Closed court session. Paul Keres, Lea Pähkel, Kaur Kender. 13th May 2016 (transcribed and translated from court recording by Kosmos)
People mentioned or taking part:
Rein Veidemann – stuck up literary scholar.
Mart Kadastik – writer of old-man-porn.
Hans H Luik – owner of Eesti Ekspress.
Lea Pähkel – the prosecutor.
Kaur Kender – the accused.
Paul Keres – Kaur’s defence attorney.
Court – Judge Leo Kunman
Cross examination of Kaur Kender
Keres: Kaur, why did you write UNTITLED 12?
Kender: Why do I write at all? Because i’m good at it. That’s the first reason, the second reason, is that I love writing, I think that it’s the most important thing in one’s life, to make art. I’ve tried everything in life, but besides art and creation I’m really not interested in anything.
Court: Answer the question directly.
Kender: Why did I write it? At some time during 1999/2000 we were dealing with the question of a child’s custody rights, i borrowed money from Hans H. Luik, I think that it was a few thousand dollars, and since the money ran out, because all sorts of lawyers and trips had their cost, I was unable to pay it back on time. Then, I met with Hans H Luik*1 and told him that I am unable to pay him, all the money was spent on the child, he looked at me and told me: now you have to give the child to me – the child was just one and a half years old, then, at that moment, I felt like satan himself was talking to me. I felt that the ground below my feet was about to open, I felt that I was hearing the most grotesque thing I had ever felt in my life, and it was very upsetting.
Court: You understood that he was talking seriously or making a joke?
Kender: I don’t think such things are funny. I didn’t understand the joke. If it was a joke, then I didn’t understand it.
Court: You do not understand jokes and humor at all?
Kender: I understand them very well, but for me, this, jokes made about my children are not funny to me. It’s a real child. And it shocked me to the bottom of my soul, I had seen, how organized crime works, how all systems of violence work, we see the same thing in prisons, where people are made each others slaves, in this regard, debt is the tool. Debt is the tool of making a slave of a human. Socially, in personal relations and all others.
And the second thing, which I saw making people people run around a lot, is undying lechery, you watch how grown men keep running and running around, fucking around, needing new relationships, new things, especially, when it’s amplified by alcohol and drugs. These are the two things I feel Satan is using to run the world. Undying lechery and undying debt. These are the starting points from which I started writing “Untitled12.” The main character suffers from indelible lechery and he is much richer than all the other characters and so, he is able to enslave them. This is a grotesque satirical picture of society, where I see how Estonias society works – if you’re a rich, ethnic estonian male, you can fuck whoever you want, however you want it’s nobodys business. In short.
And then I wanted to write U12, to pass on that same horror with the instrument of literature, to pass on what I felt, when I was told that I have to give away the child. In literature it’s not so easy to do, because if you are told such a thing personally, it upsets you to the bottom of your soul. How to do the same thing in literature? So you would not be speaking about anyone’s children, im not talking about your children, about your children, I’m not talking about anybody, I only have a white paper with black letters, how to put this horror into an art form? How to cause the fear and disgust I felt towards that sentence, to that situation, to my powerlessness, that I did not have the money, to pay that few thousand dollars, which opened the possiblity to say such a thing to me by the other person.
Court: From your objection it seems, that your main character is related to Hans H Luik?
Kender: No, not in that sense, he is definitely not a protype for me, he is just like – I mean yes, the disgust is written from Hans H Luik, but still it is, let’s put it that way, it’s also composed of many other things. I do not write documentaries, allow me, I write fiction.
Keres: But why so obscenely?
Kender: It’s not obscene at all. I can write a thousand times more obscene. And I will tell you-
Court: So a sequel is to be expected?
Kender: Yes, the name of the sequel is “The son of the prosecutor.” Since I myself am a son of a prosecutor, my father was one. The sequel talks about a prosecutor who has a incestuous relationship with his son, a female prosecutor, and it will probably be published in a few months. I need 10 peaceful days to finish writing it. Untitled 12 is actually the middle part of a three part work.
The first part was published in 2014, it’s called “Inim-Inetus,” and it talks about the relationship of sex and violence in family. There’s a family from Mustamäe where I wrote the most horrific characters I could think of. There, I truly write on the border. Theres a psychopathic woman, who lives at home and his bastardous husband, who’s a porn addict and they live in their bubble of horror, mutually humiliating each other, it’s very nasty, but they are still human, they die and so on, it’s “Inim-Inetus.” (Rough translation: Human-Ugly)
The second part is “Untitled 12,” where Satan is roaming, unpunishable, uninterruptable, he has unlimited amounts of money, he never gets caught. And the third part talks about, which seems to be, the relationship of family, lechery and debt, where the trust of the family is abused, the trust inside family, where incest turns to a whole new page through the relation of power. These are the three parts, I’ve always planned it to be a three part piece, and I will finish it so.
Why did I say that it’s not obscene? You asked a very good question 2-3 days ago, you asked, which countrys literature is the literature you do? It’s a very important question in my case. It’s western literature. Where I’m coming from, all my books, which were named in that American opinion, they are all my predecessors, they’re my contemporaries, they’re my compatriots. My misfortune, for which I’m here for, is that I do this rubbish in Estonian. But you’ve got to understand that as a citizen, my loyalties lie with the Estonian state. As a writer, my loyalty lay with literature and a bit with Estonian language, my readers are such, for whom I could not write such a thing which could be called out as a copy of one thing or a copy of another thing. I quote things, but my readers understand, that this is what is called cultural consistency, the unity, which holds all of us together.
In truth, i’ve only read one obscene, grotesque piece of work in my life. It was written by Pierre Guyotat, the name of this book is Eden, Eden, Eden – it’s 400 pages of such obscenity, such horror, which is beyond my talent. I intend to take this as an example when writing my third part of the work. The horror and obscenity comes from the fact that Pierre Guyotat took part in the Algerian war, he saw a lot of children being killed, children being raped – and his books are like so: if you watch the text from a distance, you feel like it is a big black wall, and if you go closer, then you see, that it is composed of seething, living, dying human flesh and of all other things that come out from a human. And that is truly horrifying. And I truly want to try do the same.
Literature is important in that aspect, that it gives us the means and the language and the words, to deal with situations, that are much more horrifying than those which we have at the moment. There have been wars, there will be wars, we have a lot of people, who have been on missions, they have to write about it. 30% of our children are sexually abused, they have to start writing one day. The list, which came from America, there are a lot of works, which have been written by abused children. They need to have the courage to write of such horror and be certain that a prosecutor will not jump them. And this is what I am doing with my things.
Keres: Okay. How should I ask this? This text, as we’ve seen, contains many sexual acts.
Kender: Not many.
Keres: Not many?
Kender: Only a little.
Keres: It contains sexual acts, right?
Kender: If we look at the text, then it contains a white background and black letters, there are no sexual acts there, there are no children there, there are words, there are sentences, there are full stops. Literature is an awfully privileged genre of art, because writers are alone, writers stand alone, doing thins, which no one else can do. There are only words. And everything you see, is in your head, nowhere else. But there, yeah, in those words is described –
Keres: Yeah, if we as take the starting point the general meaning of letters and the general meaning of words and sentence structures, then the described acts are sexual. Why?
Kender: But why not? We live in a free country, arts are free, I can write what I want. As I’ve understood literature, from the moment I started writing, is that a state can only intervene with literature only if I write a guide how to make a real bomb. Then the state can say, that hey, I do not think you have sneaky purpose, that you are not doing literature. Or if I truly do, but I cheat literature, and write about something else, but everything else is free. Absolutely free.
Keres: How do you take the situations that you describe in your book?
Kender: It’s very complicated, it was very hard to write it until I came up with a trick. The trick is the same that we did in the newspaper, which I took to the prosecutors, I think I should have brought it to court also. We printed 5000 copies of a newspaper which had Untitled 12, where we changed all the ages of the characters to the ages of senior citizens, pensioners. Did you get the newspaper? A 67 year old child who they grab from a playground who they kidnap and a 74 old girl whose guts they pull out. You read and you laugh. Now, the question to me is how did I write it? In the same way, in that regard, writing it was – here’s another question: how to write a joke? If you write it, you already know the punch line, but how do you keep the air inside yourself for such a long time that the reader would find it funny?
The same is with horror, you can only be frightened once. You cannot do it like this, that hey now I’m going to scare you, come here – it just wont work. When you write horror you have to feel the fear, the horror, it helps to think at times that – well, the end of part four, I really like it, the iconic sentence that sums up the chapter: on that weekend he killed 12 children. In my manuscript I had written, that on that weekend he killed 12 000 children. This kept my mind clear, I understand, that it’s just a number and that it’s just idiotic. Because 12 children, well, I think that if 12 children are killed then even the prosecuting magistracy of Estonia would open up a criminal case, which you haven’t done in the case of Hardo Aasmäe, falling down the stairs, I think that if 12 children are killed then even your lights might turn on and you’d understand that hey, maybe we do not have to deal with literature. In regards to that, if I fall down the stairs, I believe, that you probably have a press release already written, that Kender jumped hiself. But to talk about writing, holding the absurdity in my head while writing the book, I went over the top with it to understand, where is the limit of plausibility, so that people would find it horrible, I went a thousand times over the top for myself.
Keres: Going over the top – was it intentional?
Kender: Yes, of course, in that regard, that if you are writing horror, then you can offer solutions in a lot of ways. Actually, you do not want to leave your reader alone inside that horror. You wanna show a way to him. And I think about my reader. I used a lot of scenes from Marquis De Sade in the end, so that everybody, who know literature, love literature, could sigh with relief, that, oh, it was harebrained literature. That it was nothing. Larissa, who’s a character in there, I sewed five vaginas on her, I thought I could sew 17, but I couldn’t find places on the body where to put them.
Keres: So it’s fantasy?
Kender: Oh yes. Words. I’m a word juggler, I’m like Majakovski, I’m like every other, I just juggle with words, words are toys to me, words mean nothing, the meaning of words is an agreement. 20 years ago, if the prosecutor had told someone to bring her a pack of milk, milk could not have been a pack. Dead metaphors, let’s take a bottle, a bottle has a neck. It’s a dead metaphor. Nobody actually sees a neck there. A chair has legs. How can a chair have legs? A chair is not an animal, a chair is not human. These are dead metaphors, the words do not mean what they used to and I, as a writer, practifcally see all the words that I use as such metaphors, I use what seems to me as something, that would cause horror and hilarity in peoples minds.
Keres: You’ve said a number of times now, that you wanted to create horror.
Keres: I understand that what has happened, is that somebody recognized it as pornography.
Kender: I can talk about pornography absolutely honesty.
Keres: Did you think it possible to –
Kender: I was acutely aware that I was writing a non-pornographic text. I had two examples: the first was “Lolita” and the second was “120 days of Sodom.” During this process I have understood Lolita better, I’ve understood better, what Nabokov wanted to do. Nabokov wanted to show the stupidity of power. He just laughs at the hypocritical, bourgeois authority, who wants to see something in there. I thought worse of Nabokov, but actually, he’s a great writer. And he describes erotica and pornography in a sneaky way in front of which the bourgeois are defenceless. It’s the same sort of idiocy as garden gnomes and christmas decorations, if you use decorations and gnomes, raping children is okay for the bourgeois. It’s a joke. It’s Nabokov joking about power.
The second thing that I had as an example was “120 days of Sodom.” And 120 days of Sodom is written in way, that I think that it’s a pornographic text. Why? There is one person, of whos moral position we can be certain of and that’s the narrator. It’s possible to read it like pornography, walking next to the narrator and saying, oh, those are bad, those are certainly perverts, oh look at what they’re doing – as in it is possible to read it as a voyeurist, that is why I wrote my story in such a way that the narrator is invisible. I’ve written in it third person. He is a slave to his cock-stick, this meat-hose excites him, but we do not see, where the narrator is. I’ve taken away from the reader the comfortable spot where he could go and be excited by the text.
I put this text in front of the eyes of the reader, so it would have no hiding places, in this way it’s done well, so there could not be – as far as i know – the possibility to use it in some sort of wrong way, as I used the womens magazine “Soviet woman,” when I was 13. But it’s not the problem of the “Soviet woman,” that a 13 year old boys hormones were raging and he used the magazine for the wrong purpose. Likewise, I can’t do anything if somebody misuses the book. I was very acutely aware, that if I want to create horror, if I want to create disgust then I cannot let sexual excitement be a part of it.
But everyone, I dont know, the humans of contemporary time – we all know what is textual porn. I believe that you have surveilled a lot of people, you know the porn-messages people send each other, you might do the same, everybody sends text messages. What is this textual pornography? Oh I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, I’m going to stick it there. Textual porn is very primitive. There is no place for a long sentence, no place for a symbol or a metaphor, it has to be like this: I do this, I do that, it has to be the same in text.
Keres: So you do not find your text primitive?
Kender: No, far from it. Tarmo Jüristo pointed out a very important thing, I like the fact, that he noticed it, he said, that stilistically, this is my weakest text. Why is that? He understood it, but he didn’t say it, he left the chance for me to say: I am disgusted by oldmanporn. The representatives of oldmanporn is Mart Kadastik, who writes books “spring-cometh-summer” and “summer-cometh-winter” and he, who he has paid his whole life, his so-called justifier in the eyes of the public, Rein Veidemann. And this duo, the two of them, since one was the head editor of “Postimees” and the other was a journalist there, they brought this genre called old-man-porn to the culture room of Estonia. Old-man-porn talks about how a rich man, in a position of power, is trying to get it on with a young woman and then in relation to money and other relations of power, does so, that the woman has to claim that she loves him and there will be a sexual relation. I despise this. I do not like that sort of literature, I do not like how Kadastik is marketing it, I haven’t liked anything about it. And I took the sentence structure and use of imagery – I made U12 a parody of Mart Kadastik’s dribble. But I did it at a much higher artistic level than Mart Kadastik has ever written. I’m a better writer by far.
Keres: Let me think.
Kender: Also, about that, the first time Eesti Ekspress wrote about it, Külli-Riin Tigasson wrote that, old-man-porn is her word, Külli-Riin Tigasson read U12, she’s a friend of literature, and she understood that I am parodying old man literature there. And from that I’m honored with Rein Veidemanns everlasting spite and hate towards me, because Veidemann says that it cannot be literature because it is a parody of his lifelong employers pathetic attempts at high art.
Keres: How are your relations with Rein Veidemann?
Kender: Actually, if I see him on the street, he won’t run, unlike Hans H Luik, Veidemann is not scared of me as a person, but Hans is. But with Veidemann, well he is a pathetic character, he wanted to study Estonian in the university in the past but he could not get into the university so he went ot the military, all his life he has despised what young writers do in the free space of western culture. And I’m, in that regard, well he has reviled me in newspapers, saying that “shit, fuck and crack are breaking into literature,” he has used every available tribune to say, that what I’m doing, is not literature, i have thousands, ten of thousands of readers, so like, I don’t know.
Keres: Okay. Have you given this story to people so they’d read it?
Kender: Untitled 12? Of course.
Keres: To get their opinion on the matter.
Kender: Of course.
Keres: What were the reactions of people?
Kender: A lot depends on their reading history. That’s the most important thing. If you’re familiar with literature of these sorts, you know the whole american thing brought to you, if you like movies such as “Fight Club”, if you like cool things like that, then actually, this text is after you get past the horror – because with horror texts the case is like so: on the second or third reading they become their own parodies. If you’ve read vampire stories or for example, Frankenstein, then when you’re reading it for the second or third time, it’s so funny, it ludicrous, you’ll remember how it scared you, how disgusting it was and then you’ll see – my text is full of sentences which I say directly to the reader, about the text, the first time you read it, there’s a horrifying scene how the character is killing little children, right, and then he says “Die, you boring shit.” And guys who have read it many times, who understand, that the voice of the author says to the text to get over with it, that its so rubbish, that it’s already so boring.
This text is full of such literary tricks. But yeah, I’m telling you, the readership was not supposed to be 100 000 people, of course, I’m grateful for the fame of a child pornography producer, It’s especially cool when walking with my three children around the city, I’m grateful for it all my life, I’m grateful that you didn’t invite any literary experts, I’m grateful to Paul, that we did not give you any literary experts, the first interrogation at the police, when that Niina Zagoravskaja, who’s one despicable-
Pähkel: That’s off-topic –
Kender: It is absolutely on topic, she told me, when I asked that how many books –
Pähkel: Please bring order to your protege, you asked a question that did not touch on the matter currently being –
Kender: Niina Zagoravskaja had read it, and I asked-
Keres: I think that this, at the moment, opens up the subjective side very well.
Kender: Niina Zagoravskaja had read it, probably not voluntarily, and I asked detective Niina Zagoravskaja, how many of my books had she read, and she replied that she “doesn’t like Estonian literature,” I told her, fine, but then don’t investigate Estonian literature. So yes, there are different readers.
Keres: But how was that, sitting face to face – were there people who told you anything about U12 like that?
Keres: What was the main reaction?
Kender: That I’m a great writer.
Keres: But the emotional reaction?
Kender: That It’s wicked intense.
Keres: Wicked intensel?
Kender: In the sense that this text gives no stops to catch your breath, it’s written in a way that you could not close your eyes even for a second. You read it, it comes at you full-speed, I spent a lot of time to pick out all the parts of sentences which could draw your attention from the horror. The horror had to be so thick and compact, because otherwise it will not have it’s effect, otherwise you will just show off, I was thinking –
Keres: What do you mean show off?
Kender: Well I thought of putting U12 in a place like, for example, Klooga’s concentration camp. Let’s imagine that there’s the leader of the concentration camp, who kills and destroys the jews that are there. I thought that I’d create the same sort of sexual pervert in the camp at Klooga. Tens of thousands of jews were killed there, including children and in a very brutal way, I thought that I would put the story there, but then I understood that I’m not ready for it. To write about such a complicated matter as the holocaust. I understood that if I’d start writing it, without background knowledge, without real people, that it would be just show-offing, that I cannot do it. It’s one of those things where you have to be more prepared to go into it.
Keres: What are the main themes of humanity that pass through Untitled 12, if there are any?
Kender: The main theme is the total metamorphosis of humanity when a man has loads of money.
Keres: How is it revealed there?
Kender: All the characters there are dependent on him, all are his slaves. They’re all like objects. There are no humans, everybody is there only to satisfy his needs, we know those human-monstrosities, there is a movie called “Päevad, mis ajasid segadusse,” currently showing in cinemas, it describes a village in the 90s where a local man, who by chance has become rich, terrorises the whole village. It’s kinda the same thing, a rich person terrorises whom he wants. It’s always irritated me, I’ve always despised it. I’ve always had a yearning for something different altogether, where relations like this would not be possible, where things like that would be excluded. But art can slowly push us towards that by showing the ugliness of such systems.
Keres: Well, okay. Yet, somebody turned to the prosecutors office and this force me to ask the following question, that, Kaur, don’t you think, that this book may be treated used as a perverts handbook?
Kender: I don’t now, like, in regards to that, Mark Chapman read “Catcher in the Rye” and went and killed John Lennon. The internet, Facebook, is full of pictures of cats and we do not ask, that might it excite a zoophile? An artist does not have to and cannot think about how a pervert might react. But I should note, that I believe, that perverts and pedophiles are the same type as other people as in they are excited by simple, primitive porn – the simple and primitive being which excites every person. Porn is primitive. And the artist has no other responsibilities.
Keres: Sexual relations or sexual acts described in literature, describe it in your earlier literature also. How, how much?
Kender: Well, you see, I’m a feminist. Im one of the most feminist writers in Estonia. I have a problem with contemporary society. Why is it that men for the most part look like similar dumplings and why is it that every square millimeter of a woman’s body has been made into a fetish by the porn industry and made to generate revenue? I have a problem with that. Why are men so un-sexy? Where are the men in stockings from the times of LouisXIV? Why can’t I be here wearing stockings, excuse me, the uniform clothes we wear are all beautiful, but they’re awfully alike, men are awfully alike, men have been pressed into this single model and women have exploded into some sort of fetish. I have a problem with such phenomena in society. Why is the porn industry like it is? Is it a symptom? Or is it a reason?
I’ve thought about it, for me, it seems to be a symptom. If we read the latest research and so on, it can be seen, that the spread of violent videogames and the spread of pornography have brought down the rates of violent crime, porn has brought down the rates of sexual violence and so on, it can be seen that this modern culture that we have kind of deals with himself on its own. I would like a different kind of society and i’ve said it all the time, beginning with my first book “Iseseisvuspäev,” where for the first time such domestic violence was represented, where a woman is truly beat up. I was the first one. My manner of doings this, starting with my first book, is that I never write the authors smart-ass remarks into my books. i do not write that I think one thing is bad, one thing is good, never. This is not the work an artist should do. I just show how I see horror and it’s up to the reader, how he regards it.
Keres: And your other works are also have this?
Kender: Yeah, loads. Sex and the power of sex and the undying lechery – I’ve dealt with such matters a lot, in many books. I’ve also dealt with the matter of romantic love, Rein Raud like that book, “Ebanormaalne,” but I’ve also dealt with the matters of addiction, sex and all such things in my novel “Check-Out”. in my writings, I’ve dealt a lot with such themes.
Keres: So is U12 also critical of society, does it deal with the problems of society?
Kender: It’s a critique of society. It’s the critique of the system, where, I don’t know, children disappear and no criminal cases are opened. It’s where Varvara’s are raped and the criminals are not found. This is a society where brutal people have a lot of money and they fuck who they want and nobody gives a shit. This is criticism of the system that I see being all around me. That thing, yesterday, that I only point fingers at the prosecutors office or the police, i think that the problem is in this system, that takes so much time away from people that they do not have time left to be with their close ones. I think that the error is in that. I have three children. If I go driving with my three children, my sons, boys like they are, if they do not fasten their seatbelts and the police stops me then I will get fined 2400 euros for endangering the lives of my three children. 2400 euros knocks me on my knees.
I think that we’ve gone mad with this sort of things, like you could fine a person to be a good parent. You can’t. I want good for my childre, when I was growing up, I was sitting in a Žiguli, there were 6 of us there. My father was smoking, all of us were climbing around, no accidents happened, we all survived. This was the sort of freedom, where people wanted to have children. We’ve gone so mad in protecting our children, children have turned into such holyness that nobody wants them anymore. Set the fine at 240 000 euros for an unfastened seatbelt, I think that I would consider giving my children to an orphanage. I’ll go work in a mine, to set them free. 2400 euros is a lot of money. And this is the critique of such a system. And this is what I wanted to show, that we cannot go mad with such things, it has to be different.
Keres: Have you done anything besides writing to change the system that you don’t like?
Kender: I do this gonzo-journalism which is nihilist.fm I also wanted to say, it’s good to say it now, that if Untitled 12 has been read by 100 000 people, then the total amount of people who have read nihilist.fm is 1.6 million who have read writings 13 million times. These are real numbers. We are doing it.
Kender: You see, people have different devices, google shows each individual device, who visits the site on a mobile phone, who uses a computer, you can-
Pähkel: One person visits many times.
Kender: No, it shows different readers.
Pähkel: It shows different devices.
Kender: Yes! Different devices, exactly, 1.6 million different devices. And we also have a lot of english readers, we have had a lot of english stories. And so we do this gonzo-journalism to stand against the matter that the state thinks that he knows anything. The state has never come upon a good idea in the whole of human history. People have good ideas. That’s just the way it is. And we try to be a counterbalance to the state.
Court: But the state is the people.
Kender: But it isn’t. In regards to that, we are people in such a way, I mean, as people, we would not be here. For real. I mean that it’s an interesting question, a very interesting question. Lets imagine a war that rolls over Estonia. Who do we need? You always need a writer. As long as the fire is burning, thats as long we need interesting stories. Writers, storytellers –
Pähkel: ?? before death ??
Kender: -have been in every culture, always. You always need a judge. Going on, we need smarter people who guide us, but it’s kind of like that. We’ve got to understand that with Estonian culture it is the same thing, with Estonian literature it is the same thing, I don’t need the state of Estonia to write Estonian literature, you’ve got to understand it. I do not have such an obligation, I am not a state writer, I’m a writer for the Estonian people for the world. My loyalties lay with world literature, with the Estonian language and my readers. As a human I’m a citizen of the republic. And there is a big difference. It’s the same difference when you think about a judge, if he’s a judge – in his free time he is just a citizen. It’s the same for a writer, it has not been codified, thank god, it has not been put into laws, thank god.
Keres: In this book there are a lot of text segments where there is talk of drugs. Why?
Kender: Again, not a lot, there’s relatively little amount of talk of drugs.
Keres: Okay, it’s relative, but there are segments, where there is talked about drugs.
Kender: Yeah, and they’re talked about in a funny way, in regards, that if we compare it to “Trainspotting”, or to the book published in estonian, by HAPKOMAH, which Rein Raud talked about, then there are not a lot of drugs in “Untitled 12.” Drugs are only there to fool, for a little taste, there is the moment where a woman is skinned alive – all that anatomical absurdity, this is that, if we kill a person using a crazy way, in the text, then, to make such thing anatomically plausible, we say that we are injecting drugs, because then we won’t feel a thing. I was just fooling the reader a lot with those drugs. Let’s inject drugs, then she won’t feel anything and she’ll let us do anything with her. In the end it’s all just fooling.
Keres: Where does the topic of drugs come from?
Kender: Oh, I mean, when I came drugs already existed.
Keres: Why are there so many drugs in your work?
Kender: Look, it’s one of these things which exists in society and which no one is trying to deal with. It is a very stigmatized thing, you cannot speak the truth about drugs, they’ll start accusing you. I took these accusations away from myself as a writer in 2000. Õhtuleht came and asked which drugs had I tried in my life. I told them that I had tried all sorts of drugs, to exclude from the future, that some dumb journalist might start saying that, “Hey, he’s a drug addict,” but well, now I’m a pedophile, congratulations to me who has made child pornography. But especially during the year 2000 the stigma was crazy. And people really do not want drug addicts and such thins in their lives. But you’ve got to talk about it, it has got to be understood, it has to be dealt with in society.
Keres: But why talk? Why do you have to talk about drugs?
Kender: Because we have such a small amount of people and we cannot be allowed to lose any people to prisons or drug deaths. We are holding the number one spot in European drug deaths for the last 10 years, people are dying of fentanyl, in Europe, it’s only in Estonia, it’s not in Latvia, Finland or Russia, we are the only unique country over here with it. If we do not talk about it, there’s nobody to talk about it in our place. And this is the duty of Estonias creators, writers, journalists. Just like with the children who are abused.
Keres: But else have you done besides talking about such issues?
Kender: We presented an appeal to the Riigikogu, which we actually received an official answer to yesterday, where it was reported what has been done regarding the issue. I do not have-
Keres: What kind of appeal was it?
Kender: We presented an appeal in which we demanded an instant moratorium for all cannabis related crimes. We demanded the evaluation of cannabis related crimes. We demanded injection rooms and heroin assisted treatment for fentanyl addicts, there were a few more bullet points which I can’t remember at the moment, we did it in September, last year. I personally took the appeal to Eiki Nestor and I’ve also-
Keres: What did Eiki Nestor say?
Kender: Eiki Nestor asked me if I had told the interior minister that the market volume of fentanyl might be 200 million euros a year. Of course i had not told Pevkur, because I believe that Pevkur is part of the problem. Pevkur talks about the police and uses the word “we.” “We saw the violent criminal from Tartu, we caught him in Jõgeva, then we interrogated him.” This man is supposed to be civilian control, he cannot be “we” with the police. He must stand for us. But he uses the form “we.” I imagine, Elmar Vaher is a cool bloke, totally, patting on Pevkurs shoulder and saying, “Aren’t we hard dudes?” – “Oh yes, we are.” He’s dealt with things like that. I haven’t talked with Pevkur. But I believe that there will be a better coalition and it will be possible to talk about it, because this is serious.
Keres: But there are also other people who fight the war on drugs, for example, Ken-Marti Vaher.
Kender: I promised to destroy him. I went to the tv show “Kolmeraudne,” I asked him, that when he was a minister, that how many funerals of people who died of fentanyl had he gone to? He looked at me with this uppity face and he told me, that “those drug deaths fall between many ministerial chairs.” At that moment I felt like smashing his face in. Just. Nearly everything went black, hundreds of people, a lot of people familiar to me have died of that drug. Mihkel Raud put his hand on my knee, and I calmed down, and I swore to him at that moment that I will destroy IRL, who is the author of such drug policies which result in people dying and that I will destroy him as a politician, not a human. Here I am, on trial.
Keres: Have you started your plan of destroying IRL?
Kender: Yes, thrivingly. The percent of people supporting them is now 6%.
Court: You think that it’s due to Kender, that the % has fallen?
Kender: I think so, young people, like, I’ve said it everywhere, that if we wouldn’t have IRL’s drug policies the way they are currently – where we do not turn our attention to the victims, I mean, the book by William Burroughs, “Naked Lunch,” has always been an example to me, if you read it, he describes right at the beginning, that in the drug problem there is only one group of people, who are irreplaceable – the addicts. Drug dealers come and go, the police come and go, the suppliers come and go, but the addicts are the problem. They’re the only ones irreplaceable. As soon, as we find a solution for the addicts, we will destroy the drug business. And I want to destroy the drug business. We’ve got to find a solution for the addicts.
Keres: So you’re saying that Ken-Marti Vaher does not want to destroy the drug business?
Kender: Of course not. I mean, the examples I bring, are Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark, UK, European countries are full of examples, where they’re killing the drug business. Kaido Kõplas, the leader of drug police, told me, that Kaur, in Denmark, the rates of drug related petty crime dropped by 80%, when heroin assisted therapy was brought into play. We can’t do it here, because IRL is against it. Im telling you, I went to riigikogu.
Kender: Yes. Because i want to destroy the drug business. Drug dealing is destroying our society. And if we treat people it’s going to be 10 times cheaper for the state than incarcerating people. I asked Eiki Nestor, the chairman of the state, that why don’t we have a drug problem commitee. He told me, that it costs 55 000 euros, IRL won’t allow it. And this is why Ken-Marti Vaher is my enemy.
Kender: I don’t know, people are sending me photographs, where he is going to the same christmas parties with people from the prosecutors office, the same birthdays, and I think the whole office is under his manual drive.
Kender: Yes, studied together, worked together.
Kohus: ??? the prosecutor behind the desk over there ???
Kender: I do not have such pictures. A lot of stories have sent to me about her, stories, how she rescues the women of pedophiles, but I haven’t published them. There have been stories of the prosecutor Lea Pähkel sent to nihilist, where was the saving of Kaur Hanson’s wife, that she just saved her, but we haven’t bothered to publish them.
Keres: But if stories of miss Pähkel aren’t published, isn’t it kind of contradicting the perspective of nihilist?
Kender: We have nihilist like this: if you want to publish something, then you publish it. You register an account and then you publish, and you are responsible for it. But to it like this, that somebody sends me a story, et hey, can you publish it, I won’t do such a thing. I answer for my own texts, not anybody else.
Keres: What kinds of texts are published on nihilist?
Kender: Powerful texts. There has been a fight between Hardo Pajula and Ahto Lobjakas on the topic of cohabitation law, which Lobjakas won, to the sadness of conservatives. There has been a lot of prose, poetry, journalism, young people talk about their experiences with the police, with the prosecutors office, a lot of writings on the drug policies of the world, a lot of translations.
Keres: Have there been any positive experiences with prosecutors and the police?
Kender: Uuuuh. No. I haven’t read any. I mean, you’ve got to understand.
Keres: I didn’t mean to interrupt-
Kender: You’ve got to understand that young people have a similar experience to mine. I think that I am a western writer and I think that I’m writing in the tradition of western literature. And all of those books we have talked about here, are legal. Lolita, 120 days of Sodom and everything, my work is also legal. I have never had a doubt, that it’s legal. And then along comes a prosecutor, who has never read anything like this and says that in Estonia – it’s criminal. So I’m like the young person who walks on the street smoking weed, we have 20 movies every year in Coca-Cola Plaza, where the main character smokes weed and it’s totally okay culturally, but then the law comes along and says, no, culturally, you’re in Estonia. In my case it’s much worse. I mean, excuse me, but seriously, I’m a western writer.
Keres: But does nihilist have porn?
Kender: No. Nihilist is like, you see, there aren’t many young people in Estonian society, and there’s gonna be less and less of them, we have a demographic problem, young people are very poor and they mostly write about problems. To publish porn in the middle of such matters – it’s not possible, because worrying and sadness and the anger sometimes and the wrath, people feel due to society, it’s not a environment for porn. There’s no porn there. I’ve read a lot of texts there, I havent seen porn. Nobody thinks to put porn on nihilist.
Keres: But what do you think, might somebody think to come search for porn on nihilst?
Kender: I don’t know, the prosecutor came to find porn from my literature, I cannot exclude that they’re searching for porn there also, but I truly cannot imagine, that anybody with a brain would do it.
Keres: *laughs* Okay, got it. If we remove the literary background, if we remove other works of literature, which use horrible words, would you have written such a piece of work?
Kender: Yes, if there wouldn’t be all those authors, that we’ve spoken about, I’d receive a Nobel prize, if I was as original as the prosecutors office thinks I am, that it’s something that has never been done before, I’d instantly receive a Nobel, next year, a million dollars, if I’d be so original. I understand, that I’m a big writer in Estonia, but in terms of the whole world, I’m a regular, usual writer, I have no hope for a Nobel. Maybe if you put me in prison, I’ll get some sort of political one, but you can’t give me a Nobel for literature, as It’s not such an original piece of work.
Kender: On the other hand, in some ways it is, what I did there, the tricks I did there, I made it happen in present day, with a small distance, it’s one of the tricks I used. I use crowns as the money there. I wanted to give atleast that space to people, that lets put the story in the time of the crowns, before euros, the bastard was there, oh, it’s impossible that he’d exist in present times. I used crowns there. I thought if I’ll use euros or crowns, so it wouldn’t be expired, the horror has yet to expire. That’s what I did. All of this could have been asked from me if I had been rang up, if all those literary experts would have been rang up then we wouldn’t have to be here. We shouldn’t waste time. Somewhere, someone is breaking children, during the time we are talking about my book.
Keres: Do you even imagine how Danil could look? Can you imagine how he looks?
Kender: What does D’artagnan look like? I mean, in regards to literature, the funny thing is, that characters look different in everyones heads. In every person. I remember from my childhood, that after seiing the russian D’artaganan, then I wasn’t able to read the musketeers any more, because in my head I had the picture of Bojarski, my D’artagnan was different in my head, I remember, he was younger.
Keres: Or the pervert, the main character?
Kender: The bachelor.
Keres: Yes, what does he look like?
Kender: I didn’t give him a name on purpose, to make him really horrific, you can’t name the devil, you just give it such horror. What did he look like? Hell knows, I haven’t described him like that. I can’t remember if I gave him a 24 centimeter or a 34 centimeter penis, a huge penis describes him better than anything else. And also, that he’s a huge bastard. I don’t think there has been a bigger bastard than him in Estonian literature. Well, the characters of “Inim-inetus” were human after all, at one point you’ll feel sorry for them, but you’ll never feel sorry for the bachelor, because he’s devilish. And that’s how I did it.
Keres: So, as I understand, for the protocol, your principal purpose was to create horror?
Kender: Yes, horror and literary experience. I did not want to create horror in the sense that, to talk, I wanted to create horror through artistic experience.
Keres: But what did you do, to make it artistic?
Kender: I didn’t have to do a lot at all, I’m an artist and well, I mean that I made a huge effort, so the sentences, so the sentences would turn invisible. If a person reads, so it would be horror, at one moment it has to be like click-click-click, like blocks of dominoes falling, running in succession. A rhythm has to surface from that. You can write an adequate analysis of a poem on 120 pages. To adequately analyse all of “Untitled 12,” we’d need about 1200 pages. Writing is rather intuitive. It’s fun.
Keres: And where were you located while writing it?
Kender: I finished the last version in Detroit, America, I had a lot of parts, but I needed a different kind of air to put it all together. We went to a christmas vacation with children and the days were great, and during nights I was composing that horror. And Detroit reminds me of Tallinn. It’s the same dilapidated city like Tallinn and very poor like Tallinn. But the difference between Detroit and Tallinn is that Detroit has hope. Because Detroit is a very poor city in the middle of a very rich country. Tallinn is a very poor city in the middle of a very poor country. But they’re awfully alike, Detroit has always been important to me. And the air in Detroit, I think that in relation to that my piece of work is like it is.
Keres: Did you do anything in Germany?
Kender: I flew through it, I didn’t do anything else.
Keres: You didn’t write?
Keres: Okay, one moment.
Kender: You see, you cannot write in an airplane, there’s so little air, that you can’t even read. You can eat a bit and play video games on your phone.
Keres: Okay. What do you think Kaur, why was the criminal case started against you?
Kender: I think that I am the most uncomfortable writer, politically, to the authority of Estonia, who has existed in the times of the republic.
Kender: I have a large readership, my things resonate with people. I am not ashamed to say that the Reform Party has been in power for 17 years, I am not ashamed to say that the problems with our drug policies lay with IRL.
Keres: But you have friends in the Reform party?
Kender: I got into a fight with them in 2014, when I told them, that if they keep on doing their election campaign as they were doing – pounding the Centre party, that then they’re building a fascist state, and now, here we are, facing it, and yeah I had a falling out with them.
Keres: But what does this fascism consists of?
Kender: This fascism can be seen in regards do the state climbing into every domain that is not the states business. Totalitarianism is always the same, it’s the same as the prosecutor currently claiming about my book, that it has child pornography in it, it’s a soviet process, where the writer was presented with his book, and he was told that there are anti-soviet elements in it. The writer asked: “How did it get there? I didn’t write an anti soviet element there!” – “We recognized it afterwards.” This is the same thing, the state should never be able to do this. In regards to Estonian literature, Estonian literature is real shitty to do, why? Because the possible result is 5000, 10 000 books sold. In English it can be 50 million. It’s a very lonely field. You do not have many companions in thought, not a lot of people, who you can talk high level literature with, but you have to do it, but your writing has to be world class, because all of your readers speak two or three languages. You are up against the top writers of the world but the resource you are able to use is the resource of a very small nation.
Keres: Okay. I have no further questions.
Part 2/2 coming soon…