Culture is based on human communication, and language is the main means of communication. In an open world, Estonian culture is affected by two important factors. Estonia, as a territorial cultural area, is located in between two types of diversity. One of which is related to local identities and languages. Some examples include the Võro-medium primary school and radio programmes broadcast in the Võro language. The other type of diversity is related Europe. Estonia, being a member of a union of countries, has increased the need to mediate others and self, and to be a translating and interpreting Estonia. Estonia as a virtual cultural area is part of the international cultural area – Estonia is an open country in an open world. In terms of cultural identity, this implies the need for a dialogue between the local and international cultures. However, the development of that dialogue is hindered by differences in cultural experiences and memory. The identity of languages of culture is based on language proficiency. In an open world, culture is subject to a constant inflow of new technology, options, topics, and means of expression as well as of new values.
The self and other, coming into contact with each other may change culture or may also lead to conflicts. Therefore, self-description has a special place in any culture. This Human Development Report is a means of self-description. This article seeks to highlight 1) how understanding languages of culture is linked to cultural memory and experience; 2) what the difficulties are in understanding languages of culture in the context of contacts between the self and other; 3) the communication of languages of culture and their relationship in the context of transmediality and crossmediality; and 4) the importance of teaching languages of culture and descriptive languages as well as the need to develop humanities are challenges of sustainable society.
The most universal feature of any culture is the capability of self-description. A dialogue with other cultures and with one’s own culture is based on the ability for self-description. A dialogue with the self and with others helps to create a self-model of a culture, i.e. its self-image.
In self-description, culture is richest where it creates and uses the maximum possible number of languages that diversify its self-image. In similarity to nature, it is diversity that makes culture rich.
Cultural diversity includes the diversity of languages used in cultural self-description. In a coherent culture, self-descriptive languages form a multi-stage system. This creates a link between the specific and the universal; where a language is used to communicate a cultural experience, that language can be translated into other descriptive languages of higher levels of generalisation. For instance, Estonian film director Elmo Nüganen adapted Albert Kivikas’ book “Names in Marble” into film (2002). The first reactions to the film were political as the then President and Prime Minister hailed it as a masterpiece. The following level of description compared the film with the novel and the introduction of new lines of plot development, which were not present in the book. In a global context, the film was compared to Hollywood battle movies. The highest level of description was a comparative analysis of the film as an artistic whole, comparing it with other Estonian films. Each level used its own descriptive language. Naturally, the term ‘language’ used here is rather broad and the use of plural simply refers to the different uses of natural language (in this case, Estonian): from vernacular, through criticism, to various scientific terminology systems.
Based on the cultural environment, cultural experience depends on, besides first-hand life experience, cultural memory techniques and the way personal and collective memories, i.e. memories of the past, are treated. On the other hand, cultural experience is what underpins the formation and perception of cultural identity. If we look at cultural experience on a more essential level, we arrive at the notion of cultural mediation (i.e. mediated culture). Cultural mediation is an individual and collective capacity to interpret reality; from first-hand experience with mediation into ordinary language and into various languages of culture and types of media, i.e. into the languages of literature, film, theatre and art. Proficiency in these notional languages of culture determines the method and level of self-description, i.e. cultural auto-communication (see: Ojamaa, Torop 2015). Self-description that is based on immediate cultural experience creates a balance between accepting (learning) culture and proficiency in using culture (consumption, sharing, teaching). Such balance depends, in turn, on the balance between the creation of culture and the languages describing culture. Such balance is significantly affected by technological changes in the cultural environment: from the digitalization of everyday culture (digital TV, etc.) to cultural polyglotism, including improved foreign language skills, technical competence and digital literacy (see: Figure 5.2.1.).
It should be kept in mind, however, that the processes of building local identity and adapting to one’s own culture (enculturation) take place in an open world and are inevitably linked to it. Cultural processes increasingly need to take into account both immigration and emigration, which entail direct contacts with alien cultures and the unavoidable participation in acculturation processes as well as exposure to cultural differences.
From the perspective of culture, the mobility of both people and texts in an open world is very important.
Figure 5.2.1. Understanding culture in the modern world
Source: Figure by the author
In terms of process, culture is a system of communication and mediation. This system is balanced if new messages conveyed within culture are based on common or unambiguous cultural experiences. To ensure a common cultural experience, it is important that visual and audio-visual information is available in addition to verbal information. For instance, identity researcher Anthony Smith has come to the conclusion that the verbal sign-system used to describe history needs to be supplemented by visual and audio-visual sign-systems and that the languages of history, literature, paintings, and cinematography function alongside each other (Smith 2000: 45). National history comprises a hierarchy of sign systems, on the one hand, and the relation between verbal, visual and audio-visual expression, on the other hand. In some cultures, paintings or cinematic portrayals of history have been rare for various reasons. If a visual sign-system is not part of the active cultural experience, the visualisation of history may lead to unexpected conflicts. It can be said that what is normal in the verbal sign-system may become unacceptable or shocking when visualised.
Languages of culture and cultural memory
An example of this is the Estonian Food Industry Association’s rapeseed oil advertising campaign (2010), which caused a serious misunderstanding. The point is illustrated by an example of a printed advertisement and a shot from a television commercial.
Figure 5.2.2. TV commercial “The secret of rapeseed oil”
Commissioned by the Estonian Food Industry Association. Production: Kontuur Leo Burnett. TV production: Rudolf Konimois Film. Directed by Kaido Veermäe.
Figure 5.2.3. Printed advertisement “The secret of rapeseed oil”
Commissioned by the Estonian Food Industry Association. Production: Kontuur Leo Burnett.
The printed advertisement’s theme of there being a “secret” (mystical value) was supported by a soundtrack of religious music in the TV commercial. However, as the advertisement did not provide the target group with any specific explanation, this inevitably provoked the question: what was the context within the cultural memory of the Estonians to which the advertisement was referring? The active cultural memory of Estonians includes information about the Ku Klux Klan, a racist organisation, and the hoods worn in the commercial were immediately associated with the pointed hats worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Figure 5.2.4. White robes and pointed hats worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and 1930s.
Source: prweb.com http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5141014.htm.
Only after the debate became public, did the media refer to the actual historical source – Semana Santa – from which the Ku Klux Klan also copied its style. Semana Santa, or Holy Easter Week, is a well-established tradition that has been celebrated in Spain for centuries. The participants wear a capirote (a conical shaped hood) as a sign of penitence and humiliation. Ritual participants wear the hoods during the entire Holy Week, which focuses on the suffering of Christ during his last week of life. The hoods are only taken off on the Passover.
Figure 5.2.5. Semana Santa celebrations in Spain: Keepers of the secret of Christ’s resurrection
Source: Wikimedia Commons, photo Willtron.
The Semana Santa tradition is unfamiliar in Estonia and neither the keyword of ‘secret’ nor the religious music used in the commercial were able to create the correct associations and prevent associations with racism. Some headlines: “The Food Industry Association used the Ku Klux Klan secret order to promote rapeseed oil” (Postimees 3/8/2010), “Authors of the notorious rapeseed oil ad: this is not the KKK” (Postimees 4/8/2010), “Rapeseed oil ad to be changed after accusations of racism” (Eesti Päevaleht 5/8/2010).
The response to this advertising campaign is characteristic of pivotal times. Estonia experienced rapid development after becoming a member of the open world. However, different layers of culture change at different speeds. Information consumption methods change quickly. International TV channels and online publications require adaptations of the English language, quickly. The need for Russian is becoming redundant. However, memory cannot be changed as rapidly. The new information about the world is combined with existing memories. Where new information requires a different cultural memory, a situation arises where one thing is recalled in at least two different ways. This may result in ambiguity or misunderstanding.
Another example concerning cultural memory dates back to 2004; the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 assigned Estonia to the Soviet sphere of influence. During the Second World War, Estonia was occupied twice by the Soviet Union and once by Germany. Estonians were conscripted into both armies: one in three Estonians who fought in the Second World War were doing so in the Soviet Red Army, while two thirds served in the German Army. The Soviet regime recognised those who had fought on the Soviet side. The restoration of Estonia’s independence provided an opportunity to recognise Estonian soldiers who had also fought on the German side. Both were victims of history and from the perspective of Estonia and its history, neither were worse or better than the other were. However, by the time this occurred, Communism and Nazism had very different images in Europe. Estonia as a small country struggled to explain its history to the rest of the world. Thus, Estonians and the rest of Europe had conflicting memories of the Second World War. The world was ready to accept Estonia, but not its recent history.
German-army war veterans carried out an idea for a monument with the inscription “To the Estonian men who fought in 1940-1945 against Bolshevism and for the restoration of Estonian independence” with a bas-relief showing a soldier in the Estonian Legion uniform, holding an automatic gun. The monument, originally unveiled in Pärnu in August 2002, was taken down only nine days later on government orders. The monument was moved to Lihula, before being removed once more on government orders in early September, and then, later again. It was finally returned to its owner in October following a court order. Its current location is at the privately owned Museum of Fight for Estonia’s Freedom in Lagedi, near Tallinn.
Figure 5.2.6. The Lihula monument in Lagedi
Source: Torop, P. Ajaloo keeled. H. Harro-Loit, M. Tasa (eds). Õpetaja kui kultuurimälu vahendaja. Kultuurilise identiteedi mõtestamise ja tõlgendamise võimalusi. Tartu: Kultuuriteooria tippkeskus, 2012, 21–43.
In regard to languages of culture, there were two primary issues. The Estonian government wanted to avoid accusations of Nazism when presenting Estonia to the open world. This was despite President Lennart Meri’s utterances about the similarity of Fascism and Bolshevism or Nazism and Communism for Estonians. For Estonia, a small nation, Germany and the Soviet Union (formerly Russia) are two sides of the same coin – both are seen as occupiers of the Estonian territory. There was also a second problem. The Lihula monument to commemorate the Estonians who had fought in the Second World War in German uniform was merely a visual reproduction of what had been discussed in memoirs and articles for years. However, the media was not used to publishing photos of Estonians in German uniform; there were no plays or films that had accustomed the audiences to seeing Estonians in German uniform. In the context of restoring its independence, Estonia had no experience in using visual language to explain its history. Nor did the government have such experience. The monument features a stylized soldier with the symbol of the Estonian Legion – a hand holding a sword, familiar from the Cross of Liberty, and a letter E – on his collar and an Estonian flag on the cuff; there are no swastikas or SS Bolts.
Figure 5.2.7. Insignia of the Estonian legion – collar and cuff patches and the Cross of Liberty
Source: Torop, P. Ajaloo keeled. H. Harro-Loit, M. Tasa (eds). Õpetaja kui kultuurimälu vahendaja. Kultuurilise identiteedi mõtestamise ja tõlgendamise võimalusi. Tartu: Kultuuriteooria tippkeskus, 2012, 21–43.
Nevertheless, the media called the monument Nazist. Thus, one of the causes for the conflict existed in the difference of the languages of history (see: Torop 2012a). Limited cultural experience, an even more limited experience with understanding own history and the difficulties with self-description, particularly in explaining the specificities of our history to the world, including Europe, at both the Government and mass media level – all contributed to the problem. From the perspective of cultural experience, the removal and relocation of the Lihula monument also had a positive side as an increasing number of articles and visual materials were published in the media about the Estonians who were inevitably fated to wear German uniforms in the last world war. Mart Laar’s books “The Estonian Legion in Words and Pictures” (2008) and “The Estonian Soldier in World War II” (2009) have also contributed to the introduction of a new language of history. An auto-communicative teaching mechanism was activated; in addition to written texts, visual images were used to explain Estonian history to Estonians. An example of such an audio-visual process is Elmo Nüganen’s historical film “1944” (2015). The film is set in Estonia and the story is told from the viewpoint of Estonians fighting on both the Russian and German sides. The director has called it a conciliation film. The journey, from the removal of the Lihula monument to the film “1944”, is an example of culture as a learning process and of the relations between verbal, visual and audio-visual depictions of history.
Languages of culture and identity
Culture and the different art forms within it acknowledge themselves through identity. Cultural identity is intertwined with social identity. However, a situation may arise where cultural and social identities clash. At certain times, it is important to be familiar with different styles of art in order to enjoy and understand it, and the differences between impressionist, cubist, surrealist and abstract paintings. Yet at other times, art becomes dangerously close to reality when expressing its figurativeness. For instance, hyperrealism in the form of “slide paintings” offers a bizarre reality while the introduction of moving pictures and screens to galleries puts the viewer in a more challenging situation. Art museums and galleries start to tell stories in addition to displaying paintings. It requires patience to watch an entire clip through because time is equal to space. Each work of art tells its own story. When stories and video art alternatives are paired with paintings, the story of the exhibition can also become important.
Curator art, i.e. the art of putting on an exhibition and telling stories has become an important part of modern art. For instance, in February-March 2015, the Tartu Art Museum put on a curator exhibition called “My Poland. On Recalling and Forgetting”. The exhibition comprised of: a set of documents (concerning the setting up of an installation – an artificial palm tree – on the Jerusalem Avenue in Warsaw, Poland), a short comic (by an American artist of Swedish descent; the comic described Holocaust on the example of Poland), a black-and-white photograph, and an oil painting (both by Estonian authors). As well as an installation (a fuse forming the word Warsaw), and three videos (a total of 25 minutes). There was also a 41-page exhibition catalogue with the curator’s text in Estonian and English.
Polish artists provided a larger-than-life-sized photograph: an alternative version of a legendary image of concentration camp survivors standing behind a barbed wire fence, taken during the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. On the photograph, the artists replaced the survivors of the camp with random smiling people. The opposite wall of the same room hosted a large screen showing a 10-minute video of a politician delivering a speech about Poland, the Polish Jewish community, the gap in the society created by Holocaust, guilt, forgiveness and forgetting, at an empty abandoned stadium. It is a complex story and the viewer must focus on both the verbal and audio-visual content. In another room, two videos were shown that were later removed at the insistence of the Jewish community and replaced by a showing of media reports. In one of the two controversial videos, naked people were playing tag in a former gas chamber; in the other, a former concentration camp prisoner had the tattooed number on his skin freshened up.
Figure 5.2.8. Still frame from Artur Żmijewski’s video clip “80064”
Source: Artur Żmijewski’s video clip “80064”
This was a curator’s exhibition, a concept implemented under a specific name. An exhibition should be a whole, through which each part of the exhibition obtains meaning. What is important for each exhibit is its function in the context of the exhibition as a whole and this provides an opportunity to interpret each exhibit individually. However, what happened was that a couple of the videos were watched from a distance, without even entering the museum. The viewers interpreted the videos as a mockery of the Holocaust, without wanting to read the texts and take into account the information displayed in the exhibition room and published in the catalogue. People refused to see it as art. As a compromise, the museum offered to show the videos alongside a guide’s explanations. The local Jewish community rejected the offer. As a result, the videos were replaced by an overview of media reports. The museum had no opportunity to show the art as such and the curating ministry found no way to convince the audience and the public that while art can be complex and unfamiliar, it can also carry a very important message. It is exactly the art related to traumatic memories that is often painful, having at the same time explanatory and even healing effects.
Generally speaking, Estonian culture did not accept the exhibition for the reasons attributable to the museum, the ministry and the media. The institutions responsible for the preservation, protection and popularisation of art were not able to protect themselves or the art against ignorant attacks. Each society has its own traumatic memory and art has the capacity to offer therapy for trauma. However, such therapy is often provided in a complex way. To understand this, we need sufficient cultural experience. In conclusion, what was removed from the exhibition was not an inappropriate work of art but a work of art reflecting an attitude towards the Holocaust, a part of “My Poland”.
This example indicates that diverse cultural experiences and the ability to make a distinction between aesthetic, social, and ideological factors are important in an open world. It is one thing to evaluate the social role of art. It is quite another to reduce the essence of art to the social role and evaluate an art exhibition outside the context of art. It is yet another thing to recognise art, in this specific case video art, as a possible language of culture and, thus, a possible language of interpreting life experience. Understanding this language requires a more analytical descriptive language. This situation puts a culture’s capacity for self-description to the test. This is also an example of how culture as a system does not work if it lacks adequate descriptive languages and the related skills and if there is no coherence between different levels of culture.
Cultural mediation, which lies at the heart of the cultural process, determines the level of cultural knowledge because cultural experience includes an individual’s or group’s ability to describe their reality and perceive existing descriptions offered by others. Cultural experience also includes the ability to agree and tolerate. The current mass migration – both voluntary and forced – and the resulting cultural contacts are nothing new. The exhibition “My Poland” is clear proof of the need for the ability to agree on, and for tolerance in, our cultural experience. Another, more optimistic example is the painful reaction, amplified by the media, to Sofi Oksanen’s way of depicting another Estonian traumatic memory in her novel “Purge” (2008). Nevertheless, the book - as well as its stage and film adaptations - was quite popular. Cultural auto-communications distinguished between factual history and its artistic representation, which laid the foundations for tolerance and acceptance of an unfamiliar descriptive language.
What is important in the development and status of languages of culture, is the relation between belief and analysis when understanding and interpreting culture. Highlighting the non-substantial features of a cultural phenomenon or a work of art and omitting the essential ones raises the question of the lack of professionalism and professional ethics in using or interpreting a language of culture. In a broader sense, this is the question of teaching humanities and humanitarian thinking, the question of the status of our educational system.
Translation of languages of culture into descriptive languages of culture
From the perspective of human development in today’s open world, it is important that culture is coherent and sustainable. Both are closely related to internal dialogue within culture and its relationship with the rest of the world. Internal dialogue is based on cultural auto-communication, i.e. the capacity of culture to give meaning to its components. Therefore, from the perspective of cultural development it is important for the recipients of culture to understand the languages in which culture is created. While the desire to understand may be induced by a work of art itself, cultural dialogue and understanding is promoted by interpreters, i.e. critical judges of different areas of culture. However, this side of cultural mediation, although important, has always been problematic.
Regarding new media, what comes to mind is the notion of ‘new media literacy’, which has still not been introduced to traditional areas. A common feature of the 21st century literary, art, music, theatre and film criticisms in Estonia is that the need for teaching and learning the basics of criticism is recognised. This situation is, on the one hand, attributed to the inadequate analytical capacity of criticism, insufficient understanding of the methods, and a lack of ability to have a deep understanding of the specifics of different areas of culture. Another reason is a decline in the number of publications publishing criticism and thus offering feedback as well as the overdependence of critics on the preferences and attitudes of such publications.
However, there is a common understanding in all spheres of culture that the levels of making culture and the analysis of the outcome are closely linked to each other and that both are essential to culture (see: Torop 2012c).
An example of a comprehensive approach to culture is filmmakers’ visions for the future (see in detail: Torop 2012b), presented in a document entitled “The developments in Estonian Film 2012-2020”. The document covers film as art, film as entertainment and cinematography as an industry – all closely interrelated – as well as film as an identity: “Good films will become the core texts of culture. They embody consciousness through which people relate to each other within a single cultural identity. As such, films form part of education. What is important, after all, is that a film can trigger a debate that leads to the discussion of more important matters. […] While various parties have contributed – in Latin, German, Swedish and Russian – to the creation of Estonian culture, Estonia is still the only place in the world where Estonian-language films are made. The latter is one of the most important factors of ‘legitimizing’ local culture among numerous other options, in particular for young people.”
The role of film in shaping identity also depends on how and at which level films are interpreted. “The developments in Estonian Film 2012-2020” is also a document that understands the essence of film culture very well. Cinematography, similarly to any other form of art, is part of culture as creation; however, no creation can exist without recipients, and between the passive buyer of an admission ticket and the film there are numerous levels of interpretation; aimed at the film and its authors, the audience, or all at the same time. These levels of interpretation provide feedback about Estonian films. Therefore, the document also deals with the history and science of cinematography: “Promoting cinematography ensures that new film-makers understand our common history; that the knowledge and skills of cinematographers are preserved and that film criticism – one of the most important feedback mechanisms – remains at a high level.”
When speaking about development in each sphere of culture we reach the conclusion that the development of new languages of culture and innovation should go hand in hand with the development of new descriptive languages.
The emergence of new languages of culture requires the emergence of new descriptive languages. In an open world, the development of digital technology and the related participatory culture, accompanied by highly personalised consumption of culture and the mechanisms of cultural mediation, for example through blogs and social media, play an increasing role. This also leads to the discussion of the diversity and quality of the humanities.
New languages of culture and cultural education
Additionally, films are not only a source of printed texts, but of various audio-visual or multimedia texts, such as blogs or short parodies. Two parallel terms have emerged. Just as cultural processes have two directions – one, which is shaped by cultural policies and institutions; and the other, which is based on the creativity and self-expression of authors and teams of authors – can we distinguish between transmedial and crossmedial approaches to culture. A transmedial approach to culture means that the same story is recycled by various types of mediums: a novel is adapted to a film or a play, a comic or a computer game (see: Torop 2011: 78 et seq.). While translation from one medium into another is common in cultural history, in the context of new media all texts created as a result of this process can be consumed simultaneously. The result is a transmedial story world, and digital reading in which different media complement each other and enrich cultural experience.
Such reading can be used in education. This will take us to crossmedial cultural processes that are based on the systematic use of different media to convey messages to target groups in education or politics (see: Saldre, Torop 2012). The technical possibilities provided by both transmedia and crossmedia (treated as synonyms by some authors, but not here) are universal, and cross cultural borders. An example of crossmedia is the adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Idiot” by Estonian director Rainer Sarnet (2011), the promotion of which started with the introduction of the film to teachers of literature at both Estonian and Russian medium schools. The teachers also received a DVD with clips from the film and methodical materials for schools, i.e. the film project was also an educational project.
Herein, the educational function of culture takes four forms: 1) translation from one medium into another; 2) introduction of new or novel languages of culture; 3) combining a cultural event with an educational one in the marketing process; 4) the development of cultural literacy. Interpreting becomes a very important factor in translation because, unlike natural languages, unambiguous translation from one language of culture to another (e.g. from verbal into visual) is not possible. Examples include Estonia’s first animated selection of poetry “Black ceiling” (2007) in which seven animators interpret works by seven Estonian poets. The texts are read aloud on the film (some in English) and the viewers can also read the texts as the DVD comes with a book of the poems in both Estonian and English. This includes, in principle, all adaptations of literary works to film or stage play. “Black ceiling” is also a good example of an auto-communication of culture to the representatives of other cultures.
In addition to the mediation of other cultures, the translation and interpreting of own culture to the rest of the world – to introduce ourselves both to the open world and to the people migrating to Estonia – is becoming increasingly important.
Visual and audio-visual mediation is the fastest, but can cause ambiguity or misunderstandings. The relation between the visual and verbal interpretations of culture requires that account is taken of regional (East vs. West), religious (Christianity vs. Islam), and educational (rural vs. urban; educated vs. less educated), etc. factors. On the one hand, this requires a cultural policy strategy directed at minorities and at people’s mass culture consumption patterns. On the other hand, understanding culture and adapting to culture is facilitated by its links with the international cultural experience.
An example of the introduction of new languages is Martti Helde’s “In the Crosswind” (2014), a film about mass deportations which, on the one hand, is associated with the poetics of modern slowness, which is internationally appreciated in cinematography, and, on the other hand, is a novel approach to the topic. Examples of a cultural event turned into an educational event are Sarnet’s film “The Idiot”, already mentioned above, and Nüganen’s conciliation film “1944”. The comic book “Different Tammsaare” (2008), which is based on Anton Hansen Tammsaare’s works, was also an educational project by the A. H. Tammsaare Museum.
Constant criticism, with an emphasis on education in particular, is important for cultural literacy. Emphasis on education is an increasing trend. Regarding conventional media, this is most apparent in cinematography (see: Metzger 2007); while in relation to new media literacy educational issues relate to digital humanities (see: Kress 2003, Ho et al. 2011, Messaris 2012).
With regard to these examples, it is important to bear in mind that the analysis of cultural experience and the creation of descriptive languages of culture are no longer a question of one specific culture. Self-description of one culture is linked to self-descriptions of other cultures, resulting in the interaction of identities. Within cultures, each cultural minority creates their own identity and constructs their own cultural memory. It is essential to know how these identities adapt to the main culture: do they facilitate integration or assimilation, segregation or marginalisation? Public analysis (in mass media as well) of minority identities and educational influence are important for cultural balance and internal dialogue.
The technological progress of culture, media culture moving to the web and the spread of transmedia texts (fan fiction, parodies, etc.) are the processes characteristic of an open world; participation in these processes facilitate their use for the benefit of Estonian culture. A new element of cultural experience is the simultaneous conveyance of messages by different media, mutually enhancing relations between them and the use of such relations in cultural entertainment and education. The consumption of culture and participatory culture are in a reciprocal relationship.
The cultural conflicts described in this article indicate that culture should be seen as a system of mediation, within which the languages used to create and interpret culture evolve together.
Estonian culture needs greater support from cultural and educational policies, not only to improve cultural creativity but also to facilitate cultural interpretation. Without interpretation processes, including expert opinions, we cannot talk about the coherence of culture.
Incoherent culture, however, is susceptible to identity and memory disorders. Therefore, the development of culture is a serious social and economic problem, or more specifically, a must. Culture as a platform for dialogue about important social issues begins from the development of internal dialogue. Today, there is no sphere of culture in Estonia that is happy with its internal dialogue.
The development of languages of culture depends on their creators – and there are many in Estonia. Estonian culture is both independent and international. However, it needs its audience, the users of culture. Cultural criticism and analysis in their various forms can contribute to this and also function as cultural education. Symptomatic dissatisfaction with critical feedback indicates that Estonian culture sometimes lacks the capacity to understand itself, or to make itself understood. This is accompanied by an inability to distinguish between high and low quality content.
In the web, professional criticism is mixed with amateur criticism, which lowers the quality of both the languages of culture and descriptive languages. All societies are vulnerable to the encroachment of mass culture, and the disappearance of people with the capacity to act as experts or analysts capable of making a qualitative distinction. The trends in the identity and dynamics of languages of culture in Estonia depend on the will of cultural and educational policies and their capability to support cultural identity. Cultural identity, like any other identity, is based on self-understanding. Only if we understand ourselves can we understand others and start a dialogue with them and interact with the open world.
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