„MINORITY” – A MEANINGLESS CONCEPT
„Nyelvében él a nemzet." (53)
Two people are standing before us.. Faustus takes a look at them — can he tell us which of them is the so-called „minoritarian"?
„Minority” — one of the basic categories in the self-interpretation of many Central and Eastern European nations, it's an idea, a tradition and at the same time it has become a real frame of thinking. The „fate" of the Transylvanian Hungarians, about 2 000 000 people, the biggest nationality in Europe till the great turns in 1989 could serve as a very nuanced example to present the way this pure sociological term became a very often used... category, and to interpret its ontological ground. (54)
In the political circumstances of the dictature being „minoritarian" meant being a „second rank citizen", so it is natural that on the other hand the „minoritarian" self-interpretation depended on the often mentioned „minoritarian situation", on the „situation" — in its reflection, in the artworks we shall identify from the Trianon Pact till the 80's the same defensive search for alternatives as the one single, all-embracing, nation-wide spiritual tendency. Except the subservient reflection — very few cases — the escape into the reconditeness proved to be effectual; because of the institutional but hidden political compulsion and its consequences in everyday life the creators showed universal ethical values, that resulted to a characteristic political and ethical pollution — so there appeared all above the desire, the struggle for the so-called „pure" aesthetic values. Thinking, what is more, speaking about the community — its simulacrum was possible in the interpretation of the artworks: in the 70's its most important target was the „self-cognition" (önismeret): the publishing houses, the editorial boards of journals and newspapers — Kriterion Publishing House, Korunk, Utunk, A Hét — had a great deal to do with this well-defined activity. After the epoch of „self-cognition", strange paradox: in the darkest years when nobody took the ideological coercion seriously anymore, the writers, the creators, the editors laid special stress on the importance of the safe-keeping of values (értékőrzés). At last, culture became a multifunctional asylum, a base for the church of the consciousness and self-respect of the community. This activity had one single target. To define, respectively to redefine — again and again... — the spiritual profile of this people. To clarify the answers to the oldest, simplest and most troublesome question as thoroughly as possible. We have to refer to identity. And all this on the ground of one single concept which turned out to be very dangerous: a pure, a just sociological “nomen est omen” defined the thinking, self-cognition, self-respect and existence itself of these almost 2,000 000 people.
After December 1989 the whole country began to reconstruct its freedom — „epoch of transition" —, the Hungarian minority tried to find existential alternatives at first — even if not above all — outside of the spiritual building of the culture. No, in this region politics isn't enough to guide millions and millions of people — where is it...? —, „new way", „new method" etc.; beautiful, empty sentences, a great gap still exists between the orations and everyday practice. Identity. Years of transition, the „situation", aggressive shadows of the past, international opening, relationships, deconstruction, re-construction, „to do everything for democracy", new faces of freedom. Let's see literature, art, the theories, „The writer isn't so important anymore", „It isn't so important to be important", replies the writer. New ways of the self-interpretation. Identity.
Literature, art? „Concerning our majestic and all kind of traditions during the centuries the relationship between literature, art and politics has
remained unclear. The literates were either obliged to be engaged in politics — as literature had to fill in those functions that politics wasn't able to —, or they became dominated by the yearning for power. Intellectual roles have been overlapping, mixing, stirring, and the result has been that, concerning the creative individual, he wished to persuade the others to recognize the characteristics of one of his statuses as valid and viable in the field of the other status. On the other hand the political status tried to influence and determine the artistic one. In other terms neither »pure« literary, artistic value, nor real politics. In the Hungarian literature, culture of the 19th century and in the Hungarian literature in Romania before 1919 the constraining historical situation caused and dictated such deformations, but today, after the above mentioned great turns, the mixture of these two statuses seems to be more natural." „In the beginning I was wondering about the nature of this typical Central and Eastern European disease, how we could send back politics and politicians to the parliament. And today after the clearing of the basic concepts and the standpoints of the analysis we should realize why the mixture is more natural. But taking into consideration each kind of relationship between literature, art and politics, the connection point, more precisely the »path« of linking together is the same: the process of artistic reflection. We have to explore these processes in order to get to valid theoretical results, because this is the almighty factor of the process of birth and existence of arts and — at the same time — of any objectification of human existence. The distance from ontology of literature to the aesthetics of literature with all its obstacles can be discovered and mapped — and renewed by analyzing this process of the reflection. (At least to the extent possible starting from theoretical considerations towards praxis. See the title...)" (55) - It seems to be a paradox, but „purifying" the basic categories of the Central and Eastern European self-interpretation we shall discover that in the domain of literature and art the category „minority" loses its meaning. Moreover (except, of course, its concrete-scientific-sociological roots) it has never had any. Its deconstructions proves it well enough.
Identity for most of us, for the literary and art theories, respectively for the social sciences is actually a question of language. „The nation is living in its language." Is it? It isn't enough to reply and reply again, moreover, it's a mistake. A superficial mistake. It is indifferent whether these two people by me are clever and gifted in Japanese or English, rich or energetic in Hungarian or in Swedish. They are clever and gifted and rich and energetic etc. Identity is first of all an “a priori” system which defines us much before its shaping — and communication — in linguistic forms: concepts, words, notions, sentences, texts, conversations. „The nation is living in its language." As a very often quoted maxim this idea has been living in Transylvania for a long time, we can find its different drafts in texts by the classics of the 18th and 19th century, by György Besseneyi (1775), Sándor Kisfaludy (1807), Károly Kisfaludy (1817), Ferenc Kölcsey (1827), István Széchenyi (1830, 1831), János Arany (1850). (56) In „minoritarian situation" the Hungarians have always tried to save their mother tongue — the spiritual space of their existence. That means the Hungarians, the Transylvanian part of this people discovered one of the basic paragraphs' of Wittgenstein's philosophy much before Wittgenstein itself: the limits of my language mean limits of my world.(57) Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, respectively Derrida's deconstruction killed Wittgenstein's language-theory at first, but not its consequences. At least... not yet. The outlook of this kind is still living and seems to be still effective.
Deconstructing the linguistical structure named „word" the relationship between linguistical frame and sense, we shall firstly realize that at the beginning the idea is absolutely independent from its linguistic form. We need to approach the idea as such. The first moment: the idea is an abstract project (Entwurf) which contains all the previous experiences of the speaker's past. Now, at the time of speaking, in the intention of communication — reciprocal understanding — toward the very next steps and moments of the conversation. „At this point", as an abstract project of the human brain the idea could be expressed in English, German, Hungarian or Japanese, ergo in English, German, Hungarian or Japanese linguistical forms as well. While people are everywhere in the world, more clever or less, energetic or not etc. At the very next, imperceptible next moment we, the speakers: use words to approach ideas starting from the well-known frames. In order to fill the frame we need a connection between the previous abstract sense, a meaning of spiritual nature and the uttered, fulfilled frame. In this relationship the „word" is born. A connection which has become a strong dependence, of an existential importance — we, „the nation", we „are living", we exist „in our language". But this is already the other direction, on the same passage, but in the opposite direction: these two are the main components, the two strong arms of the interaction. The same way and the — thank God — imperceptible difference, the two arms are overlapping and their simultaneity will be the most significant impediment in their investigation. Anybody could say that every language has its intraductible characteristics. Yes, but this is a question of the frames, of the frames' specificity, not that of the universal idea which will be framed, „talked", „spoken" to be expressed. Sense and frame — it's a circle, where does a circle „begin"? Is it just a question of method? So the idea is framed: shaped in an interaction of this kind. The spirit is embodied. — Creation. The act of everyday speaking and writing is analogous with the process of Creation. On the one hand we are living in the little time of our uttered, written words, in —the space and time of our — language. And all this is a newer, newer and newer and continuous repetition: reflection and extension of the events of the big space and time of the Creation. „Identity". I wonder at last — at last ...?! —, in what manner, what proportion is language the medium of literature itself? We can’t be a hundred percent sure. Because... in this, in our internal infinity the „way back" could be and is rationally controlled, so it is searched by the philosophies of language, semiotics, psychology etc. Where... „where" does the language begin to be born, to live? Where is the beginning? „Where" does the Logos begin to separate the sky from the Earth?
We were searching around the psychogenesis of knowledge, by the „steady nucleus". It is natural born, performed (58) or is it constructed and enriched the secondary socializational way described by the constructivists (59), although the elementary human characteristics, personal characteristics are the roots of the personality in the prelogical domain of comprehension, that means they aren't of linguistic nature. On this deep ground — information of 18 billion years: „subconsciousness" — linguistical function° begins to work and this „soft" level, the language, the „mother tongue" is already of national character. Millions of people, communicating in the same language, having the same mother tongue — it is a nation. „Identity". „The nation is living in its language" — those creators, respectively the collective consciousness which has been building up the simplest and richest abstraction — „maxim" — wasn't mistaken, but today we also have to see the events preceding and leading up to this beginning to live. „Minority". Does the „nationality", „minority" frame have any naturally-performed born sense? It concerns people whose number is... — and let's stop here. Let's take a look at them: Their number and, of course, not their human, personal, elementary, preformed, naturally born characteristics are... — etc. At the beginning this frame — as every linguistical frame — is empty. Empty in a universal manner. „Second rank citizens"?! On our way back, in the above described overlapping passage, we filled a sense into it, we have been „living” a meaning into it. So... it has a meaning. But... in fact it hasn't. But it received one, so it has. But it hasn't. But it has. But it hasn't. But it has — and so on. The aftermath? The creators of the Region began to use the attribute „minoritarian" for literature, art, culture, it encroached on and began to define the way of thinking, self-respect and the existence itself of millions in Europe, and for generations we really began to live as „minoritarians". And at last Central and Eastern Europe has become the biggest minority in the world. „Identity". In which we wanted to close ourselves. While it needs to be an open cell. And it is. Following its levels from the depths of the spirit: it has at first an inner universal human character, a personal one, after, that a communitarian and a national one, that of the culture the person is living in, and at last and above all once again a universal human, an external one. How to re-create a person? No level has any meaning, no one can exist without the other...
According to Helmut Willke to define the identity of a community it isn't enough to describe, to characterize it from outside, we need to interpret its own self-characterization (61). For instance a part of the Transylvanian Hungarians is still living in the internal space of some — few... — cultural symbols. (62) This system of symbols was embraced in politically-ideologically-sociologically polluted concepts, our fathers became really and, even more, exaggeratedly „minoritarians". Today the younger generations are purifying the spiritual space of some sacralized words, „e non dice parole/e nessuno ti parla.” (63) But what is to be used instead? Nobody wants to substitute this concept. This is a total misunderstanding of the challenge. Was it very useful in the political conversations? „Very useful"? There is no place here to analyze how useful it was; according to politics most of the „majority” thinks the „minority" is demanding too much. (64) Today we simply need to send this term home to its domain — politics, sociology, law —, and liberate the ways for the development of the spirit. Opening these ways after Gadamer's Wahrheit and Methode and after Derrida's deconstruction we have to speak about a re-constructional youth, about their turn to do the search of the oldest, steady and lasting stones of metaphysics. Old categories — maybe for a few years their use meant a compromise, but all that was just a period in their history, 40 years, 70 years, a period that is closed. Now: we would like to be their meaning. „We need to turn back to the beginning" — said Gorchakow in Andrei Tarkovski's Nostalghia. To accept the plainly inherited cultural tradition means a simple integration, it means that the former poor way of safe-keeping of the values continues unchanged. Where are the great turns? To end and fulfill the turns means: to purify and to enlarge the senses of the categories of our self-interpretation, to go back in time and on the way into our present, step over the nearest past tradition, which still sends its still unrecognized army of shadows to attack, and to make it disappear. To work, to create, to think, to live without influences of that kind —.this lights up the ways to the real freedom today. The artwork isn't „important", „of a highest rank" or... simple „good" for its ideological aura anymore, but the receiver has a text as text, a picture as picture, a film as film, and he isn't simply receiving it, but he is living the artwork in its largest possibilities. Until 1989 the history of literature and arts was social history — now the disciplines must and can be separated. „Tradition". Heidegger proved that we are thinking in the play-field of tradition, it is dominating us when it liberates us from a way of thinking about the past to a way of thinking about the future which isn't a plan anymore. „Erst wenn wir uns denkend dem schon Gedachten zuwenden, werden wir verwendet für das noch zu denkende." (65) This attitude is still respect towards tradition, but since 1989 Central and Eastern Europe's renewing has been continuing the cosmic human tradition in the largest sense of the word. Should we give this direction a new political importance? Our space of departure is still the same: the circle of the literary-linguistical functions? The possibilities of the language, of the Logos are unlimited. And approaching the end of the second cycle of civilization we are searching the only right way, truth and life which ensure us perspectives.
What is happening? What can we do?
Almost 8 billion people are standing before Faustus. Let's take a look and speak about them now — could anybody tell us which of us is still a so-called „minoritarian"?
53 The nation is living in its language. (A maxim)
54 See Rickert's „Seinsschichten"...
55 Józsa I.: Kozép-kelet-európai utópia (Central-Eastern-European Utopia). Korunk, 1992. 8.
56 Békés I.: Napjaink szállóigéi (Contemorary Maxims). Gondolat, Budapest, 1977, II. p. 742.
57 L. Wittgenstein: Tractatus logico-philosophicus. 5. 6
58 J. Piaget: Epistemologie génétique
Théories du langage. Théories de l'apprentissage. Le debat entre Jean Piaget et Noam Chomsky organisé et recueilli par Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Éditions de Seuil, 1982. Ulric Neisser: Megismerés és valóság (Cognition and Reality). Gondolat, Budapest, 1984.
" See E. Cassirer: Philosophie der symbolischen Formen. Erster Teil: Die Sprache. Bruno Cassirer Verlag, Berlin, 1923.
61 H. Willke: Systemtheorie entwickelter Geseilschaften. Juventa Verlag, Weinheim und München, 1989., p. 75-81.
62 Józsa I.: Kalandok egy gondolati tér megragadásához (Adventures to Embrace a Spiritual Space). Barka, 1996.4
63 Cesare Pavese: Di salmastro e di terra
64 I. Józsa: Nationalismus als Droge? Zugange, 1993. 14.
65 M. Heidegger: Der Satz der Identitat. In: Identitat and Differenz. Gunther Neske, Pfullingen, 1957., p. 12-34