The Revolt Of Our Non-Latin Heritage, 1921

A friend of mine spoke to me about the Slavic influence on our literature; fierce worshipper at the altar of our Latin origins – clear and in good measure – he did not allow for its smallest alteration or dimming through "Slavic maximalism," as we have agreed to generally characterize the mystical, profound, irrational, impetuous and extremist way of this strange people. In the fleeting enthusiasm of the resurrection – many are those who share in the Latin exclusiveness, who, enchanted by Anatole France's finesse can only look at Dostoyevsky's work as if it were a monstrous oddity.There is a lot of exaggeration. And we fail to understand why. This vainglory derived from out Latin origins is the inheritance from times when we had to bear the scornful laugh of our neighbors, who wanted us subjected at all cost. Today it is devoid of common sense. We speak of the spirit of our culture, we only want to be Latin – clear, rational, moderate, lovers of the form, classic – but, like it or not, we are more than that. The significant percentage of Slavic and Thracian blood still boiling in our veins, is the pretext of an issue which ought to be worded more audaciously. Our youth goads us to stir the easy ideal of the conceited many, casting doubt into their souls. Let our youth be forgiven. It will be said of us that we tell lies. Well, call them fairy tales. We are nonetheless steadfast in our conviction that truth has to be expressive, and that myths are, therefore, more real than reality itself.We are familiar with the experiment whereby a white flower was crossed with a red flower of the same variety. Biologists speak of the so-called dominants. What does this word mean? That in every new generation born out of the coupling of the two flowers – the characteristics of one of them are assertive; for instance, most of them will be white. It has been proven, nonetheless, that from time to time and with certain regularity the characteristics of the other flower do surface. It is a flurry of Mystery, when least expected. The old traits that you deemed lost forever assert themselves every now and again in all their past glory. Making a distant analogy with a biological experiment – so convincing in its simplicity – one can say that the dominant characteristic of the Romanian spirit is its Latin stock, quiet and cultural par excellence. We do have, however, a rich latent Slavic-Thracian heritage, exuberant and vital, which, for no matter much that we resist it, now and again breaks away from the realm of the unknown and emerges forcefully in our conscience. Latin symmetry and harmony is often torn apart by the storm that flashes calmly in the somewhat metaphysical depths of the Romanian spirit. It is a revolt of our non-Latin heritage.It is no novelty: we are but living graves of our ancestors. Among them are those whom we protect and embrace most warmly, for historical or political reasons; but we also have ancestors whom we treat as if they were but our stepchildren. An unwise standpoint, since the more we keep them in the prison of darkness, the harsher, the more violent their revolt will be – likely to turn out deadly to today's "privileged". Our history projects itself onto the future rather than onto the past. It is good to be aware of the potentiality dormant in our souls – volcanoes on the ocean bed. Why should we limit ourselves to a Latin cultural model, which is not in absolute accord with our much richer nature? Why should we defile our own nature – a dough in which so many virtues ferment? Why kill ourselves by containing ourselves in a formula of Latin clarity, when we encompass so many possibilities for development? The question itself will put many hearts at ease. We rejoice every time we hear a cry rising from that barbarian subconscious, which some find displeasing. The way we understand it – we could indeed do with a little barbarity. If we look around us to back into the past, we come across a symbolic appearance: Hasdeu – the mystic: a great incentive for the future.The familiar succession of calm and storm, of measure and exuberance, that can be found with other peoples is justified rather by the logic inherent in history, by the alternation of theses and antitheses, as determined by Hegel for instance. The same succession has, with us, much deeper roots in solid, race-derived traits. It is this difference that allows us beautiful historical perspectives.Those that belong to the past with their dry or restless positivism will undoubtedly mutter under their apostolic breath: he is a romantic. So as to let no doubt linger, I confess: a romantic? – in just one sense of the word, yes. Namely in that I foster the conviction that truth has to be expressive and myths are, therefore, more real than reality itself. Gândirea, 1921, September 15

by Lucian Blaga (1895-1961)