Argiilma poeetika ja pidulik elu. The poetics of the everyday and festive life

Epp Annus

Abstract


This article investigates ways of writing about the everyday in contemporary life. It starts by posing the question of why literature thrives especially on violence and extraordinary events. If literature strives to speak to us through our experience of being in the world, and aims to help us understand our common human experience, should it not rather avoid the extraordinary? Without a doubt, a topic needs to captivate its writer no less than its reader--otherwise the writing and the reading would not take place at all. For perfectly understandable reasons, whenever literature proposes to face death, this implies that the given text is something to be taken seriously; it signifies that here one is dealing with existential matters, not just with the myriad small nothingnesses of the everyday. However, the present article analyzes a different way of intensifying the quotidian: turning the everyday into an experience of beauty. A writer can find moments of special importance from within the everyday, relieving the reader from the boredom of „nothing happens” by other means than through an encounter with death and the extraordinary. Through a close reading of several Estonian novels („Indigo” by Peeter Sauter and „Tõde ja õigus” by Anton Hansen Tammsaare), the article suggests that, instead of underlining the burdensome boredom of the everyday, literature has the potential, through the power of its imagery, to aestheticize the everyday, even against the conscious will of the writer. If the routine of the everyday involves the automatization of life and a loss of the intense feeling of being in the world, Heidegger reminds us that the work of art opens up being in the world as a whole – and art does so precisely by relying on the everyday, not on moments of extraordinary significance. Thus, art would imply the disappearance of the everyday as a locus of boredom, unfullfilment, obligation and repetition, and the replacement of the everyday with pidulik elu, a life at once festive and solemn. For Heidegger, the everyday is a based on a structure of Care. Indeed, Care is the existential meaning of the everyday and the basis of human existence. Insofar as literature might aim towards revealing the structure of Care, this effort would involve the creation of festive life precisely out of the ordinariness of the everyday. Thus, in addition to the way literature might depart from the everyday by means of the violent and the extraordinary, literature might also recover the solemn festivity of the everyday as a way of making a piece of fiction readable, thus creating loci of desire and interest in the text.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v3i4.511

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