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Nariai » Liutauras Degėsys

Liutauras Degėsys is a poet, an essay writer and a novelist. Also he is a professor of philosophy at Vytautas Magnus University. His research areas are Philosophy of Art, Social Philosophy, Business philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy for Children. He is a member of Lithuanian Writers’ Union, also a member of a Board of LATGA - Lithuanian collective copyright management association.

L.Degėsys has got the Lithuanian Republic Government Culture and Art Award (2013) for poetry  and twice - Awards of Ministry of Culture (2010, 2017) for the essays and non-fiction writing.



Books of poetry:


The Green Bird, 1984, Vilnius, Vaga  Publisher.

The Eyes Of Love, 1985, Vaga Publisher.

September’s Star, 1989, Vyturys  Publisher.

 It Is A Night, 1990, Vaga Publisher.

From Nowhere, 1995, Eldija  Publisher.

The Zoo, 2003, Dziugas  Publisher.

Meadow. Menagerie, 2007,  Kronta publisher.

Flowers of the Dream, 2008, Kronta  publisher.


Books of Philosophical Essays:

The Roundtrip, 2007, Kronta publisher.

Otherwise Than Other, 2008, Baltos Lankos publisher.

Memories of Memories, 2010, Alma Litera Publisher.

 The Underwear of Life, 2018, Publishing House of Lithuanian Writers’ Union.



A Novel, 2014, Alma Littera Publisher.

Tomorrow Was Yesterday, 2017, Publishing House of Lithuanian Writers’ Union.



Elžbieta Banytė about Liutauras Degėsys



Four Essays

Liutauras Degėsys



Life is Like a Movie


I don’t know why, but for a long time the idea of life as a movie has been persecuting me. That sense that you are an actor in some screenplay, that you have been fixed in a film tape roll, that you have no control over the story line and can’t change anything because nothing depends on you. That you are living in a screenplay written by someone else. You can’t behave differently, you can’t ruin the part or improve upon it, it is what it is, and that’s how it is every day. Or even if you succeed in doing something special, after a while it unfortunately becomes clear that everything was already planned to turn out that way. Your absurdities have been anticipated from the beginning, and so your behavior has changed nothing.

Everything has been left like it was. It is the nightmare of a revealed fate. When even your personal nightmare has been ordained in some heaven. When you learn that you are not a creator, but just a creation. The actors in this film appear to meet each other, but what is most astounding, they don’t see each other, they don’t talk to each other, and even if they do talk, they do not communicate with each other, they do not understand each other, they talk past each other. It’s as if they were actors from different stories, where authors live in their own textbooks of literature, composers compose music in the pages of music history, artists recline in art albums, travelers trudge through geographical atlases, and where war heroes – completely apart – rest in battles described by history. They all lie independent of each other in some sort of thought-drawers and never meet each other. Because if they were to meet, it would again become clear that they don’t know how to talk to each other and do not understand each other. Just like politicians, artists, doctors, teachers, firemen and gravediggers who don’t meet each other in their separate lives – unless it is by a gravesite where they bury one of their own and then go off in different directions again.

You are simply surprised to learn that the prime minister is not a robot, but a human being, who has his own personal doctor, a doctor who almost wanted to lead a rebellion of all doctors against the government. Not much more is needed for these actors not to meet even each other. Like those two Columbuses from childhood lessons, where we had to learn about one of them in history class and about the other in geography class, and that was why we got the impression that there were two Columbuses, who were utter strangers to each other because they never came together in your – the student’s – head. Other actors in that reality also seem to be governed by some unknown forces, and that is why they act the roles assigned to them – like marionettes pulled by invisible strings: they don’t live, but instead seek ratings, they take part in top-five, top-ten, or top-twelve contests, they make speeches on national holidays and have no human characteristics. Only what is necessary for the homeland, the country or the party. If on the way they come upon a human being by chance, they are startled and stop in wonder: how can this be happening? It’s not in the screenplay. Where did this unforeseen person with his own problems come from? We, people of action, are concerned about nations and countries, not about such insignificant people. Time passes, costumes, decorations, and portals change. New bloggers appear, and even newer goodies. But they still don’t see or hear each other. New governments appear, they alternate like barbers – and they keep cutting the hair of their constituents – with scissors of taxation or legislation – and all the time they criticize the barbers that came before: dear citizens, who was it that did such before.


 I can’t Live Without You


Knowledge ennobles, gives deeper understanding, inspires, consoles and calms people. The more you know, the bigger, more important, more interesting, the stronger you feel. One who knows can accomplish more of everything: to know what others don’t know, to surpass others with your golden mind and in the battle of the minds. Of course, it is unpleasant to realize that you will never know everything. There will always be something new. There will always appear someone who knows more, who learns faster and in greater depth. You will lose news-tidbit contests, result-guessing competitions and wagers, you will delude yourself about tendencies and you will make prediction mistakes. The only consolation is that knowledge frees you from information overload. Sooner or later you will be disappointed that you learned what wasn’t worth learning at all. That “British scholars” – are not British at all, and aren’t even scholars. That it is more important not just to know, but to understand.

And then you will see how important it is to become interested in yourself and to care about yourself. To seek a deeper knowledge of yourself. To learn to be with yourself – not to be always rushing towards new information, not to be jumping around in portals, not to be bored and not to be asking repeatedly: what’s going to happen next, what are we going to do now, or what’s the use of that and where is all that leading. Your legs will take you home by themselves – back to yourself, next to yourself, with yourself. Maybe now you will learn not only to study, but – to stop, to avoid the silly daily rush, maybe you will decide to look around, to understand and appreciate not others, but yourself.

Maybe now you will see that what is called socialization is often just a delusion, just a hook, a bait – to make you fool yourself and to make you believe that in life everything is more important than you yourself. Maybe you will realize that all sorts of wise folk sayings – “measure nine times”, “bend a tree while it is young”, “how you make your bed, that’s how you will sleep” – are just standard attempts to put you out, to seduce you, to lull you and to force you to run in place like in a squirrel-wheel. You will understand that you cannot step into the same river twice, but you can fall into the same pit three or four times.

You will come to realize more than once or twice that when searching for the apple of knowledge, all you got was the core. That when you desire attention, love, friendship, when you search for pleasures, you are really just waiting for the experience of the same external stimulants. You will understand that sometimes you are allowed to be alone, with yourself, that you don’t have to run away from yourself, that you are not required to cling to others all the time, as if you were sinking, as if you were drowning. That you don’t have to live in a state of constantly being stimulated by external images, sexual poses, TV serials, shows or books in which someone is engaged in action, where suspense, plot, adventures, life histories and geographies of thought are mandatory. That you are not required to run away from your own time and place. That it is not essential that you end up in a place where you cannot meet yourself.

Ah, how sweet it is to fall into the same pit. Because if nothing happens – there, outside in the external “world”, “reality” , “actuality” – if weddings, funerals, illnesses, holidays, catastrophes, rapes do not occur – how can this really be life. If you cannot regulate and enhance sensations, ecstasies, passions with weed, alcohol, successes, pills, web sites, losses – how can these really be feelings. If you cannot enrich relationships with new loves, friendships, trips, disappointments, adventures, infidelities, betrayals – how can these really be relationships. If nothing special happens, then how can this be a celebration. For life to become interesting – an instance, an event, a stimulus, a symbol, a stimulant, a signal, an occurrence, an elixir, a narcotic, a catalyst is needed. What is needed for life is not even a context, just a pretext – for the text of life.

It is only then that the famous, sentimental, beautiful, touching sigh – “I love you. I cannot be without you.” – can mean: “I can’t be with myself anymore.” You did not learn how to be alone, because you did not know how and didn’t try to learn. Even in childhood you weren’t able to. You were always dragged  around to little groups, circles, friends. To schools of art, music, sports and life experiences. Just so you wouldn’t ever be left alone. So that you wouldn’t get the idea of talking to yourself, of being with yourself. Just so that you would not find yourself. Now you will attach yourself to someone, cuddle and snuggle up to someone, you will follow after someone, you will hang on someone’s neck, you will devote your whole life to him – even though no one asked you to, you will be faithful to her – even though she doesn’t know it and doesn’t want it. Because you do not know how to be alone.

Because it’s uninteresting to be by yourself, with yourself. You will be active and social to the point of being obnoxious, empathetic to the point of being loathsome, friendly to the point of renouncing yourself – only because you don’t have anything to do with yourself. Because you have become tiresome to yourself, because you are too lazy to do something with yourself. That’s why when you catch up with someone – on the street, in a café, at work, on the internet – you will try to devote yourself to him or to give yourself away to her, you will plead with someone to take you – let them go ahead and take you, let them go ahead and bring you home to their house, let them go ahead and do whatever they want with you. You want to belong to another. Because you are tired of belonging to yourself. Because you want to belong – not to yourself, but to someone else /to him/her/everyone. To give him/them the whole world – yourself. Let them go ahead and take it, maybe they will think of a way to perfect you, to improve and change you, maybe they will see what they might be able to do with you and what they could make out of you.

In conclusion – an almost true life story: a mother of three children – boys aged four, six and eight – is playing a game of war with her sons in the yard. To the shock of the neighbors, the children sometimes “shoot” their mother. The embarrassed woman says to justify herself: “The moments when a son “shoots” me are the happiest moments of my life because I can lie down and do nothing and rest for ten minutes.” There you have it. La guerre, c’est la guerre…



 That’s None of Your Business, My Dear


In an old anecdote a husband and wife are getting a divorce. The judge asks, “What are the reasons for the divorce?” The husband answers, “My life has become impossible. My wife is too orderly.” “How so, how so?” asks the judge with interest. The husband explains, “Every night, when I get up and go to the kitchen to drink some water, I come back and find my bed has already been made.” Oh that human talent and desire to impose one’s own order always and everywhere. To arrange the world according to oneself. Even when we are simply looking at something – we are already looking through glasses of our own knowledge, experience and rules.

We wrap things and phenomena in the paper of our knowledge and wisdom, we tie them up with colored ribbons of feelings and memories, and we put them into shelves of our experience, tastes and priorities. That is why every one of our worlds is arranged according to our own personal procedures. Even when we are speaking in the same language, we can assign different meanings to words, we can assign our own sense to those meanings, and that is why it is very easy to misunderstand one another and not to be able to communicate with one another. We can fail to see what we do not know, we can fail to notice what we do not want to see, we can stare at our own inner worlds – which are unapproachable for others.

Thanks to consciousness, we can reside in our own realities, hide in are own private actualities and personal orders. If people still would want to understand each other and not separate themselves from one another. If they still expect to live together – in the same kitchen, in one city, in a shared country or a similar world – they should want to understand each other and try to agree with each other. First it would be necessary to agree about agreeing: if you have decided to live together – acknowledge that you will have to coordinate your actions – “let’s agree to agree.” Because the alternative is just another agreement – “let’s agree not to agree about anything.” If it is acknowledged that the first agreement is the more effective one, then we can have further discussions about what things are so obligatory or such life-or-death matters that we will have to agree about them. For example, which side of the road are we going to drive on – it’s not important which one; it’s just important that it be the same one: if everyone drives on the right, then we drive on the right, or everyone drives on the left side. We can commit ourselves to holding forks in the left hand and knives in the right when we are at the dinner table, even though this agreement is not so critically obligatory, since a fork is less dangerous to human life than driving a car.

We can agree that there are many things about which we do not need to agree. If some girl were to start asking you on the street what you like to eat, you can freely shoot back at her: “It’s none of your business, my dear”, because you and she are not going to have dinner together, and she doesn’t have to worry about preparing dinner for you. What happens when the decision is made that there has to be agreement about many areas of community life. There is less and less room left for personal decision and private life. More and more laws, decisions, rules, regulations and norms appear. Life apparently becomes simpler because there is no more room left for personal choice, because you have to “live as you have to live”, but then it also happens that human beings have less and less responsibility: everything about each human being is thought out in advance – how much, when, what, how and with whom – to eat, to drink, to pay, to talk. The only question for which there is no room left is the question “why”. Because every “why” is answered with “because it’s necessary”. Less and less often are you able to choose how to live better and more justly: mal” – as not living up to your ideas of order or your norms, and therefore – dangerous. You can look for offenders and guilty parties.

There seems to be a choice – to rely on the presumption of innocence or the presumption of guilt: one can think that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but somehow it’s easier to think of everyone as guilty from the start, and then – let them sweat it out and establish their innocence. To be different or not to be different. To acknowledge that everybody is different and that this is why everyone can live together but in their own worlds. Or to try to ensure that there be as many required things and as few non-required things in people’s lives as possible. So that more and more people would appear who know in advance what must be put in order, what to eat, what to drink, who read all of their speeches from scraps of paper, who impose their own systems of order everywhere by force, who do what is good for everyone and who ignore the fact that peoples’ concepts of the good and the beautiful can differ radically. And then they can respond to every timid “why” – question very simply: “That’s none of your business, citizen.”



To Believe, but Not to Expect


Or not to believe, but to expect. There you have two different ways of living. And there is always the option of choosing. To believe in oneself, to dare, to speak, to think, to act. Or – to wait for gifts and favors – no matter what kind, just because you do not believe in your own options, because you are weak, ignorant, unable to think of what to do. And thus – to buy lottery tickets, to bargain, to betray yourself. To listen to what others are saying. After licking your finger, or maybe after licking your whole hand – to look for which direction the wind is blowing, to look at where others are running, to rush in that direction, where it’s better, where you can win something – no matter what: a discount, a prize, a share, a privilege. To end up at the table of bounty along with everyone else, but first. To want everything, but not to dare. To wait until it falls into your hands. Until someone brings it to you, until someone defends you, pleases you. To try to be liked. To please. To study, to think, to strive, to speak – not for yourself, but only to be liked by others.

Like back in your early childhood – to be praised for being a good boy. Good to everyone. So good that you are almost invisible. Convenient, not causing problems. Raising your hand when you want to say something. Not ruining, not littering, not wetting the toilet floor. Knowing that “you can’t change anything” or that “everybody does it that way.” And then courage may become the principal criterion of virtue. To resolve, not being afraid to lose. Remembering that you won’t have everything anyway. Because as soon as you choose something, you lose what you gave up. To have an opinion, but to dare to doubt your own truth. To check whether your truth has not become obsolete, has not fallen out of time. Perhaps your real, steadfast, unchanging truth – as solid as a rock, as dogma, the same today as yesterday – has become meaningless just because it is now speaking of a reality that no longer exists. Because reality has changed, but your truth hasn’t. And you have been left living with your truths – in the past. While the train of life has pulled away.

Maybe life should be looked at as a constant experiment that cannot be repeated. As when in becoming familiar with a human being – like in a scientific experiment – you raise hypotheses, you choose methods, you make assumptions, and you check them. Just like in a simple dialogue, when in starting a conversation with someone, you rely on the assumption that he understands you. You speak and wait for your conversation partner to send you a signal that he understood you, since his answer will be responsive to the theme, the tone, the meaning. Then you will send him a signal that you have understood that he has understood you.

And so you will continue to live – because you will try, you will start the experiment again from the beginning, while asking: do you understand, do you know, do you feel, are you waiting, do you love, are you able. You’re not going to fool me, betray me, condemn me, are you? Always you will be taking a chance: in choosing friends, lovers, studies, a profession, work, leisure, pleasures. Books, theories, religions, beliefs, opinions, rules. Pieces of information, experiences. Changes will occur within you never to return – because those choices, those pieces of information, habits, rules will change you irrevocably. You will not be able to repeat anything, because you will not be able to do anything a second time the way you did it the first. When you decide to change yourself, you already will be a different person, not the one who was once satisfied with himself. You will no longer be able to see yourself with the eyes you used to have. You will not be able to evaluate how much you have changed. Maybe you will be able to long for your former self. A strange and incomprehensible self. An idealized, embellished one. The kind of self that looks as it appears to you now – through new eyes.

The most frightening moment in a horror film is the time when nothing is happening. The music swells, something ungraspable is forming, is getting closer, the suspense grows, but there is nothing there. Exactly like in life. When there is nothing, you understand that there will be something right away. The longer there is nothing, the greater the guarantee that something will happen right away. How horrible it is that it hasn’t rained for a long time, there hasn’t been an earthquake, there haven’t been wars, epidemics or prophets. Even though it should be even more horrible that you look the same to yourself as you always have, the same and unchanged. Microscopic changes occur all the time. You are changing every day – a little at a time, slowly, unavoidably, unnoticeably even to yourself. It may happen that one day – as you are waiting for the future, but not having found the courage to choose – you will see a stranger looking at you in the mirror. And you will be scared, and you will regret that you did not have the courage to be resolved and to change yourself earlier.


Translated by Rimas Černius










Oh, my bonny Centipede,

You are smart and very sweet.

Tell me friendly, Centipede,

Which foot do you use to speed?



Do you move the third or seventh.

Do  You pick up the eleventh ?

How  about number  sixty five?

Is it ill or still alive?



Do you send your foot a letter:

“Could you move a little better?”

Do you shout by telephone:

“My foot, you are not alone?”



I would like to be your friend,

I would offer you my hand.

If you can’t tell wrist from knee,

What limb might you offer me?



                                       MY   FLYING    ELEPHANT


Oh, my flying Elephant,

You have wings both back and front,

You are flying pink and red,

You are sleeping on my bed.


You are flying over flowers,

Seeking honey all the hours,

You are sipping milk with honey,

You are flapping diving funny.


Suddenly the summer’s over,

All the flowers cease  to flower,

Soon comes winter, snow and sleet -      

Elephant! What  will you eat?


He flies back  into his hive,

He’s saved honey to survive!

Now he’s licking on  his pad,-

He is glad and bees are glad!





What a silky pretty Moth,

Sad enough and bad enough,

Fly around here for a while,

And while flying - always smile.


When at evening I’ll get home,

You will wait for me alone.

You will move so feebly, shudder,

You ‘ll greet me with joyful flutter.


You will eat the mohair thread,

 For all wool you’ll be a threat,

You’ll grow fatter, sweeter, better,

Until you become a sweater!



     THE    SPIDER


In darkness, in silence the Spider

Is knitting his radiant net.

Much whiter, or lighter, or wider,

The net you’ve made never could get.


He’s using the thread and the needle,

He’s singing his harmful song,

He’s waiting under the seedling,

For Fly to come flying along.


The Fly has been too late too often,

So Spider is making his net,

And now he is dreaming of nothing,

Except for the noose on her neck.




                                              THE   SONG  OF THE   FISH



It’s fall. There is  cold and sorrow.

All flowers will cease  to wish.

The fish after fish will follow

And meet nothing else  but fish.


My Fisher, come to the river,

I know you will have a hook,

You’re always a taker, not giver,

So take me, but give me a look.


The stars will  shine whiter and brighter,

The night will be long and hard,

Oh, Fisher you are my Guider,

The One Man who knows my heart,








Gray bookworm, always by yourself,

A dormouse, silkworm.

The Day - your girlfriend, on the shelf -

A doll-girl, lovelorn.


She shimmers in the golden dust,

So bright, so virgin -

These smiles can’t stir up any lust.

She lives in margins.


You spin through words of silk and sand -,

Outside is raining.

Your heart can’t hear its one fine strand,

That’s stretching, fraying.





Your day’s a doll,

She’s drunk and tipsy,

She looks outworn -

She’s like a gypsy.


She bites her nails,

And waits for nothing.

And what she gains -

It’s night - a coffin.


Her little breasts

Are shrunk and shabby,

On you she rests -

Her sugar daddy.



                                              MY  LOVELY SHADOWS


A lot of shadows circling in despair

Are kissing you but really feeling nothing.

They’re flying, fading, ceasing pair by pair -

And you are in the circle - mad and laughing.


At last you are both shadows of the life -

Together - where your bodies do not matter.

You’re drinking moonlight; you are free and light -

So idly climbing on the ghostly ladder.


No need for touches, kisses and the hugs.

The darkness is your brightest, lightest fatum.

The sparkling shadows never looking back -

My lovely shadows -slovens, idles, slatterns.



                                        THAT  STUPID   RIVER


The night is giving flowers just for you,

But they are fading down into  oblivion,-

The stupid river made of  time and glue,

You float in it - forgotten and forgiven.


A pity, that  I can’t remember you -

You say you were my friend, my lover, giver.

That mournful voice is senseless. What you do -

Has never been. It’s sunk into the river.



                                           FROM   NOWHERE


From nowhere and headed to nowhere

It’s going  that every day’s train.

You know: once the day will be over

And nothing will be to gain.


Believe in leaving and sorrow.

Believe in the fall of the leaves.

There is no today and tomorrow.

That train doesn’t stop. It leaves.