Painted Fake

From Painted Bird to Painted Fake

Posted on December 23, 2017

Painted Fake


When television sets first glued total strangers to a single emoticon of a baseball, football or a tennis game, some talked about a global village mobilized by virtual tam-tams. With world wide web and mobile phones the inhabitants of global villages succeeded in going mad on a very short notice. Laughs and tears can now be artificially produced. Moods can be strategically manipulated and personally coached as model T Fords on assembly lines. Fake emotions quickly fade away, but leave real tragedies hidden in plain sight. Hypocrisy inspires legislators of mankind.

Here is a case. A Polish citizen with Jewish roots survives the German occupation of Poland and industrial genocide organized by the German state. He is not rounded up, nor sent to one of many German concentration camps in occupied Poland, annexed Austria or enchanted Germany. Polish friends of his father hide him in a remote Polish village and take good care of him. World War II ends and Jerzy Kosinski tries to become a photographer and a writer. He fails on both counts. Happy end does not sell. Fake suffering does. He reinvents himself as a victim. Peasants saved him, but made him feel he was different, which allowed him to suffer enough to become a motivated writer. Subtle twist in a tale: successful survival as an accusation of saviors. Kosinski succeeds in becoming a celebrity. Fake celebrity, but with real function in the international PEN club. Slowly but surely compromising details leak out, ghost writers surface, plagiarisms shock, he is dropped from the literary conversation of mankind. Kosinski’s later novel, “Being There”, is a plagiarism of “The Career of Nikodem Dyzma” written half a century earlier. Copyrights, anyone? Film rights, anyone? Is only Mickey Mouse legally protected?

The case is not closed. A Belgian delegate to a European Parliament calls sixty thousands of Poles celebrating independence on Warsaw’s streets - “Fascists and Nazis”. His accusation is a fake. But it is repeated by the media. Neither Tusk nor Juncker reprimands him, neither offers apologies to the Poles. Sons and daughters of the victims of Fascists and Nazis are re-labeled as murderers. “Painted Bird” once again?


Haarlem, December 23, 2017