24 January 2007

my meetings with Ryszard Kapuściński

I have been meeting Ryszard Kapuściński since I discovered the "Emperor" when I was teen. Since that time we have been meeting regulary, with his new an older books which I hunted in the bookstore in library. I was with him in China, in Angola, Ethiopia, Latin America, Siberia, then on his beloved villages in Polish Poldlesie. Normally I assisted him during his dangerous trips to places where people decided to start to kill each other, sometimes because of surreal reasons like lost football game. Recently I was following him on his intellectual trips with Herodotus. He guided me by Lapidaries of humanity.
We have never met in real life, or better perhaps we have never met in real life. Our meetings, or better my meetings with him were taking places on the pages of his books. This author, thinker, historian, poet, journalist and photographer determined as no other perhaps my way of watching the world, my will of traveling and finally my way of photographing.
I said that we have never met in real life – perhaps never… Two years ago, while walking thru Lisbonian old town, at the small café I have noticed a man looking exactly like Ryszard Kapuściński, the same face, same glasses, same smile…When I returned to Poland I learnt Kapuściński was in Lisbon more or less in the same time.
This is very small probability, that I met him in person, that time in Lisbon, but somehow I like to think it’s true…
Although he passed away yesterday night, I am sure I’ll be meeting him again and again, thanks to books he left, thanks to his poems and thanks to this picture…

photo by Marcin Górski

Ryszard Kapuściński (March 4, 1932 in Pińsk - January 23, 2007) was a popular Polish journalist, both at home and abroad.

Born in Pińsk, a city that was formerly located in the Kresy Wschodnie (Eastern Borderlands) of the Second Polish Republic and now belongs to Belarus, Kapuściński is generally thought of as Poland's leading journalist. In 1964, after honing his skills on domestic stories, he "was appointed by the Polish Press Agency as its only foreign correspondent, and for the next ten years he was 'responsible' for fifty countries." [1] Throughout this period, Kapuściński traveled around the developing world and reported on wars, coups and revolutions in the Americas, Asia and Europe. When he finally returned to Poland, he had lived through twenty-seven revolutions and coups. In the English speaking world, Kapuściński is best known for his reporting from Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, when he witnessed first-hand the continent's liberation from colonialism.

Starting in the early 1960s, Kapuściński has published books of increasing literary craftsmanship characterized by sophisticated narrative technique, psychological portraits of characters, a wealth of stylization and metaphor and unusual imagery that serves as means of interpreting the perceived world. Kapuściński's best-known book, The Emperor, concerns itself with the decline of Haile Selassie's anachronistic regime in Ethiopia. Shah of Shahs, on the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and Imperium, about the last days of the Soviet Union, have enjoyed similar success.

Kapuściński is fascinated not only by exotic worlds and people, but also by books: he approaches foreign countries first through literature, spending months reading before each trip. He knows how to listen to the people he meets, but he is also capable of "reading" the hidden sense of the scenes he encounters: the way that the Europeans move out of Angola, a discussion regarding alimony in the Tanganyikan parliament, the reconstruction of frescoes in the new Russia - he turns each of these vignettes into a metaphor of historical transformation. This tendency to process private adventures into a greater social synthesis has made Kapuściński an eminent thinker, and the volumes of his ongoing Lapidarium series are a fascinating record of the shaping of a reporter's observations into philosophical reflections on the world and people.

by Wikipedia


ulf said...

Thanks for sharing this story Marcin.
I think of how we all connect to each other when I read it
Kapuscinski was a great man. I remember reading articles by him some years ago. Some of the best journalistic work I´ve ever read.

Jeanette said...

What a luck you had your camera with you Marcin ;)
nice smile he has/ had...Lovely photo


joanna said...

i love this portrait, although i'd always quarell with you that he's not looking like R.M. the guy was rather small, quite my size. i met his last year, i was supposed to guide him through the australia&new zealand contemporary art exhibition in Z. that was quite funny in the end, he was guiding me through that lands with his stories. ;)

j. s-g. said...

Great story, in both words and picture.