Editor's comment
Byron & Georgia and Georgia & the EU
03 July, 2014
A couple of months ago, during one of my occasional television appearances, I mentioned that we are the eaters of benches, used by exhausted pedestrians for a momentary rest in the street. What I meant was our habit to break those speechless and motionless innocent benches along the sidewalks of our Rustaveli Avenue into pieces which are happily utilized by all of us to make our stroll along our people’s beloved central street more pleasurable. And forthwith, I had an interactive
telephone call from an overexcited viewer, who definitely sounded very angry at me for diminishing the culture of a nation of an ancient civilization. Well, I felt like jumping at the throat of this ultra-nationalist flag waver, who is thoughtlessly pushing his “beloved” Georgia over the edge of precipice, from where there is no way to return. I am sure he is also confident that Georgia has long deserved to be a full member of the European Union, the associate member of which we could hardly become the other day, and God knows for how long we will have to be in line for real membership. Indeed, Georgia is a nation of an aged and appreciable culture – nobody is denying that – but we are also the people of a contemporary culture and behavior that leave a lot to desire. Take for instance the selfsame bench-eating syndrome of ours, or our men’s unabashed penchant to get ahead of line over the fragile bodies of the weaker sex, or the savage way we are driving or parking our incongruently expensive and sleek cars, or our aggressive habit of being loudly argumentative without any reason, or our proclivity to be spitting around in the streets and letting our pets mess around without even having a clue that we are responsible for cleaning up the horrible mess after the animals who we often resemble in demeanor. The list of these uncivilized patterns of behavior in this country may continue interminably, but let me save some ink for what I think is more significant to dwell upon. Please make no mistake – the only serious reason for mentioning our bad points in this high-minded context is my desire to let you know that I am very much conscious of what makes us look crude and vulgar – I am just preempting your criticism! While attacking my own nation so bitterly, I cannot help paying it the dues when it comes to our people’s talent and intellect. The freshest example of Georgia’s closeness to western civilization is the recent International Byron Conference, held in Tbilisi, which was a genuine triumph of our national competence to skillfully and rightfully handle the pinnacles of the world’s highest ideals. As Lord Byron would have noticed himself, the famous Byronic call for action is in full swing and appliance in Georgia, meaning that our people’s intelligence and gift of perception of the depths of European culture, philosophy and literature is undoubtedly present and witnessed accordingly. So we have what to export to Europe! When the skeptics are becoming doubtful of our capacity of membership in the European Union because of our current lack of qualitative products and the absence of manners in public, they might have some reasons to be doubtful, which is not a catastrophe at all to my mind. The Euro-standard production can easily be taken care of via hard work and readiness to use our natural acumen to do good business. And manners could also be learnt by following a refined example, displayed by Europeans. It is much, much more important that we have enough intellectual and spiritual power to know, recognize and put in action all what the eminent English poet and the hero of all time George Gordon Byron has bequeathed to civilization. To produce high-standard goods, compatible with the European markets, is just a matter of fair commercial play and dedicated labor, but the real ticket to the European Family of highly advanced nations is in our readiness and ability to be part of Byronic ideals. When I mention Byron, I certainly mean more than just the poet Byron. I am using the name of this great Englishman as a symbol of lofty human ideals, part of which the genius of the Georgian people had become even in times of Byron, having translated and learnt well his gigantic legacy. Hence my openly daring and self-confident thoughts about Georgia’s political and economic destination, called the European Union. To reiterate clearer, high-standard goods might need years to be produced, but being the natural part of Byronic legacy has probably taken centuries. Incidentally, the fruits of the early medieval oriental renaissance, based on the genius of Georgia’s national pride and conscience Shota Rustaveli, is also a wonderful product to be intensively exported to Europe, which can also learn much from Georgia. And again, I do not want Europe and the rest of the world to think that we are headed for Euro-Union empty-handed. We will soon and easily kill all our bad and embarrassing habits and manners and make for Euro-union, loaded with European – Platonic, Aristotelian, Shakespearian, Voltairean and Byronic thoughts and reflections. Georgia even has its own Byron – Galaktion Tabidze – the shining poetic eminence among the greatest magicians of verse of all times and peoples. We have already exported this Georgian genius of poesy to Europe. In an outstandingly compatible and masterful poetic translation of Tabidze by the Georgian professor Innes Merabishvili, the book of Galaktion’s poems was given to Great Britain to read and enjoy. This was our best export to Europe so far. And much more is coming up! It was Innes Merabishvili who made the Byron International Conference a life-size consummated possibility here in Tbilisi, enthusiastically supported by the direct descendents of Lord Byron. Success of the Byron Conference is a powerful signal to the world and the sign that Georgia will find its deserved place among the friendly nations of Europe in every imaginable and anticipated respect – the bad of the civilization, which Georgia has always been, is and will forever be the recognized member of. What is propelling us forcefully to Europe in the first place is our relevant mentality and the strength of our intellect as well as our longtime communion with the old continent. With minor repairs and improvements, with the help of our western friends and with our own unmitigated efforts, we will soon be there. Fulltime!