Sometimes we get asked: how do you come up with a new topic every month? We don’t really think about it, it just comes to us. At first, it scratches silently around the ear and then turns into a more bothersome buzzing. We share these feelings among ourselves and finally, our heads fill up with a whole symphony of questions that require answers, and a chorus of people who can provide them.
The same goes for this issue. At the end of the year, we participated in a new experiential tour of Sugihara’s house, led by Dr. Linas Venclauskas. His thoughts, and considerations about the ethical choices of the Japanese diplomat and other persons – as well as their cost – remained in the back of our brains. After seeing his new book in the bookstore, all I had to do was pick it up, read it, and call Linas to ask for another meeting.
When it comes to choices, you never know when you’ll find yourself in someone else’s shoes. In the shoes of the “other” whose fate you are deciding today. I wonder if many people sensed during the interwar period that the prison in the 9th Fort, intended mainly for political prisoners, would soon turn into a place where Smetona’s intelligentsia was to be imprisoned and later on, into a killing field on an unfathomable scale. Marius Pečiulis, the head of the 9th Fort Museum tells us how one manages to cope with such a weighty heritage.
In January, we finally saw one of the premieres of Kaunas 2022 at the National Kaunas Drama Theater – the play Veidas/Visage based on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Awakening texts and directorial solutions aroused the desire to think further. A couple of messages on Messenger and Viktoras Bachmetjevas, the consultant of the play, was already answering questions about the concept of the “other” in the works of this Kaunas-born personality. Then we flipped through the Cinema Spring program and found that at least 4 films fit the topic of the March issue. Aistė Račaitytė, the head of the festival program, agreed that the topic was apt. If you want to continue the discussion started in the magazine, let’s meet at the Godo bar, which will be the official hangout spot of the festival in Kaunas during March 16 – 26.
We also sat down at Godo with Abdalla Chahine, a Kaunas resident of 8 years. We have danced to his hypnotic rhythms in at least one party over the years, but it was wonderful to see him in the summer in the garden of the Kaunas Artists’ House. That afternoon, by the way, was just one resounding stop in a long process. We also talked with Asta Volungė about culture-driven getting-together or perhaps escapism. In general, we could have symbolically named this issue “Kaunas full of cultures.” Eglė Rušinskaitė, another heroine of this issue, who claims that multiculturalism is the norm for her, not the exception, would surely laugh after seeing such a surprise!
And what do all these stories have in common?