Friday, 28 April 2017

The Tourist

I have the feeling there is a short thriller-like story with this title. Where the tourist obviously turns out to be something more menacing than previously thought.

In fact, “the tourist” is a negative figure. This short lecture asks, why?

The tourist is a paradox. It goes in search of an authentic experience or goal, but its[1] very arrival and presence transforms whatever it touches into a performance of the authentic. Inherently the tourist can never reach its goal.

The tourist travels and is defined by its journeying. But all journeying people are not tourists. Nomads are not tourists, they are fundamentally on the move, the movement is defining and primary. The tourist departs, to return. The nomad does not depart or return. Nor are conquerors or settlers tourists, they depart but their return is complementary.

The goal of the tourist journey is a hallowed goal (though never reached). In fact, pilgrims are the first tourists. They depart to visit a holy and renowned place and return with a prestigious experience and emblems as proofs of their journey.

The pilgrim is a noble figure, but already subject to criticism and popular ridicule. And when the pilgrimages secularize and the amount of pilgrims grow, we finally have our paradoxal, menacing and vulgar figure of the tourist. The tourist is not an individual, but a mass. It is menacing and it is vulgar precisely because it is mass-scale. The tourist evokes the same horrors as the mob, but in the comical register. Everything that the tourist touches becomes ridiculous and a little trite, because its touch robs everything of its local, particular, individual, specific, unique characteristics.

The tourist is all that we resent in the ordinary: everybody does it, except I who am unique.

Short intervention written for Words & Spaces Studio "Scholart" 28.4.2017

[1] I will use this neutral term to avoid messy use of more inclusive references.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Le Città nascoste 3,14

Le città nascoste 3,14

Otaniemi è una città che risulta urbana solo dall’ interno. Fuori sembra una collezione di edifici di mattoni rossi sparsi tra gli alberi e cespuglie. Soltanto dentro le case si trovano spazi pubblici, folle e movimento, incontri aleatori, luoghi memorabili e le loro dèi. Gli abitanti di Otaniemi da maggior parte non vivono li, ma altrove. Otaniemi per loro en uno spazio di passato, di ricordi e sogni, paure ed amori; oppure una presenza temporanea, una parte della loro vita che non ha niente a fare con realta quotidiana. Per questa non cambia mai nulla, anche se si construiscono altre case di mattoni rossi. Qualunque che volesse una dimora diversa, semplicemente va via, portando soltanto i ricordi con se.

Hidden cities 3,14

Otaniemi is a city that is urban only at the interior. Without it looks like a collection of red brick buildings dispersed among trees and bushes. Only inside the houses can you find public spaces, crowds and movement, random encounters, memorable places and their gods. Most of the inhabitants of Otaniemi don’t live in the city, but somewhere else. For them Otaniemi is a space of the past, of memories and dreams, fears and loves; or a transitory presence, a part of their lives that has nothing to do with everyday reality. Because of this nothing ever changes, even if more red brick buildings are constructed. Anybody who wants a different dwelling simply goes away, taking with them only the memories.

Kätketyt kaupungit 3,14

Otaniemi on kaupunki joka on urbaani vain sisätiloissa. Ulkoapäin se näyttää punatiilisten talojen kokoelmalta, joka on siroteltu puiden ja pensaiden keskelle. Vain talojen sisällä on julkisia tiloja, ihmisjoukkoja ja liikettä, satunnaisia kohtaamisia, ikimuistoisia paikkoja ja niiden jumalia. Otaniemen asukkaista suurin osa ei asu Otaniemessä, vaan muualla. Otaniemi on heille menneisyyden tila, muistojen ja unelmien, pelkojen ja rakkauksien tila; tai tilapäinen olotila, osa heidän elämäänsä jolla ei ole mitään tekemistä jokapäiväisen todellisuuden kanssa. Tämän vuoksi mikään ei koskaan muutu, vaikka rakennettaisiin uusia punatiilisiä taloja. Se joka haluaa muunlaisen asuinpaikan yksinkertaisesti lähtee tiehensä, vieden mukanaan vain muistonsa.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lost Forever in Middle-Earth

I wrote this essay because invited by my dear DA friend Sarajean to write on "why re-read" and especially why one re-reads Tolkien/ the Hobbit. She collected a wealth of memorable essays which went to prove once again the worlds literature opens for people and the strength it gives them. And how across oceans and cultures it unites them.

I was the book-devouring kind of kid, I’d read EVERYTHING. To breath is to read. I’m lost without a book. If I have a book, I am afraid of nothing. Books to me were/are not words on paper but worlds, where I and my friends – or enemies – dwell.

When I was a teen-ager, my mother introduced me to Tolkien and Middle-Earth, like to so many other books and worlds before and after that. Just now I checked with her, and she agrees she must have gotten first just The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings later, when it came out. We feel we must have read The Hobbit first – for otherwise it would have left a paler memory, fading before the weight of the epic saga. One would have paid more attention to details that will matter more later in The Rings, like Gollum, like the Necromancer, and the music of the dwarves or the door on the mountain would not have made the kind of impression they did.

Because The Hobbit is undoubtedly a homely and comfortable tale, written for children and people who delight in everything childish. Good meals make important landmarks, as do the loads of good advice and educational glimpses into far-off countries and people. One can hear Kipling mutter “best beloved” and see the Fab Five camp with their cans of tongue and pine-apple next door to jolly spies and criminals. Knowing that Tolkien created his world and its dark and deep history long before writing “The Hobbit”, one can only wonder how he managed to see it all from the comfortable and cheerful view-point of Bilbo Baggins so perfectly – the tale never gets wiser than the one who is telling it (and that is not to claim Bilbo isn’t wise, just that his perspective has its natural good-natured limitations – peppered with a dash of Tookish poetry, of course!).

And this surely is an important element of the magic of The Hobbit. One hears the strange music played by the dwarves – I swear I can hear the music, wild and dark and passionate – sounding in the unlikely surroundings of Bilbo’s comfortable and respectable hole, all the wilder, darker and more passionate for that. All things horrible like goblins or trolls or evil spiders remain kind of everyday-horrible with only a hinted dark depth – all things amazing and wonderful like elves or precious stones or magical powers retain a mystery but appear as accessible. Bilbo, that is Tolkien, manages to enlighten everyday with magic and make magic seem something to be enjoyed – every day. Something near at hand.

All of which tells why I read and loved and love The Hobbit; but surely it does not explain why I keep re-reading it? Well, I’m not so sure. I have always read books the same way: I have to know how the story ends. So I read first enough into the story to get an idea what it is all about – then I go and see how it ends. Yes, that’s what I always do. And for every sub-story in a thicker book I do the same. Thus I read books both from the beginning towards the end – and from the end towards the beginning. If the book is worth it, I will also read it all through.

Which means, from the beginning it does not matter the least if I have already read the book, if I know what will happen. Every book I take up I potentially take up with the intention of never stopping to read it. Which means, if I like it, I am committed to it for the rest of my life, for the reasons that made me read it in the first place.

Of course re-reading is never the same. Sometimes I skip entire parts of books. In the Hobbit, I confess I mostly get bored in Mirkwood. Maybe I have wood-elves in my ancestors – but I just cannot see woods as so scary and dark and dreary places. Practically every time I also discover something new, something I did not see before, or, something I saw differently. I change, so the story changes. But no matter what, I always take care to read the beginning from the first smoke-ring to Bilbo running off to adventure and burglary without a handkerchief, hat or money, and the end from Thorin’s last words to him, child of the kindly West, to Bilbo sighing and seeing the road that goes ever on. Every time it seems to me I see deep into something fundamental in life and am touched to my marrow, and all the times of my years are one, despite of the changes.

Then The Lord of the Rings came out and of course my mother bought it the first thing, and life has never been the same. It took me two and a half days to read it, all bound in one paperback volume. I read till I dropped and then woke up with the book, took it to school with me and read through every lesson I dared. I never knew I knew most of it by heart until a decade later it was translated into Finnish and smoke began to rise off my ears and nostrils for every wrongly translated nuance and flavor. (I hankered after learning English half my childhood to be able to wade through my mother’s books, first detective stories and later the fantasy and sci-fi, all in English. When eleven, after just the first lesson at school, I started. Eventually I even began to understand what I was reading. So, Tolkien I read in English, long before it was translated into Finnish.) The Lord of the Rings is a book I do not re-read, for I have never left it – I just turn a page and return and wander again in this world that will always be a fundamental part of me.

Ps: I know Middle-Earth is just the Eastern corner of the World – but I would not go West and leave it, Valinor seems like a paradise where no real hurt nor joy has any meaning. Despite all the heroic tragedy it is built on. I’d rather salt my joy with earthly loss. Middle-Earth forever for me.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Verkossa koukussa kalassa

Tämän kalajutun kirjoitin myös Pedaopintojen puitteissa, "teoksena". Siihen kuuluu myös videon muotoon kerätty kokoelma kalakuvia vuosilta 2009 - 2014 . Teos syntyi vastauksena Santtu Kivimäen kutomalle verkolle, osana teosvaihtoprosessiamme, josta keskustelemme tuubissa tässä.

1.     Sain ensimmäisen oikean onkeni viisivuotiaana. Vapa oli bambua, kevyt, kiiltävä ja vaaleankeltainen. Koho oli uusi, pullea ja punavalkoinen. Muut onget olivat tummuneet ja vettyneet painavammiksi. Ukin onki oli ihan harmaa.
2.     Ensimmäinen kalani oli todella iso ahven, eikä tämä ole kalavale, sillä siitä tuli tarina jollaisia perheessäni aina kerrottiin: aloittelijan tuuria.
3.     Kesäni vietin vesillä ukin veneellä. Tai näin ne muistan. Meillä ei ollut mökkiä eikä menty maalle.
4.     Minä tiesin miten veneessä ollaan: veneessä ei huudeta eikä seisota kun se liikkuu. Kalastaessa saa seisoa. Kalastaessa puhutaan puoliääneen kalastusjuttuja: tuolta mie nappaan ahvenen; se on särki kun noin pulputtaa; nyt se vie, ota jo ylös!
5.     Naiset ja lapset istuivat veneessä edessä parhaalla penkillä suojassa. Minun paikkani oli pulpetin kannella: makasin kannella, pidin knaapista kiinni ja uitin kättä vedessä. Minä hyppäsin ensimmäisenä maihin köyden kanssa. Minä kuuluin kalamiehiin.
6.     Minä osasin neljätoistavuotiaana ajaa moottoriveneellä yksin ulos satamasta. Tädilleni ukki näytti miten se tehdään viimeisenä elinvuotenaan.
7.     Kalassa koin ensimmäisen kerran yhteisyyden joka syntyy jaetusta taidosta ja osaamisesta.
8.     Kalassa ollaan yhdessä, porukalla. Kalakaveruus voi yhdistää vaikkei mitään muuta yhteistä olisikaan. Eikä yhteisyyttä tarvitse mitenkään erityisesti ylläpitää. Kyllä se yhdistää kun yrittää setviä hauen sotkeman verkon tulipalopakkasessa tuulen piiskatessa sormia, tai tehdä äkkikäännöksen 3km tuntivauhdilla sotkematta kahdeksaa raksia.
9.     Kalastus tapahtuu jossain mitä kevytmielisesti nimitetään ”luonnoksi”. Tai ”maisemaksi”. Kalastaja tuntee sen tuulena niskassa, sateena joka pieksää ja aurinkona joka polttaa, sumuna johon eksyä, pyrynä johon kadota, seesteisenä järvenselkänä ja läpikuultavana marraskuun suvantona. Kalastaja ei lähde luontoon vaan Näsinselälle, Tikansalmeen, Tuiskavanluodolle, Mustakoskelle, kiertämään Isoa ja Pikku Hornua, pilkkimään Susijärvelle. Kalastajalla ei ole erillistä pistettä mistä käsin katsella maisemia, kalastaja on osa maisemaa.
10. Kalastus ei ole yliaistimellista yhteyttä abstraktin ”luonnon” kanssa. Kalastus on ikivanhaa ja uusinta teknologiaa: verkon pujottaminen jään alle, jigin kelaaminen, perhon heitto, pilkin nikottelu, kaiku ja plotteri.
11. Kalastuskuvat ovat aina klisheitä.
12. Kalastajan perimmäinen taito on kyky olla tekemättä mitään.