Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Baltic people know a good time...

So many thoughts about this. After talking with my friend Peter I've become aware of themes in my writing that have to do with identity and belonging/being outside of a culture. He could say that much better than I just did. I've had trouble with this fascination of mine after reading about how Romantic irony (I am both in the world and have an awareness of the sublime and I am isolated because of my private self awareness) birthed nationalism. And nationalism, as we know, birthed many of the horrors of the last century. I've been moving towards a more neutral stance about preserving this "pride" (although I was happy to read that the Lithuanians were the absolute last European country to adopt Christianity and when they finally believed in Jesus they depicted him with an outrageous amount of Pagan symbolism) of culture or heritage and thinking that I should consider myself nationless. This parallels what Zizek was saying about environmentalism-- in order to actually preserve ourselves and our planet we have to see ourselves as alien, not part of the natural system. So, in order to preserve the order of government, we must move away from identifying with the symbols, the flags, the colors that represent it.


The first thing a colonial power or a Christian power, oh that's redundant, does is remove language and indigenous culture. Economic dependence follows, poverty follows. Nationalism through Romanticism is what preserves identity. "I am different in these ways, different like all of these other people." And colonialism, not nationalism, is what continues to create the horrors of this century... that rough individualism that allows Brazil to import milk after exporting it first to Europe. By colonialism I mean capitalism, of course.

I suppose I am saying that I am going to continue to identify, in a Romantic way, with my Lithuanian roots. I've just now worked through any ambivalence I was feeling about this.

The photo is of a famous singer from Chicago-- a city that has more "Lithuanian" people than the capital of Lithuania. He was pretty fabulous, what with his aluminum sneakers and tinfoil pants. The rhinestone "R" is what really got me, though.

One last thing. This celebration of Lithuania took place at the Catonsville Armory. With tanks and army recruiters. Ha!

No comments: