The Polish Rider by Rembrandt, that is about us
In the recent years the French author Yannick Haenel published in Paris a book entitled Jan Karski which in France proved to be a bestseller. Its first two chapters are of a documentary character. They present the history of the title character – a hero of the Polish resistance movement who as the first one informed F.D. Roosevelt about the cruelty of the Holocaust (Shoah). The third chapter is a literary fiction. In this chapter Karski finds out just after the war in the museum in New York, a picture by Rembrandt – The Polish Rider. This picture can be treated as an artistic image of an archetype of the Polish culture. Poland belongs to Europe. The Socrates’ thought underlies the base of the European culture. According to it the rules of the social life must be established based on “the essence of things”. And this means according to the Aristotle’s thought that the human community is the commonwealth. At the threshold of the modernity a change of this paradigm occurs. It is the thought of the Descartes; cogito. Here the starting point is I, an individual undertaking the economic activity (Th. Hobbes, J. Locke). The face of the rider expresses the conviction that the market is not everything. In the archetype of the Polish culture which accepts the European heritage, there is a need to take the “values” into account. And this is the imperative of every single individual; and at the same time of all. It is, as Lelewel put it into words, “the public spirit”; “crowd”… And it is our “code”. Poland is an “eternal sensitivity”.