Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How a photographer makes friends with a pile of wood 1.
November 29, 2111

The subjection of the Latvian language over the past twenty years to an increasingly brutal secularization, has been gaining increasing attention lately.

The attention is a byproduct of a successful signature gathering campaign by members of the Russian population for a petition to hold a referendum (the current amount of signatures 137,500; the necessary amount 154,379) to change the Latvian Constitution so it will allow the Russian language in Latvia to acquire equal rights to the Latvian language, in effect to make such constitutional changes as are necessary to allow Russian to become the second language in Latvia.

The issue was first raised by certain Latvian jingoists parties (re Unity and All for Latvia; Vienotība and Visu Latvjai). The intent to bolster the political popularity of said parties has resulted in a counter movement by the Russian segment of the Latvia’s population.
In the face of many years of Latvian “do-nothingn politics” to reform corrupt politics or improve the country’s economic prospects, the language issue has proven itself exceedingly popular among the Russian speaking segment of the Latvian population.

Though one can sympathize with the point of view of the Latvian jingoists to some degree, such sympathy soon comes up against the fact that the ultra nationalist viewpoint turns the Latvianlanguage itself into no more than an advertising tool for the above mentioned parties.

Once one perceives the divide that forms between a secularized language and its earlier spiritualized and emotive equivalent, one (whether one is born to the Latvian or Russian language) understands that the present use of one’s language may add up to little more than that of  an advertising tool. This is when one makes the conclusion that one’s language has become a tool for advertising as such. In other words, the issue that the Latvian ultra nationalists have unintentionally raised is to focus attention on their use of the Latvian language. Needless to say, the jingoist effect of promoting themselves highlights a misuse of the language of their forebears.

How a photographer makes friends with a pile of wood 2.
 The misuse suffered by the Latvian and Russian languages is the dismissal (in toto) of their innate spiritual values.

It is not often that one hears in our day a discussion of the spiritual values imbedded within the language one speaks. An attack against such values has been a long and ongoing process, which runs parallel to the secularization and commercialization  of all Western languages and the communal values imbedded in same since their ancient past.

One may go so far as to say that the spiritual values embedded in the language one speaks goes back to the days, when implicitly and communally shared values were replaced with overt “religions”. The first such overt religion to impose itself over a native people was Western Roman Catholic Christianity. Instead of allowing the “endearing word”, which is imbedded in the use of one’s language to play an active role in community life, “religion(s)” began to deny such values as “pagan”, stressing the canonical values of “religion” instead.

It is interesting that both the Latvian and Russian languages are rich and bountiful in “endearing words”. The “endearing words” of both languages have suffered many centuries of open and surreptitious denial.

What is an “endearing word”? The academic world to this day knows these words as “diminutives http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminutive ”. Essentially a misnomer by gramaticians, the diminutive does not diminism anything. What it does is to inflect just about any word [(it depends on the language) English being poor in such; whereas Latvian, Russian, and German languages are exceedingly rich in same].

For example, the Latvian name for “stone” is “akmens”. By adding to the word the inflection “(t)inshs”, re “akmentinsh”, one endears it. The adding of the inflection is often an involuntary and learned act of mimesis, whereby one ‘gets into’, so to say, the word. A similar effect in English is achieved when one readdresses “John” with an affectionate inflection, by which process “John” becomes “Johnny”; another trick of the English language (probably left over from days of yore) is to end the name by adding to it the inflection “-kins.” Thus, the word for  “baby” or "daddy"(arguably “endearments” and a “diminutives”, both) is sometimes heard pronounced “baby-kins” and "daddy-kins"..

By insisting that Russian is given official recognition in the Latvian Constitution, the Russian speaking public in Latvia necessarily reminds itself that Russian, too, has deeply imbedded spiritual values, which become manifest, first, in the language, second, in the behavior of those who use the language through yet further projection of mimesis.

Arguably, the root of mimetic projection is to be sought in the use of language by a mother when she is addressing or for that matter feeding her child. It is, thus, that a language acquires the meaning of being one’s “mother tongue”’. And surely there is no Constitution, written law, political party, or advertisement company  that can take from us the language that comes to us first through mother's milk and hearing.

How through a self-portrait a photographer makes friends with a pile of wood 3.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A tool shed, said to be the site where in past years two men made their exit from this world,
November 22, 2111

As per blog of November 20, the ultra-nationalist Latvians have failed, because they have failed to understand the profound difficulties of maintaining the Latvian language as a projection of a Latvian religion, and because they have failed to extend the period of time available for a purely nationalist solution by failing to facilitate Latvia’s economic development and prosperity.

The failure of Latvian ultra-nationalists is their failure to understand Latvia’s geopolitical potential. They fail to see that their geopolitical potential is not for them alone to solve, but that they must perceive the geopolitical advantages of their given territory and of the territories of surrounding nations and be able to facilitate and mature the geopolitics of all.

The geopolitics of Latvia is not about the RIX of Riga or Riga as a shipping port. While these may be important elements in the picture puzzle, a more important element may be the Riga stock exchange http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riga_Stock_Exchange . The latter is a Riga institution that receives hardly any attention. Why?

The reason for the failure of the Riga stock exchange (NASDAX OMX Riga) is, for one, that it is part of the NASDAQ network. Centered in New York, USA, NASDAQ is a trough and through a Western oriented imperial institution. Its Riga exchange is extension to the edge of the world.

NASDAQ and other western institutions are working toward absorbing the Rest of the World into the Western World some time in the future. The “some time”-clock when on Western time is actually on Catholic Time, a camouflaged Crusade led by market interests, may strike noon tomorrow or a hundred years from now, but the clock does not know the word “never”. For Latvia this is a crucial presumption, one that it ought not ever have accepted as a matter of principle, not even if a Western world were to eventually become the world of tomorrow.

The uncertainty of whether the world is to become “Western” is paralyzing to anyone on whom falls the burden. The uncertainty of whether the burden is a weight for a day or a hundred years is as paralyzing on all of the days. Being defined as being a border town on the Eastern border of a presumed Western Empire and finding acquiescence to that role in the Foreign Ministry of Latvia, makes NASDAQ OMX Riga a lesser exchange. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1jhF7KlESE .

As sharp an eye Latvians may have for an investment, when transferred to Latvia, said eye is prone to make misjudgements, because hunger for money soon spells “rapshi” which are beans to make diesel oil from.  The Lithuanians still have the cattle and the nuclear energy plant. While the latter is a risk that will never find insurance for the year 101, for the moment deludes the mind and keeps its focus off reality. This brings Riga and Latvia to a stand still. 

Another reason why the West blocks the way of Latvia developing in the geopolitical direction best suited for it is NATO. The military alliance--at one time a useful tool in opposing the Soviet Union--endeavours to become a tool of Western expansion today. When in agreement with such a policy, Riga cannot fail remain but a border town. Even more, Riga cannot pretend to achievement in the lifetime of any Latvian living today if the Latvian Foreign Ministry keeps cracking empty nuts.

I have already noted the failure of the Latvian ultra nationalists to recognize the endearing word—so essential to and such a major part of the Latvian language—to re-engrain itself in the language after the ultras have had their ways with it. So far, one must conclude that the “Latvian language” of Latvian public media is not capable of projecting the language as it was created by the proto-Latvian people's populist sentiment (subjective agreement among all of the users-imitators of the language) does not re-absorb Latvian as the language was understood by their forebears, but goes its own “ultra” liberal path. I call this the zionationalist or post-proto-Latvian path.

The failure of post-proto-Latvians to further the cause of the development of their language [ultimately a mental kind of seizure with regard to the faculty of mimesis] is the result of isolationism. By presuming to extract the Latvian language from the hardships it would face and would have to endure if it was to survive on its own—at the same time redefining Latvian as an language that agrees to exclude all endearing words—is “ingenious”, a word that spells the ultimate of disasters.

What will survive of Latvians as they conceived themselves in earlier times is a cancerous cell, because as it attempts to restore itself to preeminence, it necessarily faces becoming an isolated and vulnerable cell. There are cases of government supported languages before the Latvian language takes this course. The Latin of the Catholic Church is one such language that can be restored with the help of a dictionary. Moreover, the endearing word casts its psychic spell over many languages, not least Russian and German.

This is why this writer is for a Latvia out of NATO (unless it includes Russia), all the languages competing for dominant positions necessarily conceiving of themselves as instruments of the middle ground (between the East and West)—of which the bet on the one most suitable for bringing economic development to Latvia and Latvians is English.

However, if  the isolationists prevail, there is the “Rent Out Riga to the Highest Bidder Program”; the one plan that will move The Capital of Latvia to Jelgava.

Besides paying off monies Latvia owes the IMF and ECB, and offering a percentage of Riga’s income to Latvian pensioners, Riga (rented for a hundred years to Germany or China) could as additional incentive offer to dig a navigable canal for ships (as the water level is sure to rise as the end of this century comes closer) from Jelgava to the Baltic sea.

If such a geopolitical program were to appear on the world stage, it is likely to become an attractive way to mime (and mine by way of mimetic activity) success. Such an alternative is surely more interesting than the sterile ultra nationalist mime that only pretends to it

A tool shed, said to be the site where in past years two men made their exit from this world,
November 25, 2111

A major tragedy of the post proto-Latvian Latvia is the failure of mimetic transference of customs, behavior, and above all a sense of community between generations. There are a number of ways of measuring this failure among Latvians http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/mimesis.htm . The failure of the presaent to grasp the past, it is a common experience among Latvians living in Latvia and Latvians coming to visit Latvia from abroad.

There are a number of ways to explain the failure of the mimesis among Latvians.

For this writer, the a ‘small’ way this takes place became manifest, when in 1940 at the age of seven, he was forced to move by Soviet occupation of Latvia to a countryside farmstead of a relative. Having up to that time lived only in Riga and familiar with the the beach suburb of Riga, known as Jurmala http://sanatorij.lv/mce/uploads/tmceimages/More.jpg , the life in the Latvian countryside was a totally new experience. Above all, it was a sentient experience, what with the  farm animals, of which above all the horses http://www.missvelvet.com/bimages/farm.jpg were the ones which put one in touch with what  even today we call “horse power” or for that matter “horse smell http://www.smellshorsey.com/2007/11/does-anything-s.html ”.

While Latvians claim to be great fans of the theatre, which is a mimetic art par excellence, one wonders where mimesis has disappeared to in the every day life among Latvians today. One may safely say that until the occupation of Latvia by the Soviets, Latvian writers, playwrights, and artists projected their sense of identity in mimetic works of art.. Though there were plenty of differences that separated the works of Rainis, from Skalbe, Virza, Blaumanis, Peksena http://www.biblioteka.valmiera.lv/lat/piedavajam/literati/151 , to my own grandfather’s play that centered on instructing society of the dangers of alcoholism and lack of motivation it resulted in, the works were embraced by similar concerns that allowed the public to identify with the artists and their work as having something to do with their community and society. One of the connecting ties of mimesis in the late 19th  and early part of the 20th was agrarian populism, which was based on life in a more or less stable commune (saime), something akin to, but not quite as intangible as a household http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household  of a nuclear family of our day.

The art of mimesis became untied from the Latvian agrarian environment and became  bound to the city in the course of the Soviet occupation of Latvia. While this writer does not claim any great familiarity with the Latvian theatre of today, the latter has, indubitably, removed itself to the urban environment, where influenced by globalization, Latvia's own government acts to denationalize Latvia through subscribing to (copying) a globalized market economy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_economy .

To a Latvian returning from abroad in the 2010s upon first reacquaintance with Latvia [Riga actually, because its environs are where the airplane lands] the most impressive thing (though not necessarily immediately apparent to the critical faculties) is the absence of anything particularly reminiscent of or identifiable as being Latvian in the nature of the site. In short, Latvia does not project itself as a place where a Latvian born in the 1930s (suffienciently far back to see Latvia in perspective) would identify with.

There are  a number of reasons why mimesis has failed  Latvians so thoroughly and completely.

The first reason that comes to mind is the Soviet economy, which was if not a market economy, certainly a money economy. If money was still in somewhat short supply during the Ulmanis regime (what with silver 5 lati Laima monikers), the Soviet regime, given its socialist ideology, was sufficiently large to flood the pockets of every Latvian with money. It was this flood of money—money being a tool of mimesis to the degree that money, paper money especially, can be mechanically copied and printed, ad infinitum.

As money made every agrarian populist feel himself ever less distinct from  a citizen in Riga (or Moscow for that matter), the human instinct for mimesis succumbed to the lassitude in attitude common to a modern society’s impersonal, robotized and virtualist ways. The Latvians easily persuaded themselves to cease calling any portrayal of the figure of the Goddess Laima “Milda” instead. This is singularly notable with respect to the figure standing with three stars in her hands on top of the Monument of Freedom in Riga. The name of secularized “Milda” echoes to the popular song “Matilda”. It is here that we can see the proto-Latvian agrarian past  become an urban post-Latvian populist past.

The genie in the bottle of Latvian ultra nationalists secretly wishes to return to calling “Milda” as “Laima” the Goddess. While such an attempt is not taking place overtly, it is implicit in the ultra nationalist insistence that the Latvian language as currently used be  given an immortal existence (as defined by the Latvian Constitution). As every Latvian ought to instinctively know, the mimetic value of the Latvian language is imbedded in the “endearing word”, the word that turns a leaf through an inflection [njsh; akmens <akmentnjsh] into a leaflet.

The ability of language to directly engage itself in an act of mimesis is not unique to the Latvian language alone. Russian and German languages, too, have this facility.

However, since the language that is on the mind of the Latvian ultra nationlists is in not a facilitator of mimesis, one wonders over the presumption that overtakes those who do not know their language as a mimetic language, but whose Latvian is a carbon copy of the language spoken among bankers and in business circles. If the latter is a true reflection of the “culture” mirrored  back at the urban secularist mindset, it is a cold moon that mirrors the Sun back to Earth. While moonlight http://www.pureanimegallery.com/d/2102-2/the-sif-moonlight.jpg may be the light of romance for two sexually shy individuals, for a community of lovers meeting at all stages of its members’ lives, it may be a cold and icy light.

This blog necessarily ends with a question: may any language with little or no mimetic function (given that such a function was given it by its originators), be accepted for a legalistic quick-freeze? As demanded by those belonging to social circles whose aim it is to impose themselves on shoulders of Latvia by secular (albeit legalistically enunciated) force?

November 26, 2111

One may argue that a language that fails to display mimetic activity is a “dead language”. Why then does the ultra nationalist Latvian party by the name of “Everything For Latvia” (Visu Latvijai) presents the proposition that being in possession of a “dead language” [secured a place in society by legalistic means (by legalistically excluding Russian) is better for Latvians than living with realities as a competing language?

Exclusionism is a tendency among most groups that feel themselves threatened or ultimately facing a minority role. One may add that this tendency is enlarged when it flies on the wings of previously successful jingoist tactics, which reduced the mimetic capacity of Latvians.

In Latvia—as this writer has pointed out in a series of blogs at http://esoschronicles.blogspot.com/  exclusionism has manifested its regressive influence several times in history.
1.     was about the 13th century (1209), when the Roman Church led two successful Crusades against arch-Christians. The pincer of one Crusade was against the Cathars in French Languedoc region. The other pincer was thrust in 1209 against the Arch-Christians in Jersika, in then of Livonia. Jersika, a colloquialism for Jerusalem, was the likely headquarters for the Johns of  Children of Johns as the Latvians still call themselves on Midsummer Day or the Johns Eve Festival
2.     took place with the arrival in Latvia of the Herrnhuters in the 18th century (1732). A Christian Reform Movement The Brethren came to Latvia to reconstruct by living example. The Herrnhuters came to Livonia to stay and mix with the agrarian populists in the countryside, the very ones who carried on whatever was left of the Children of Johns movement untouched by the Inquisition led by the zealots from and of Rome. The Herrnhuters, the writer’s own ancestors among them, reconstituted some of the moral fibre of the proto-Latvian people; however, beginning the second half of the 19th century, when the Lutheran Church began to feel threatened by the successes of the Herrnhuters, the arch-Christian Children of Johns among Latvians were further repressed.
3.     In 1873 as this http://www2.la.lv/lat/arhivs/vesture/latvijai_90/images/Foto200712/Karogs_LV1.jpg picture confirms, the flag of the 1st Latvian Folk Festival shows its leader as John, a native arch-Christian priest, in those days likely an orthodox (Russian) priest among the agrarian populists. Known as the “Ligo Flag” or Ligo Karogs, the image first appeared in a book called by that name, re “Līgo”. The book was rapidly repressed, said on the orders of Russian authorities, but most likely egged on by the Germanic ‘Catsholic’ Lutheran Church. While Latvian historians do not cover this period in any detail, the ‘repression’ ascribed to the Russian tsar would have been among those curiosities, when a central authority acts against its own interests. According to Matthew Raphael Johnaon, an authority on the Russian Orthodox Church http://www.amazon.com/Third-Rome-Russia-Tsarism-Orthodoxy/dp/0974230308 , this was the time when the Russian tsar Nicholas I attempted to regain from the German oligarchs in Livonia some of the influence lost to them in earlier centuries. While Nicholas I failed in his effort, the Latvians through the loss of their agrarian priests (due to the actions of Nicholas I successor Alexander II) lost all connection to their ancient arch-Christian roots. Today the role of the priests of the Latvian language is presumed for themselves by ultra nationalists  with no in-depth understanding of their own language.

If there was not a little doubt about the wisdom of Latvian ultra rightists, one might suspect their attack on (concealed as defense of) the Latvian language hints at preceeding from and leading to a ‘deep event ending’ as recent events in Norway a la Breivik http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3590 , who, too, was concerned over the drift of the youth of Norway away from rigid adherence to nationalist orientation.
What is left over from a barn for pigs of Soviet times.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This used to be a countryside store; demolishing it is in process. I

November 20, 2111

In previous blogs, I have mentioned such words as ‘mimesis’, ‘acting’, and ‘theatre’. One reason for mentioning these is because it is my tendency to learn and think by ‘getting into’ a word or a situation.

For example, I have in the course of my life ‘got into’ being Dr. Doolittle, Bear Wrestler (a notable Latvian hero), Latvian President Ulmanis, Hitler, Stalin, Rommel, Napoleon, and so on. This is common enough, when one remembers that boys after seeing a movie ‘get into’ being Garth Wader or Gary Cooper ‘getting into’ being a sheriff in “High Noon” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elm_BMJwKJ8 . In short, we all do it to a higher or lesser degree.

Sometimes however the mood of ‘getting into’ lasts not just for an hour or two, but days, and sometimes a lifetime. ‘Getting into’ something is one way of becoming cultured. When at the age of sixteen, I arrived in America, aside from finishing up high school, I must have read comics for a year or more. I read and learnt all about Donald Duck, Dick Tracy, Superman, Bugs Bunny, you name it. The family that I stayed with was amazed: how does a boy who talks about philosophy and opera, reads such trash at the same time? Needless to say, by the time I took poetry seminars with poet Robert Lowell at Boston University, I could ‘get into’ the English language well enough to have my poem published in the student magazine.

‘Getting into’ language is a tricky business, because it has so much to do with mimesis, body English, and like. The Latvian language is a good example of this, even if you never hear a Latvian talk about it. Fact is that very few Latvians know that their language is very much into mimesis.

The secret of the Latvian language (and many others) is what the grammarians call the ‘diminutive’. The English language is diminutive poor. There is ‘Johnny’ for John, and ‘kitty’ for cat. Still, Latvian exceeds the mimetic abilities of the English language by just about 100%.

Then how come that Latvians do not know anything about this? Here we are today with numerous Latvian politicians defending the Latvian language against an alleged onslaught of Russian http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russians_in_Latvia  as Latvia’s second language, but the ‘diminutive’ is never mentioned; more over, it is hardly ever used in the public media.

The Latvian nationalist argument against Russian as Latvia’s second language de facto, while Latvian is Latvia’s language de jure, runs into obstacles set by none other than Latvian nationalists. The chief obstacle to the Latvian language in Latvia is nationalist obstinacy in the face of clear signs that the Latvian language is unable to hold its own given there are only a million and a little more Latvians in Latvia. No Latvian today is able to receive a thorough education without knowing one of the major academic languages, the dominant of which is—by consensus—English.

While the Latvian nationalists tout “latvianism” as defining a Latvian, and no latvianist dare defend using the Russian language in Latvia, it is the nationalist led corruption in government that has made a notable contribution in the loss of the Latvian Latvian population to economic out-migration. The lost population may be a half a million Latvians, while many Latvians not of ultra nationalist persuasion insist that the loss feels more like a million. Even on this very day, when Latvia is experiencing major unemployment, poverty, and economic collapse, the nationalists have no program for economic development. In fact, the “nationalist” (presumed) President and Prime Minister of Latvia are suspected by many of being agents of Swedish banks and a self-enclosed capitalist system led by banks, the Bank of Latvia among them.

Let me return to the topic of the ‘diminutive’, its pervasiveness in the Latvian language, but its near total absence in the public media.

The proper name of the ‘diminutive’, one that accurately describes its function, is to call it ‘the endearing word’. Many years ago, I received a letter of appreciation from the Latvian University for noting this fact. Since that time, I have come to realize that ‘the endearing word’ is also a major vehicle and facilitator of mimesis. The appreciation of the theatre, so noted among Latvians (at least of those of a generation ago and earlier), may well be a direct result of the Latvian language enabling them to ‘get into’ mimesis, role acting, and the theatre.

What are the ultra-nationalist Latvians doing with regard to the teaching of the values implicit in the Latvian language? How does the Latvian ultra-nationalist teach a Latvian to use his-her language as a tool of endearment? Are ultra Latvians not belittling (diminishing) the Latvian language? For surely an ultra-nationalist sneers at those Latvians who might use endearing terms with regard to humankind in general and things Russian in particular. Or am I wrong?

It is the ultra-nationalists who are losing Latvia for Latvians by projecting jingoism. And to cover up their being witless when it comes to the economy, they deny, no less, the “religion” implicit in the language of their forebears.
This used to be a countryside store; demolishing it is in process. II

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Garden path in what used to be a hospital.
November 19, 2111

Yesterday, besides writing my blog “November 18”, I also looked at a number of internet sites, one of which was http://www.apollo.lv/zinas/

An article that drew my attention was by Anda Rozukalne called “Mediju eksperte uzteic….” http://www.apollo.lv/portal/printit/256245
Translated into English, it means that “An expert on media praises the format of a new discussion program”. Ms Rozukalne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nslce7NVKRE  is a professor of journalism at the Latvian University in Riga.

Professor Rozukalne praises a new program on LTV1. The program is called “Sastregumstunda” (rough translation: TrafficJamHour) is to replace a discussion program that was taken off the air a half a year ago. Called “Kas notiek Latvijā?” (What is happening in Latvia?) the predecessor to “Sastregumstunda” was led by Janis Domburs, a self-confident, sometimes brash and presumptuous, television correspondent. I missed the opening broadcast, because I was at the Valmiera Theatre watching Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending” (see blog “November 17” above).

Professor Rozukalne judges the first program (led by Gundars Reders) successful, “because it breaks away from the hereto accustomed format of interviewing a closed circle of politicians and experts.” (My transl.)

Unfortunately, in this bloggers view, the as if wider circle of participants draws questions only from an audience of invited guests, these guests consisting for the most part of young students and an unknown quantity of people off the street. In other words, the television viewer at home has no idea whether the audience is a turkey for real or merely stuffed.

I posted a response to the Apollo article, arguing that a positive judgment for the program is premature. I also criticized the interview formats of Janis Domburs (show no longer), Karlis Streips (show no longer), and Egils Zarins (my apologies, I misspelled as “Zagars” what ought to have been “Zarins”), whose show “The Week” is still on.

After I posted my letter, the article soon disappeared. Not only did the article disappear from the head, but was never placed in the sidebar. The side bar is where older news is customarily placed. When I looked for the article in the Archives, it was there, but could not be opened. This morning it opened, but the article appeared without the letters column attached which customarily is.

Yesterday, the following correspondence between an editor at Apollo, Janis Krevics, and myself:

On Fri, 18 Nov 2011 +0200 "Eso" wrote:
Labdien Olina kungs! Ari Buntes kundze.
(My translation follows. Here writes Antons Benjamins.

I read with interest the article by Anda Rozukalne, re “A Media Expert Praises a New
LTV Discussion Program”. The article can be found at

I wrote a response to the Letters column. My thoughts were argumentative, because I write about the shortcomings of Latvian journalists. I mentioned the names of several journalists, some of who still work, some who no longer work in the Latvian media. I wrote under the pseudonym “zxzxs”’.
Shortly after my letter appeared in the Letters column, the article was removed from its headline position and could no longer be found in the side bar. When I discovered it in the Archives section, I could not open it, because apparently the editors had blocked access.
I would like to know why the article was blocked. Was it because of my letter? The article is noteworthy, unless of course criticism of any kind is interpreted as objectionable.

Thanking you in advance, Antons Benjamins
The response from Mr. Krevics. My translation:

Good day! The article you mention has neither been removed, nor is it lost, nor has it been censured… it continues at the site. Yes, it is now in the Archive, because the site uses current news, but older news, such as are not especially noteworthy, can be found in the archives. http://www.apollo.lv/portal/news/articles/256245 Wishing you success in your endeavours (Veiksmi darbos!), Apollo news editor Janis Krevics
To which I responded. My translation:

On Fri, 18 Nov 2011 +0200 "Eso" wrote:

Thank you, Mr. Krevics, for your response. Naturally, I do not know what you mean when you write “news not especially noteworthy”, because it is a subjective evaluation. It is generally accepted that all information that appears in public media is treated in the same routine fashion in order that there do not arise misunderstandings. Does a routine evaluation in fact show that Anda Rozukalne’s article is “news not especially noteworthy?” I will [therefore] continue to believe and say that the editors of Apollo treat their subjective judgements as objective in order to avoid the fact that censorship has occurred all the same. Have a nice evening.
The response from Mr. Krevics. My translation:
Hello once more! My explanation—all news cannot be highlighted—some are more essential, some less. Those (news) which are less essential, logically are replaced with newer news. If in your view the choice by the editor is censorship, it is your interpretation. In the name of the editors, I categorically deny your assumption that censorship has occurred. In any case, also your view is important to us! Thank you once more! Success! Janis Krevics
This morning, I looked for the article in Apollo’s Archives once more. It is there, and it was no longer blocked. However, the Letters column has been removed though it is custom to keep them attached with the article that they are in response to. Since the Letters contain my letter, I necessarily conclude that all editors of Apollo (Mr. Krevics speaks in their name) are engaged in censorship.
Former hospital in Aloja.
Original at Clone Village Notes, re http://clonevillagenotes.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spiderman appears as if out of nowhere.
November 17, 2111

Story of Orpheus here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheus  

The traditional version of the story of Orpheus has him fall in love with Eurydice, who is bitten by a serpent and dies. Orpheus descends to the Netherworld and is able to persuade the Gods to return her to him. The Gods agree on the condition that as Eurydice follows him back to the upper world, he will not once look back.

Just before exiting the Netherworld (in the very doorway between the two worlds), Orpheus forgets the condition and looks back. Eurydice vanishes for ever. My interpretation (among many no doubt) is that Orpheus’ descent is part of the act of mimesis.

No young lover’s dead partner is dead right off, but is living remainder, in this case, the musician Orpheus, continues forward on momentum, and the song of love he sings does not yet believe what has been witnessed. This is why the act of love, or being in love, and attachment continues on as imitation (as if real)—as mimesis—even though it is dead.

The trick of an act of mimesis is to do mimesis as if it is real, because if you imitate and do not “get into the skin” of the act, the act falls apart. One begins to doubt the reality of what one is doing and dies. If an actor or actress does not believe in the role they are playing, they do not make a good actor or actress.

In the days, when mimesis was yet more direct, egalitarianism (the mimesis of it) could not be expressed any other than tearing a piece of red cloth among twenty people in twenty pieces. The members of the team of Inca ball players who lost the game also lost their lives, something they know when they start the ball game.

This is another way of saying that if one does not get into the act and believes that Jesus has risen from the dead, one never rises for him- or  herself either. One  always remain unborn—at least for the Second time.

In Tennessee Williams play “Orpheus Descending”, an Italian immigrant who settles in the American South, buys a grape orchard and makes from the grapes wine. This identifies the Italian with Dionysus, the Greek God of merriment and sensual license. Dionysus gives the wine to a black man to drink, and he goes wild. When the people of the racist South hear of it, they burn the Italian’s house and vineyard. Dyonysus, dies in the fire.

Dyonysus is survived by his eighteen year old daughter, Lady, who for practical reasons is forced (bought) into a marriage with the leader of the arsonist gang, Jabe (?  Jove). The marriage to the murderer of her father, something Lady is not aware of, is predestined to end badly by the playwrights joice of circumstance. Years later, when elderly Jabe is dying from cancer, Lady is visited by a young musician looking for a job for a day or two. Val (? Valentino, Orpheus, Dyonysus) and Lady fall in love.

One reads into the love affair an attempt by Lady to recover something of what she has missed and has perhaps already lost for ever. However, the loss becomes irreversible, when the dying killer discovers the affair between Lady and Val and shoots his wife while she is in Val’s arms, but is not—strikingly—off with Va in a hurry to New Orleans.

Spiderman and his children.
In Williams’ version of the story of Orpheus, the musician, Orpheus, too is shot and dies. This because when all is said and done, he and Lady fail to believe in themselves and therefore fail to run with life and not hesitate about risks.

November 18, 2111

This is Independence Day of Latvia. Seeing that I live some 140 kilometers from Riga, I am as usual sitting at home. Since the road goes by my house some hundred yards away, I display my flag at home.

If the Latvians have anything that comes close to being called “violent foundation” day, this is it. It is certainly “legitimization” day.

Yet Latvians emerged from out of this birth a much divided people. They were so profoundly divided that the socialists went East, while the capitalists went West. The capitalists won the government and kept the socialists out, if not de jure, then certainly de facto. The Latvian government is to this day a right wing government. Socialists as if do not exist.

Yet the socialists got their share and more, when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union. The right wing government and all those oriented to its way of thinking (my family including) were brutally repressed.

After nearly half a century at the helm of the nation, preaching socialism as communism with as absolute a power as once the Bible was passed down from above to us mortals, the torch reverted back into the hands of the right wing. It has run with the torch (or call it flag) for twenty years and has run it into the ground.

Today the torch is out and the flag is muddied. Of course, only those who have eyes to see see it. For others it continues to be presented with rockets and with what Al Gore called “political gore”. The government always makes sure that it appears well sanitized and a new coat of paint. In reality, it is a government that is all knotted up in the stomach.

The reason is that the government lives on lies. Lies will gunk up the stomach as good as eating salmonella marinated fish.

So, Latvia has a right wing oriented government since its inception. Perhaps this is one reason why the one and only photograph of all those present at the act of the “foundational act of Latvia”, the To Be President of Latvia is not present.

All kinds of excuses have been written why Janis Chakste http://www.historia.lv/alfabets/C_/c_a/cakste_janis/cakste_janis.htm was not present at the inauguration. My godfather Mintauts Chakste http://nekropole.lv/lv/Mintauts-CAKSTE , the eldest of Chakste’s sons, never talked about it. Apparently it was a tabu subject in the extended family, too. Jānis Chakste, a successful lawyer, had missed out on the Inauguration Ceremonies on the 18th of November, 1918. No one wanted to know why.

I really do not pretend to know President Janis Chakste’s reasons for being absent, except not to be so naïve as to believe that if he had wanted to be there, he would not have been.

I also know that Latvian historians, politologues, politicians, writers of all kinds have all fudged this “legitimating” and “foundation” day of Latvia with as many strokes of crayons as a messy child paints a sheet of paper.

It is a shame that ninety-three years after the foundation of Latvia no one speaks of the possibility that one of the reasons why Jānis Chakste was not present at the 18th of November Founding Act was that it occurred under the Dom Mayor of the Allies, where German interests (in spite of the fact that Germany had lost the war) kept the tilt of the government to the right, and had the left excluded, unless as a decoration.

Another reason could have been because Jānis Chaste was a Jelgava  http://lv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelgava city loyalist and may have wanted the capital of Latvija to be in Jelgava not Riga, the latter which was still largely populated by Germans.

I believe that this non-event that gives the first President of Latvia a major, albeit silent, role and voice in the founding of Latvia, needs to be examined more thoroughly and that the official story is critically deconstructed. The deconstruction must be in the public eye.

I surely would like to know why my stomach knots up on the 18th of November, and as the day progresses becomes painful, and what comes to the fore of my mind are pictures of departing Latvians, a million of them, so says a folk wisdom accurate in every way but fact. Nonetheless the Latvian people know it.

On the way to the Spiderman's cabin.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leaving Latvia. Late afternoon. Late October.
November 14, 2111

I received an email from Agnese. It was unexpected. Usually we communicate through short messages on the mobile telephone. She writes that she has lost her credit card, which is why the email by computer.

I met Agnese seven years ago when she was twenty. She came to my apartment with two other young women, who I had met in my countryside neighborhood and tried—with little success--to persuade to go back and finish high school. I was just discovering the effects of poverty and alcoholism in the Latvian countryside and was determined to try helping at least some.

The poverty (by western urban middle class standards) was understandable. It did not shock or surprise me. I have always liked to know the ways of the so-called lower or underclass. I feel that there have been times in my life when I was there myself.

In Latvia there is much of what I call “subsistence poverty”, a kind of tradition left over among the Latvian kolhoznicks and subsequently from subsistence farming days.

In subsistence circumstances, the walls of the room may not see paint for decades and the bed seldom has bed sheets, but there is a blanket, wood for the stove, porridge with milk, a dog or a cat, and “krutka” (moonshine) for the father. After the children can walk, the mothers often look for odd seasonal jobs–like digging for potatoes—to supplement family income.

Though the Soviet government insisted that children go to school (there were truant officers), apparently the system did not care if rural children learned more than the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teachers favored and tended to pay attention mostly to the children of party officials. This is why the young of the majority of the people were “into” music, usually a band from Moscow imitating western rock.

Agnese, too, had missed out on her last three years of high school. She claimed that this was due to “a most difficult time” for her family. [Her sister had been sick with meningitis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meningitis ; her brother had fallen out a window and nearly broken his back; her father had turned to alcohol.] She also had a cosmetic problem with her teeth: one had grown over the top of two others and was slightly protruding from under her upper lip.

From the looks of it, Agnese had been trying to hide her cosmetic problem since a child. The facial muscles on the left side of her face had drawn that side of her face, especially her upper lip, slightly downward.

As I remember it, I suggested then and there that she return to school in return for my paying the dentist to fix her teeth. Agnese agreed. She became, so to speak, my Pygmalion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVmU3iANbgk , and I was about to find out what George Bernard Shaw’s play romantized in real life form.

Here is Agnese seven years later, writing to me from England, where for the last two years she has worked in a factory packing chicken legs for supermarkets. The letter (here edited and abbreviated) is sheer delight with, all the same, profound bathos and concerns on my part. Agnese writes:

"Greetings, dear one! I am presently babysitting three children, who are watching soaps. Yesterday, I lost my credit card, which is why I cannot call you on my mobile.

Here is what is happening with the new arrivals from Latvia.

[Explanation: About three weeks ago I drove the common in law wife of Agnese’s brother with her and his four children to the Riga airport, whence they took a flight via Ryanair to London. The adults and two of the children had been in England before, but had returned to Latvia. Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the unemployment picture here, the are salaries low, and public transportation is infrequent, which makes getting to a job and getting back is a great problem. They therefore scrounged up the money and—even in the midst of Europe in financial and economic chaos—flew back to England.]

My brother’s wife will begin to work in our factory. My father will fly in from Latvia to baby-sit the children. They have found a place to stay at a boarding house. Fortunately, they do not have to share the toilet.

The good news for me is that I will again be back in my own room, where I will be able to better rest and do what I have to do. School is in the first place; drawing in second; and quiet and relative freedom is third. The baby does not stay quiet, but kicks about in my stomach even at night. I suspect that he (?) will be like me, who could never sit still, and had to be in motion at all times. As you know, I could never stay in one place longer than two days.

I realize that this was not easy for you, but perhaps it was interesting, because you never knew what came to my head and what I will do next. Now I am experiencing the same thing: I never know what the baby will do, what he is thinking of, and whether his kicking is because he is unhappy or perhaps because he is happy. I am no longer alone, and I have to think for two. I hope you understand that I did not listen to some of your advice, because I did not understand myself. Somehow, I believed that I knew better than you.

I am anxiously waiting for the birth of my baby, because then I will be able to return home and to paradise. The reality here is depressing: there are no birds, no ladybugs, nor the rest of nature. It has all died here. The people here think of the countryside as a nightmare. However, I know better, because the countryside made my life happier and I could fantasize freely. I realize that I am writing as if I have become a philosopher. Excuse me for that.

Doors open. Flaps up. One short hop to RIX and on to London.
Give my love to Shokolad [my (our) cat]. Give her a few strokes of love from me. Love, Agnese."

November 16, 2111

Volodya came by this morning and told me that Sergey had his trial yesterday. Apparently he had refused a lawyer and was going to defend himself. No one knows what the outcome is or whether the trial is still on.

Sergey had come by to visit me just a week ago. He brought me as a present two fresh pickerel. As it happened, I was taking a bath at the time, and he had no time to wait. I did not know at the time that he was awaiting a trial.

When I went to clean the pickerel, I discovered that one was still breathing. Its gills were moving ever so slightly. So, I cleaned only the fish that was already dead.

I put the live one in a bucket of water and drove down to the brook and released it there. One can call me superstitious, but somewhere at the back of my head there is a memory of a story that if one was merciful to wildlife, it would someday return the mercy. This is why I hope that the pickerel has survived and is swimming down the brook toward the lake.

I surely need many mercies. One particularly feels such a need when one is getting old and, therefore, increasingly finds himself alone.

Sergey is an interesting man. His mother is from the Ukraine. She came to Latvia during the Soviet times. She married here a Latvian, who had a daughter by previous marriage. When Tatyana bore a son, the children grew up together and eventually they married each other. They now have two children.

I met Sergey years ago, when he came and offered to sell me a pike. He was supplementing his income (for all I know it was his only income) poaching fish from a nearby lake.

I got to know the man and got to like him, because he was a doer. He kept active. He was determined not to go under and to survive the challenges of “shock” capitalism. In another day, he would have been called “a black marketer”. At the same time, Sergey used to warn me that the local people were cheats, thieves, and liars, and for me not to be so trusting as I apparently was letting on.

Sergey liked motorbikes. The biker who sometimes sped past my slow moving car at what seemed some fantastic speed was him. Later, he would tell me that the biker had been him. I told him that I was impressed, however, “be careful”.

One day, as Sergey was passing some slow moving traffic, he was not so lucky, and to avoid hitting an oncoming car, he had to aim for the ditch. He said he was at the time traveling 200 km an hour.

Sergey survived the accident, but with a ruptured spleen, and other injuries. Because he had no money to pay the doctors, they—so he told me later—were going to let him die. He told me that his lung was filling up with water (perhaps it had been punctured), when he called and asked me to help. I gave him a substantial amount, and his treatment at the hospital improved immediately.

In subsequent years, Sergey went through a training course for guards and became a supervisor of guards at a department store. He was licensed to carry arms, as a result of which (I infer), he started collecting stray munitions. Someone reported him, and the police came to search. They found, so I hear, two pneumatic pistols and some twenty live bullets at his apartment. Of course, I am not sure how accurate all this is.

Kristofers, Laura, Emils, Ance, and mother at the RIX.
 Anyhow, that is what yesterday’s trial was all about. My neighbor says that the maximum sentence Sergey faces is ten years. I hope that that does not happen. The Latvian courts have a tendency to mete out brutally long prison sentences, one’s that are certain to ruin a man’s life. I am not sure how well his wife can pull through, though she also has a license to be a guard, and I have frequently seen her at the store.

Tonight I have two tickets to the Valmiera theatre. They are performing Tennessee Williams play “Orpheus Descending”. I am sure it will be a very surreal experience. I believe that the last time that I saw this play was at the Provincetown theatre or perhaps it was Boston—I have no idea how many years ago now, perhaps fifty. The Latvian title translates as “Orpheus Underground” (Orfejs pazeme).