Michał Witkowski and drinking Protestant coffee or Catholic tea

Slovakia’s Project Forum website Salon has an article by Polish novelist Michał Witkowski in which he gets at the situation in contemporary Poland by dividing European life into its Catholic and Protestant elements. Not being one or the other I have to take his word for it, but his choices seem right on and besides being funny it strikes me as an original way of expressing discontent.

The article is called “Confessions of a Mamone,” which also gave me the opportunity to add a word to my vocabulary (mamone = mama’s boy in Italian). Here’s a brief breakdown:

Protestant: coffee, showers (early morning, cold and drying with a rough towel), wholegrain bread, simple Scandinavian decorations, left-wing (Ed. Note – he’s referring to Europe not the US), bike riding, jogging

Catholic: tea, baths, white bread, ornamental Italian style decoration, right-wing, eating sweets – especially doughnuts

This categorization reminded me of nothing so much as Lenny Bruce’s brilliant division of the world into Jewish and goyish, which starts out like this:

“Dig .. I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish. B’nai B’rith is goyish. Hadassah, Jewish.

If you live in New York or any other big city, you are Jewish. It doesn’t matter even if you’re Catholic; if you live in New York, you’re Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you’re going to be goyish even if you’re Jewish.

Kool-Aid is goyish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if Jews invented it. Chocolate is Jewish and fudge is goyish. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime jello is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.”

Michał Witkowski’s 2005 debut novel Lovetown (Lubiewo) came out in an English translation in 2010. His latest novel out this year in Polish is called The Lumberjack (Drwal) and is supposed to be a twist on the crime genre with a writer character named Michał Witkowski secluding himself in the woods to try to write a crime novel, and the story takes off from there.

Photos – 1) Michał Witkowski (on the left) at the premiere of The Lumberjack in Warsaw, 2) Lenny Bruce being searched by a doughnut eater (see above list)

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Categories: Magazines


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