the richer countries? Is that a sort of revenge? But a revenge for what?..."
Pride? What is it all about? I simply don't get Ghandy's way of thinking. He sometimes seems to operate, fueled by concepts he does not really understand. Most of his statements - this one included - are a gross exaggeration of "facts", and could in no way be related to the Polish scene as a whole.
"...How can it be that a man like Azzaro, who has written less English articles than I have fingers on one hand, can reach the third rank in the editors charts?..."
It's obvious: he has written a number of excellent articles on the topic of the scene in Poland and elsewhere. Indeed it is a pity that they have never been translated into English, but the point is that they were good and somebody appreciated them.
"...Why do Polish people only vote for members of their country?..."
At no point has there been a "general pressure" towards nationalistic voting among Polish sceners. If we vote for other Poles, this is due to recognition of their achievements or skills. Is that a crime?
"...Why does the polish scene produce mag after mag in their mother language giving the rest of the interested readers not the slightest chance to understand anything of its contents? Is it because they don't care, is it because they don't WANT us to understand or is it because they are not ABLE to do it??..."
The problem of poor english skills has been already described above. Yet I must insist, however, that article writing is not the point of scene activity. Yes, there are of course Polish sceners with excellent command of the english language, but they are more into ACTIVE scening, which involves something more than just senseless polemics. The primary objective of the scene is to make ground-breaking demos, graphics, and music. The commentary is just a by-product (this statement should not be linked with Polish PC scene, however, which nowadays consists of low-level, low-quality releases, deserving an analysis in a separate article altogether).
"...Yes, also for me it was hard work to get the knowledge, to become able to write interviews and articles in the style and quality I do today..."
Ghandy has been regularly picking on Azzaro. Regarding the latter, I see things a very different way. The time Ghandy put into becoming who he is now (refining his arguably "decent" journalistic skills), Azzaro spent developing his artistic and design skills. With all due respect to Ghandy, I truly believe Azzaro has done much more for the scene and is doing way better job as a head-master of MWI than any journalist or text-writer. Azzaro is our "box of ideas and general know-how guy". THIS is his major task in MWI; article writing is just a secondary assignment.
"...So what!? At the end I can only ask you to use your brains! The scene is already without your exaggerated pride small enough, much too small if you ask me. Please try to forget from where you're coming, at least if you're doing something for an international community. I also don't care too much where I was born..."
Trying to comprehend this sort of expression, I inevitably come to remember MS2002 and how the Madwizards team was severely ill-treated there: the whole demo-incident, malicious and racist jokes patronizing Poles as a nation, etc... Is this the international community Ghandy wants us to look up to and follow? Dear Ghandy, is this mockery of what you call "open-mindedness" the attitude that you hope to be duplicated by others? Is it appropriately reflective of the true scene spirit? Does it have anything to do with the fair-play rule that has been THE major principle of the scene since its very first years? Maybe you should mention the "friendly" Germans joking around, stating that we came to Mekka to steal their cars? Think of the way you feel about Poles. It is certainly not what I would expect from an educated, sophisticated adult. I have been studying in Germany for three years and been talking a lot with natives about how and what they feel for Polish people. When I read your article, I didn't feel you made your best to carefully analyze the true feelings of the scene or otherwise.
Listen, I strongly support the idea of making the scene more uniform in terms of eliminating unwanted divisions and integrating a high number of active sceners around the same basic principles. I cannot, however, agree with Ghandy's statement that Polish sceners are attempting to separate themselves from the rest of the world. This misconception is surely based on subjective assessment of the issue. Ghandy tries to be cautious about the reasons why the Polish point of view is not widely represented in disk magazines around Europe, but turns out to be extremely biased in his general "jugement". I hope you don't mind if I put things the opposite way... Why aren't any Germans are coming to Polish parties? We always provide English invitations, and are more than willing to help foreigners on their way to party place... But still, hardly any outsiders are likely to come! I brought one German and one Swiss to this year's Polish Symphony. Some Swedes were additionally able to make it, but I guess this is far from what we expect, or hope for. Germany borders Poland, so who is ignoring who?
"...P.S. Did you know that originally Fishwave also came from Poland? Yes, that's the truth, he has emigrated from there many years ago but still is able to understand his mother languange..."
P.S. Not a big deal. There are a great number of sceners all around the world who make claim to Polish origins. Allow me to mention Mr.Pet/Sanity, Craig/Haujobb, Pyromaniac/Calodox+Madwizards. Even Nomad/Haujobb and Smash/Fairlight have native Polish surnames - and there are many, many more out there...