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“This is a civilization that needs metaphysics,” Adam Michnik told Václav Havel in 2003. A decade later, on 21 November 2013, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly reversed the course of his own stated foreign policy and declined to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Around 8 p.m. that day a thirty-two year-old Afghan-Ukrainian journalist, Mustafa Nayem, posted a note on his Facebook page: “Come on, let’s get serious. Who is ready to go out to the Maidan”—Kiev’s central square—“by midnight tonight? ‘Likes’ don’t count.” No one then knew that “likes don’t count”—a sentence that would have made no sense before Facebook—would bring about the return of metaphysics to Eastern Europe.
Marci Shore is associate professor of history at Yale University. She is the translator of Michał Głowiński's The Black Seasons and the author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968 and The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. Her book about the 2013-2014 revolution in Ukraine, The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution, was published in 2017 by Yale University Press; she is also at work on a longer book project titled, Phenomenological Encounters: Scenes from Central Europe. Her recent essays include “Surreal Love in Prague” (TLS); “Out of the Desert: A Heidegger for Poland” (TLS); “Rescuing the Yiddish Ukraine (New York Review of Books); “Rachelka’s Tablecloth: Poles and Jews, Intimacy and Fragility ‘on the Periphery of the Holocaust,’” (Tr@nsit Online); “Can We See Ideas? On Evocation, Experience, and Empathy” (Modern European Intellectual History); “Entscheidung am Majdan: Eine Phänomenologie der Ukrainischen Revolution” (Lettre International); and “Reading Tony Judt in Wartime Ukraine” (The New Yorker); and “The Bard of Eastern Ukraine, Where Things are Falling Apart.” (The New Yorker).