2022.07.29.A: Darina (name changed for obvious reasons) is a Ukrainian guest in our home. She does calisthenics on the porch every morning — gentle, repetitive, cheerful, like a combination of Richard Simmons and tai chi. It struck me as quaint at first, but seeing her do it almost every single day changed that. It’s life-affirming.
2022.07.29.B: A few years ago, my wife described similar habit of my mother-in-law, who much like Darina has a youthfully-middle-aged vigor. This conversation led to a YouTube deep dive in which I stumbled on the gold below. These videos convey a sense of cloying conformism that I find disconcerting, but also the eternal benevolent calm of the capital-S State in which we all live capital-H Happily and all have a capital-P Purpose. The emotional connotations of these videos are as inscrutible as an archaeological find, despite their recent origin. They are from another world. These programs were seen across a realm of dozens of languages and almost 300 million people, from Tallinn to Vladivostok and Norilsk to Serhetabat. And the music’s great.
2022.07.29.C: Nostalgia deserves suspicion. Note that these videos were broadcast in Russian across the Union. Despite their obvious socialist utopian appeal, they are also examples of Russian imperialism when viewed through the contemporary lens of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Taking this into account, I added some Ukrainian search terms and kept coming across the phrase “Рух Заради Здоров’я”, “Movement for the Sake of Health.” The tradition of televised morning exercise routines thrives on Ukrainian YouTube.
2022.07.29.D: A few more clicks and I found a video by a philologist and activist which showed historical account of how the Ukrainian word for exercise is a site of cultural imperialism and of course, conversely, of autonomous resistance. The video explains the process by which the word for exercise was changed in Soviet times (I think, although I can’t speak Ukrainian so take that with a grain of salt and ask your friends from Kyiv if I’m wrong.)
2022.07.29.E: A few more clicks, and this. One of the philologist’s most recent posts was an archived interview with his comrade, journalist and bright green municipal activist Roman Ratushnyi. Mr. Ratushnyi died a few weeks ago fighting the Russian Federation in Donbas. He was 24. (You can read the too-brief English Wikipedia page about him here.)
2022.07.29.F: Even in an aimless whimsical morning YouTube exercise video binge, I was only a few clicks away from exposure to the intimately violent reality of life in its struggle to thrive. This happens everywhere, all the time, and always will. Rest in power, Roman Ratushnyi. Good morning, everyone else.
2022.07.29.G: ОДИН! ДВА! ТРИ! ЧОТИРИ!