Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dover Beach

We have pitifully little time to achieve full moral maturity here. I wonder if anyone ever has, Shakespeare, maybe? In any case I would think that any such maturity would involve a full realization of our permanent disjointedness. A clever, grasping, amoral animal will forever remain a central part of us ( I can easily recognize that in my own being, the deep, dark impulse). While another part is attempting a strange pilgrimage towards a better home – and sometimes the landscape, the experience feels exhilarating, the cold and the beauty taking the breath away. But mostly not, mostly we muddle, don’t connect, don’t cohere - there will be no escape from that. This we must accept and go on living with the awareness that we would not choose to live so, given liberty to make the choice. Only in this world there won’t ever be such liberty.

Sometimes when I watch our carefree little boy I’m filled with huge dread: he could so easily be taken away from us – it’s a cruel, random world. The Christians believe that the universe is not so. There will never be no knowing, but all reason tells us otherwise. I wonder if anyone will ever truly be content with that understanding, with no self-deception or wishful thinking involved.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Oh Ontario, oh Jennifer Jason Leigh

For me music almost never compares with literature. But when it does, it does it with force - at its best it really can compete with poetry. Which is much said from me. So, I do have a small selection of musical favourites, basically centering on pop (classical music, dance and heavy rock among others suffer from the non-centrality of words in them), just certain individual songs, not whole ouvres. And very few contemporary bands, and only one whose lyrics I really respect as pure poetry: The Weakerthans' lyrics have an amazing reach and depth, amazing quirky freshness. And not just as part of the totality of a song and performance, but they also work as they are, as just language. This almost never happens. Well, perhaps there is a certain connection anyway between gloomy Winnipeg and gloomy South of Finland, a certain sympathy but in any case John K Samson is one of the few contemporary poets whose work I follow.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stars in their pockets like grains of sand

There is a great concept in the Finnish language: "yleissivistys". It approximately means the standard of knowledge and understanding that a well educated, well rounded person should have. History, geography, foreign languages, high art and culture etc. etc. are thought to naturally belong to this category, but it is strange how little natural sciences and mathematics figure in it. This is surely quite a universal state of affairs anywhere in the industrial world - you can be thought as a knowledgeable and highly educated person without having the faintest idea of the structure and nature of our physical universe. (That can, btw, only be described as strange beyond anyone's imagination - or I suppose it could be said that our Newtonian common sense experience is the strangely behaving anomaly here.)

Modern physics especially has me standing in pure awe (though I rarely admit to it). One could think that much of this wild and highly abstract theorizing is meaningless unless it were for the fact that time and time again theories have been proven correct after a practical, empiricial experiment has - often long after - become possible. I do claim primacy for our human sciences, but they too operate in the physical world: we should understand the sheer magical strangeness of it. (I would even argue that the humanities would be best positioned to give depth and meaning to these amazing findings, but they seem to lack both interest and capability of even beginning to explore these treasures.)