Sunday, June 21, 2009

My gallery opens in Ukraine tomorrow

Ukraine Catholic University Gallery - Images by Mike Rudzinski

Tomorrow will be the grand opening of my gallery at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. The event kicks off at 2 pm and will feature 30 photographs from 9 months in Ukraine, from September 2008 to May 2009.

Thank you to Petro Didula, my friend and mentor, who organized the event and has set up the gallery, to Professor Jeffrey Wills for helping organize, and to everyone at UCU for this wonderful year.

If you cannot make it to 17 Svensitskoho in Lviv tomorrow, then you can see the photographs on my website.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thus ends the Best Year of My Life (so far)

I'm home! I'm writing this in my parent's house in Rockford, Illinois. I arrived in Rockford last Friday, and in Boston a week before. I surprised my sister, Carrie, for her college graduation, it was great!

I'm currently working on establishing a garden, fixing my computer(so I can blog more), and being Mike. Life is great!

I had a very emotional departure from Ukraine. I will explain in detail as I am able to post photos and videos, but the short story is that this was the best year of my life. However, my philosophy of life might best be summed up by a poker tournament that goes well. If you play your cards right, each hand should be better than the last. Thus, the last day of your life, the day you die, will be the greatest. I'm being completely sincere when I say I could die today and feel content.

Love you all, and more to come!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Computer Busted


On my return from Spain a few weeks ago, I discovered my Macbook Pro was suffering from something bloggers call "Random Shutdown Syndrome." Only affecting Mabooks and MBPs, this nefarious disease causes your laptop to randomly shutdown and restart without warning. A techie in the Netherlands(or thereabouts) pinpointed the cause of the problem to a small wire connecting the video card and the motherboard that would expand when too hot and cause an overload. 
In other words, the small intestine is trying to eat the stomach and I'm out of photos and videos until I return to America(and Apple Stores). I'm upset, but there's nothing I can do. My last mac laptop lasted 5 years after I dropped it several times, cracked the casing in 3 places and dropped a drawer on it. 
When I return home in June I will get it fixed ASAP and then upload the photos and videos that are overdue. I apologize for not posting sooner, but these past few weeks have been eventful. Thanks for keeping up and love you all!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shevchenko vs. Lenin: The insanity of too much reason

At the southern entrance to Taras Shevchenko Park in Odessa, Ukraine stands a statue of the park's namesake. His massive chiseled shoulders top a monstrous frame clothed in perfectly-pressed trousers and jacket. A face meant to either inspire or strike fear into the common worker is mandatory for Shevchenko, an Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist who is credited by many for the creation of modern Ukrainian literature and even the language. In the west, presidents and war veterans often take credit for founding society. But in the east, the poets are the heroes.
What is most striking about Shevchenko's statue in this southern port town is his eyes and his mustache. Evidenced by his portrait, Ol' T.S.'s cookie duster is the envy of World War 1 veterans and mustache enthusiasts the world over, but this statue's exemplification was unique. As were his eyes. They were so cold, so huge and yet dwarfed by his massive brow. And then it became apparent his shoulders were not his own, either.
It was Lenin. The enemy of patriotic Ukrainians everywhere, the destroyer of worlds himself, Lenin's statue had been altered into a beefy Shevchenko. How incredibly ironic and yet unsavory: turning Communism's godfather, the man responsible for a regime that enslaved Ukraine for half a century, into the hero Ukrainians credit as the patriarch of their very language and culture.
Reflecting on the laziness of statue redactors everywhere, I have begun reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy in order to make sense of why the world is so mad. In his first glorious chapter, Chesterton addresses the question of insanity, and what exactly keeps a man sane or expunges him from it. The answer, of course, is not that he has lost reason altogether, but that he has lost everything but reason. Insanity may very well be a problem of too much reason, which is what every tyrant like Lenin suffers from in the first place.
Chesterton's grandest example of this is in the contrast of exactly those two men in the Odessa statue: the logician and the poet. The problem with the all too reasonable logician, like Lenin, is he tries to understand everything in the infinite universe, and realizing he cannot, makes it finite. He intentionally limits his view of the infinite because he cannot explain it, making it finite and incomplete.
The poet, Shevchenko, accepts the universe as the infinite sea that it is, Chesterton says, and merely attempts to float his raft on it. Accepting the universe as something outside of his control, as something infinite, the poet makes a place for his finite self in an infinite universe and finds he has all the space he needs. Realizing his view of the world is not complete, he is free to wander about and look at everything, and is never bored because there is always more to be discovered.
Chesterton says the poet merely pokes his head into the clouds to have a look around. The logician attempts to fit the heavens into his head, and it is his head that splits.

Perhaps this is why the insanity of Lenin's ideas are now dying in the godforsaken aftermath of the Soviet Regime. The tyrant attempts not only to understand everything, to reason everything, but in doing so he attempts to control all. This might be best exemplified in Tsar Nicholas I's order to exile Shevchenko to the Ural Mountains for writing critically of Tsarist Russia. Nicholas' words were to keep him under the strictest surveillance, without the right to write or paint.
The poet gives up control of his surroundings and his existence and merely attempts to enjoy and observe it. Shevchenko died in exile at the age of 47, but not after producing numerous paintings, poems, writings and drawings that live on today in Ukraine as works of a national hero.
The tyrant is insane because in his power he attempt to stretch his finite being over the infinite, to reason and control it. He creates a reasoning perfect in its simplicity, a perfect circle if you will, but a circle that is limited by its size. As his control and reason is found wanting, the circle shrinks, its owner running around it faster and faster and always ending up at the same place he started. The tyrant finds this reasonable because all apparent contradictions to his perfect circle must be left out if it is to work.
Shevchenko managed to retain sanity in the the bitter cold of the Ural mountains, of physical labour, and of the tortuous punishment of his oppressors. It would seem logical to us he should have gone insane. Yet he withstood the cruelest punishment and harshest conditions unwaveringly until death. But his oppressors could not withstand even his simple poetry or the sight of his art, it was too beautiful to fit in the circle, and it was too infinite to be snuffed out even his death.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apparently, you can receive monetary compensation for blogging your butt off

This was in my email inbox about 2 hours ago:

Hi ,

I came across your blog at It is very well written and interesting. I like how you have explored the topic. If you are interested, I would like to extend an invitation to join Allvoices. It's a citizen journalist site. We discuss, debate and write about everything under the sun here.The site has a lot of people who are passionate about writing and use this as a tool to make a difference.

Allvoices also has an incentive programme for writers who can earn up to $10,000 cash. You can visit for more details and do register if you are interested.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spain another fabulouth thucceth, love Barthelona

I will post my trip in full in a few days, but it´s been a while since I´ve updated on my trip to Spain. I arrive here last Wednesday, went to Valencia on Thursday and returned to Barcelona on Saturday for Easter Sunday. I´m in Girona right now after I dropped my friend Amanda off at the bus station.
I´m typing at an internet cafe with my friend Bozena from Canada and a new friend, Brenton, from Texas, who we refer to as 'Dallas.' Dallas and I have been mimicking the Catalanian accent the entire trip, tho we keep thaying thingth with a lithp. Stop it.
We´re couchsurfing here in a small town before Bozena and I catch a plane to Poznan, Poland and Dallas goes to France. Life is wonderful and I´m doing well. We are staying in a farmhouse that looks like a morgue in a horror film. We were a bit surprised when our host pulled out a dried pig leg and carved us some ham. It was tasty and very dead.

Monday, April 13, 2009

France Last Day

Above, top to bottom: One of our hosts enjoys a cigarette as he explains his struggling photography career. I was surprised he keeps professional photo and studio equipment, prints and his computer in the squat for safety reasons, but it strangely put me at ease; Timothy preparing a wine carrying case during our final hour or so; the squat in all its glory