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Eestikeelsed artiklid




Marco Casagrande

Sukhdev Kaur

Eve Apro
Ina Stockem

Kanako Sasaki

Harry Pye

Mehis heinsaar

Lauri Sommer

Andri Luup

Nato Lumi

Marco Casagrande


Fleeting, Familiar

In the thousands of signs of change we witness the passing of life, indicating that it is fleeting, fragile, easily deteriorating. Would it be possible to find something important, beautiful and lasting in this impermanence?

Those thoughts in a corner of the soul bring sadness and get people going. Everyone alive wants to get the most and the best possible for oneself. It doesn’t matter whether it means riches, fame, good sex, a feeling of security, great kids, travel, spiritual pleasure, deep thought, or something else. But greed is an attitude that tarnishes the world and makes it narrower. This also goes for spiritual matters – productive expansion and seizing of power won’t take you deeper. With a few words, with a detail noticed in a moment of clarity, with a sensitive stroke or minimalistic piece of music, one can often convey more than what it seems to contain: the secret of life, the unrationalized whole. Transience and understanding are selfless, a big ego doesn’t fit there. A miniature needs a little time, space, and material, but a lot of concentration, settling down, and focused experience. “All-in-one” beautifully expresses itself to us in „kernels”, case endings, and proverbs, which often have their own specific rhythm: “Long story – shitty story”, “An empty bag doesn’t stand up”, etc.
When looking into the distance, the ephemeral appears especially multi-faceted in the Japanese pearls of traditional old verse, tanka and haiku culture. In its ideal, it is a school of clear and surprising perception, exactness and connection, but the compulsory “haiku-making” in literature classes and amateurs’ efforts have flattened it into postcard-like seasonal pictures. Try to write one. Most of the time you start to either fool around with language and thought, or arranging syllables and counting them into some self-evident picture. It’s easy to create a small unimportant thing and carry out pointless activities. Few achieve a catchy conciseness. It’s the same with most people, the masses, whom the state moves here and there and counts as units. Their talk circles around showing off, negativity, and speculation. They don’t achieve the essential, there’s too many smudges of the mind, gibberish, desires, ambitions, and qualms.
It’s the same with countries. Japan is far/Estonia is even farther/the winds say, stated Juhan Viiding. In light of the current enthusiasm for travel and touristy hunts for the exotic, we have forgotten the beauty of our own country and most of those countrymen, whom the media doesn’t consider. We have indifferent, mediated, pragmatic role relationships with our close ones; we are missing their most intimate content. The language we speak in is a mixture of newspapers, internet chat rooms, and lame TV shows, and with the words of a sleeping mind it is impossible to think clearly. In order to find oneself and survive, one needs to look deeper. Who reaches within themselves, in other like-minded people, places and cultures, stops the world for a moment and sees it more completely and clearly. Take a look at the photos of Fred Jüssi and Ingmar Muusikus – there are endless nuances in Estonian nature. Those from far away are amazed at all that is still here, but we don’t know how to pay attention to it, we don’t feel like going to look, we inertly use the view of other’s eyes. Observational rituals in Japanese culture, like the observation of cherry blossoms, floating lanterns, the distance and other things, develop a person’s fundamental essence. They have learned to capture the message of detail. What we notice outside becomes visible inside, becomes a part of us – the connection is fluid. Many of today’s things in Japan, take the ambience of Chihei Hatakeyama, for instance, are built of the same elegance. The genes of the samurais, priests, poets and geishas live on.
If we knew how to think, we would discover a wide and unique range of possibilities available in Estonia. And they can be put into words brilliantly. There is a complete and conscious high-style semi-hidden in our language, old proverbs, runic verses, dialects and chronicles, the essence of which can be compared to the works of Heian’s court or Bash?’s contemporary achievements. We have expressed it differently, more in the way of common people. On the one hand, we didn’t have a medieval writing culture and the most important things were carried on as songs, narratives and spells. On the other hand, the difference comes from the grand total of the environment, the seasonal cycles, change of light, and psychology of language among other things. Before the war-mongering and domineering Middle Ages, we may have been more similar – in the pagan beliefs of Ainu and ancient Estonians one can find similar attitudes. In Estonian sayings there has always been a rounded succinctness from the minor half-trochee of runic verses to Enno’s meditative, mantra-like repetitions oozing off into infinity, to Juhan Liiv’s sparse, crisp pictures of nature, which surpassed the rejoicing shallowness of his time and could have been those of a Buddhist pilgrim. Those notes from the road are an account of spiritual growth, a trial of openness – “A long road inwards” like one of Bash?’s diaries is translated. It is natural then, that our most outstanding poets have been vagabonds, at least since Kristjan Jaak Peterson. A wanderer must be ready to meet with the new, there must be room in himself to seize its being, the essence, which at times is light like air, sometimes funny, alluring or obscure, at times pressing itself into the mind like a burning iron. In the landscape, the Japanese poet perceived the visible and dense network of nuances, traces of the dreams of ancestors, which allowed him to understand the world in a fresh way and which he often developed further in motifs. The more alert the wanderer is, the more layers there are. Knowledge of history doesn’t hinder, instead it adds to a natural feeling of beauty and brings things intellectually closer – it nourishes the wholeness of perception. The same applies to the forgotten corners of our land, the forests, bogs, springs, hills, shores, and country roads. A part of the living Estonian culture and our unique connection to the world’s intellectual heritage still lingers in those empty places, in silence, in the flowing thoughts of departure, in the people met on the road, whom we greet differently on the lonely path than the bustling city street, in discoveries and details, which present themselves at the right moment. All you have to do is go, and the hamster wheel of the everyday, our scurrying and struggling starts to feel like an illusion. In the end, that is all. Then we can find ourselves, and short forms will find us – each in their own shape.

Lauri Sommer

Lauri Sommer (1973) is a musician and writer. He lives in Tartu and the village of Räestu. You can take a look at his article “Richard Gary Brautigan. Bogus America’s Warped Mirror“ (Epifanio 5/2006) and also his website www.ounaviks.ee/kago


Jukka Käärman, Liis Keerberg, Lauri Sommer, Mehis Heinsaar, Goose, Dog, Martiini.
Photo: Martiini