CRITICISM - KRIITIKA - Peeter Laurits, Neeme Külm answers the questions by Peeter Laurits.
Estonian Art 2007, 2, 17–19
Peeter Laurits (PL): The existing educational system only acknowledges one initiation: adolescence, puberty. During that time a person is reluctant to obey the norms, but he or she is tamed at school and starts an independent life. In fact, human development should really pick up from that time on. I think human development means passing through many puberties. Puberties are different stages of maturity and refinement, initiations that require experience and solutions until the very last moment visible from here – death.
Do you vibrate along with this kind of thinking?
Neeme Külm (NK): The existing educational system? I am not competent to claim whether the cart is already in the ditch or merely moving towards it. On the whole, everything seems to work, the teachers teach and students study. Learning, after all, is nothing but one big surrender. The thing is to whom we surrender. Clever people are needed everywhere. I wouldn’t like to divide human activity into puberties. Does the word ‘puberty’ denote wisdom or the lack of it? We should perhaps use another word. I do not actually think that the development of man is a linear track, with a beginning and an end – it is more like a spiral staircase with many beginnings and ends. It’s up to you how many steps you take at a time and where you decide to stop.
PL: Don’t you think that at least in death many will indeed stop?
NK: From that threshold onwards, people do not want or dare or cannot be bothered or have no time to think.
PL: When you make art and think about death: is that any use to the dead or the living or someone else?
NK: It’s not true that I think of death when I make art. I think of life, as it seems to me. However, I would be delighted if the dead could benefit from the actions of the living. It would be very humane.
PL: The notions of life and death do not seem to be that different for you?
NK: Your questions are laying traps for me. I have no control whatsoever in the game of life and death. The best I can do is to try to guess the extent and finality of the game. Or perhaps, indeed, I don’t know where to draw the border.
PL: Do art and culture have any social tasks or duties? For example, do they have a responsibility for how people see life or death?
NK: This question should be addressed to the church. Art and culture? Art, and perhaps culture as well, don’t need to have social tasks; everything is social anyway.
PL: John Cage claimed that, in 1950, there were as many people living as had lived during all the previous times taken together. The number of the living and the dead was in balance. Today, the living far outnumber the dead. Doesn’t this situation seem undemocratic to you? How can we balance the work of the parliament of the eternal?
NK: Good question. Of course it seems undemocratic, very much so... That kind of parliament should be dissolved and replaced by an amiable simpleton who would take the topic to heart.
PL: Are people freer and happier now than they were at the time when the dead outnumbered the living?
NK: I don’t think so.
PL: How do you feel about euthanasia?
NK: I feel about euthanasia exactly as I feel about indifference.
PL: What about the oath of Hippocrates?
NK: I don’t like taking oaths.
PL: Do you prefer artificial flowers or real flowers at a funeral? Why flowers in the first place? What funeral customs do you appreciate?
NK: Real flowers, living in every sense. I much prefer cut flowers. It is idiotic to think that everything with its roots in the soil is living and everything else is dead. People who think like that are rooted in the soil themselves. What funeral customs do I appreciate? Affectionate ones.