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Haluat kadota kosketukseen,
graniitinpunaiseen pehmeyteen,
kun yö hohtaa jo kirkkainta valoa
ja huone, jossa ei ole kuin raukea patja,
on tuoksuistanne täyttynyt,
kuten sinäkin.
Tahdot kuun kellahtavan selälleen,
sakarat tähtien välissä,
meri hulluna tuulesta,
aaltojen välissä viisaus
ja aallonharjalla hurmio,
uit pitkin vedoin selälle,
ulappa kiiltää vähäisessäkin valossa,
jokainen kuiskaus saa tärisemään,
sormet vatsalla ovat huokaus,
huuto kaikuu olemattomuudesta,
katsot, kuten olet aina halunnut,
unohdat itsesi,
ja sitten aamulla
toinen katsoo kuin sinua ei enää olisi,
olette jo unohtaneet toisenne.

Pläräsin vanhoja tekstejä, tämä pisti silmään. Jotenkin osuin tunnekohteeseen, joka on aina epämääräinen: yksi ihminen voi haluta kadota fyysisessä kontaktissa, unohtaa itsensä intensiivisissä aistikokemuksissa, ja silti jos toinen kokisi sen haluajan täsmälleen siten, pelkkänä lihana ja liikkeenä, on se merkki läsnäolon puutteesta ja toisen käyttämisestä pelkkänä välineenä. Minästä käsin kyse voi olla vapautumisesta, toiseen kohdistettuna se on välinpitämättömyyttä tai jopa kahlitsemista.

The Dancing Violinist

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She really should have inspected the flat more carefully before signing the contract, because on the first night she realised that the room was actually on fire. At night it was tolerable and the flames were not too hot, but usually in the evenings she had to strip down to withstand the heat.

After a while she got used to it and felt quite liberated walking around with no clothes on. Sometimes she tried to read in a corner where the flames did not reach, but more often she danced, arms high above her head, swaying her hips, swirling around and making sudden kicks, jumping over and around the flames as though they were just rocks.

Other times she played sad melodies on the violin and watched darkness descending into town. She began to get admirers who stayed outside casually taking walks on the other side of the street where they might catch a glimpse of her dancing, but nobody dared to approach her. She complained to her friends that it was not her fault, she was perfectly normal, it was just the flat playing tricks on her. But the friends soon stopped listening and suddenly she was all alone, a lighthouse in a sea of flames.

It was getting more and more difficult for her admirers to see her because her body was becoming effulgent and crimson from all the dancing and they could no longer distinguish her from the flames. It looked like she had become invisible in her own flat, but when she went out to walk by the river people stared and walked across the water to a safe distance because they could see little flames around her mouth and eyes, and dogs barked so furiously that their owners got quite frustrated.

But among her admirers there was a boy, there always is one, who stayed behind when all the others were gone. He did wait to see the apparition of her naked body in the window, just like everyone else, but what he really wanted was to hear her violin.

He played the cello himself and one day when everyone else was either dead or eating toast he gathered his courage and asked to play counterpoint for her. It was not that exciting at first, rather too mechanical, but the longer he stayed in her flat the more he learned to let go.

The walls of the flat are very thin and often I lie awake at night listening to the music they make. It is so beautiful that it still makes me weep in gratitude.

Jorge Ben – Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal might not be considered a traditional love song, but it is still about love. The lyrics are very simple, an explanation rather than a narrative. To paraphrase: I’ll now tell this pretty story of love I was told, the love of the prince Shah-Jahan toward the princess Mumtaz Mahal. But where is the story, if this is more or less what’s said?

Instead, it’s all told by means of music. The simple lyrics contribute to a sense of lightness and humor. The version posted here is the second recording Jorge Ben did, and compared to the first one this is faster, with more complex rhythms that make you want to dance, much like the whole album, África Brasil, which successfully combined samba with rhythms from African music and funk.

The song itself is hard to explain because it’s an experience of rhythm and a couple of melodic hooks that repeat several times, much like thoughts of the loved one may enter your consciousness repeatedly, no matter what you are concentrating on: Tê Tê Tê, Têtêretê! It’s simple, uplifting, and it sounds like love, the joy of just thinking that such feelings exist and we are capable of feeling them, even if there’s nothing like that currently happening. It’s the thought that love can break us apart and rebuild into better versions of ourselves, even if the flip side is that when unrequited it can also break us without any glue of affection to make us stronger.

As lovely as ballads may be when trying to capture that feeling of tenderness, maybe this music captures better the excitement, the jubilation when discovering how wonderful the world can be. It could be all projection, even when mutual, but it is about the realization that you don’t have to see the world like you normally do, with relative indifference. It’s like suddenly discovering new sounds and colours never heard or seen before. It makes you want to dance and sing even if you can do no such things in a controlled manner, to jump around the flat, climb the trees and feel the wind as if you are a part of the forest, a part of everything, one with the world.

Loving just one person feels like loving the whole world more. Even if the lovers concentrate on each other, it feels greater than focusing on one body, simple sensations. The whole world is contained in this one touch, one moment. Everything disappears, yet everything is present. There are no words that could express the complexity of these feelings, the elation when nothing bad could happen, though vaguely you might be aware of such things happening. Trying to explain love, it seems that you end up in an endless cycle of reiterating everything, infinite variations that never capture the true feeling. Yet it’s all here: Têtêretê. What more could we say? I love you, maybe it’s all that’s said, but much more is present, the darkness and the light both part of the same joyous delirium, the delusion that may be the only reality that matters.

A Beastly Comedy Canto 1.2

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On Prosody

Some of the technical aspects may be obvious, but I thought I’d clarify them a bit for the casual reader.

The rhyme scheme is the same as what Dante used, terza rima, in which the first and third lines of a tercet rhyme with the second line of the previous. Each canto has 48 tercets + an extra line to complete the last rhyme. In other words, they’re all 145 lines long. In The Divine Comedy the cantos are of varying lengths, but my impression is that their lengths on average are something similar. I found that having a precise number as an aim made it easier to write, because I had a goal by which I’d have to express what I had to say on the topic.

Also, having a precise number was necessary because I didn’t write the cantos in order in the first draft. I mentioned earlier that I wrote the book in a cycle of 3 days, which made it easier to handle the distressing scenes which are all close to each other. While it may seem like this would make it difficult to make the work coherent, I felt it was the opposite.

At first I wrote around 30 lines of all 100 cantos, and then continued from that. Thus, by the time I got to the end of the canto, I had long since already written how the work would continue in the next one, so I constantly had an aim where to go. Before starting the book I had a general outline of themes, emotions and plot developments, which made this possible.

The book is written in iambic heptameter with regular variation. Iamb is a basic building block of English poetry, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, and heptameter means that there are seven of those in a line. Usually there’s a caesura after the 8th syllable, which means that you might hear a slight pause there in your head.

Regular variation is absolutely necessary in a long work such as this. Sticking to the rhythm strictly will probably make the work monotonous, and besides always using iambs restricts the vocabulary. Introducing more unstressed syllables enables me to use words longer than 3 syllables quite commonly. However, the problem with variation is that it often sounds unintentional, a lapse in the meter. I have solved this problem by placing my variations always in the same spots.

In short, in iambic heptameter each odd syllable is unstressed, each even syllable stressed. My modification is that syllables number 4, 8 or 12 can also be unstressed, just one in a line or all three. This makes the beat feel regular while I can keep changing rhythm just slightly to avoid monotony. Perhaps it also helps the feel of regularity that it’s always the syllables divisible by 4 that get this treatment.

I cannot recall how I came up with this form, it’s not anything I remember seeing anywhere in the English literature. I’m pretty sure it arose as an answer to the problems mentioned above, especially the need to use longer words. I did try early on some other solutions, even using feminine rhymes, but quite early I settled on this form as the best choice for my book. In the end I had to kill some of my darlings for the sake of sticking to the form, for example remove the word “buckminsterfullerene,” which would have been great.

Obsession to Surrender

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Hers are the hands that sculpted me, under her touch I was created. This body had a shape before but it had no meaning.

Her fingers brushed against mine so carelessly that at first I did not notice what was happening, but soon I realised that only now was I gaining awareness of the love that resides inside flesh. Gently she put aside the first layer, the one of suspicion, and tried to see into the core, the possibilities of the material.

One always has to stay aware of the limits, because it is easy to get too enthusiastic and chop off a large piece that was meant to stay intact. Afterwards there would be no chance of ever making me a human being again.

Sometimes her chest was flushing, particularly when she was very certain of what she wanted but not whether I would yield. But of course I did, I wanted to be the water she drinks, the cat she strokes, the scarf wrapped around her neck, the shirt that made her warm. Maybe she was all those things to me, for when we were together I seemed to desire no water, no warmth and comfort, just the knowledge that she was in the same building.

Her pain was my pain but it did not help her at all. Shared pain brings solace only if both people care about each other. I would have gladly taken all her burdens but she did not want to give them to me, that would have been to intimate.

But I was not born to be a sculptor, I was simply made of energy looking for an outlet.

I thought she would receive me and stay happy for the rest of her life but instead I merely went through her, hardly changing her at all even though my own charge was utterly transformed.

Maybe one day she will stand in the rain and feel me in each drop. I will turn myself into clouds and water just to stay close to her, but even then I could never be as soft as her skin was.

I do not think I will be able to love anyone else the same way, but then again just because she created the love I never knew could exist, it does not mean that it cannot be redirected.

Yet, as the creator of the feeling she will always be in charge. I know that people cannot be owned, but I want to give myself completely. I am hers.

Comment. All the stories I’ve posted so far were written in a short period of time, the first one 19/02/11, this 25/02/11. That perhaps explains why there are similar themes, although writing about different facets of love are a pretty common theme anyway. At the time I was not in a relationship, and I cannot recognize these descriptions to be related to any real person or situation. However, since then, in the last 10 years, I’ve had some of the experiences I wrote about back then.

Surely in an intimate relationship it may feel like we’re being sculpted into better beings, and you can wish to surrender like that. But it’s not an attitude I wholeheartedly recommend. Of course this story isn’t prescriptive, but merely a description of a state of mind. Some of that feeling is inevitable in the early stages of the relationship when boundaries are blurred for a while. But then you find yourself again, perhaps more strongly than ever. That is also natural. Becoming a sculpture with clear lines and a smooth surface, more beautiful than ever.

How much the meaning of life is enhanced or even created by falling in love! It is intoxicating to the point at which we adopt attitudes that are not sustainable. That is also part of its charm, how we are ultimately in a flux, forced to re-evaluate our personalities, return closer to the beginning, approach one another again. This endless dance. Love is not just one approach and then being together happily ever after. It is constant movement, and it’s fine like that. Nothing to be afraid of.

Neil Sedaka – Laughter in the Rain

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Laughter in the Rain is a song that revels in its innocence. At the time of its release in 1974 Neil Sedaka had been largely forgotten; he had major hits in the early 60s, when the times and music were altogether different. While I do not know how people might have heard it in the 70s, I imagine the song was to many people a reminder of simpler times. And it still feels like that today, only now the 70s themselves have an image of innocence and simplicity. This shift in the perception of innocence is indicative of how people tend to see earlier times, their youth and time before we were born, in contrast with the adult responsibilities.

Reportedly Phil Cody, who wrote the lyrics, penned them in just 5 minutes after taking a walk. He had just fallen in love and didn’t really want to spend time with Sedaka to write the song. Maybe the whole situation is reflected in the story: it retains that feeling of first falling in love when life seems so much simpler than other times. And in some ways it really is: when the feeling is overwhelming, everything else becomes insignificant, including all your worries. The rain is sweeter, warmer, or if it’s cold, that too is an opportunity to get close, to feel the support and warmth of the one you love. The world may not be reduced to laughter and gentle kisses, but nothing else matters anymore, not even the task of writing a love song.

And that’s just where the song receives its strength from, although the pentatonic melody also contributes to the feeling of innocence and simplicity. In that sense the lyrics and the melody support each other nicely. There’s a sense of ease similar to just walking with someone and feeling like everything is understood, everything is interesting.

What is especially lovely about the song is that there are absolutely no hints of complications. Listening to this I’m struck by the realization how rare that is in a love song. Even if there aren’t any current bumps in the relationship described in a song, doubts and insecurities are often present, whether they are about the narrator, the loved one, or obstacles set by other people. Falling in love we get a glimpse of this presence that could be a reality even without the loved one: the rain is beating on the leaves, but the sky is not furious. There is just love of raindrops, the understanding of how we can laugh. “Sharing our love under stormy skies” could mean that the love is already there within each person. It’s just that finding that special someone we can finally share it, reveal it, and discover our own happiness when seeing each other and laughing together, no matter what the weather is like.

Thus the song is a nice reminder of what matters, walking hand in hand with someone, and just remembering that is enough to make you happy. Remembering the rain, the myriad possibilities present in a kiss, all of them wonderful. The light shines through, the woods have a fresh scent. We shiver; we are warm. We want the same thing, to feel intimate. And in that wish we are never alone, but a part of the same humanity, same possibility to love and be loved.

A Beastly Comedy Canto 1.1

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A poem is always a disguise, which is a blessing. Often it is easier to tell the truth by means of fiction, creating distance between the poet and the work. As a writer I am often, but not always, aware of where I end and the narrator begins, and other people much more commonly mistake me for the narrator.

Even as I was recording the poem, after reading some passages of the first part I asked myself: was I really this unhappy when writing? Then I remembered what it was like at the time. The truth is that I was writing all three parts at once, working on each in a cycle of 3 days, and thus all the ecstatic, happy things in part 3 were written on the days before I wrote about unhappiness in part 1. But while writing I lived through the experiences and emotions so intensely that I managed to capture something believable. It doesn’t mean my life was like that. But then again, while I was writing, and partly also when rewriting, my life had little else than this book.

One big difference between the Dante in my book and Dante in The Divine Comedy is character’s arrogance. The narrator of his Comedy is a relatively humble man. Yet Dante the writer is a person who is the judge and the jury, placing people he knew in hell. It is likely Dante didn’t think he’s literally describing heaven and hell, but the effort for such a massive undertaking does require some arrogance. It’s a feature that I’ve found present in many epic poems, particularly when an authorial voice is present, like Ovid’s at the end of Metamorphoses. Arrogance, however, does not mean the absence of humility. People always have conflicting traits.

This is why I have him introduce himself in partly contradictory phrases. One line with which he describes himself is “A victim of malaria, acquainted with disease”. The first part describes how Dante died, but the second part is an allusion to Isaiah 53:3, a verse that Christians often see as a prophecy of Jesus. I am not trying to make Dante a Christ figure here. Partly he may be just unconsciously quoting the scripture because he’s a Christian. But also he would have been aware of the Christ connection, and to descibe himself with the same phrase does turn into a comparison that suggests some degree of pride or arrogance, even if it is concealed. Yet, in this case the reader doesn’t need to recognize the allusion at all. It may change the interpretation slightly, but the line stands on its own even without it.


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At that moment I looked up and saw all the naked branches against the white clouds. It was a quiet town and trees could still thrive here, so the branches grew wildly, reaching for something that was always too far away.

It made me think of the darkness of her pubes reaching for the white plane of her stomach, or the roots towards the heart of existence. She had kind eyes but not a single hair on her body wanted to relinquish the wildness. She noticed I was looking up, but could not see anything special there.

I touched her hand as though it was the first time and I had to keep it a secret. Her hand was cold, we had been out too long walking on the cobblestones, looking for something we did not need. At least when I sensed her warmth, it felt like nothing else was important.

I drew her close just to smell her own scent under the one she was wearing. It was earthy, slightly sour, not at all like the floral sweetness under which she was hiding. But I did not want the mask, I always wanted to know what lay beyond her ideas on how to be attractive. They were so much based on old compliments, half-remembered smiles or long gazes, that it was difficult to tell which parts of her mask she had painted herself, reflecting her own tastes instead of those of others.

As I pressed my face against her neck, I thought that love must always contain a vestige of loneliness, because no matter what I do, my longing will always stay there, it is never quenched.

She will always be a mystery, a mind that rotates differently and shines with different colours from mine. But the difference excited me, I would always be trying to understand her, no matter how easy or hard.

So the thought of loneliness never frightened me, as it was an essential part of love that renews itself every moment. It only becomes torture when the desire to understand is not mutual.

I lifted up my eyes and saw her smiling. She would still be beautiful fifty years from now. I wrote a wordless prayer on her skin with my lips. Let this be enough.