Thursday, January 20, 2011

The following blogspots center on a variety of subjects, which I have initiated. You are invited to look and respond. Not-Violence main subject Temple of Janis (John) site Arguments for systems change Sacrificial crisis in Latvia

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
35 A Raven Preparing Dinner (3)
© Eso Anton Benjamins

To the extent that the above mentioned “necessary evils” still trouble the Latvians, to the same extent these have to be pushed back by being able to overcome aggressive ethnicism; re-committing the environment of Latvia to green as well as to the democracy of a people who knew how to practice it when living in a forested environment; and re-turning to the Johns Festival its significance as sacred time and space by lifting all restrictions save other directed violence on human intercourse. The length of the festival, too, needs to be stretched beyond its present limit of one eve and a day.

If I read Rene Girard right, the proto-Latvians of the 17th  century (probably going back to the post-1209 period) were in a state of mind he declares to be that of a time of “sacrificial crisis”. I do not mean to deny the possibility that proto-Latvians of several hundred years earlier might not have turned to live sacrifices. Whether the sacrifices would have been of animals and perhaps also human, I do not know. The sacrifices of domesticated birds (black rooster, for example) are part of the Latvian folk myth. And Latvians have not to this day forgotten the words “Boar funeral” (“Cūku bēres”, given special attention by the Latvian painter Boriss Berzins). It is not that many decades ago when the butcher of pigs, probably a neighbor, stayed after the butchering to join in a drink while waiting for the pig’s (preferably wild boar fed on oak acorns and truffles) liver to be cooked.

The alternative to making a blood sacrifice according to Girard is a kind of “antifestival”. Writes the Professor: “The rites of sacrificial expulsion [I read also ‘slaughter’]* are not preceded by a period of frenzied anarchy [Jahnis Eve Festival], but by an extreme austerity and an increased rigor in the observance of all inderdicts [such as Lent]. Extraordinary precautions are taken to prevent the community from falling pray once again to reciprocal violence.”**

Girard’s emphasis on prevention of community dissolution through the intercession of acts and rituals that resolve “sacrificial crisis” is of great importance. It is this blogger’s opinion that the manifestation of Tourett’s syndrome as a form of verbal expression among Latvians may be seen as an indicator of potential for overt intra-communal violence. The rigorous, even “quixotic masochism” of our age, which as Girard observes is “the result of a long immunity to the violence that threatens primitive societies…” [Latvians being among the masochists] is welcoming of Puritanism and fundamentalism implicit in pietism. The alternative, and there are signs of it having stepped on to the stage, is entirely unpredictable and may indeed be starting its entrance by playing its trumps—overt war and overt riots.

What proto-Latvians paid to try helping the survival of their subjective self approximated the experiences of many other lay people in the West, America especially. I am thinking of the Shakers and Quakers and Latter Day Saints, and of the many self-generating churches among the black people in the Americas. For the Latvians the way led through the puritanical straight jacket of the Lutheran and Catholic churches, and on to a puritanical, a.k.a. ethnic nationalist (I call its present stage “zionationalist”) stance. This presumption finds it expedient to allow the Children of Johns to be forgotten in favor of neo-capitalism and think nothing of Latvians being called “pagans” in order to promote secularism as a religion.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with the public remembering the past through a festival immortalized as a “Midsummer Picnic”; or is there?

The Story of Crazy Jane and Clever John, Part 3
(…story begins at blog 15),

Crazy Jane continued: “To fly you to the heap gold, the raven will have to fly high, far, and over the sea. You just lie low between her wings and hang on to her feathers.”

“It sounds like a great adventure,” said Clever John.

Crazy Jane however was all business and no banter. She continued: “The first question the raven will ask you is to tell her how large the sea is. And you answer her: ‘As large as a large lake.’”

“The second question the raven asks you will be the same as the first one: ‘How large is the sea?” to which you this time say: ‘As large as a mud puddle.’”

“I am glad that I am not afraid of heights,” said Clever John.

“The third question the raven will ask you,” said Clever Jane, “will be the same as the two preceding ones: ‘How large is the sea?’ To which you answer: ‘As large as a dead horse’s eye’. Is that clear?”

Clever John barely had time to nod that he understood, when Crazy Jane disappeared from his sight. Clever John did not know what to expect next. However, it was not long before he found himself standing before the raven. It came into his eye-sight just as Crazy Jane had done before.

The raven had seen Clever John first and cawed: “Kraw, kraw, Clever John, how are you! Did you ask the Sun when it is that I can leave?”

“You can go almost right away,” answered Clever John, “just let me burry your meal. Then you can take me to the heap of gold.”

“Who told you about the gold?” asked the raven.

“Crazy Jane,” answered Clever John, “she said you knew where to find it, somewhere by the sea, I think she said.”

“That is right, Clever John,” answered the raven. “But you come and first bury my meal. It was Crazy Jane’s son by the way—if you want to know the truth.”

“I thought it was the King’s son,” said Clever John, remembering how he had not yet gone far from the king’s castle where this very raven was yet bound to the pine tree.

“You are close, but not quite on the mark,” answered the raven. “It was the Devil’s and Crazy Jane’s.”

“Good, God John,” exclaimed Clever John, “I thought that the Devil was Crazy Jane’s father.”

“The Devil is father of many daughters and sleeps with all of them,” informed the raven. “Besides, he lives for ever and has a very long story. This is only one of them that I know of. As you see, it has even been my meal.”

(To be continued.)

Asterisks & Links of Interest

* text between [ ] is not part of quote.
** Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred (p.120,121), John Hopkins University Press.

Unchanged Feature: What is reality, what is myth?

Changing Feature: In the preceding posts, I started a compilation of video clips, which when seen as a linear sequence tell a story in a context which I hope will become apparent. This is a continuous story. If it began in the past, it is now moving parallel to the day we live in. Watching the film may or may not contribute to your understanding of my meaning. Put this clip as a tail to your  so others may see. The origin of this post is at 

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