This is a note of the inauguration speech, done in Nov 2011:
Dear friends of the Republic of Užupis, dear Excellencies, dear members of the diplomatic choir,
Hereby I present you the idea of the Embassy on Survival, which is one the most important resorts within all governments of the world. Please follow my argumentation, buy you a couple of beers and enjoy the history of survival since Jesus’ survival 2010 years ago.
“Survival” is a highly philosophical term, in the ontological view it means nothing else then simply being, although the word itself gives an irritated connotation: “über-leben” in German means the meta-level above the life. This opens the window to find out, what is behind it. Looking a bit clearer to the word “survival”, it has an ethical component, which loads the term with a negative connotation and means: “being under difficult circumstances” or “live along the border to death”. Coming back to the ontological level, it means life in its real sense: “being-unlimited”. In the books of the great philosophers Heidegger and Sartre you will find long and nearly not understandable word-constructions, trying to define the ontological “a priori of being”. But as for now, enjoy your beer and let your brain hang back to your last situation of survival.
Who never felt sad and lonely? Who never went through times of darkness? Ask yourself, how did you felt in case:
– you lost your big love?
– you lost your job?
– you made an nonreturnable mistake?
– you buried your best friend?
– you got known about cancer of a relative?
Can you feel the pain? If you cannot feel the sadness now, then order another beer and drink you back to the ontological level! And: Survive!!!
Looking to the term of survival a second time, it’s possible to see another dimension. While the terms “life” and “death” have both an absolute dimension, survival is a more procedural term. “Life is life” I remember to a famous song, even if the mission of the song was another, but it shows the totalitarian dimension of the word. Regarding “death” it’s even easier to understand its totalitarian character, because once you are dead, it’s impossible to survive. Both words are related to Totalitarism. Survival in totalitarian systems had often an existential meaning. “Death or alive!”, that was the parol under Stalin and the other murderers in the past. No choice; survival was not an officially wanted option. I often remembered to the poet and author Ossip Mandelstam, when I went through a turbulent time of illness, sadness and loneliness. Even if you didn’t read Mandelstam’s works, I recommend you to read Robert Littels “The Stalin Epigram”. I did so, and I am highly impressed, how the quite emotional poet was able to survive. Stalin personally caused pressure to him, disabled him to work, split him from his big love and finally sent him to the safe death to the Far East Russia. Mandelstam died near Vladivostok, or more exactly: he finished to survive! Compared to Mandelstam, my own situation wasn’t the half difficult. No totalitarian pressure, just psychological depressions due to tragic circumstances… That makes a big difference!
Survival is – so to seen – a term of freedom: to make a choice for life, even if it’s hard. As Ambassador on Survival I see my job in giving the people of the Republic of Užupis a philosophical base to understand the difference between the totalitarian word-couple “life and death” and the freedom-term “survival”. Nearby to the Republic of Užupis you will find a best practice example for understanding the difference. The neighboring Republic of Belarus still executes the death penalty, you see exactly, what I mean: death or alive, no chance for survival. A bit more tricky to understand, but simply the existence of Belarusian persons in political exile shows exactly, what I mean with survival as a term of freedom. My friends Pavel, Andrei and others had no chance to survive in Belarus, but abroad in freedom. I want to remind you to a complete university in exile (EGU), in the neighboring city of Vilnius.
I am happy and proud the same time to hold the flag of the free and independent Republic of Užupis in all those Winds of Change, whenever freedom is in danger, in order to enable survival for the citizen of Užupis. Survival is at least each ones choice to live in freedom. “Being unlimited” to stress Heideggers term, in the limited time we all got as a present to live on this planet earth. So let’s live now and cheerz for more beers. But don’t forget: each beer brings us closer to death, but it may help to survive this tragic moment…
Mirko Sennewald, Užupis ambassador to Survival