Prof Kari Sallamaa at Folklore Evening,
Tartu, July 25
1 Ott Heinapuu.
Etnofuturismi mõiste ja
3 Rein Taagepera.
tänapäeval ja tulevikus
triangle' by Rein Taagepera
in: Some treatments
concept of ethno-futurism
& Andres Heinapuu
Liivi rahvas kui etnofuturistlik
eksperiment (in Estonian);
the same in Russian;
see also the
vozmozhnyj vykhod iz postmodernistskogo tupika
Jaan Kaplinski. Wenn
Heidegger ein Mordwinier gewesen wäre …;
Jaan Kaplinski. Jos
Heidegger olisi ollut mordvalainen;
in Estonian (not exactly the same text): Jaan Kaplinski. Heidegger,
emakeel ja Keeleema
about Laestadius look:
about Zhakov look:
Masing as the Pioneer of Ethnofuturism
10. Andres Ehin.
Uku Masingu ideoloogia põlisrahvaste
kultuuri küsimuses. Eelkäijad. Mõttekaaslased
Opening lecture, 25th July, 2001, Tartu
forthdeveloping of our philosophy
Kari Sallamaa (Oulu, Finland)
I shall now make
that opening lecture, which I should have held in the ethnofuturistic
festival Tangira in Udmurtia last April, but where I couldn't
take part. The headline suits especially well, while it's time
to broaden out the area of ethnofuturism to problems of global
existence or destruction. As I personally have spoken and written
about the phenomenon since 1996 in many contexts, and as I already
have found out some kind of stagnation in my thinking, I
have to go on and try to develop new ideas for our movement.
Some years ago
it was popular to speak also in cultural sphere about the famous
second general principle of thermodynamics, entropy.
Although I think it is questionable to use it as a cultural metaphor,
it is true that globally there are going on processes towards
onesidedness of nature, language and culture. Ethnofuturism should
have something to say about these threats.
about ethnofuturism has in recent years been very lively especially
here in Estonia, in the craddle of the program, in Udmurtia and
in Internet. There is going on a struggle of power to define the
phenomenon, like to name places and ethnoses. Should we speak
about Lapps or Saamis, about Mordvines or Erzyas and Mokshas?
Should we call Mordovia's capital Saransk or Saran Osh, Udmurtia's
capital Izhevsk or Izhkar?
been defined in many different ways. Especially there has
been dispute about its area: is it global and general or should
it be restricted to Finno-Ugric or Uralic world?
Ott Heinapuu has
criticised me for using the concept in a too broad and thus loose
meaning, and on the other hand too narrowly counting only Uralic
peoples under it. I should therefore better speak about Uralic
It is true, that
ideas about ethnofuturism have in a certain extention been spread
among Turkic peoples in Russia. That is quite understandable.
The Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples live side by side and mixed
especially in Central Russia, and their language systems differ
from the Indo-European ones. Although the old theory about linguistic
relatedness of the Uralic and Altaic groups is no more valid,
it's obvious, that there are many common traits in the type of
thinking based on language.
This is why I want
to propose, that our next conference should take place at Kazan,
Tatarstan as a meeting arena for Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples
under the banner of ethnofuturism. As the Hungarian professor
and former chairman of Association of Finno-Ugric Literature,
Péter Domokos has shown, Kazan was under the Tsarist era an important
intellectual centre for Finno-Ugrians: teacher training college,
publication of books in Kazan publishing houses etc. The Estonian
professors Mihkel Veske and Walter Anderson teached at the university.
I do fully agree,
that it is not necessary to reduce ethnofuturism only for Uralic
peoples, although it has been constructed and mostly disseminated
in Uralic context. Ethnofuturism suits ideally for the Fourth
world, the indegenous and autochtonous peoples and ethnic groups
all over the world.
E.g. when I read
a paper about ethnofuturism in an international colloqium at Sorbonne,
Paris last March, professor Jean-Léo Léonard remarked, that the
Zapatist movement of the Mexican indians in Chiapas has many similar
features. Zapatists2 can be called Mexican ethnofuturists. One
common aspect is the non-violent type of action. Poetry can be
stronger than weapons.
The reason why
I will also speak about cosmofuturism, is that in developing ethnofuturism
it is necessary to place it into a larger context. The concept
of cosmofuturism comes from the population scientist, professor
Rein Taagepera, who held a substantial lecture at our former conference
in this same place in May 19993. His terms were (1) ethnopreterism,
a nostalgic effort to preserve the ethnic cultures as pure as
they traditionally have been, (2) cosmofuturism as a point
of view, which pays no attention to national and ethnic problems
and (3) ethnofuturism as something staying between both
of them. I think Ott Heinapuu will tomorrow deal more with these
questions and especially take up new concepts about ethnofuturism.
I accept Taagepera's
terminological division, but I want to emphasize other aspects
in cosmofuturism. It should mean the greatest context, the ecological
and cultural conditions for world's future globally and locally.
In that meaning ethnofuturism is an important part of cosmofuturism.
Cosmos means nature, natural and human resources, culture and
infotechnology together. Ethnofuturism can harmonize the relations
between town and countryside by building ethnic town cultures.
It can rescue the traditional village culture from sinking into
dead museum stuff, to an ethnopreteric ineffectiveness. It can
with good reason criticize technology without neglecting
its best achievements.
harmonize relations to nature, e.g. by reviving the original religions
of our peoples as alternatives to the three Palestinian originated
monotheic religions. The much discussed death of the Christian
patriarchal god gives room for return of the religious. Instead
of Christian black prelates we should prefer shamans and sacrificing
priests dressed in pure white. Like Inuits the Mordvinian peoples,
Erzjas and Mokshas, speak about Mother Water as well as Mother
Earth (Mastorava). When we sing like Toorama, the eternal mother
flows through us from soil to heaven. Why not also speak about
Mother Sun and Father Moon? Normally mother gives warmth and takes
care, father strikes with his cold hand.
Although I'm not
a very religious man, I believe in some kind of god, while it's
necessary and meaningful. It can take the shape of Inmar, or The
World-Watching-Man of the Mansis, or Hristos Pantokrator of Andrei
If we accept the
pessimistic prognose of Unicef and Woldwatch Institute, that within
a century the today existing about 6000 languages will be reduced
to let's say 150, we can ask, would there be a single Uralic language.
And if there would exist at least our greatest language, Hungarian,
how could it manage in the ocean of Indo-European languages without
its relative languages? For preservation of our languages we need
ethnofuturism, and it really works, as can be seen in the example
of Livonian language4 and culture. But also the Votic language in
Ingria will be rescued by ethnofuturism. And many others. Even
the Samoyedic Kamass could be revived: the ethnos exists, only
the language is dead.
not any kind of nostalgic laments about critical mass needed for
preservation of a language and culture. That would be ethnopreterism
in Taagepera's terms. As ethnofuturism shows concretely the spiritual
values of ethnic traditions and cultures, it puts the existing
desperate situation in test and becomes thus ethnocriticism.
Our strength is
the spiritual activity. In Finno-Ugric newspapers you can find
some variations for the concept, like etnoduhovnost (ethnospiritualism)
in Kudo-Kodu 1/2001 (Mari El): this accentuates the spiritual
aspects in the new ethnic-ethical movement.
It is important
to stress, that ethnofuturism is no more a vague label for some
aesthetic and literary phenomenons. Now it is and shall more and
more be a full scale aesthetic, political and cultural program.
It is broadening itself out to village planning, eco- and cultural
turism etc. Then it must also have philosophical principles in
all three domains, ontology, epistemology and ethics.
Its leading principle
is dialectics between old and new, ancient mythology plus folklore
and national romanticism connected with up to day expressive forms.
Here you can use the Russian word polistilistika. Another
thing is its relations to the famous postmodernism. Ethnofuturism
is actually not postmodern, but overmodern. It doesn't come after
the modern, but it goes above the modern and also the already
aged postmodern. Viktor Shibanov will tomorrow dig a big grave
It is clear, that
although we have to point out the importance of roots (i.e. mythology,
folklore and native religion), we also have to notice, that small
peoples and ethnic groups can't anymore deal without modern technology
and media: videos, computers, Internet home pages, virtual networks
etc. As there is shortage of paper in many parts of Russia, the
electronic book could be an alternative, but of course here comes
another problem, the shortage of money to buy the necessary equipment
for universities and associations, not to speak about private
Now something about
epistemology. The known Estonian writer, and philosopher
himself, indeed, Jaan Kaplinski spoke about the theme If
Heidegger had been Mordvinian6 in the great philosophical
symposium at Tampere, Finland last April. It is sad, that Kaplinski
couldn't take part in our conference and make his opening lecture,
as it was originally planned.
According to Kaplinski
the most advanced philosophy has since yet been constructed in
classic Greek, German and Chinese, but not e.g. in Finno-Ugric
languages. That is not quite true, but our philosophers are not
as world known as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger or
Kung Fu-Tse and Lao Tse. We are margin peoples and let's be proud
of it. But anyway we have own philosophers. I once again
mention three names: the Saami Lars Levi Laestadius (born 1801)7,
the Komi Kallistrat Zhakov8, the Estonian Uku
Masing9. They are
all multischolars: priests, theologians, philosophers, scientists,
writers, speakers. Intellectuals in a great measure.
All of them have
shown, that artificial borders between religion, science, philosophy,
literature and art are artificial. When Zhakov calls his mental
construction limitism, it means dissolving borders, their
transgression. We can put thoughts together without fear to be
unlogical or undialectical. The postmodern project is much more
modest; it only wants to dissolve the border between literature
According to Kaplinski
philosophers have spoken about language relatively much, but most
often about language in general, not about concrete languages,
like classic Greek, English, Finnish, Hopi or Erzja. Differences
in language structures are not held relevant, so their impact
in philosophical thinking has been examined very little.
But there has been
some thinkers, like Friedrich Nietzsche, who according to Kaplinski
was the first to point out connections between thinking and language
(in reality he was not the first, as we soon will see). In his
work Jenseits von Gut und Böse (1886; On the other side
of good and evil) Nietzsche says: "The philosophers of the
Ural-Altaic language area (in whose languages the idea of subject
has developed as the weakest) probably look at the world in a
different way as Indogermans or muslims".
the title of his paper Kaplinski asks, how Heidegger had philosophized,
if he had been Morvinian - Erzjamoksha - if he had used only his
mother tongue. He could have answered in Nietzsche's question
about an Uralo-Altaic philosophy. Anyway it would have been very
different from the German Heidegger's one.
could the till yet non-existing Finno-Ugric philosophy give us
something, that the Indo-European or Chinese ones cant give.
The fundamental qualities seem to be as follows: (1) concreteness
and phenomenological nominalism in conceptional thinking, instead
of Indogerman realism, i.e. that an idea has only one keen word.
(2) Inductiveness: from particulars to generalisation and not
vice versa, like in Indo-European thinking. Universals, general
concepts, Platonic ideas, are for our languages not as real as
particulars. The Indo-European languages do more classify by definitions
according to borders, like Aristotle does. Uralic languages make
it counting and ordinating things. (3) Onomatopoetics or ideophony:
the richness of word alternatives. In that way Uralic languages
are ideal for the nowadays popular "misty logics".
And the metaphorical
etymology of words. Kaplinski takes as an example the German word
Ursprung (origin), which Heidegger often uses. It really
means "beginning jump". Says Kaplinski: "Our 'algupära'
is something very different, it is beginning but also end, the
last remain, the bag of the seine net, where the fish catch
is collected". Let me add, it is also womb, the end and bottom
of woman or female animal, where the biological life begins. My
'algupära' is in the womb of my mother, but also in the long series
of the wombs of my ancestor mothers.
is this kind of Finno-Ugric philosophy a real philosophy at all,
or is it only a tendency towards a philosophy. Anyway it has rights
to exist, a possibility which Western Europeans have often denied
for their brothers speaking other kinds of languages. But in my
opinion there already exists this kind of Finno-Ugric philosophy.
But it is scattered in texts of many thinkers. It is necessary
to be collected and systematisized as an ethnofuturistic philosophy.
Yes, if Heidegger
had been Mordvinian, Erzja or Moksha, he would not have become
rector of the university of Freiburg im Breisgau wearing the membership
button of the Nazi party. He was the most glorious philosophical
supporter of the Nazi Blut und Boden -romanticism and the
speculative German philosophy of life, as György Lukács has shown
in his Die Zerstörung der Vernunft (1953; Destruction of
We must be aware
about the risk, that in constructing ethnofuturism there constantly
hides a danger to glorify such kind of mystical reactionary ideas.
The Indogerman and Judeo-Christian metaphysics can't solve the
most vital cultural problems of our peoples and ethnic groups.
Ethnofuturistic culture, literature, arts and critics have always
their political aspects. The problem is how to avoid one voiced
culture, i.e. moralistic, prescriptive and didactic tendency,
and reach high quality and value from other points of view than
Western or Russian male petty bourgeois canons, Kantian aesthetics
and moral judgment. We need the multivoiced choir of ethnofuturism
against the imaginary universal, monologic humanistic tradition,
the ontologic imperialism (Emmanuel Levinas) beginning from Socrate
and ending to Heidegger.
Heidegger and his
phenomenological existentialism is possible only in west and south,
in the Central European hemisphere, not in margins, not in north
or east. There is no sense trying to put this philosophy into
work here. There is too cold and too hard a life for such sophisticated
philosophy. And it is not necessary, either. We have our own ethnofuturistic
language philosophy is based on German language, his thinking
is thoroughly labelled by the Indogerman mentality. Such a world
known deconstructive philosopher like Jacques Derrida critically
points out, that Heidegger's metaphysics works in the frame of
Indo-European linguistic milieu. Further Derrida states: "Metaphysics
- the white mythology which reassembles and reflects the culture
of the West: the white man takes his own mythology, Indo-European
mythology, his own logos, that is, the mythos of
his idiom, for the universal form of that he must still wish to
call Reason" (Margins of Philosophy 1982). It's worth
to remember, that by his origin Derrida is not a high brow Parisian
intellectual, but an Algerian jew.
In spite of all
its progress the Western philosophical tradition always returns
to debate about the existence of the table in front of the philosopher.
And as Uku Masing says, originally there would never come into
mind among Uralic peoples, that existence would differ from being.
Yes indeed, a none-bird is still a bird, a man bird is also a
bird, like in the coat of arms of the republic of Udmurtia designed
by Kuchiran Yury (Yury Lobanov) and in the flag of the Finno-Ugric
youth organisation MAFUN.
The Estonian writer
Andres Ehin pointed out in the international Uku Masing symposium
in autumn 1999 at Rapla, that the first to understand the
dependency of thinking on language was the German baron Wilhelm
von Humboldt in his essay "Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen
Sprachbaues" (1836; "About the difference of the structure
of human language")10. The thinking of peoples speaking various
languages, especially language groups, is different.
According to Ehin
the American ethnolinguists B.L. Whorf and Erward Sapir following
Franz Boas have same kind of ideas based on American Indian languages:
"Every ethnos forms its world view through its language,
and it differs from other ethnoses". So Friedrich Nietzsche
was not the first to see the originality of thinking depending
on language structure, as Kaplinski says. But Nietzsche's benefit
is to point out the very fact, that Finno-Ugric and Altaic peoples
differ in their thinking from Indogermans.
Uku Masing has
same kind of ideas, when he stresses, that Estonians through their
language structure and traditional mentality are connected to
Eurasian and Paleoarctic forest peoples and in a certain extent
also to Asian high cultures more than to Western, that means German
petty bourgeois mode if thinking. You can read such thoughts e.g.
in Masing's essay "Eesti hingest" (1935; "About
is important for a child, i.e. the touch of depth as a memory
of the ever lost paradise of early childhood, hierophany
is vitally important for an adult, the touch of the Sacred, the
spirit of the ancestors, the holy trees, woods, stones, wells
and other places of worship. In this context I only point out,
without citations, Mircea Eliade's work The sacred and the
profane (1959). It as well as his more known work The myth
of the eternal return. Archetypes and repetition (1949) emphasize
the importance of connecting the time of nature (Henri Bergson's
durée) and the time of culture. The Finnish translation
of 1992 has got the subtitle Cosmos and history.
The most vital
problem is energy. Not only physical or electric energy, but also
the mental one. Spirit and soul, the inner power. Power is
energy and nothing else. The Nietzschean 'will for power'
means struggle for energy. Lars Levi Laestadius shows, what kind
of mental energy lies in prayer and ecstasy. It may be compared
with shamanism of the more nature bound peoples, like Khanties,
Mansis and the Nenets people.
religious forms of action, Christian and Pagan: prayers,
charms, spells, laments, sacrifices can be important parts of
ethnofuturistic culture. They are modes to redirect cosmic and
individual energy. The cryptic speech of a lament or a charm suits
for god, it is not necessary for humans to understand it fully.
The from his nabel cut man (like Mansis say) is just one speaker
beside Heaven (Taara, Inmar, Numi-Torum, Veralden Olbmai) and
the fairies. In that way we can also begin to understand again
the language of animals, our clan forefathers.
analytic thinking we need Uralic, Altaic, indigenous synthetic
thinking. Western philosophy is as analytic and broken as Western
medicine in its vivisection and thrust in chemical drugs.
The Maori novelist
Patricia Grace (New Zealand) said in the seminar of indigenous
literatures at the university of Tromsoe, Norway 1993, that her
people has thoughts, but not thinking, it has ideas but not philosophy.
If philosophy is seen as a Venetian lead chamber, a straitjacket
of thinking, if it means dead ideology, we can accept this opinion.
But our mythic thinking and deconstructive act against the Western
ideology, "white mythology", should guarantee the flexibility
of ethnofuturism. It's a thesis against the mediocre Western and
Russian cultures. Ethnofuturism means opposition against Western
eurocentrism, cultural Americanism and Great Russian reactionism.
The young Saami
literary scholar Rauna Kuokkanen is preparing her doctoral thesis
at the universty of Vancouver, Canada, and makes use of aesthetics
and philosophy of Native Americans. As she puts it, it is nonsense
to speak in a nowadays popular way about postcolonialism, because
colonialism is not dead. It goes on in the Americas, in Russia
and in many other places, where the first nations, the aboriginal,
indigenous and autochtonous peoples live. Among them are the majority
of Uralic peoples. And Saamis are in the same situation in Finland.
I also think, that postcolonial criticism is not the correct concept
in our case. We can make more use of Uralic ethnofuturism than
Now a few words
about ontology. Some Western thinkers, like Gaston Bachelard
have said, that round, circle is the very form of cosmos. He speaks
about "la philosophie du rond" in his famous
La poétique de l'espace (1957; The poetics of space).
Also an ideal building is round, like Saami or Nenets tent: the
four corners of a house or a room brake the universal harmony.
I want to add, that time is not linear. It is round, too, as we
can understand in the eternal return of Mircea Eliade. Foremothers
and ancient kings are present. In the same line has spoken the
famous Saami multiartist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää.
Universe is an
ellipse, like Einstein proved in his relativity theory. Womb is
an ellipse. The shaman drum, tangira, is either round or
it has an elliptic form. The native American actor, dancer and
shaman Norman Charles, who lives in the Swedish Saamiland and
makes performances together with the Saami actress Åsa Simma,
once said to me: "Everything is round, also the colours.
Can you imagine, that red has corners? Has a human face corners?
And when you rotate like the Turkish Konya dervishes, you can
keep going around for hours, and you get into ectasy, into a seeir's
state of mind. No drugs or booze is needed".
And as the last
point ethics and politics. The most important factor
in the ethnofuturistic project is national selfconfidence. It
is not obvious even in the case of "great" Finno-Ugric
nations in the three independent countries. Swedisation of the
Finnish people did never success, like germanisation in Estonia
following Kalle Eller and Rein Taagepera. The greatest obstacle
was language and the mode of thinking based on it. So the Swedish
speaking intellectuals had to be finnisized for to construct the
nation and take power in the state.
But in recent decades
americanization has managed perfectly, almost totally, when electric
media, advertising, school teaching and many other cultural fields
have taken English and especially the uncritical admiration of
American culture as their tool. In Estonia there are other, more
political reasons, depending on Soviet time and influence of the
The global imperialistic
system is still going strong, and its heart is economical. Nowadays
we can call it globalisation. As the national economy of Russia
is smaller than that of Sweden, it can't be part of the imperialistic
system, which consists of USA-Canada, EU and Japan-South Korea.
Only on a local level inside the country itself Russia can be
economically imperialistic, e.g. the oil and gas drillings of
Lukoil and Gazprom which do harm to Uralic and other indegenous
The putinist securocratic
system and nostalgia for Tsarist and Soviet super power times
are of course very dangerous. Christianity has been an important
part of Western and Russian colonial and imperialistic thinking.
Formerly politruks equipped mentally the Soviet army; nowadays
Greek Orthodox priests bless Russian troops going to murder civilians
in the dirty war of Tchetchenia.
The third world
war has already begun, although slowly and unseen, along with
massive ecological disasters, with exploitation of the last natural
resources, with silent genocides and ethnic purges all over the
world, also in the northernmost corners of the globe. This is
a carnivorous technological, overconsumating system, which on
the other hand produces poverty, hunger and diseases.
The new president
of United States, George W. Bush jr. has waged war against the
rest of the world by neclecting the treaty of Kioto. He has began
a new round of armament competition by his Star War II missile
program. The imperialistic type of globalisation led by WTO, IMF-World
Bank, EU, NATO and G8 group has made the streets of Seattle, Washington,
Prague, Gothenburg and especially Genova to battle fields. Carlo
Giuliani is also a martyr for us.
In these perspectives
Uralic, Altaic and indigenous peoples need their own throrougly
thought philosophical and political program, in short ethnofuturism.
As the imperialist power system rotates like Juggernaut's wagon,
ethnofuturism can put sticks between this big wheel. It is necessary
to survive with our own traditions and culture. Margins will live,