Life, Novels

Sinister Triumphs of Mediocrity
Serbia depicts a double idea. It is tragic in what has been great and brilliant in it, and grotesque in what the triumph of the small and mediocre, conceited and distorted has brought it. The colonial government and its nongovernmental intelligence are fighting a simple fraction battle inside the same ideological and occupying platform. The rule of the spirit of self-denial and ”Yugoslav imprisonment” must be exited gradually, since the present state has also been developing gradually. European countries are exposed to a long-term process of Americanization of consciousness. In such a simulacrum, religion, history or culture are not a link, only money is. And the one managing the money rules. As if, in the world of contemporary nihilism, there is no more hope in hope

By: Branislav Matić
Photo: Guest’s Archive

Many eras and cultural layers can be perceived from the altitude of his cathedra. Important people and ideas are illuminated by far-reaching cognitions, wide-eyed connections. Njegoš and Crnjanski become the foundation and the road. Our time and we are measured by those better than us. Impelling. Even when it cuts through the deposits of mediocrity, faintheartedness, through deviations of colonial consciousness, it is salutary. His studies – such as The Spirit of Self-Denial or Return to the Serbian Viewpoint? – will remain as cornerstones of Serbian straightening up and resistance to post-democratic occupation, disintegration of the society, system of values, national and state interest.
Milo Lompar (Belgrade, 1962) in National Review.

Lineage. I was named after my grandfather, who originated from Bokovo, a village in the immediate vicinity of Cetinje. That old village from the XV century, from the time of the Crnojević clan, looks like a small and fertile piece of land bordered with stone, with houses huddled together. My grandfather was a tax collector and head of the tax administration office in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He worked in Kosovo and Metohija and in Macedonia, so my father – after whom our son Rastko was named – was born in Struga, my aunt in Veles and my uncle in Ohrid. My grandmother came from a priest’s family from Novi Pazar. They lived in Skopje when the war began. A bomb fell on their house during the Italian bombing of Skopje. They spent most of the war in Čačak and Ćuprija, the cities my grandfather worked in as tax collector for Nedić’s administration, which accepted, accommodated and provided food for so many refugees. At the end of the war, they lived in Kursulina Street in Belgrade. My father graduated from the Commercial Academy in Cetinjska Street and the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade. He was financial director in many companies, including ”Department of Sanitation” or ”Komgrap”. And so on. He died a long time ago – in 1988.
My mother is from Bagrdan, a peaceful and wonderful village in Jagodina, where I spent a big part of my childhood. She is the fifth child from a peasant’s family. It seems to me that, while watching the world of peasants on the banks of the Velika Morava river, especially my grandmother, aunt and uncles, I felt a bit of the contradictory Serbian spirit of life: both troubled and hard-working, both joyful and unhappy, both artificial and endlessly deep-minded. I loved domestic animals and working in the fields. I still love and appreciate peasants, although they don’t exist anymore. Sometimes it seems to me that Serbia was worthy only as country of peasants, because in it, gentlemen were gentlemen. My mother is a retired dactylographer and lives in Vračar, near Kalenić market. While living on that address, I graduated the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade.

Why I don’t like Belgrade. I don’t feel sentimental either about my childhood or my youth, especially not about Belgrade. I was born in Cvijićeva Street in 1962, lived in Pančevo until my second grade of elementary school, because my parents worked there, and completed elementary and high school in Konjarnik, a typical urban socialist settlement with socially mixed up inhabitants – urban, rural, settlers, educated, uneducated, well raised and rude. It was a typical socialist melting pot. I graduated from the Eleventh Belgrade Gymnasium, with a B-minus average and an unusual structure of grades: many highest and lowest grades in the same diploma. I graduated from the Yugoslav and General Literature Department at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, with some of the highest grades: some professors (Jovan Deretić) wrote that I was ”the best student of the generation”. Perhaps. I was certainly the same as I was in the gymnasium: enfant terrible of the generation. And remained the same to the very day. Among the necessary monastic virtues – virginity, poverty, obedience – I could never achieve the third one: obedience.
I don’t like Belgrade: its artificiality, pretentiousness, the spirit it transmitted in my youth, fake in its essence, selfish and egoistic, and the present suburban spirit it is filled with. We don’t have to love places we live in: it is sufficient to love some of the people we live with.

Distortion. Belgrade is most often taken as a symbol of Serbian domination: those who didn’t like Serbs didn’t like Belgrade either. It was Satanized as symbol of ”Serbian hegemony”, the heart of the ”Aromanian bazaar” – as Krleža wrote. Nothing is more untruthful than that. It is a cosmopolitan established city, destroyed and insufficiently carefully renewed, with the middle-class crushed in wars and revolutions, just to be restored on false presentations and appear in a distorted form. Since I have testified many times in my life that I don’t have a negative attitude towards Serbian national rights and historical endeavors, my distance in relation to Belgrade comes from another aspect: it doesn’t have any cultural pattern for assimilating newcomers – and Belgrade is a city of newcomers (Ivo Andrić about Milutin Uskoković) – to the rules and customs of the world they had arrived to. On the contrary: everyone brings the customs of their hometowns to Belgrade and adjusts the metropolis to themselves, instead of adjusting themselves to it. Belgrade doesn’t have a norm, except the artificial and distorted; it doesn’t have a middle-class, except the worn out and parvenus; it doesn’t have respect for values, especially if they’re Serbian; it admires mediocrity, especially if they’re Croatian; it doesn’t respect creativity, if the world doesn’t whisper to it that it’s valuable; imitation fares better than originality, and mediocrity better than extraordinariness. It is a conglomeration lasting in its eternal disorderliness.

In captivity. One must leave the domination of the spirit of self-denial and ”Yugoslav captivity” gradually, because the present state has developed gradually as well. In this moment – end of January 2020 – we have nothing: no important media, not even newspaper, no national intelligence, no stronger national political party. We have a colonial government and its nongovernmental intelligence: they mutually fight for influence. The colonial government – using the simulacrum technique to take control of national voters – exchanges national interests to stay in power; it disintegrates the basis of the society on purpose, in order to prevent the appearance of any resistance and so that the society would be completely powerless to minimize the plundering of goods and people. Nongovernmental intelligence agrees with the colonial government in terms of handing over national interests to foreign factors, but requests more influence for itself: the fact that the prime-minister is a person with a non-traditional sexual orientation and former employee of nongovernmental organizations (USAID), that the state has turned into a service of nongovernmental organizations, is still not enough.
With giving support to the regime in Podgorica, in its shameless action of stealing the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2020, an action which provoked hundreds of thousands of people to peacefully protest on the streets for months, which didn’t affect European media and fighters for human rights, just like they’re never affected when speaking about Serbs and Russians, the nongovernmental intelligence of our colonial government showed its aspirations: they cannot stand any kind of resistance to their anti-democratic ideology of extinction. Because they are the relapse of the Titoist ideological orientation. The trouble is that they’re necessary as alleged opponents of the colonial government in order to maintain the illusion that they have different objectives – yet similar methods. We, therefore, have a fraction fight within the same ideological and occupying platform. I don’t see a potential for changing this structure in the near future, although it’s possible to change the screws in it: when they’re used up, the screws are replaced, but the structure stays.
People don’t like to hear this, because they like the certainty of winning their battles. Although only a few have renounced numerous offers to become part of the structure of power, as I have, the fact that I’m constantly fighting is always in the shadow – in an intellectual manner, despite my own disbelief in success in the near future. We don’t have to see the success of our attempts; the existence of the efforts is sufficient. However, such a way of thinking is not acceptable among our people.

Tragic and grotesque. I see Serbia as a country of great endeavors and small people: ”ground floors raised high”. The communist state gave it the appearance I have had before my eyes my entire life. In the past, it was a country that gathered, fought, suffered and raised. However, its virtues gradually disappeared and its shortcomings accumulated. We are their most obvious face: everything bad in us – in me, in others, in the nation, in the public – is the highest expression of the historical movement of wickedness, and everything good is the remains of disappearing greatness. If I had to decide for an idea reflected by this country, it’s a double idea: tragic, in what was great and bright in it – from people to events, and grotesque, in what the triumph of the small and average meant in it. We live in a spiritual situation of the second modus. We’re uncapable either for sacrifice or for humor: only for lunch and envy. They mutilate the face.

Calculations and horizon. Masses have always carried époques, but the consciousness inside historical movements levitated somewhere above the movement of masses. Thus, collective and individual existence were parallelly realized. Consciousness belonged to the individual. In the spiritual situation of our times, the individual – as the high consciousness of the moment – is not perceivable, if it exists; the masses, however, watch themselves, even on television, and are astonished by their own recognition. The hedonistic culture gives them such a right: everything is safe in the small, sometimes accessible in the big, thinking is strenuous, those who stand out – according to the common presentation – represent a problem. In that cautious awareness of the problem, the effect of political correctness is revealed: the masses, somewhere below the threshold of consciousness, agree to its dictation, they feel that they’re the gears of a great historical mechanism, sufficiently sharpened to cut away everything that stands out. Writers and artists feel the same: their esthetical attitude is led by their existential-epochal position: reducing the possibility of risk. Such reduction includes the reduction of their horizon, and with such a horizon, great art and great culture become an exception.

Epochal boomerangs of Europe. European countries have been subject to a long-term process of Americanization of consciousness: domination of pragmatism, utilitarianism, disintegration of solidarity, dictate of values that destroy traditional presentations, yet don’t touch the flow of money. It is a world of simulacrum: seemingly European, it is changing; seemingly socialistic (in peripheral layers: gender equality, emancipation of women, attitude towards animals), it rests on the drastic reduction of social and financial contents; seemingly related to tradition (flags, accessories, anthems), it empties them from meaning and sense. Such a world is suitable for the globalism ideology. Thus, European countries might resemble the American more and more: mixed zones of religious groups, racial concentrations, value closeness, connected by nothing – religion, history or culture – except money. When they’re connected only by money, they are ruled by the one managing the money.

Grandpa on drugs. Young people today are pragmatic: they don’t question things, they use them. I’ll try to describe them by using literature. A literary work is understood in three main directions. You need to shed light on (1) how it was made:which contents are included and what procedures they are subject to. Then, what (2) it means:what meaning can be recognized in the work and what connections make the meaning it creates. And finally (3) how it functions or what its role in the world of culture is: which signs of time it imbues, how it can be used. Young people today are mostly interested in the third question: how things around them function? So, not how they are, where their present appearance originates from, what they mean, what meaning they give to their lives. Because they reduce the issue of their lives to usability: not what those lives consist of, what meaning they have within, but what they – as lives – can be used for. Therefore, they don’t hear the great bar of art, which is mostly related to the first two areas of a literary work. Therefore, they don’t hear the great – destined – bar of their own lives. If I told them this, they’d look at me more or less politely and comment among themselves: what drugs is this grandpa on?

Marked by three times. In my experience of the world, the crucial factor is not space; it’s time. Thus places – as leitmotifs of sudden encounters, as points in which crucial contents of a biography or education are recognized – are unimportant. I’m not sentimental about buildings, squares, parks, fields or any spatial identification. Since time is crucial for my feeling of the world, I don’t care about where I am. In my thoughts, I’m always preoccupied with the time that has passed and its contents, which cannot be externalized anymore, the time that is passing and in which I’m standing somehow aside, and the time that’s coming, in which everything, including myself, is disappearing forever. Three present times are filling the consciousness about time: St. Augustin has distinctly and eternally described their dramaticness.

Hope. The great philosophy of Christianity rests upon faith, firmly waiting for what we’re hoping for. In my experience, the emphasis is least on hope, a bit more on waiting and most on firmness leading it: it is a decision that doesn’t change. However, a Christian has his hope. Paradoxically, an atheist also has it: great Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch based his main work on the idea of the principle of hopes. Thus, hope appears as an essential thing in forming both the Christian and the atheistic view of life. It, certainly, has no essential connection with the artificial optimism of daily prognoses or cheap offers for summer vacations. Can it deeply shake the trust of contemporary man in the power of daily promises? Is the seriousness of hope possible in the contemporary world? There’s no hope that’s possible. As if – in the rhythm of contemporary nihilism – there’s no hope for hope.


Short Resume
Milo Lompar (Belgrade, 1962) graduated from the Yugoslav and General Literature Department at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. He is teaching XVIII and XIX Century Serbian Literature and Cultural History of Serbs at the same Faculty. He is president of the Miloš Crnjanski Endowment. He published fifteen books, including About the End of a Novel (1995), Crnjanski and Mephistopheles (2000), Apollo’s Road Signs (2004), Njegoš’ Poetry (2010), The Spirit of Self-Denial. Contribution to the Criticism of Serbian Cultural Politics (2011), Return to the Serbian Attitude? (2013), Crnjanski – A Biography of a Feeling (2019)... He is winner of several reputable awards, including ”Stanislav Vinaver” (1995), ”Đorđe Jovanović” (2000), ”Laza Kostić” (2004), ”Nikola Milošević” (2009), ”Seal of Time” (2009) ”Meša Selimović” (2019)...


Packed Emptiness
The media are operating systems of ruling powers: while they completely permeated public consciousness with the uniformity of contents in communism, they now empty it with replication and dispersion of contents. In both cases, it means constantly shifting the public focus and targeted mixing of the important and unimportant.


Effects of Nihilism
– All institutions are directly dependent on the government: in terms of money. There are no other financial sources, no essential and organized will for resistance. Serbian nationalism – so manipulated as a term in different historical circumstances – simply doesn’t exist. It is a myth. There is some kind of overwhelmed and sentimental feeling, which disappears as soon as one is presented with an offer improving their material position. We have a formula: there are no ideas without money. It’s not much different in the world either, but their institutions were fortified a long time ago, so the process of nihilistic washing out of traditional values is much slower.


Non-Unitedness of Serbian Lands and People
– It’s not our first time to live in such circumstances, but it’s the first time to have radical individualism as an epochal movement. There is no capability for collective action, because there is no feeling for values: everyone would like to participate in a process – from maximum to minimum – provided they are led by someone resembling most people in their dominant presentations, not someone obviously smartest and most honest. With such – general – love for mediocrity, one cannot reach far in any public work. Selection is made in accordance with mentality, which is in principle against values, because each individual believes that he is carrying the highest values. In a concentration of so many geniuses, the outcome is devastatingly obvious.


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