Jaunā Gaita nr. 122, 1979

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JG 122

Political topics are prominent in this issue. Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga considers some important theoretical questions in "On Freedom and Humanistic Values", an essay which she originally delivered as an address in New York City on November 18, 1978. It is a spirited defence of the Western liberal tradition against Alexander Solzhenitsyn's charge that too great an emphasis on secular and personal freedoms has led the West away from spiritual values into moral cowardice and social irresponsibility. While Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga acknowledges that the Western democracies are far from an ideal model for emerging nations in some respects, still she argues that their anti-authoritarian theoretical basis has promoted a high quality of life. She agrees that Western societies are experiencing a moral crisis and that the three-hundred-year-old liberal tradition must be transformed to meet the demands of modern life, but she insists that we not reject the good in it with the bad. The values of humanism have developed over thousands of years, from ancient Greece to the present, and our task should be to develop them further.

Dr. Andrievs Ezergailis contributes another address, "Is a New Political Outlook Necessary for Latvians in Exile?", read to the Fourth International Latvian Youth Congress in Williamstawn, Massachusetts, on the 6th of July, 1978. Beginning with a quotation from the Italian philosopher Vico on the constant change of governmental systems, Dr. Ezergailis subjects Latvian political thought and planning to a searching analysis. He points out that the plans of Latvian statesmen have traditionally been futile. Basing his judgement on a historical survey of Latvian politics, he identifies violent partisanship as the cause. The great assassins of Latvians have always been Latvians of a different political persuasion, and every putsch and change of government has been followed by a purge, while the goals of each partisan group have been narrow and exclusive. Dr. Ezergailis advises that expatriate Latvians change their mode of thinking and abandon their narrow outlook. We must work for greater cultural contact with Soviet Latvia; we must learn to cooperate with the exile communities of other Eastern European nationalities; we must end our acrimonious partisanship and promote free discussion of political issues within our own community.

Dr.Ezergailis ir represented a second time in this issue by a symposium, "Whither Cultural Contact?" which he organized. The eleven participants discuss issues raised by five questions: What would be the optimum level of cultural contact? What is the practical significance of the Latvian Latvian Social Democratic Party's declaration on cultural contact ? What can we do to promote internal changes in the Latvian SSR ? What is the significance of the Fourth International Latvian Youth Congress and the Boston Song Festival for the exile situation? Who needs more help and sympathy, Latvians in Soviet Latvia or in exile? The points of view expressed are various, illustrating the diversity of opinion on these matters.

Arturs Baumanis brings new evidence to bear in his assessment of "Graf von der Goltz's Role in Latvia in 1919". He has discovered a hitherto unnoticed article by the German general and adventurer in the periodical Die Woche (1.11.1919). By appealing to German militarism and hatred of Bolshevism, von der Goltz attempts to justify his extra-legal activities in Kurzeme 60 years ago.

The poetry section in this issue includes the works of two authors. Astrīde Ivaska appears with two short cycles, "News from Lestene", dedicated to the memory of her father, and "For another Antiņ". The first recreates images from a Latvian childhood and ends in scenes of darkness and flight, while the second celebrates the beginning of peace after a time of troubles in a more symbolic idiom. Aina Kraujiete contributes 3 sections "From a Sleepwalker's Journal". The sleepwalker is a man who is drugged or enchanted by the Moon. His nightly wanderings are attended by phantasmagoric visions and surreal occurrences while he struggles to apprehend reality. The poetry is in a vers libre form, but it is woven into unity by subtle patterns of alliteration, assonance, rhyme and rhythm.

In the prose section, "The Eternal Eve", a fragment of a longer work by Jānis Gorsvāns, tells the story of an affair with another man's wife, presented as a series of flashback scenes interspersed with the narrator's later reflections. Ilmārs Rumpēters reports on the First Exhibition of Baltic Photography. Sponsored by the Baltic Artists Association, "Baltia", the Exhibition took place at the Ukrainian Institute in New York City between October 28 and November 5, 1978.

This issue also contains the usual features and departments. The Travel Journal by Juris Mazutis is a meditation on time and place and thought on the occasion of the 18th of November. Gvīdo Augusts in "The Field of Vision" touches on a variety of things, from a recent edition of Lāčplēsis, to the history of Latvian culture, Latvian painting, the length of American political speeches, and Christmas cards. Imants Sakss is similarly wide-ranging in his column on music, where he discusses Latvian folksongs, Herbert von Karajan's praise for the young Latvian violinist, Gidons Krēmers, Polish composer Penderecki's opera based on Miiton's Paradise Lost, and a recent book on Ezra Pound's music criticism, among other things. The "Editor's Notes" by Gunars Irbe discuss Latvian Song Festivals in general while looking forward specifically tothe three that will be held this year - on the island of Gottland, in San Francisco, and Montreal, Que.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters

 

Jānis Svilpis


Jaunā Gaita