Hodiaŭ mi parolos pri Esperanto.
WHAT: VIDEO PRESENTATION
WHERE: UNIVERSITY OF THE UNDERGROUND
WHO: CHUCK SMITH, ANA LOWENSTEIN, RENATO CORSETTI, IAN CARTER, RICHARD DELAMORE, OLGA KERZIOUK
THE DREAM OF A PERFECT LANGUAGE OBSESSED EUROPEAN CULTURE, THE STORY OF THE CONFUSION OF THE TONGUES, AND THE ATTEMPT TO REDEEM THE LOSS OF AN ORIGINAL LANGUAGE THROUGH THE REDISCOVERY OR INVENTION OF A LANGUAGE COMMON TO ALL HUMANITY CAN BE FOUND IN EVERY CULTURE.
Esperanto, which literally means “one who hopes” is a universal auxiliary language created in 1880 by Dr. Zamenhoff, a polish optician.
Based on Roman languages, it is designed not to replace other languages, but to be the language of the world. It is free from the limitations of geography and national identity. It does not serve dogma nor nacionalism nor money, but the conscience of its users who believe that a shared past is not necessary for those who decide to make a better world, only a shared future.
The story of this movement is one of great resilience, adaptation and renovation. The early concept of the “fina venko”, the final triumph of Esperanto as a universal language, has died a thousand deaths. The language has been used by polish insurgents; chinese, cuban and russian communists (Including Mao himself), banned by Hitler, Stalin and McCarthy.It has been formally taught at schools, close to being the official language of the UN and the EU. Members hold annual international conventions attended by thousands of people. They have their own messaging app, a couchsurfing service and is part of Duolingo.
So, Why hasn’t the movement succeeded?
Infiltrating the language was not an issue, the community welcomes outsiders and encourages collaborations from those willing to learn the language. Taking courses allowed me to get in touch with esperantists at a global level. The problem for me was managing to discuss with them topics beyond the grammatical aspects of the language itself.
For me, the language is just the tip of the iceberg. What keeps the movement afloat, what makes it relevant, is what it is said with it. I adopted a multiply and you will conquer kind of attitude. I posted on every blog, forum, and social media group I could find, focusing not on the language but in what it is that Esperantists believe in now. Is it universality?
ESPERANTISTS ARE LINGUISTIC EVANGELISTS. THE LANGUAGE, OF COURSE, WAS DESIGNED PRECISELY TO TRANSCEND LINGUISTIC NATIONALISM AND ULTIMATELY AVOID CONFLICT, BUT THE END RESULT IS SIMILAR: A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE INTENSELY INVESTED IN SEEING THEIR LANGUAGE SPREAD.
It became clear that it is not, at least not in a Fina Venko kind of way. This was a relief because I was weary of yet another western movement coming to save humanity with words of freedom and unity. But also very worrying because, by the time I had already set in motion a series of experiments, or literal illustrations of the doubts that had emerged from my early research and interviews.
I got in touch with the International Esperanto Association in The United States. Can Esperanto to be the language in Mars if we ever settle there? Should Esperanto be combined with Blyssimbols? Esperanto enables people not only to talk past their differences but also about them. Could it be the language Argentineans and British use to finally put the Falklands’ conflict to rest? Can we do VR Esperanto dinner parties? Should we broadcast them live? What does “Unity in diversity” mean? How does unification affect the expression of our individual thoughts and needs? And, how much is lost in this process?
I started a movement based exquisite cadaver with other speakers to ideally, have a big movement sequence based on all of the individual movement sequences other Esperantists send. Can we unite them? I organized two silent discos, one in London and the other in Amsterdam.
ESPERANTISTS ENDED UP SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE BUT DANCING TO DIFFERENT MUSIC
Because, isn’t that the point of Esperanto? Respecting each other’s individuality and still being able to coexist?
Is anyone ever speaking the same language? Would the University of the Underground be interested in Esperanto: Universitato de la subtera! Can we get Justin Bieber to record a song in Esperanto like he did in Spanish?
Esperanto has managed to avoid two common afflictions of countercultures: It has neither been rejected, nor absorbed.
ESPERANTO ADDRESSES A PARTICULARLY MODERN PREDICAMENT: TO NEGOTIATE THE COMPETING CLAIMS OF FREE INDIVIDUALS ON THE ONE HAND, AND ON THE OTHER, COMMUNITIES BOUND BY VALUES AND TRADITIONS. ESPERANTISTS RECONCILE LIBERALISM AND COMMUNITARIANISM BY FREELY CHOOSING A TRADITION OF IDEALS.
Enabling change within the movement was challenging but I decided to push forward.
Firstly, because I still believe in the ideology behind the language. It is people convinced that they have the ability to communicate and comprehend each other better by joining through land, politics or religion, but through language. Learning Esperanto is an ideological statement, a declaration of hope.
Secondly, because I had to remind myself several times over the summer that we inhabit utopias as flawed humans.
Esperanto is like the root of a tree. It breaks the pavement. And, although it might never come through the surface completely, it reminds us that there is something growing below and that it can slowly destroy what thought to be right.