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, August 1, 2016

More Leaves of...

Hurry, love, they are withering away
And our thin line is dead, it has gone viral
The shadows are longer and ancient dark
It will come, for black covers all notes

Leaves of the tree
For the healing, the place of light
In-between defined, not defined
Enoch has walked with God
Among the trees of the garden
Under the light in the park
We were taken to Hesperia
”The illness of youth spent
And gone away, to come back again”
For years I tried to have it, somehow it was
Almost there for us, but I've been too ill
To have it like them, and we could see
The feelings of worthlessness
Visiting the dreamlike atmospheres
Of Aurora and giving up

Baby, I could not sleep at all
I couldn't sleep because of the pain
May the living or dead Masters help

Still at the Night Café
And the more hearts are streaming
The more these cups will turn over
”You've been in a lot of trouble,
And nothing or no one could...”

Take a leave of abs(tin)ence
The whole year with no porn
A week with no coffee-like-script
Written on a painted landscape
For the Spirit in man, the higher worlds
Of poetry and sounds (A,B,C...)

The letters on a leaf, the plant
Green and brownish, or even grey
The branches are still there
It's a fallen world for a falling man
Read the mystical book of Adam
(To Enoch and Abraham)

Rest under this tree
The patriarch said to the guests
With friends like them, who know(s)
The shadow of your self, the nightside
And the Night Man (in holier poems)
”If the spirit is willing, or the flesh”
Every chalice of the Wrath of God
Waiting for this world in the end
Let the cups of our hearts be filled

Three seeds were given to the third son
And it grew on the father's grave
Flaming with words, and the Cherub
Or the other angel guarding there, at the frontier
Heavenly rings and a bridge, the rod changing
To the gates, Royal Cavalry will be needed...
The same wood on the cross of your burdens
There is great wisdom in making a fool [of etc]
No mistake, it usually is quite something else
Than what we expected, while moving on within out
Where leaves withered untitled and unofficial
"And who kept your thoughts lined with the streets"
Even after all this yearning, praying to be a watcher
One had to see them fall to places that are not healthy
”How the Old French words were innocent and pure”
Who has taken the writers, given them a chance, a reading
All of these flowers, from the Medieval good (flor)
To the Modern evil (fleur), known the real state of things

It's a miracle that we're still here, being
And what we hope for, who will get it
Not us, but the ones after us
God, I tried to have it

No VII dreams would ever wait [7] in purple
And many of the songs were not redeemed
For the nights to come, the years

"But the pain has been with me too long;
Please, take this pain away, I have to ask"
Remind me of the water in our shoes again
How to see ourselves in the mirror of thinking
If memories have been melted, it's not just a walk
In the city, through the park, and my old street
Riverlike, a hundred flows reflecting
Pictures and things like our house(s)
The Light within, the Name [der Angstweg]

Aurora and Hesperia are psychiatric hospitals in Helsinki.
Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen.
Seven purple dreams is an old song title (from July 1995).
Cf. Anki Lindqvist's Låt blommorna dansa, Varjot and Päivät.
V. Martin Heidegger's Vorträge und Aufsätze, Wegmarken etc.
Cf. Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
V. stories of the Gypsies and the Jews.

Written on the 29th - 31st of July, 2016


(All pictures taken by AF in September 2015, Töölö, Helsinki.)

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 (2007-2014)
Document / Site: "Music for birds and rabbits"

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 (as[s] is all too obvious in the THIRD MOVE). 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. (Cf. from a concert played for birds and rabbits to performing on a "real" music festival, and everything in between, as is documented in the FIRST MOVE. 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

Wor(l)d lyrics

AUTUMN VERSES (January 2016)

Ave Maria, Gardel and Bach
When early or late September falls on us
The rain everywhere, seen from the window
Of a moving tram, it's getting to my nerves
Confidence in melancholic and beautiful thinking
”It would be so easy to drown in this city”
I'm a loser, beloved, and a wishful man

Too bad, as a heretic and an archist
I never knew them, well, enough (to have)
The flower girls from the street, holding asters
All those who write "infernal and inferior poetry"
What happens when you tried too much and failed
In a poem or a place of hope, if the light is good
And the staff like a serpent, we're having our talks
”While the raindrops kept on fooling my head...”
For another man, another one lost in thoughts
(Un)certain of many things, no ghost writing
The old word called honesty, how is it
Ever so difficult to attain and keep

What and where have I written
How I've been afraid of things
That may come, lo, the demon of lust
And afraid of lies, that it's not real
For every other verse printed
All the things I've gone through
Weak and with hope(lessness)
”And there is porn for everyone”
(You who have suffered for us
Have mercy on us, amen)
Save us from these cares

Underground lines in the night
Of soul, what if I'm not a good man
Like them (the Manicheans and the Gnostics)
And you were not [t]here to heal my wounds
The verses of autumn had to come in March
Who ever thought there could be no more clichés
”I would try no more, having failed in all”
Whenever rain appears it's only angels' tears
And you are with me and every day is a good day
Pouring coffee to the ground, what else could there be
When the night is young, the night is young to spell
”With these letters of autumn, come again”

Nobody-y- knows the trouble I've seen
Or my sorrow, and it's getting emptier
”How my cup will be overflowing.....”
Who never had a bad day in their lives
Who were terribly poor and pain ridden
Between the Devil and death itself
The boots were made of black leather
It's a long way back from the shadow
To what you are, but I forgot it, almost
In the never-emptying confluence
And I would write for a friend of mine
Who had called me, [SAAL] long ago
Having found me from that park
Who gave me a helping hand, kindly
For I was near the edge of no return
”Autumn dying ends, it has an end
With all the lyrics that came in July”
How we shared a few things to recall
When autumn died again, this part would be
Crossing through, cross over the summer
To thank once more, [YIW] an other chance

Every day is a good day and you are with me
Every day is a good day, but (why) are you with me

And what a relief it is after all
To realize that I don't have to know
"If the letters of autumn come again..."
Still, it's getting to my nerves, baby
For there is night, and there's night
They have nothing in common
And the crazy nights were elsewhere
I'm listening to the older music now
From a thousand Marys to Mathilda
Lord, I (don't) try, oh (not) to try again
”And there is porn for all of us”
The copper leaf will remind me
Gleaming red, yellow and golden
I'd let all dancing souls of December
Merge with those drops, like circles
They would become one with the rain
”It has been so easy to drown in this city”
The sad or happier tears brought by the wind
Yes, don't worry, they have to be kept
Falling to the piece of their master
To bless the remains of that place
A world in two floors, to cast (no more)
Autumnal verses for a romance in the night
The ground floor, by the window

December tears is an old song title (from 1996).
The Hebrew letter Tet resembles a cup or a serpent.
Cf. Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler and Das Marienleben.

(The copper leaf was made by AF. The book is my new collection of poetry, Wor(l)d lyrics. Photographs were taken by Laura Vilva.)