‘Latvia: Europe’s Nation of Introverts’

Latvians are often self-deprecating about their culture’s tendency towards introversion, but could this personality trait be the key to their creative identity?

LB’s NOTE: I fully intended to have another post about tips for PEOPLE’S PILOT 2018 entrants today, but a funny thing happened on my way to my keyboard: The Brodys got a new puppy.

More likely than not, considering how popular dogs are in the Western world. (I hear they’re popular in the East as well, but not necessarily as friends or pets…) you know what that does to the best of intentions.

It’s – Layla, Queen of Digestive Services. Oh yeah!

Right – it turns them into grist for the real purpose of puppy owning life: Cleaning up pee and poo. So instead of writing anything, here I am, hysterically living the life (read, “breaking in the pooper scooper and buying newspapers by the half ton”  for the adorable little creature on the left.

All is not lost, however. Compensating for my new servitude is a new kind of liberation.

The following substitute post has nothing to do with writing at all. But inasmuch as I’m of Latvian descent (you didn’t know? For shame…on me for not revealing it before) I’m fascinated by the observations here.

Well, more than fascinated. This nonjudgemental justification for my particular brand of lifelong anti-social behavior has freed me from guilt at last. And given me a whole new insight into what may well be the true nature of my creativity.

And maybe yours as well.

So, please, read on:

by Christine Ro

In a comic book produced by the organisation Latvian Literature for the recent London Book Fair, the main character gives a rare smile on realising that the weather outside is perfect. That is, it’s heavily snowing, and thus he’s unlikely to meet anyone out on the roads. As he says, “below zero = below average risk of random encounter”.

The comic is part of Latvian Literature’s #IAMINTROVERT campaign to celebrate – and affectionately make fun of – a kind of social reserve that Anete Konste, a Latvian publicist and writer who devised the campaign, sees as very representative of her nation. “I don’t think our campaign is an exaggeration at all,” she said. “In reality it’s even worse!”

I understood what she meant as soon as I arrived in the Baltic state. My first day walking through Riga, Latvia’s capital city, was unlike walking through the capital of any other European country. It was more serene. The sun shone brightly as I strolled towards Kronvalda Park, and at times it seemed like the only sources of noise were passing cars and chattering tourists. When I did see some Latvians walking together, they often did so silently and with plenty of space in between. I sensed that these aren’t the most gregarious of people.

This feeling was confirmed on an hour-long train trip from Riga to Sigulda. As we whizzed north-east through thick pine forests, my friends and I alternately admired the scenery and played a film trivia game. We were getting excitable, shouting out answers, when it dawned on us that we were the only ones in the train compartment speaking.

But why are Latvians often so reserved, at least at first? There is no cut-and-dried answer, but studies have shown a link between creativity and a preference for solitude. Konste has seen this first hand in her line of work; in fact, she believes that introversion is especially heightened among those in creative fields, such as authors, artists and architects. Meanwhile, Latvian psychologists have suggested that creativity is important to Latvian self-identity, so much so that creativity is a priority in the Latvian government’s educational and economic development plans. The European Commission has reported that Latvia has one of the highest shares of the creative labour market in the European Union….

Read it all at the BBC

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.