PREFACE

When I told a recent electronic friend in Latvia about my upcoming defense, he wrote that students had traditional sayings before exams, and then typed: "May you be thrown out! To the Devil!" (Lai tevi met ‚r‚! Pie velna!) This being one of those lightning one-liner electronic exchanges where in the next few minutes the other end has logged off, and somewhat unsure how to respond, I sent back a counter-aggression, which I must admit upped a level of rudeness. Then I decided to write someone else for an explanation with whom I had been corresponding for months and who had also written a puzzling one-liner without explanation: "Ne pŻku, ne spalvu!Ē (Not down or feathers!) This person informed me that the response to wishing someone ďneither down, nor feathersĒ was also properly answered similarly: pie velna! It was traditionally a back-handed good-luck wish for going hunting. What is also interesting is that even though I didnít understand the meanings and the well-wishers probably knew I didnít, there was no explanation, as if explaining cancelled the effect. Or if someone doesnít understand, there isnít any point to explaining.

This last-minute information illustrates an aspect of what apdzied‚ūan‚s research is about: in folk psychology aggression fights aggression, but there is a difference between hate and competition. Coming from a friend aggression is encouragement, a way to enhance competitive spirit, a friendly box to the shoulder. Coming from an enemy, of course, would be sending the person to the devil for real. As a former athlete, enjoying verbal sparring, and (if it doesnít become too real for all involved) with a high tolerance for aggressive humor, the understanding is on an experiential level.