Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eso’s Chronicles 289 / 2  
A Civilization of Persecution
© Eso A.B.
All comments appearing within brackets [ ] are editorial in origin.


At the ‘Soklehni’ household, it was the women who did most of the work around the house—from milking cows to gardening. The men were around the house when in the carpentry room, when the household needed a new water bucket or barrel for pickling, or shoeing a horse, or beekeeping. Women took care of the cows, the sheep, the pigs, and the chickens, while the men looked after the horses; the men also ploughed the fields, did logging, and did (except for the chickens) most of the slauthtering of animals. Except for smithy work, both sexes knew how to do each other’s part if the need arose. Both went into the wood to do mushrooming and berry picking, and both knew how to milk cows. The head of the household, my aunt (and her husband), did all cooking and baking, made the dough and baked the bread, and prepared the animal parts for cooking and baking (“haven’t you seen a rams balls before?”/ “This is a cow’s udder!” ) A neighbor, whose farm was named “Skroderi” (Dress Maker), cut our hair and used it in horse collars that he made.

The children did most of the animal herding and did what the heads of the household told them to do: join the men in crayfishing, go fishing with them, pick the berries, pick up the eggs in the chicken coup in the morning, ride the horses who pulled the hay load to the hayloft. The old folks (including men) did most of the knitting, spinning of wool and cotton yarn.

In the fall and winter months, all spent time at the loom . The children mostly observed.

Because there was no electricity, the household sat around a petroleum or carbide lamp in the evening and sang, read stories from books or newspapers, or worked at knitting or spinning, perhaps braiding onions to a pole, which were later hung close to the ceiling.

Before the days of the printed letters arrived, most of the evenings were spent singing, which often led to singing ‘wars’—if the singers grew restless. It was as a consequence of these long and ‘boring’ evenings with ‘nothing to do’ that the Latvian language and culture evolved. It was a female dominated culture of which the dominant Goddess was the Sun.

The Sun meant warmth, a welcoming smile, the dawn of the day, the mysterious ‘non-event’ of the noon hour (when anything could happen).  The Sun lived in the ‘other land’ (vinya Saule), where the dead went to live out whatever there was to the rest of their lives.

The Sun also became translated into other Goddesses, the chief of who was Laima, the Goddess of Fate and Fortune. When at an earlier time, I had to translate the name of the Goddess into English, and had not yet thought to associated Her with the Sun, I simply called Her the Dearest Goddess. It was She who was the midwife called for when a child was born: it was Laima who picked him-her up in a white towel and foretold what was to come. Marija Gimbutas, the late anthropologist, once wrote me a note in which she regretted that there was no way to make a more direct translation of Laima’s name, and that it was being lost.

While the official translation of the word for the ‘Sun’ is ‘Saule’, unofficially and on the subjective level, She was called ‘Saulihte’, which translates into English as ‘Dear’ or ‘Dearest Sun’—the latter manifest through a grammatical form used for endearments. Since before the introduction of letters and writing, Latvian (and all other languages) was an oral language, it was the subjective level that prevailed and dominated our forebears’ culture.

From what I understand, the Chinese letters may retain some of the subjhective nature of Chinese .

As proud as people of modern times may be of their literature, literature does not stand equal to the oral culture’s ability to form culture: the subjective ‘endearing word’ creates a cultural world that stands on the opposite of the cultural world of the written and ‘legalized’ (officialised) word. Whereas in the subjective cultural world the ‘official’ or ‘straight’ word stands for the inflection of ‘naked’ reality into one’s language, the subjective cultural world never does without the ‘endearing word’.

We should make note, that the language used by our contemporary media and in our literature is always ‘officialese’, the culture it creates and maintains is plainly ‘scientific’ at best. As an example, when the Westernized homus (from homo) speaks of a ‘sunset’, which by now is as trite an image they come, my forebears used to say: “Dear Sun, wherever Thou goest, take with Thee a hundred endearments to my dear mother.”

It is unfortunate that today linguists and philosophers never point out this difference between subjective and officialise languages; and if any of these is ever primitive, it is the latter version. It is the denial of subjectivity that gives modern reality its secularist orientation.

Saw Cross

No comments:

Post a Comment