Kaupo Meiel: Our daily exorcism

Kaupo Meiel.
Kaupo Meiel. Source: Verner Vilgas / ERR

Leading politicians increasingly see the people as possessed by an evil spirit. Reversely, more than a few who initially welcomed Estonia's first female prime minister likely now feel that "what looked like the morning was really the beginning of an endless night," Kaupo Meiel finds in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

William Peter Blatty's legendary horror novel "The Exorcist" written a devil's dozen years after the birth of President Alar Karis in 1971 was finally published in Estonian this fall (translated by Silver Sära).

The Fantaasia publishing house and editor of the "Orpheuse raamatukogu" (Orpheus' Library) series of books Raul Sulbi probably felt that the age of the coronavirus, climate and toiler paper crises is just the time to bring this supernatural literary work to the Estonian reader.

I am currently in the middle of the "The Exorcist," but the more I read, the more I come to realize that Fantaasia and Sulbi were right: the novel fits the times like a glove.

"The Exorcist" tells the bloodcurdling tale of a girl possessed by an ancient demon called Pazuzu. The teenage girl's loved ones are understandably alarmed and look both to medicine and the Catholic Church for a way out of the terrible situation.

I do not know whether there is a happy or sad ending, while it is also true that good and bad are relative concepts, because if the reader is rooting for the evil spirit getting rid of whom is the mission of the other characters, Pazuzu and his sinister agenda being banished back to hell would constitute an unfortunate ending indeed. Let us read and see.

But even the first third of Blatty's book is enough to see that our everyday lives have also become one endless exorcism. It is especially obvious in observations pertaining to the coronavirus and vaccination. Sooner or later, either side arrives at the ironclad conclusion that those who disagree must be possessed or otherwise at the mercy of the forces of evil.

People have long since stopped listening to what the other camp has to say as they must be possessed, whereas the only known cure is a good old exorcism. Those in the wrong are only forgiven because one seized by a demon cannot possibly know what they are talking about.

The label of "possessed" is happily stamped on the foreheads also of those who really are only doing their jobs or following the law, trying to act as conciliators between the two sides. There is no interim now – there is one or the other, with exorcism the sole cure in both cases.

While on the topic of exorcism, I also remembered how young climate activist Greta Thunberg shouted, "How dare you!" to heads of states in the UN back in 2019. A classic exorcism. The climate protest that took place during the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow and where the participants were equipped with candles only reinforced the impression.

It is only a short leap from here to torch-lit marches in Estonia. That fire has a cleansing effect and setting fire to a demon's abode and the demon itself makes the world a much cleaner and better place has been known since antiquity.

Argumentation and calm explanation no longer achieves anything these days. Whether the topic is Rail Baltic, eating meat or bicycle paths, one's conversation partner still comes across as acutely in need of an exorcism.

When a fellow citizen needs to be convinced to get the shot, refuse to do so or change their views on climate, no time is wasted on conversation. It is best to lay out candles, holy texts and other sacred aids, complemented, just in case, by a mallet and a wooden stake to be plunged into the conversation partner's heart for a final solution, in advance.

All of it also applies to politics, rather the relationship between politicians and citizens. Time and again, politicians see the people as possessed by an evil spirit. Reversely, more than a few who initially welcomed Estonia's first female prime minister likely now feel that "what looked like the morning was really the beginning of an endless night," to quote Blatty.

As a positive person by nature and one tired of the ceaseless ranting, I would very much like for our daily exorcism to be replaced with something more productive and less mystical, while I have no good recipe to offer yet as I'm still just half way into Blatty's spooky novel. I will tell you once I finish reading. Or better yet, you can read it yourselves.

In the meantime, I will be carrying a bottle of water blessed by Kaja Kallas in one pocket and a vial sanctified by Kalle Grünthal in the other. You never know when either might come in handy.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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