Sunday, December 26, 2010

Full or partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatviansOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum – The 4th Awakening. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author,, or

I suggest you look at the links imbedded in these blogs or at the end of the blog as an integral part of my argument.
The 4th Awakening

24 The Proto-Latvian Meme

Before we revisit the Sun Goddess in The Story of Crazy Jane and Clever John, we must come back to the issue of the word “payan” or belittled John, which I argue is the proper meaning of “pagan”. “Payan”/ pagan hardly stands for the happy agnostic, but is an elitist putdown of the Son of the Sun.

If one was to seek in the short history of Latvia (1918 to the present) the previous two hundred years, one would discover that the entire period between the Great Northern War (1700-1720) until about 1860 is largely erased from popular memory. This is not so much because it is a period of no events, but because the proto-Latvians were rushed into becoming Latvians, then were traumatized by world events. Subsequently, a puritanical brood put the numerous episodes of violence in the forefront of public attention (similar to the way Israel sets up the holocaust) and erased their forebears from their memory by keeping silence about them.

An example of the process of excluding the past is presented by a brief overview of Latvian history for high school students by teacher Vita Krieviņa, “Latvijas vēsture” (Latvian history), published by Zvaigzne ABC. Krieviņa writes (p. 52, my translation): “Possibly national identity was contributed to by the Herrnhuters in the middle of the 18th century.” About the Herrnhuters themselves we have barely half a page (pgs. 75-76) of presumably depoliticized information: “The Brethren movement facilitated the spiritual awakening of the peasants, especially in the region of Vidzeme in the middle of the 19th century, but as researchers point out, wherever one found the Herrnhuters, the traditions of folklore and paganism died out.”

While historian Kaspars Kļaviņš (translate) identifies the Herrnhuters with a puritanical movement (in one sense I agree, but in many other ways I disagree) in his thought provoking book (in Latvian) “apSTĀVĒŠANA”, Mansards, 2009, (apStāvēt = to fix, to translate, to popularize while there is yet time) the professor does great service by pointing out that “…the situation [of Latvians] is further complicated by our problem of identity, finding ourselves in the midst of old myths and stereotypes, to put it simply, our lack of [?self] knowledge.” I recommend the book not because I always agree with the author (he too believes that neo-Christianity is an original rather than a post-arch-Christian movement), but because it is critically important to blow away the cobwebs of secular clericism that appears to have immobilized the ability of Latvians to think for themselves. I cite from a summary of Kļaviņš book on the back cover of the book: “The historians of Western Europe, when they discuss the question of European ethnicities, use the map of Aeruatlas*. There among places of honour one will find Jersika of the 12th and 13th centuries.” It is true that the media occasionally present titbits of archaeological news about Jersika, but when it comes to analyzing the times and then prevalent secular and/or religious views there is a blackout. We are faced by a wall of dogmatic presumptions, which by being what they are deny other considerations to entertain other interpretations of history.

The perspectives above (not to mention my own) perhaps support my arguments that the subject of history, while it is a profoundly political matter, in its present state condemns Latvians to psychic confusion, in effect, loss of identity. By focusing exclusively on the period of the last one hundred years, the Latvian leaders have lost for the Latvian people their history. It is not unusual to find Latvians roaming the world referencing Latvia in their minds eye with little more than a point on the map and a vague “I was born there”. In fact, the names of Latvia, or Estonia, Lithuania, Prussia, Livonia ought to bring up many associations and charismatic (live in the mind’s eye) historic experiences to any European, Latvians including.

As I have suggested in earlier blogs, I am attempting to link Jersika (destroyed 1209, last heard of about 1214) and the Children of Johns with the Herrnhuters and find the linkage legitimate. It is not a matter of making neat fits, but looking for continuities. If such continuities do not exist, as the present government of Latvia appears to believe, then we are indeed in the process of succumbing to another occupation.

I first suspected a psychic continuity, a yet unextinguished mind meme, in the inner clash that resulted from my experience as a young boy on a Latvian farm in the Ergļi-Madona region coming in contact later in life with the Latvian state-school apparatus, which continued to exist in Displaced Persons camps in post-war Germany.

The trauma of atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet and Reich governments and the need and will to remain a community influenced and justified the refugees from Latvia in their Puritanism. On the other hand, the Puritanism, pretty much become a lockdown of most critical thought processes, has to this day not been challenged and questioned.

Is perhaps the Puritanism of the Herrnhuters related to the Latvians abroad after World War 2, and are both puritanisms in one way or another linked to Jersika? It is worth a consideration, a look see.

There is an obvious mismatch of memes in the public media and the memes found buried within individuals, the former brought to us by Latvia’s repressed public media, the latter brought by the mother tongue of Latvians. Even before we examine the Latvian meme, we ought to be aware that the authoritarianism of Displaced Persons camps, post-neo-Christendom, folkloric fetishism, and the like are the consequences of times of extreme anxiety, while pietism is of a stable community and one that pre-existed the multiple traumas.

Assuming that Latvians emerged from a pre-existing “stable community”, that is where we also ought to look for the true mind meme that connects all Latvians. One of the most fundamental memes for Latvians is to be sought in the word of endearment in the Latvian language. Why? Because an endearment is such a noteworthy “extract” of pietism. If so, why is it in hiding?

The reason the pietist meme is hidden is because it is in danger. And the reason the Latvian language is in danger is because its pietist elixir is a “weak power”; it is a force like gravity; one is so used to it that one no longer feels it except when one goes to jump. However, the modern consumer way of life is not a movement that “jumps”. Instead, it floats like a dead fish of habit in the canal that divides “Old” Riga from the “new” Monument to Freedom (Brīvības piemineklis) and its massive relief of Bear Destroyer (Lāčplēsis) in place of John, the teacher and priest (krīvs), who stood at the altar of the “Līgo” flag of 1873. The incessant bombardment of brain and eye by commercial advertisements turns the public into a passive entity with regard to everything but consumption. Indeed, it is noticeable how the Latvian public—which is a theatre loving public ever since it participated in the Johns Eve rituals (which is a theatre of sorts)—continues to call actors to the stage three times even when the performance has been painfully dull and boring.

This is where we reconnect to contemporary politics and political events. This is where we come nose to nose with the Latvian government. Like Clever John in my rewrite of an old Latvian folk story, it pretends charisma when in fact it has none.

The Story of Crazy Jane and Clever John, Part 2 as retold by
© Eso Anton Benjamins (…story begins at blog 15)

Evidently Clever John blinked once more. Though the black ocean of black tar was still before him, this time he saw on the opposite end of the horizon the Sun. She was majestic, a bramble of sunbursts.

“Hello, Clever John,” said the Sun, “how are you my son?”

“I am fine, mam,” replied John. Suddenly he was shy. The total moment of black had intimidated him. “I am happy to see you, mam.”

“That is good,” said the Sun, “here son, here is something to keep you warm in your travels.” The Sun waved her left hand and all the black tar turned to green grass and a field of flowers and forests. Then She waved her right hand and put over the shoulders of Clever John a vest made of the finest bear fur.

“I see that it fits you fine, Clever John,” said the Sun. “You are my son, is that right?”

“Yes, mam,” said Clever John, “there is no other.”

“I may want you to prove it to me one day, Clever John,” said the Sun.

(To be continued.)

Asterisks & Links of Interest

* I am not at this time able to discover the map used on the backcover of said book.

Unchanged Feature: The Witches of Ghana in Gambaga
Could we have the word and name of Ghana pronounced as Yana? If so, we could then call the withches Yanas (Janas, Zhenas) of Yana (Jana, Zhena).

Unchanged Feature: What is reality, what is myth?

Changing Feature: In the preceding posts, I started a compilation of a series of video clips, which when seen as a linear sequence tell a story in a telling context. This is a continuous story. If it began in the past, now it is moving parallel to the day we live. Note what is happening around you. Put this clip as a tail to your blog so others may see. The origin of this post is at  This is the 10th video of a series.

No comments:

Post a Comment