Jaunā Gaita nr. 132, 1981. g. 1. numurs

JG 132

Nikolajs Bulmanis, Jr., contributes two essays on art to this issue. "On Vija Celmiņa and her Art" is our lead article. Born in Latvia and educated in the United States, Celmiņa is one of the most discussed of Latvian exile artists, and a long bibliography of English-language criticism already exists on her, though she is only in her early forties. She has participated in many group shows and has had several single-artist exhibitions. Influenced during the 1960s by abstract expressionism and pop art, her style has evolved toward ideals of simplicity, clarity, and strong emphasis on form. Whether her subjects are freeways, pop-art objects, waves, deserts, mountains, lunar landscapes, or cosmic scenes, her work grows out of the strength and certainty she finds in the Latvian peasant character, though she rejects a narrow nationalism.

Bulmanis' other essay, „Ten Latvian Artists in Moscow," is a review of an exhibition of 153 modern Latvian paintings held in Moscow during September, 1980. The level of achievement varied considerably, from works seemingly oriented toward interior decoration to ones which showed exciting artistic ability and originality.

Several items in this issue deal with the present state of exile Latvian journalism. Andrievs Ezergailis in "Thinking about Lešinskis--V" criticizes the Latvian press for being authoritarian, accusing it of slanted reporting of the legal proceedings against alleged Latvian war criminals, and of refusing to publish the Jewish viewpoint on this question. He argues that we need a new exile mentality, unencumbered with 35-year-old attitudes and capable of true freedom of the press. This general conclusion is approached from a different direction by Tālivaldis Ķiķauka in "Exile Newspapers". He surveys the five main newspapers and evaluates their typography, layout, design, reporting, and editorial policies. In some respects, Laiks offers the best value, but it is prone to publish commentary rather than news, and to select the news it publishes to support a narrow and partisan editorial policy. Austrālijas Latvietis is the best one at the true business of journalism. Ķiķauka laments the lack of a real "opposition press" in North American exile journalism, but he considers any newspaper better than none, and he presents a gloomy picture of the near future, when there will be a lack of reporters and editors competent to keep a Latvian press in existence. Mārtiņš Štauvers, editor of Montreālas Latviešu Biedrības Ziņotājs, contributes a letter entitled "Notes on the Press" in which he agrees that Latvian newspapers fail to offer a forum for the whole of exile society. A lack of investigative reporting and strong ideological control lead to a poorly informed readership, he claims, and he, too, comments on the lack of young journalists and the technologically backward nature of the Latvian press.

In our series on the future of socialism we have "Does Socialism have a Future?" by the late Jānis Ritums, one of the leaders of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party. He distinguishes the inelastic "socialist" totalitarianism of the Soviet Union from the more flexible socialism that is not wholly committed to materialist goals and that can tolerate a variety of economic institutions. He foresees no f future for the former.

Jānis Ezergailis' "In 1919" is an attempt to unravel the complexities of the military and political events of that year by one who took part in them. So many different groups were involved - adventurers, patriots, communists, Germans, Russians, Latvians - that this memoir is valuable in clarifying their various conflicts and cooperative endeavours. .

Also in this issue we have an interview with Tupešu Jānis on Latvian paganism in the modern world. This is not, he explains, a romantic attempt to restore the ancient Latvian religious system, but a continuation of a specifically Latvian world view. The modern pagan movement is not dogmatically associated with a particular theology, though it interprets the main gods of the ancient Latvian pantheon, Dievs, Māra, and Laima, in terms applicable to the present day. Tupešu Jānis regards it as one of the very few forces which serves a purely Latvian ethnic identity, and which therefore opposes international dogmas such as Christianity, Socialism, and Communism.

"With Mirror and Mask - Luigi Pirandello" by Ausma Medne is an essay on the controversial Italian dramatist (1867-1936), whose work was honoured both in fascist Italy and in Soviet Russia, and who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934. Medne discusses his life, his opinions on the rationally incomprehensible nature of human experience, and his philosophy of art. She goes on to examine his works as the expression of a powerful mind grappling with questions of self-knowledge, social identity, and mortality.

The literary section in this issue contains prose works by Benita Veisberga, Daina Šķēle and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka, and poetry by Rita Gāle, Karmena Kurzemniece, Inārs Brēdrichs, Nikolajs Kalninš and Imants Ziedonis.

The cover is by Tālivaldis Ķiķauka.


Jānis Svilpis

Jaunā Gaita