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November 04 , 2007

Unforced Flourishing

Understanding Jaan Kaplinski


Are we ill-suited for this world? Among Europe's major contemporary poets, Estonia's Jaan Kaplinski offers a rare vision of human advancement and fulfillment: the less we intervene the more we flourish. But how then can we remain involved in what evolves of its own accord? How can we move away from a life forged by human design towards a quietly attentive yet spontaneous responsiveness? In Unforced Flourishing, Thomas Salumets seeks access to Kaplinski's life and work and finds a path to the signature of his thinking. He uncovers a man who craves human closeness that few, if any, can provide, a writer drawn towards wordless communication in a world of words, signs, and symbols, who yearns for the sacred in secular times, and who detects more richness in nature than in the human imagination. Salumets describes Kaplinski as an intellectual attracted to a contrarian sense of self, art, and culture, who searches for his homeland's mystical connections at a time when Estonia firmly aligns with values and modes of thought vastly different from his own. What emerges is a mentality firmly rooted in the belief that the greatest risk to human fulfillment results from human beings themselves. The first major study in English of one of Eastern Europe's most important literary figures, Unforced Flourishing details Kaplinski’s embrace of that which is undifferentiated, intuitive, non-calculative, and natural in the modern world.
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