One of the most perplexing things for a so-called "Western" person resident in Estonia is the absence of "The Sixties," these arguments that have been raging for forty-odd years about things that younger people have to study up on to understand, but still make older people reach for their daggers, as if the Hippies were the beginning of the downfall of Western civilization or the heralds of a new age, an "Age of Aquarius," where blacks could be president, popular newsmen could be openly gay, and management entirely female.
It didn't happen here. There was no Estonian Watts, no Estonian Woodstock, no Estonian Stonewall Rebellion, no Estonian women burning bras. Or were there? It's hard to tell, given the population's desire to glance beyond The Sixties to The Forties, a truly contentious time in Estonian history that few have truly digested (nor it seems ever will). From what I have been able to piece together, The Sixties in Estonia arrived in The Seventies, with prog rock groups like Ruja, the "Estonian Beatles." Maybe it was the heady year of 1968 that started to shake things lose, so by 1980 you had The Letter of 40, this vast national reawakening climaxing in the summer of 1988 with the Singing Revolution.
But then, to make Estonia's "Sixties" understandable to those of us familiar with the American counterpart, then we should look beyond our own details -- civil rights, Vietnam, feminism -- and see Estonia's period of reassessing its values and ideals as one of national survival. I find it interesting that in the 1970s, the heart of the Soviet era, my wife's mother gave her children the oldest Estonian names she could find. That wouldn't happen today. The film Nukitsamees (1981) to me embodies the values of this era - a spooky film about witches with a fluid plot that if looked at through Western lenses, seems quite psychedelic. To think it was made only 12 years after the highly structured "classics" Kevade and Viimne Reliikvia.
To me, this shows that Estonia indeed was going through its own era of redefinition, its own "Sixties," just in its own, Estonian way.
(Itching for Eestimaa, http://palun.blogspot.ca/ )
up from the skies