Jaunā Gaita nr. 121, 1978

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JG 121

The vein of poetry runs rich in this issue, with a short but powerrful apocalyptic poem by Andrejs Eglītis, haiku by Andris Kārkliņš, which are part of his cycle „Around the World", an ironic variation on a folk song theme by Latvian SSR author Māra Zālīte, poems by Inārs Brēdrichs, Valdis Arvis, Juris Zommers, Juris Mazutis, Mārtiņš Grants, Māra Gulēna, Alma Bēne, and Rita Rumpētere whose poem excels in striking visual imagery. She is the daughter of Baiba Bičole, who is also represented in this issue by 2 series of highly concentrated haiku-type poems. Jānis Krēsliņš explores the biblical and mythical associations of the pelican, a bird that entered Krēsliņš' poetry early. Referring to Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings," to medieval bestiaries, St. Jerome, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci as well as to the creature's similar existence in Latvian tradition, Krēsliņš shows the consistency of the emblem. Strangeness, alienation, otherness dominate our prose and occupy some of the essayists as well. The fragment by Mintauts Eglītis (from his cycle "In the Train") is a brief surrealistic view of an alienated man crossing a psychic landscape on his way to a desired and dreaded "dark light" in a window. Ints Cīrulis, in his story "Singing shell" traces 40 years in the life of a composer, another isolated man who has not been able to write the symphony he conceived at age 15. In a series of vignettes from his life we are given some clue to the sources of this creative paralysis--his inability to love, the absolute pitch which makes him obsessed with sound, unable to escape the compulsion to structure the noises of nature, longing to drown them out in beneficent silence but being stricken with a different kind of silence which reflects the emptiness of his life. Instead of the hoped-for symphony, the composer writes the novella which has a suggestive musical structure and frames a central silence the way the symphony was to do. Valerija Bērziņa - Baltiņa discusses the theme of strangeness (Or "otherness"--the associations cannot be rendered in translation) in Latvian folk songs by citing songs of serfdom, orphan, and marriage songs to probe into the nature of the people who produced them. She finds a religious strength and optimism along with a sober sense of reality that separates these songs from the pessimistic Russian ones on the one hand and from the sentimentalism of German folksongs on the other. The author sees a closer relationship to the ethos of the Finnish Kalevala. Laimonis Mieriņš writes about the communication problems of painting and sculpture, delineating them clearly from demands for ideological or representational content and stressing the direct and specific visual communication of thought and feeling that cannot be translated into any other medium. The interrelationship of colors communicates without structure and a painter thinking in terms of color comes naturally to abstraction. Mieriņš recognizes the influence of technology upon art and the consequent tendency for pure and applied art to converge. He sees this as a creative fusion. Nikolajs Bulmanis, writing about the art exhibits at the Boston Song Festival, attacks one manifestation of this tendency which he saw rampant in Boston. Here, Bulmanis saw no beneficent fusion but rather a harmful confusion of ethnographically determined applied art with truly creative expression. This "drives Pegasus into the stable where wings are not only unnecessary but ridiculous." He missed avant garde work and had serious objections to the physical layout and the absence of some of the best Latvian painters. There is a nicely subjective series of impressions from the Song Estival by Anita Liepiņa. Dr. P. Putns (Australia) examines some aspects of the theme of power in the dramatic works of Mārtiņš Zīverts. Ņina Luce discusses Latvian postwar drama in Soviet Latvia and in emigration. In comparing dramatic treatment of similar themes (the Second World War and its effects, the generation conflict, confrontations between Latvian émigrés and Latvians in the homeland), she finds the wishful axiom of one culture sadly undermined by a divergence not only in the immediate postwar period when propaganda could be expected to prevail but in later plays as well where, in spite of some loosening up, black and white characters and ideology still often predominate, as compared to the émigré dramas considered in which Luce detects a more universal human concern. Her evaluation of this tension in Latvian culture contrasts sharply with those of Tālivaldis Ķiķauka and Imants Sakss who write about a visit to Toronto in early October by two Latvian S.S.R. artists. Ķiķauka describes a reading given by poet Māris Čaklais that vividly brought out the fundamental universality of his poetry. Along with our editor Sakss who reports a reassuring and pleasant talk with the other visitor, Pauls Dambis, Ķiķauka evinces faith in these signs of the continuance of a strong tradition of Latvian art in the Latvian S.S.R. Gundars Pļavkalns concludes the essay begun earlier by exploring stereotypes and other „authoritaran" strategies of literature.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters.


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Jaunā Gaita