Leons Briedis
Dumitru Ungureanu

 
sus

Leons Briedis

 

 

The Contemporaneity of Folklore

 

I would like to speak about the phenomen on that the Russian literary scholar A. Veselovsky already at the last century refered to as: the modernism more modern than Modernism itself, by which he meant the Latvian folksong, which we also call „the daina”. This word come into the language from Lithuanian folklore – daina, there are also echoes of Romanian word „doina”. Essentially it is of Illyrian origine, thus bearing witness to Indoeuropen roots.

What is the Latvian folksong, the „daina”. In basic terms, it is non-rhyming, four lines in length. It can be further divided logically into two parts, rhytmically each line consists of two dipodes, each dipode of two feet.

Aiz a / vota // saule / léca,
Zelta / starus // kaisî / dama;
Grütdie //nîßa // asa / riñas
Krît /   Dievam //  klépî / tî.

Translating literary:

Behind the spring the sun rose,
Scattering (spreadind) golden rays.
The tears of an orphan
Fall into the lap of God.

Usually these songs are trochaic in meter, although dactyl also occurs. In the preceding discussion I wanted to give you an idea of the structure of the Latvian folksong. The first two lines sketch in, one might say, one „lyrical situation”, the next - a different „lyrical situation”. In the end we obtain an ideal form of a circle or a cross.

Aiz a / vota // saule / léca,
Zelta / starus // kaisî  / dama;
Grütdie / nîßa // asa / riñas
 Krît / Dievam // klépî /tî.

It’s hard to find, in the folklore of the world’s peoples analogs to the Latvian folksong. It is hardly a Russian chastushka, a Spanish copla, a Portuguese quadra, or Japanese haiku. The only other form I would venture to compare it would be Indonesian pantun. Of course, only in terms of typology, although noone in Latvian has really studied the similarities. Twenty years ago, when I was studying in Moscow, I become interested in the surprising relation between Latvian „dainas” and the Indonesian „pantun”, not only in structure, but also in a certain way of thinking, really mythological, and in poetical means of expression. I even started to study Malasian and its related languages Indonesian, Tagal, Malgs etc. but I won’t burden you with my hypotheses at this point in time.

Let’s return to the folksong I read to you. It’s not hard to feel its determinate quality, the level of generalization. It’s like a peculiar „lyrical theorum”, expressed in elliptical language, concentrated and laconical. It’s hard to talk about a plot, maybe one could say „lot” like situation, which one can glimpse, but, I think, somehow „behind the picture”. Or better, one can „glimpse” only half of metaphor – the half lying on the ground – „the golden rays of the sun”. The other half „the orphan’s tears falling into God’s lap”, brings us into metaphysical, mystical space. Of course, this exemple wasn’t selected at random, so that these thoughts can’t be absolutized and applied to any folksong, but at the same time we are talking about a characteristic and essential facet of the Latvian folksong. It shows a special kind of lyrisism, in essence based on metaphor, where the inspiration (in this exemple the bitter feelings of an orphan) is made to flow into the concept (the urge to express an existencial truth about, say, the order of  the world).

In short, a special metaphysical lyricism is characteristic of the daina. One could say that with the most modern poetic means it expresses the most archaic conceptions of human inner life and world. Perhaps for this reason the Latvian folksong has so intensely influenced Latvian poetry in general, in the past and it seems in the future as well. In the Latvian folksong we can see the rudiments of the poetic elements a wide variety of 20’th century modernist currents - symbolism, expressionism, futurism, even dadaism, and more. If you remember, the Russian futurist V. Hlebnikov talked about „mytical realism”, his desire to be more traditional than tradition itself, about his wish to renew his link to the very fundaments of the Russian language, to its primary elements. Yet this return to tradition, to be more traditional than tradition, is by no means a movest backward. The return of the human beeing and humanity to itself, to its original nature - this is sooner moving forward, while many modernist experiments could be called mulling around on the spot or even in a dead end. Therefore (and Hlebnikov emphasized this) thouse poets that realize this, also realize that the true birth of creativity is the future.

In the end a most fundamental maxim, I think, is T. S. Eliot’s understanding, that neither culture nor poetry can develop outside tradition. Modernism too didn’t come about „ab ovo” (from the egg, Leda’s egg from which beautiful Helen is said to have come). Each person, each nation with its poetry contains a condensed history, in other words a tradition, a complex network of cultural manifestations which holds all our existence and consciensness. So what then is national literature? One could say it’s the sum total of the creative drives of a given nation, unified in the national tradition. Not forgotting of course, that the real writer is he who with his creative product helps to create the national mentality, to wider and deepen its conceptions, rather than given in the dictats of fixed national conceptions.The world of culture is a structuring human activity, along with this offers people the freedom to determine their place and role in a given situation. So „to hand down” through tradition means to give freedom, as Heidegger put it. T. S. Eliot clasified poets into developers of the means of expression and creators. „When I speak of creation”, he wrote in the introduction to a work by Ezra Paund, „I put this word in gustes, since if creation was possible, it would be harmless. But «creation» is subject to mistakes, since it is impossible. The determinity poetry in poetry - to distinguish progress from anomalies. There are two sorts of anomalies in poetry. The first is the imitation of progress, the second something unnatural. /../ Real originality is progress,when it’s real, it seems so necessary that even deny the authors originality”.

The Latvian folksong in this sense is a unique, about which one could talk long and in depth - in the linguistic sense - about its special syntax, morphology, lexicon, stylistic and in the sense of its world-view. It’s really a unique source of our, Latvian, poetic inspiration, therefore we could speak about Latvian folksong a permanent contemporaneity. 

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Dumitru Ungureanu  

 

 

Colțul colecționarului cusurgiu 

Avionul

 

dumitru ungureanu - avionulNu mai eram chiar un copil care se joacă inocent cu jucăriile când am primit avionul de plastic din imaginea alăturată. Ce-l determinase pe Taica, un gospodar nu zgârcit, ci econom, cum zicea chiar el despre sine, să cheltuiască 5,60 lei/buc (prețul e înscris pe coadă) pentru un obiect care nu prezenta garanție că va sta mult în proprietatea mea? Îmi bântuie prin minte bănuiala despre ce anume era la mijloc: dragostea față de mine, un sentiment pe care nu știa să și-l exprime altfel decât cu duioșie, prin intermediul arhaicului baston faimos, fabricație personală din lemn de corn. Mă bufnește râsul, amintindu-mi de câte ori m-am împiedicat în bățul cu pricina, nu știu când și cum ajuns între tibiile mele aflate în mișcare de fugă sănătoasă. De ce fugeam? Dar cum să nu fug mâncând pământul, când știam că făcusem - din punct de vedere al adulților - ditamai boroboața?! Naiba știe cum se țineau scai de mine, eu nu voiam deloc - dar deloc, deloc! - să le comit!...

Exigent supervizor al creșterii mele, mai degrabă exeget al vieții rurale decât actant al acesteia, Taica va fi observat, pesemne, pasiunea cu care vărul Ment și cu mine construiam avioane din scânduri de brad atent cioplite, cu motoare din cutii de chibrituri și roți din mosor tăiat în două, cu elice de tablă și ax din cuie parțial ruginite. Am transfigurat cândva joaca noastră într-o proză (de citit aici), cu care am și debutat literar. Cum „avioanele” noastre se ridicau abia la înălțimea de-o palmă sau două, circa patru-cinci metri distanță, vijelios trase cu sfoara pe cea mai netedă porțiune a drumului comunal, arbitrar pietruit, satisfacția producerii și deținerii diverselor „aparate zburătoare” era perfect nulă. Nu mi-am închipuit că Taica asista, de la distanță, la frustrările mele sincopate. Vărul Ment, mai prozaic, nu-și exprima niciodată nemulțumirea că nu-i iese ceva, fiindcă n-avea timp de lamentații: cum eșua într-o treabă, se apuca imediat de alta. Invențiile și inovațiile (arhicunoscutele menterii) curgeau din mâinile sale ca din atelierele lui Edison (americanul, nu tatăl vărului, nea Gogu, poreclit Edison).

Suferind, ca bătrânii, de reumatism, la sfatul competentului său nepot Costică, felcer de oameni, rezident în Sibiu pe-atunci, Taica s-a îndurat greu să plece la băi în stațiunea Techirghiol. Singur, Maica nu l-a însoțit, că nu-și vedea capul de treabă. Era vara lui 1963, pământurile fuseseră luate, nu date la GAC, tata câștiga destui bani ca să ne ajungă, dacă i-ar fi chibzuit mai bine și n-ar fi băut zilnic o parte din ei, pătulul gemea încă de porumb și magazia de grâu, viața părea frumoasă. Taica n-a găsit prea mare prețul sus-pomenit pentru jucăria destinată să ajungă primul meu „obiect de colecție”. Mai am sub ochi lumina rece a zilei de septembrie când, așezat pe scaun, la masă, dinaintea ferestrei din odaia ce slujea drept dormitor, sufragerie și cameră de toată ziua, impunătorul bărbat cu burta cât damigeana în care ținea țuica de zarzăre, a despachetat cadoul și mi l-a întins, cu sfatul normal, economic strecurat printre dinții galbeni de tutun: „Să nu-l rătăcești!”

Nu l-am rătăcit mai bine de jumătate de secol, fiindcă praștia lansatoare s-a rupt de mult, iar alta n-am confecționat. Și am bănuiala că nici internetul, renumit împrăștior, nu-l va pierde... 

  

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