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Regimantas Tamošaitis is a well-known literary critic and essayist. He wrote commentaries and an introduction to the Lithuanian translation of the Bhagavad Gita, the monument of Indian religion and philosophy. His essays are paradoxical and often lined with irony, the grotesque, and humor. The texts abound in cultural and philosophical allusions yet look deceptively simple, like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland: they place the readers in totally unexpected situations and make them question seemingly very obvious and established things.

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Regimantas Tamošaitis Vien tik zuikiai naktyje (Like Rabbits in the Night), Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishers, 2016

Regimantas Tamosaitis review 01

In the history of world literature and culture, there were two thinkers who, with great ingenuity, disclosed the natural inconsistency of being human and the experiences of the individual tortured by desires.  They were William Shakespeare and Sigmund Freud. The former created characters with impossible-to-resolve dilemmas for his sonnets and dramas. After Shakespeare, humanity irrevocably lost its naive hope to establish a perfect society with an unequivocal winner, the individual—the ideal chess player. Shakespeare’s creative work has legitimized the process over the result when the questions of meaning and aim are raised.

Sigmund Freud, whose consulting room of psychoanalysis was visited by thousands of patients, arrived at his conclusions about the discipline of the psyche by using his sessions with patients to formulate scientific theories.  Debates about the value of his theories are no longer as heated as they were in the second half of the twentieth century. No matter how incredible Freud’s beliefs about sexuality and other, currently doubtful, hypotheses sound, this pioneer of psychoanalysis triggered a genuine revolution in the disciplines of the humanities and psychology in the West. Today, it is simply impossible to overestimate the changes that brought about the rejection of hypnosis in treating patients. Freud’s passionate mind explained human dramas in a rational way, but it overlooked the possibility of transcendence. Freud was overwhelmed by the legacy of Shakespeare but basically kept within the confines of social psychology, where there was no place for religious thinking.

Published by the Publishers of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union this year, the book Vien tik zuikiai naktyje (Like Rabbits in the Night) by the contemporary Lithuanian essayist and literary critic Regimantas Tamošaitis was placed in the context of the commemoration of Shakespeare’s birth anniversary and of questioning psychoanalysis as theory and practice. Leaning on the environment and material reality of his childhood, young adult years, and maturity, in his essays Tamošaitis promptly switches to reflections about the psychological plane. In no way can Vien tik zuikiai naktyje be called a book in which the focus is placed on a realistic depiction of reality. The author reaches deeper: in his work, complex moments in his relationships unfold as troubling collisions. Tamošaitis realizes that social reality, which is so heavy and oppressing, is not sufficient and therefore it can hurt, infuriate, and give rise to conflicts. However, he arrives at the conclusion that attention should be directed even deeper. He has the hunch that yet another layer of reality must hide under people’s social relationships. This is the metaphysics of Vien tik zuikiai naktyje. Tamošaitis has created texts that are truly characterized by a transcendental motion—beyond vision and horizons of experience lurks wisdom resembling the oriental Buddhist kōan (a paradoxical proverb). Paradoxical thinking fuses irreconcilable opposites. An author who follows the logic of paradox in his or her writing unexpectedly turns into a person who overcomes the Shakespearean dramas of life and looks even deeper than Freud. As a human being, the subject harmonizes with objects of nature and daily life in an unusual manner and calms down because the juxtaposition of the subject and the object vanishes. Self-explanation as a path and de-subjectivization as a final aim of speaking transform Tamošaitis’s book into a spiritual journey that ends in silence and a refusal to answer questions. The subject becomes peaceful and calm because he returns to the primeval state, childishness, in the depth of which there is innocent, irony-free, painful, and at the same time highly comforting laughter.

The prominence imparted to the writer’s self and their personal experiences in literary texts, a quality that deserves some criticism, is characteristic of the authors of the Lithuanian essayist school of the late twentieth century (which includes Rolandas Rastauskas, Alfonsas Andriuškevičius, Giedra Radvilavičiūtė, and others). Essays, and personal essays in particular, encompass an author’s narcissism—an attempt to touch their own reflection while talking to themselves.  Tamošaitis’s Vien tik zuikiai naktyje resembles the documentary lecture of the American film director David Lynch about transcendental meditation and how its practitioner is never alone. According to Lynch, an inexhaustible plane of consciousness of ideas and joy hides under material and social reality, which is arrived at through the practice of meditation. In his essays, Tamošaitis creates a worldview void of any opposition and in which entire human reality is recorded and encompassed in simple literary images. Scenes from the Upanishads and other Eastern texts settle cozily in a Lithuanian village or in the capital Vilnius where the author has established himself and taken root. For the path of the author and the reader to be interesting and single-minded, it is important not to lose the ability to question which, according to the Lithuanian philosopher Antanas Maceina, is the foundation of philosophizing. Tamošaitis’s book of essays Vien tik zuikiai naktyje can be attributed to the texts of practical literary philosophy. Their most curious qualities include their affinity with the author's actual reality (on this level, the texts satisfy readers' curiosity because openness is intriguing) and forms of thinking with a subtlety and state of being simultaneously both limited and generalizing, which create not only meanings (this would be the answer to the question what the text is about), but also the meaning of the book, which questions the meaning of life of the author and of all of us. 

 

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