Nesigurnost of the Past, Present and Future – Serbia (Part 23)

Emblem tranpoзиция by Jelena Sekulić

Human desire to explain and define the world around us has been pushing us to learn and explore since the beginning of time. This urge to understand our surroundings could originate from our need to be certain (sigurni) or our need to escape from the feeling of uneasiness created by nesigurnost (uncertainty).

We learn from other people, our parents, teachers, relatives, neighbors, and if we define knowledge as knowing something for certain, knowing the facts, then all our certainties are based on the conclusions of others. If you take into account that it is a part of human nature to make mistakes, how certain can you be of anything?

Belgrade, Serbia – Saint Sava Temple

We can only hope that historians did their job properly and that our ideas and feelings derived from their “facts” are not fake. For centuries, we believed that Vuk Branković was the one who betrayed the Serbian army in the Battle of Kosovo (Бој на Косову) in 1389, that he left the battlefield, that he was the traitor responsible for the defeat of Serbian army in the battle against the Turks. For five hundred years, the name of Vuk Branković was used as a synonym for betrayal in folk songs, poems and stories, even though this Serbian nobleman continued to resist Turkish attacks until his death in 1397 in a Turkish prison. Something was believed to be true, to be a fact, to be sigurno for five hundred years. It became deeply rooted in the consciousness of Serbian people and, in a way, formed a link in our DNA responsible for generating the belief that this man is the embodiment of all human corruption. However, the latest historical findings say that this accusation (or this verdict) should be questioned, that the feeling of scorn could have been wrongfully provoked. Historical facts, or at least their interpretation, can often be uncertain (nesigurne).

Belgrade, Serbia – Wedding Race

Can we then be certain that our present is clear and properly defined? Our understanding of our present state is directly correlated to our present level of consciousness. If the image of reality is painted in only those colors familiar to us, then we can only talk about our perception of reality, which means that there is only nesigurnost disguised as belief. Nesigurnost of the present is felt on an everyday basis in the privacy of our homes. People living in cities feel the nesigurnost of finding a job (not to mention how difficult it is to find a good job), the nesigurnost of keeping the one they succeed in finding, the nesigurnost of paying off the loans taken from banks with interest specially designed for Serbia (an area of high financial risk).

Belo Blato, Vojvodina, Serbia – Fun 

Those who live in villages (Serbia has the most beautiful villages in the world) feel the nesigurnost of weather conditions, the nesigurnost of the price that their products are going to get at the market, the nesigurnost of how much the state is going to protect their interests. Serbian villages are rapidly disappearing with the progress of the modern world (there are 50 completely empty, uninhabited, ghost villages in Serbia). It means that people are moving into towns, exchanging the type of nesigurnost they are familiar with for another type, equally suffocating but at least different from what they are used to.

Brezovica, Serbia – Milking

This nesigurnost localized in private addresses forms a network of global nesigurnost. Every village and town in Serbia pulses with the nesigurnost of existence. This country went through at least four wars in the 20th century (Belgrade was bombarded five times during this period – both by enemies and allies). Everyone in Serbia lives with the certainty (sigurnost) of the next conflict that will set us back, exhaust us and change our lives whether we want to be a part of it or not.

Veliko Selo, Serbia – In the morning

One of the most prominent aspects of the future is its nesigurnost. Our wish to know the future could be as old as the first feeling of dissatisfaction with the present. Throughout the history of the human race, we have been trying to predict it (usually to be able to change it – which is an absurdity in itself – since if it can be changed, then the future has not been correctly foretold). One of the most famous prophecies in Serbia is the prophecy from Kremna (a small village in Western Serbia) allegedly created by two Serbian peasants, Miloš and Mitar Tarabić, who lived during the first half of the 19th century. They couldn’t read or write but they had visions of a future so fantastic that they could only be told to their godfather Zaharije Zaharić, a priest. These two simple men predicted wars that were going to be led in the air, technological developments that were going to change everyday life, diseases that were going to spread all over the world. A lot of people believed in the simple words about our turbulent future, and more than one book has been written trying to interpret them, but the whole story about this prophecy never became more than just an interesting topic for leisurely conversations.

Zrenjanin Vojvodina, Serbia – Work

However, some recent findings show that the prophecy may have been used on a number of occasions and by different regimes to gain the favor or take advantage of public opinion. As some analysts say, it has been rewritten and tailored so many times to suit the needs of ever-changing rulers and ideologies that no one can be siguran that anything about this prophecy is tangible. This takes the notion of nesigurnost to a completely new level.

Belgrade, Serbia – Fishing

But people in Serbia must have decided to agree with John Allen Paulos who said that “uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security” because we continue to learn, explore and grow despite all the nesigurnost we are surrounded by. It seems that an invisible thread connects all of us and gives meaning to all the things happening around us, gives us sturdiness to persevere and faith in a future much brighter than any prophecy dares to predict.

Jelena Sekulić

Credits

Photo 1: Novi Sad, Serbia – Liberty Square – Florin Cnejevici

Photo 2: Belgrade, Serbia – Saint Sava Temple – Alexandarilich

Photo 3: Belgrade, Serbia – Wedding Race – dragang

Photo 4: Belo Blato, Vojvodina, Serbia – Fun – Roman photography

Photo 5: Brezovica, Serbia – Milking – Bora

Photo 6: Veliko Selo, Serbia – In the morning – Bane

Photo 7: Zrenjanin Vojvodina, Serbia – Work – Roman photography

Photo 8: Belgrade, Serbia – Fishing – Paul Prescott

Locations

Real: Postcard emblems in The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed and The Anthology of Global Instability Transposed on display at 1080

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The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Çakır, Peren. Building a Future in Times of Uncertainty – Argentina and Turkey. May 2018.

Castañeda, Martha Corzo. Worried Workers – Peru. February 2018.

Cooleridge, Tweeney. Uncertainty in the Abstract – Slovakia. March 2018.

Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.

Dastan, S.A. Uncertain Waters – Turkey. March 2019.

Electra P. Aβεβαιότητα: The Enemy of Romantic Relationships – Greece. February 2018

Escandell, Andrea da Silva. Compromise – Uruguay. March 2018

Goumiri, Abdennour. Uncertainty Is All There Is – France. February 2018.

Guerrero, Marilin. Crossing the Uncertain Path of Life – Cuba. February 2018.

Konbaz, Rahaf. So You Say You Want A Revolution – Syria. March 2018.

Korneeva, Kate. One We – Russia. April 2018.

Krnceska, Sofija. No Name Country – Macedonia. May 2018.

Lassa, Verónica. The Old Eastern Books of Uncertainty – Argentina. May 2018.

Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.

Phelps, Jade. Healing Journey Pulls Us Apart – America. June 2018.

Romano, Mavi. An Uncertain Democracy – Spain. April 2018

Ranaldo, Mary. Incerto or Flexible: Italia and UK. March 2018.

Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.

Sepi, Andreea. Uncertainties Galore – Germany. April 2018.

Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.

Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.

Vuka. Lacking Uncertainty in Political Culture – Serbia. April 2018.

Forthcoming

Translators and writers from Spain, Tajikistan, Australia, Poland, Chile, China, Russia, Britain, and other parts of the world…

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