The author of the "Philosophical Garden" Demyan Om about the cultural code of Ukraine and the common language between art and business
What is humanity without culture? If we take away culture— we can become a gray mass living according to the scheme: "eat-sleep-survive". While still living in a cave, a person learned to convey the perception of the surrounding world with the help of inept drawings. That is, at a subconscious level, self-expression is inherent in us. But instinct demands not only to survive, but to survive beautifully and with taste.

Demyan Om Dyakov Slavitsky — program director of the beGenius projects family [2009-], I Cultural Business Hub [2014-2019] and U Open University [2016-] founder, — together with his colleagues decided to create a project called "Philosophical Garden". Twenty-one speakers from Ukraine, France, Switzerland raised a number of questions about what the cultural code is, and what it is for Ukrainians. And also set out to find out what the collaboration of art and business in the country looks like.

What conclusions were drawn as a result of the first year of work on the "Philosophical Garden", Demyan told in a separate interview.
Demyan, how was the idea of the "Philosophical Garden" born?

The name itself arose in a dialogue with Andrey Palatny and Maxim Demsky. Vlad Troitsky's team held a Gogolfest in Dnipro. We discussed the preparation of the festival, being just in the Cultural Hub. Then the phrase was heard that the hub resembles a kind of philosophical garden.

After that, the concept of a series of podcasts was born in my head, which, in turn, should turn into longreads.

I would like our people to talk, to tell. After all, they accumulate a lot of stories, a huge experience is hidden. When the goal was to create podcasts, it was important to hear these people.

Professionals with more than ten or even twenty years of experience have something to tell. But they are usually known only in narrow circles.

The reason for this is usually the limitations in time resources. That's why I chose the podcast format to be able to digitize the experience of such people.

The goal was to create a product that would preserve and transmit the thoughts of active practitioners to our children and grandchildren.

How many people worked on the project?

Twenty-one speakers and sixteen members of the editorial team are involved in the project.
Do I understand correctly that one of the goals of the "Philosophical Garden" is the motivation of Ukrainian citizens and a call to action?

No, not really. The very concept of "motivation", as part of project management, is a slightly different tool for me. The goal is rather inspiration and enlightenment.
Speaking of inspiration: who is your target audience? Are you directing your efforts at already active and thinking people, or do you want to connect completely inexperienced ones?

The texts of Aristotle or Goethe are available to everyone. Question: do they need a person who does nothing? Usually such texts are used by people who need it and who are ready for it.

We are open to a wide audience. But at the same time we understand that not everyone will "come in" our product, not everyone will get the same motivation.

Our listener is a person equal to the speaker. He or she appreciates those around him, the team who have been working on their formation for a long time.
The project is published in three languages, Ukrainian and Russian — this is understandable. Why is the "Philosophical Garden" also translated into English?

In order to attract the same listener, only in Europe. To get to know the world, and also to tell him about us. In this sense, we think globally and are open to dialogue.

How did you choose your speakers?

Basically, these are specialists in their field, whom we identified as thinkers, and for a long time we wanted to talk to them "on camera".

Are there many other people you haven't had time to talk to?

Yes, the list is long. It seems that the "Philosophical Garden" is waiting for a sequel.
One of the goals of the "Philosophical Garden" was to find and understand a common language between business and art. Have you managed to achieve this goal?

I think so.

I'm not saying that we will write a manual, and everyone will have to follow it. Other projects are planned for this purpose. However, we managed to capture the following picture of the interaction between the two elements: business influences art through mentors. Who share their money-making skills.

What did you understand about the language of business and culture? Are there strengths and weaknesses in it?

I wouldn't talk about weaknesses. It's more about interference.

A big obstacle is distrust at the levels: person-person, institution-institution, sector-sector. It can be traced precisely in the Ukrainian cultural code. Compared with intelligent and open-minded Britons, with structured, maybe strict, but successful in communication Germans, with expressive and very open to collaboration Spaniards, with my beloved Dutch, who quickly, directly and easily share their competence, Ukrainians have a problem.

We are ready to take, but it is still very difficult to give.

In the course of any process, the question arises "What will I get in return?", "What if it fails?". We have a lot of negative experiences and a lot of fixation on this experience. This is still a feature of the Ukrainian character.

What to do about it?

1. To know and recognize that there really is such a thing.

2. Considering this factor, develop your thinking and broaden your horizons.

3. Build a more trusting cooperation with colleagues, focusing on the fact that they are partners, not competitors.
What strengths of Ukrainians would you highlight?

Advanced creativity. This country, these people are able to do projects with a small budget that conquer the world, collecting awards and achieving success in a conservative (regulated) market.

You can also envy our greed for knowledge. It's fantastic! Why is Western Europe sometimes attributed to some slowness, even laziness? - Because they have a certain surplus of resources. Ukrainians act on the principle: "I want to know everything, I want to study everything."

Nothing prevents anyone in the country from gaining knowledge, creating a project and bringing it to the European market.

How do you explain such creativity of Ukrainians?

The need to respond to challenges and solve problems.

Genetics also plays a big role. According to various sources, other nationalities and even civilizations previously existed in the place where Ukraine is now located. Cultures mixed and generated the most powerful genetic code.

Such a variety of accumulated cultural experience makes it possible to compete in the intellectual market.

What inspired you when creating the "Philosophical Garden"? Are there any practitioners of the philosophy of the country who are an example for you?

Mainly Western European countries.

Communication with the French, Germans, British, Swiss, Dutch, showed how their education affects how they speak, how they build relationships, what meanings they put into elementary things. They also manifest themselves in decision-making.

I see a big difference in the way people with an education that includes philosophy do business, and those who have not even heard of such a subject.
How much time do you spend studying philosophical texts?

Not only philosophical. More near-philosophical and artistic. The study usually takes three to four hours a day. There are more on weekends: sometimes I study at night.

For example, I constantly work with the "Skill" of Robert Green. This is my desk book for several years now.

What would you like to convey to the listeners of the "Philosophical Garden"?

Metaphorically speaking, I want to convey the breath of time. All these conversations — with lively, active, peculiar people — are inspiring. We have collected a unique cross-section of opinions and desires of the 21st practitioner. In addition, they represent different creative industries.

The Philosophical Garden shows how people think in real time. I call it the practice of philosophical thinking. A reminder that, to begin with, we are all just people.

In addition, we are talking about the return of humanitarian knowledge to the basic subjects of study. It is important to return logical, critical thinking, a sharp, developed mind, awareness, wisdom.

The Philosophical Garden returns to businessmen, theater directors, representatives of legal and IT companies the long-forgotten practice of reflection. Usually these people have a lot of experience, but in their life there is room for only three topics for communication. This is work, the household sphere and those questions that standard interviews contain.

That is, all this is not about personal, real you. And the most important type of communication, dialogue, is a conversation built on thinking out loud, which is not limited by the format. Unfortunately, it is not often practiced in the family or among friends.

I would like our conversations to inspire people to study philosophical texts, because this is preparation for expanding their horizons, building new neural connections, and even reaching a completely new level of communication!

Let's talk about opinion leaders. In my understanding, this is a person who is able to create a philosophical text. And also reflexive such a text in the form of an essay. He is seriously working on what information he broadcasts through his channels, showing an example and arguing his position.

When such opinion leaders appear in society or there will be more of them, social networks will begin to be filled with high-quality content. People of this order will begin to learn from them, to take an example from them. And this, in turn, will emphasize the importance of two institutions — mentoring and patronage.

Interviewed by Oksana Shamonova. Edited By Veronika Novikova.
Ukraine. 2020-2021

Please, listen to all the podcasts "Philosophical Garden" in bilingual: Ukrainian-Russian, and read the talk abstract of dialogues in Ukrainian, Russian and English.
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