Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 A Latvian Latvia? Par Latvisku Latviju. For Whom?

In defining “mimesis”, Professor Taussig (mentioned in blogs 1&2) writes: “Mimesis plays this trick of dancing between the very same and the very different. An impossible but necessary, indeed an everyday affair, mimesis, registers both sameness and difference, of being like, and of being Other.”

For a conventional dictionary definition of “mimesis”, click this link:

There is another Other to mimesis, re: alterity. Taussig defines alterity in the context of speaking of the Cuna, an Indian tribe that lives in Panama. Writes Taussing: “The available histories of the Cuna shed strange light on the logic of this process, for by remaining resolutely ‘themselves,’ resolutely alter vis a vis old Europe as well as—note clearly—its black slaves, the Cuna have been able to ‘stay the same’ in a world of foreceful change.”

If we return to the subject of Latvia being and remaining a Latvian Latvia, then it is rather clear that the Latvians of today are not alterities to their forebears. The Latvian Latvia is a conglomerate of acculturations of Latvians, re Latvian Latvians, Latvian Soviets, Latvian Germans, Latvian Americans, Latvian Australians, Latvian Canadians, soon to come Latvian Irish, etc. At best, these acculturated Latvians “play this trick of dancing between the very same and very different….” There are no alternate Latvians of their forebears.

The alternate Latvian was in the process of creation or recreation from about the time of the Poet Rainis and many others, through the years of the (dictator?) Ulmanis regime, on until the occupation of Latvia in 1940 by the Soviets. As I have argued, the Ulmanis government was liked by most Latvians, because it allowed for the coexistence of a subsistence economy along with the development of a middle class. The latter proved itself being in the process of creating an alternate Latvian identity, in my opinion, through the tremendous amount of energy in schooling Latvian young in the refugee camps in the various occupation zones in post-war Germany. Unfortunately, this passing on of a Latvian alterity was interrupted by the necessity to move on and normalize the “refugee” status by adapting to the various cultural environments (largely liberal capitalist) of post-WW2 world.

With the end of WW2, the process of Latvians creating of and for themselves an alternate culture ceased in the West and in the East. In the West, an outstanding example of an attempt to create an alternate Latvian, was provided by the post-Soviet Latvian President Vaira V. Freiberga and her husband, when they collected and classified all the Latvian folk-poems (tautas dziesmas), which had come down to our time from the days when the Latvian God was a Goddess, Saule, the Sun. Unfortunately, by this time, the Romanizing tendencies in the congregations of Latvian exile churches, had made any actual resurrection of an alternate Latvian culture impossible. My personal criticism of VVF presidency is that courage failed her, and she did not take the opportunity to change the words of the Latvian anthem from “Dievs svētī Latviju” (God, bless Latvia) to “Saulīt svētī Latviju” (Dear Sun, bless Latvia).

Such a change in the Latvian anthem would have made possible a revival of the evolution of alter Latvians, instead of leaving the post-Soviet space filled with acculturated Latvians. Of course, one may argue, whether Latvians would have picked up the challenge and sung: “Saulīt, svētī….” Whether yes or no, at least Latvians would have given the matter a thought. This is not happening now, especially not with when a Latvian Latvia has political leadership/government that to cite a woman on a television program (Sastrēgumstunda) yesterday evening claimed with obvious presumption that “We are after all a European nation”.

Such assertions are but continuations of the Crusades begun by the West against the East, known by historians as “the Great Schism”, which forced much of the priests of the East, the proto-Christians, the Johns, the Ivans, the Johanns, the Johns, the Dions, etc. to remove themselves from walking the pathways of Europe East to a ‘resurrection’ where they were to sit on their hands in a world beyond the clouds. Zhena, a feminization of the name John, once known to Latvians as the Daughter of the Sun, too, was diminished. Nothing of Zhenas remains in Latvian Latvia, though in the Russian language, they have come to stand for the name of ‘girl’, re ‘zhenchina’. Of the Latvian alternate, all that remains is ‘Jancīga’, when talking about a girl or woman with uppidy airs about her.

Today is Winter Solstice. May the Dear Sun (Saulīte) shine on Latvia!

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