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Kyivans about Kyiv
Yury MAKAROV, a TV presenter at the 1+1 TV Station
True Love does not need any I-love-because explanations. You love because you love; love cannot be explained.
Kyiv is a very conservative city — and at the same time absolutely lacking in one unifying style. Its streets (anyway, in the downtown section) reflect various lifestyles, from the respectable bourgeois through the ascetic — (in everyday life) — pompous (in polity) Soviet to the aggressively nouveau riche.
There is no contradiction in it. Vibrant life begins when and where the rigid order, Versailles style, is broken by a little, charming flaw. Kyiv resembles a continuous violation of rules, at the same time constantly reminding us of their existence.
The golden domes of the churches provide the time scale, many centuries deep.
The fancy cityscapes provide direct links with Nature.
The river provides the continuity of space.
The eclectic architecture provides the sense of relativity.
And all of these things combine to create the absolute.
I am fond of Paris, New York, Vienna, London, Moscow and Sofia. I even allow that I could live in one of those cities — for some time. A few months would be more than enough. The more I travel, the more places I see, the greater is the joy and relief when I come back to Kyiv.
I can’t explain it. It’s called love.
Vyacheslav VEDMID, a writer
Kyiv is a city where you can be truly alone, where you can be creative, where you can be a philosopher and a wanderer — all you have to do is climb to the top of Batyeva Hill, or saunter down Andriyivsky Uzviz or walk at an easy, unhurried pace Volodymyrska Street — and the world regains its harmony; but every supernumerary moment of your wanderings may bring uncertainty or even despair, and it means that the city has begun getting tired of you.
Kyiv is a city of disappearing old courtyards and the last remaining traces of the old villages that had once been incorporated into the city (one of such villages, Solomyanka, for example, has completely sunk into urbanity), and these disappearances increase the anguish of nostalgia, and the death rate of the native Kyivans. No efforts, no matter how concerted, can be quite successful in imposing the civilized dissipation on the city — the place of churches, monasteries and libraries.
Kyiv has not yet had a poet or a writer who would exalt and sing it, since the civilizing realities are inseparable from myths, fairy tales, mystical things and heroic deeds of the forefathers — and there has never been enough love for the city.
Our city lives an enigmatic, mysterious life, and not always the people of Kyiv can keep pace with it; in its memory the city keeps the devastating exploits of the invaders rather than often futile attempts to follow its rhythms. It was in April 1986, during the Chornobyl disaster, that the city reverberated with shimmering reflections of its child-like, helpless hypostasis.
Oksana ZABUZHKO, a writer
I dearly and tremulously love Kyiv, and not only because it happens to be my native town, with which I associate myself, but also because, after all my travels and wanderings and globe trotting, I find Kyiv to be one of the few eternal cities in the world, like Rome or Jerusalem. Kyiv also has its own mystique — it is not accidental that so many churches and political powers made attempts to win it over for themselves. Kyiv’s mystique is of a special kind, I have no doubt about it. Kyiv is like a palimpsest, which allows glimpses into the past millennia; throughout the centuries of written history, various cultures and various countries and various peoples and various empires have left their traces, which are still manifest in this palimpsest. They came to Kyiv, tried to obliterate the traces left by those who had been here before, and imprint their own stamp — very much the way it was done with ancient books in which the older texts were erased and new ones written in — with the older ones being later revealed through the newer ones.
On the top conscious level I feel myself brought up by Kyiv — I went to school here. My first memory of the Kyivan hustle and bustle in Khreshchatyk Street dates from the time when my father raised me, a four-year old girl — high above the crowd and I saw the stream of people moving along the street and the way the street curves.
Architecturally, Kyiv is unique —its cityscapes providing views which can be ranked among the best in the world. Kyiv’s topos — it’s a very gemutlich place which is a natural and integral part of the surrounding landscape.
Historically, all of Kyiv’s squares were small and gemutlich; the streets, like rilles and rillets, meandered and emptied into the squares or joined other streets. That is why it hurts to see that in some places this age-old harmony has been ruined by new and tasteless architectural creations which are like disfiguring scars on the face you love. Lvivska Square and Maydan Nezalezhnosti Square are the glaring examples of this ruination. I used to like to come to Maydan, but now, when I find myself there, I leave as soon as I can.
Bohdan ZHOLDAK, a theatre director
Kyiv for me is a unique place, a city of ancient culture and history that spans many centuries. Or even millennia. Archaeological finds have revealed settlements twenty-thousand years old. Among the finds — mammoth tusks which were used for making tent-like huts, probably the oldest known “architectural” creations in the history of humankind. There is enough evidence to suggest that this cultural continuity has not been broken since time immemorial — and that makes Kyiv one of the oldest towns in Europe. It gives me a very special feeling to be part of that unbroken tradition.
Kyrylo STETSENKO, a violinist, composer and music producer
There are two cities in Ukraine which I consider my native places — Lviv and Kyiv. I was born in Lviv but it was in Kyiv that I matured. My first impressions of Kyiv have stayed with me throughout all my life — the city seemed to me a blessed place; I felt its special energy flowing into me; it had an inimitable aura of spirituality. For me, the words that St Andrew, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, is believed to have said standing on the top of one of the hills of Kyiv, “The grace of God will shine over these hills,” are of a great significance.
I regard Kyiv as a phenomenon of a planetary importance — when in Kyiv, I feel as though I were in the centre of the whole planet. If to apply Vernadsky’s idea about the noosphere (the sphere of human consciousness and mental activity in regard to its influence on the biosphere — tr.), then it must be of a great concentration in Kyiv, in recent years in particular, because of the concentration of Ukrainian intellectuals here.
Incidentally, for the several generations of the Stetsenkos, Kyiv is a special place. My grandfather, Kyrylo Stetsenko, who was a composer, was born in the village of Kvitky in the land of Cherkashchyna, but it was in Kyiv that he realized himself as a composer, and though he often moved from place to place, he always tended to come to Kyiv. My father was born in the land of Vinnychyna, but it was in Kyiv that he gained recognition as a violinist and teacher. And for me Kyiv is a place of a special significance.
Kyiv is a symbol of Ukraine and of spirituality, of humanism, of people who live intellectually comprehensive lives, and who are part of the intelligent cosmos, in which there is a harmony between the mind and the spirit.
Serhiy ZHADAN, a poet
I was born in the region of Ukraine called Donbas. I live in Kharkiv, the city I love. I visit Kyiv once in a while. The “Hero City” (Soviet cliche — tr.) is not one of the places that I particularly like. But there are quite a few people in Kyiv — mostly those who were not born in Kyiv — whom I dearly love. Well, I love some of those who were born in Kyiv too. There are several places in Kyiv that I like — mostly in those sections of town which are situated closer to the suburbs, the housing developments of the nineteen fifties, where there is enough open space — both on the ground and in the sky. At the same time, there are many places (mostly in the centre) which evoke in me nothing but resentment; it gets elevated to the level of rancor when I think of some of the people who live or have offices there, in Bankova Street in particular (where the presidential administration occupies the building that once belonged to the communist party headquarters — tr.). In other words, Kyiv is the pla ce where “joy embraces sorrow.”
On a more serious note, honestly and frankly, I like the Kyiv railroad station, in particular I like listening to the female voices announcing the departure of trains in Polish and in German, in faulty accents.