Thursday, March 7, 2019

From der Angstweg to Alexandria

Der Angstweg, or Ahdistuspolku, was half-way opened to the public in July 2017, in Sigvartsby, Hamina, where the library of Alexandria was found again a few years earlier (in January 2013). The path leads to a field nearby, and there one could hear the city church bells ringing. The library has a vast collection of cultural and esoteric history, including a few gems. When I began collecting the books in the nineties, I did not know there would be a time when books have become rarities. Now the hour has come, and I am grateful that I continued the work during those lazy days when it seemed like a fool's quest. Alexandria has even received "a donation" from the library of Hamina-Vehkalahti; a collection of poetry books in Finnish. All the necessary items of cultural history are there to remind us of the past century's crazy or evil undertakings and erratic wanderings, from Hitler's Mein Kampf to Lenin's State and Revolution (in Finnish, among dozens of Marxist classics from the Soviet printing houses), and many things in between. Some hidden treasures balance the horrors; books like Pekka Ervast's Christosophisia peruskysymyksiä I-II (the original versions) and Friedrich Rittelmeyer's letters on Meditation (in Deutsch of course, dating from the times of crisis). Even Aarni Kouta's less known Lusiferin kannel and Ristin tie are there, showing the metamorphosis of a poet and thinker who almost got a hold of the higher spiritual truths opening in the darkness and light of the 20th century.

There are some interesting coincidences in the form of dedications, like the late Colin Wilson's The Outsider, fourth edition from 1956, with "warm greetings to Antti". I met him at the library of Pasila in 2007, and he wondered where on earth did I get that book to be signed....
Then, I have obtained a few priceless X.X.X.X from the Sophia cultural centre in Kallvik, like John Meyendorff's classic Byzantine Theology, with a dedication from the writer himself to the Archbishop Paul of Finland, and other orthodox works from the Maker(s). Alexandria is located in a private house, but who knows, it may be open to public some day.

Monday, August 13, 2018

"Rakas ystävä!"

Reinald Witters (1929-2018) tunsi Hölderlinin, Heideggerin ja Novaliksen alkukielellä paremmin kuin kukaan toinen Suomesta käsin maailmaa katsova. Olen ikuisesti kiitollinen, että sain tutustua häneen. Meistä tuli ystävät vuonna 2007, kun löysin tieni hänen luennoilleen Helsingin Uudenmaankadulla, Hagelstamin yläkerran tiloissa. En ehkä ole kuullut kenenkään puhuvan yhtä kauniisti ja korkealentoisesti enkeleistä ja ihmisistä, suomen ja saksan kielten henkien kanssa kulkien. Hölderlin liikkui kääntäen antiikin kreikan ja varhaisromanttisen Euroopan välillä. Witters käveli toisen maailmansodan jälkeen "pitkin kaunista mutta tuhottua Saksan maata", Hölderlinin kootut teokset mukanaan. Heidegger ei ollut hänelle vain kotoinen ääni synnyinmaasta. Novalis oli profeetta, jonka nimen ihmeellisen tarinan ja merkityksen sain kuulla Wittersin unohtumattomilla luennoilla.

Eräs kauneimmista kohtaamisistamme oli kuitenkin lokakuussa 2008 Forum Ursa Majorin kokouksessa, jonne hänet oli kutsuttu henkeä nostattamaan, minkä hän myös teki. Uudenmaankadulta lähtiessäni sanoin meneväni Leonard Cohenin konserttiin isäni kanssa. Witters ei tiennyt Cohenista mitään, mutta toivotti lämpimästi hyvää konserttia, joka todella sellainen olikin. En ehkä ole koskaan kuullut mitään parempaa.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Crossville skyline

A view from our Kallvik balcony in 2012. Photo was taken by LV, hiding more than it reveals. The park hidden behind the trees is called Mustakivenpuisto (Blackstone park), and the sky belongs to Rastila (in English one could say Crossville). But it is a vague reference, because the houses visible are in Kallvik and only the horizon takes the watcher to.... There is also a meaningful shape drawn on the ground below, unseen to the eye in this picture, but concrete as logic in holy geometry, and referring to something truthful, as well. I came to know what it feels like to be in somebody else's "visionary dreams", taken into another individual's consciousness and plans. Ever since, I've been even more careful with my own poetry, and the ones I write about. God knows what's good and right for others.

The title reminds of a duet I like, with Johnny Cash giving a beautifully conservative edge to Bob Dylan's 1960s folk protest ways. I'm an old-timer and my views are like that, in part at least. For "I've always been an oppressive kind of guy", too. I'd like to underline it's making the cross heavier. Maybe that's why I like to see them get (along) together, these differing views and times. We are on a forward march, and there is no going back. However, the spirit of truth..... 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A meeting (place) & lovers

The end of July in 2016, captured by LV. The place is called Sigvartsby, an old village near Hamina, where my parents live and where I spent my early youth in misery and pain. This picture tries to speak. It is the Master of the Mandolin, Tomi Pekkola, on the right. I am next to him, and we are playing Love itself or maybe Suzanne, on a garden party. My little sister Laura is on the left with my little daughter.

One theme could be the bed where I had my first kiss of love. The room has a view over this garden and the apple trees. But it's not what I want to tell now. My little brother, who was born the next morning (in May 1995), told me a story about KISS. Paul Stanley said in an interview that sometimes the musing and the poetic atmosphere seem to be at odds with the reality. A good song could be written on a very thin story. The muse may be someone who only exchanges a few words with the poet, or just a glance. Neither does this mean that a poet who writes the song is caught up in it (although it could happen).

This was my little brother's response to my whining. I had told him about my guitar, how it was named after St. Anne. There is a Lady of Romance, too. But only as a memory of the ballad of a thin man that happened to receive another verse or three. In the beginning of 2010 I was finishing my old collection of poetry (Flor & Blancheflor), and I walked the streets of Helsinki when someone passed by, who may have been the one whose initials were mentioned in a poem called The Thing Young Men. I sent her one e-mail, telling about my poem and the initials. She did not respond. To my surprise, I'd soon receive a name for my new guitar, two alternative verses for Suzanne, and a part of the poem called Beautiful (detached from the original TYM). After a year or so I searched her out on the internet and realized a few odd synchronicities that seemed to relate to my songs and performances. I went too many times to see her (open access) profiles. The irony is that I made a clear decision not to approach her "in real life", though I would have liked to tell her something. I had commented once on her blog on another subject, to which she responded kindly. But I made it clear to myself that I can't approach her at all, because it could be "trespassing" already. Then another odd synchronicity opened a way through a f(r)iend of mine who wanted to take me along to see her, they had some business to deal with. This happened on the same day I'd give a CD-R including Virta 8 magazine's final version to Unigrafia printing house. When we met her I only smiled in a foolish way, not saying anything or even introducing myself. But she did not tell me anything, either, only introduced herself by name. They had a private discussion and after that my f(r)iend accused me of stalking. In vain I tried to tell him about "meaningful coincidences" (the poem with her initials would be printed after the meeting that never happened). Another reason behind this nonsense is that she was the one who gave me that image of Tryst, a meeting (place) of lovers, already in 2003. She had been like a muse, and I never understood why or how it came to be that way. Because we only met a few times. And pretty much nothing ever happened. Poetry is like that.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pax tibi Marce(llo)

(San Marco, Venice, in the winter light of January 2016. They say it's the best time to go to Venice. Photo by AF.)

And peace be with you, too, Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996). At the Venice Film Festival a year after his death there was a controversial scene acted out between his close ones. Around the same time I heard about the great actor himself.

Mastroianni has helped me in a whole lot of X.X.X.X situations with his mock-Latin-Lover Italian humour. I thank you from the bottom (of my heart), Marcello. Whenever I go to Italy, I drink my one-euro-espresso standing, not like the other tourists who pay too much for a seat they don't really need.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Moves I-VII

It seems we / I have used various and popular cult(ure) forms such as "bands" etc in a way and with a content that is perhaps more related to the philosophy and history of the so-called high, contemporary or even performance art. Pop culture is less than 100 years old, and its time has gone already. The high culture began to lo[o]se in the sixties as is well documented (there are many quotations for that, but for historical reasons I will refer to Leonard Cohen, who sang about the sixties and the changing of poetry into pop songs - now, in the 21st century, it has all begun to change into something else). It is common knowledege that "high" and "pop" cultures have lost their borderlines long ago and the world is full of various crossover works having characteristics from both. But in our / my work(s) we / I have been dealing with some of the underlining themes behind a common thread that is found everywhere.

What I am referring to is "quite simple and rather too complicated" at the same time. And no one has a copyright to these themes. For lack of a better word and to honour performance artists like Joseph Beuys and Erkki Pirtola, here I have decided to call these works of art, simply, THE MOVES, in no particular order:

THIRST & The Never Heard Of TOUR (2007-)
No document or site available

Document / Site "Handmade rock art"

OMNIUM GATHERUM (late 2000 - early 2006)
Document / Site "Wastrel coming home"

Document / Site "Ye Cold Hands: The Homecoming"
(In Outlaw booklet form, see also Vaaka)

VIRTA ZINE (Alternative journalism)
Document / Site "Virta-lehti"

SHRINES (Educational ambient)
Document / Site "Akritas 2007"

Document / Site "Mythic poetry"

So, the MOVES have been social in one way or another, and this is only my point of view. It may not concern the whole "project" or "band" itself. By the same token, it does not prevent me from stating this. And the "social sculpture" of Beuys is very much and always a part of it, we are individuals and social beings in the reality of spirit. I still owe my gratitude to everyone responsible. You made it real for me, and I have made these themes for you, too. Please forgive me, if this doesn't sound right. But it's the truth, and nothing.......

I have to confess the traditional forms of "performance art" have never appealed to me, I have been more interested in the hidden meanings and spirit (or structural side). And these MOVES have needed years or even decades to be formed. They have taken place in a historical way, not so much as a performance that happens in a certain place at a certain time. In a sense, this is what makes them new. THE SECOND MOVE has needed over 20 years (with only a handful of events / gigs and three or four "records" to be heard, but it has been an ongoing process with quite visible results as well). Some other MOVES have been done in 5-7 years. They have needed a series of points or events to unfold "historically", and this unfolding may have happened through single "performances" that resemble contemporary art / popular culture. THE FIRST MOVE is a bit like that. Then there are more literal MOVES that have been made in and for the literary circles. With these words, I am merely stating what has actually happened (and everyone could see for themselves what has been said before in interviews etc - like these apologies, everything moves in the same flow, at least, well, more or less?

I MOVE: Where does "live performance" change into something else, or the other way around? The questions about (un)officiality, audience / performer etc. From a concert played for birds and rabbits to performing on a real music festival, and everything in between. The Russian bard culture versus the American pop culture. These are also anthropological questions and problems.

II-IV & VI MOVES: Where is the line in-between "a real band" and a musico-philosophical project, and why? How about the changing of band names, constantly, in order to prevent any kind of success in the material sense of the word? Or, could there be other reasons for doing that? What does it all mean, and where does it lead us? There are also numerous other questions and themes concerning these bands / projects (about staging and music theater forms, disco dancing in death metal etc), as[s] documented in the MOVES II-IV & VI.

V MOVE: This move concerning our Virta culture magazine is debatable and questionable, but it could be mentioned here, nevertheless. There may be different views about the whole project, but the same thing applies to all the bands as well. So, I have been part of this (together with Mikko Nenonen, Matti Rautaniemi and Tuukka Vartiainen, and many others), and my role has changed during the years. The idea and the name "Virta" came up in a conversation I had with Olli Koski already in 2000 (he invented it, and yes, he is the legendary economist). Where is the line between "true and false" journalism, and why?

VII MOVE: This one is the only quite literally conscious art work, and it has taken a lot of time, even more of strength, and most of whatever little money there ever was. Yes, I am exaggerating now, and purposefully so. Lyrics / Flor & Blancheflor was published in full colour with a real Finnish ISBN code, in 2013/2014, and it is the only Vaaka book officially available through internet (see AdLibris, Amazon etc). The price is close to terrible, and unfortunately I have not been able to decrease it. But the statement is what counts: where is the line between a real (published) book and something else, and why? For there are three different levels in Lyrics: 1) the handwritten original manuscript 2) the traditional printed bookform and 3) the electric, free copy. What is the line to be crossed, where a book becomes "real"? (Cf. in the old times all books were made by hand and they were single copies, and now we are living in a world where the printing machines have become antique - does not this open a new question concerning the origin and the birth of the BOOK itself?). I have also tried to promote handwriting as a therapeutic or pedagogical method. The Finnish Cultural Foundation has supported the making of this MOVE.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Writing it down for you, like it or not

This picture was taken by myself, sometime between the fall of 2008 and the rise of 2009, in Alppila. We lived in a small cave on the ground floor. It was really halfway inside the rock, below the street. The bookshelf shows you many of those introduced in an earlier post (see January 2008), but also some books not mentioned before. Like The Book of Sophia ("Sofia"), begun in the summer of 2007, and still not quite finished. Or The Book of Goetheanum from 2008, which I have kept waiting. In the middle of the back row, with black covers, is The Book of Angels & Men ("Enkelit ja Ihmiset"), brought to me by Jussi Matikainen from Old Riga in 2005. It was ready before Easter 2010. And on the left, front row, the very small book lying down there, called The Book of Koli, was thrown away in 2011. I have saved the notes elsewhere. Below it one can see another very small and unnamed book from 2007. I bought it in Tallinn just before our visit to Greece, and it worked as a travel note book. From September to October 2007 I also used it as a note book on a lecture series. After graduating from the University of Helsinki (the department of Cultural Anthropology) I began another kind of study, or actually, continued on a path I had found long ago. The questions I had been asking since the nineties were making way, with some answers, to new questions. They could be summed up in three words: AnthroposLogos & Sophia.

The anthroposophical themes may sound radical and looney-tooney, but I have tried to maintain a scientific and even sceptic (in the good sense of the word) approach to the topics. It is an unfortunate truth that these themes have been neglected and despised in the official scientific fields of research, and no good will come out of that kind of progress. I think many bad things have already happened because of the attitude problems in the academic world. It is crucial that honest research is being done also concerning the spiritual. But I do not consider myself an expert. And I have faith in the old-fashioned humanist tradition, at least if it is understood in a certain way. The questions are there, and they are truthful as can be, but for the real answers there are no standards in any of the official sciences today. We need to save these quest(ion)s for the centuries to come.

O chosen love, O frozen love
O tangle of matter and ghost
O darling of angels, demons and saints
And the whole broken-hearted host
Gentle this soul
-L.C. / The Window