way of the samurai

Just when this gray weather has me contemplating suicide, some little soldier inside me convinces me to go on. I have been struggling, both with cultural differences as well as physical challenges. I think people misinterpret the Estonian ideal of stoicism as being somehow Germanic, but I have after many years here begun to appreciate the populace’s farther eastern links. (Ask yourself this, could any Estonian ever give a rousing, Nuremberg-like speech?) They aren’t some warlike tribe from the central European peneplain, no, they are from the silent, distant east, like blond Yupik or something. So I can forgive myself for feeling lost, as lost as any Westerner would feel in, say, Japan. My eldest daughter’s obsession with Japanese anime hints at recognition of that island country’s mentality, the warrior-poet Art of the Samurai corresponding roughly to the stiff-backed, impersonal manner of Swedbank customer service, or the static reception you get at Eesti Post. There is a woman who works at Eesti Post who is most fetching, but whenever I give her the eye, she shrinks and wilts, as if she has never seen the sunlight.

7 thoughts on “way of the samurai

  1. Well, as much as like Estonia and Estonians, I've found that public encounters at shops, stations etc. etc. are rather grim – there is certain chilliness in the air on the streets and among strangers that I feel that is lacking even in the pretty laconic neighbouring Finland. I have speculated that a really traumatic recent history and decades long occupation have something to do with it – there is much less public trust and much more cynicism and coldness as compared with, say, Finland and the Scandinavian countries. And is it really a surprise if you compare the histories of these societies – if you compare Nordic welfare state with strong civil society with hostile and potentially live threatening Soviet state that was sowing distrust and fear among the population that was simultaneously under the threat of ethnic-cultural extinction in the Baltics.

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  2. Let's be honest, Blogger is a terrible format. WordPress is much more sophisticated and appealing. At the same time, for whatever reason, hundreds of people visit this website every day. Might as well give them something to read.

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  3. I guess – I post so little that I have lived with Blogger all these years. It is cumbersome all right… I can well understand that this address still gets many visitors – it was the best English language political blog about Estonia! You don't think you'll go back into Estonian political and foreign affairs commentary again?

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  4. Yeah, well, of course that will superior from the literary perspective – you are such a talented writer, perspective and sharp. Politics would call for a blunter instrument. In any case, so nice to see you back in this address, Justin!!!

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