June 26. MJ.

Outer space, comin’ in. Got some Joycean interminglings here, I’m gut at it. Get rugged again, ruggged and tough like Miller and Hemingway and thick-fingered writers with a typewriter in a suitcase with a strong smell of leather. I want more words, more sounds, braid and weave them to a napkin of language you can blow your nose and blow your mind. What is the strength of prose? I mean not its effect on society, its influence as a text that may becomes be canonical. I mean cramming words and connections and associations, commas, dashes, transliterations of sounds, lulls, cramming it all into a few sentences to leave the reader stunned and to change him. To tore his identity as a reader to pieces and challenge him to build it up again. To make him jump smile cry laugh and be good.
In one of the many coffee place I write here, I see a jacket on a chair and think some guys left it there. I see them walk out the door, think not a second, pick up the jacket and follow them, “hey is this yours?” Another guy comes running at me and grabs my arm. I am wrong. It is not the jacket of the businessmen who left. It is the jacket of that other guy who was just ordering his coffee. I apologize and – he apologizes too. Remember I am in Asia. We have a short conversation about cultural deference and difference, about working in coffee places and reserving your seat by putting your jacket on it.
I have a delicious dinner and then a long walk home, enjoying a detour through Namsan park with its soft green road made of rubber. I am singing Michael Jackson songs because he died yesterday.

June 26. MJ.

Outer space, comin’ in. Got some Joycean interminglings here, I’m gut at it. Get rugged again, ruggged and tough like Miller and Hemingway and thick-fingered writers with a typewriter in a suitcase with a strong smell of leather. I want more words, more sounds, braid and weave them to a napkin of language you can blow your nose and blow your mind. What is the strength of prose? I mean not its effect on society, its influence as a text that may becomes be canonical. I mean cramming words and connections and associations, commas, dashes, transliterations of sounds, lulls, cramming it all into a few sentences to leave the reader stunned and to change him. To tore his identity as a reader to pieces and challenge him to build it up again. To make him jump smile cry laugh and be good.
In one of the many coffee place I write here, I see a jacket on a chair and think some guys left it there. I see them walk out the door, think not a second, pick up the jacket and follow them, “hey is this yours?” Another guy comes running at me and grabs my arm. I am wrong. It is not the jacket of the businessmen who left. It is the jacket of that other guy who was just ordering his coffee. I apologize and – he apologizes too. Remember I am in Asia. We have a short conversation about cultural deference and difference, about working in coffee places and reserving your seat by putting your jacket on it.
I have a delicious dinner and then a long walk home, enjoying a detour through Namsan park with its soft green road made of rubber. I am singing Michael Jackson songs because he died yesterday.

June 26. MJ. was originally published on Meandering home

Visiting Santa Claus on the Polar Circle

The next day I decided to revive the tourist in me that had almost died, and went to Santa’s village. One of our considerations in the bar the other night had been about the answer to the question why Santa lives in Finland. Since my companions studied law, I suggested there must be something like a “Santa Clause” in the Finnish constitution.

Anyway, I left Veronika’s place at about eleven on a small red bicycle, and rode through a breathtakingly beautiful white landscape to the village with Santa’s Office. When I arrived there it was all silent; it had the atmosphere of a ghost town. I was the only one walking around, enduring the music from the loudspeakers, and parking my bike with one wheel at each side of the Arctic circle. There are not many bikes that can say that. After lying down on the line, making pictures of the line between my legs, my legs crossing each other over the line, cleaning snow from the line, and other activities that gained their meaning from the fact that above this magic line there is at least one dark day in the winter and one day the sun never sets accordingly in the summer. I walked around a bit in Santa’s town, did not enter any of the wooden buildings but climbed a 40 meter tower instead, and produced an overview picture of the settlement.

On my way back from Santa’s village, I saw a young girl with a pink plastic sled on her way home. I wanted to give her a lift. I tried to make clear what I had in mind with gestures, and then just tied the sled to the luggage frame of my bike, and pulled her for 5 minutes. It felt great! This was Santa’s present to me, this was one of those magical moments in life people tend to remember when they are old. The girl said goodbye, and I continued my ride back to Rovaniemi. It was -4 outside and I was very glad that I bought a pair of woollen gloves in the second hand shop before heading to Santa’s village.

Back in Rovaniemi I went to the university, passing a few exceptionally pretty lakes, which photos decorate yesterday’s post. At the University I met Veronika, Johanna, and Tasos. For the first time, our travel group was complete. I wrote some pages in the cafetaria, and we went home together by bike. That night we visited the same bar as the day before, which was actually located in an old bank-safe. The thick steel door was still there. They played very very nice music, and I will call this phenomenon “telepathic DJing”, because it feels like you are the DJ yourself when they come up all the time with the songs you’d like to hear next. One of our favourites was Michael Jackson, and that did have a reason. We went home together, and I danced like Michael Jackson wearing – beware – only some grey long winter underware, thus looking incredibly “sexy”, to quote Tasos (who could know since he is a Greek). After Beat It, Billy Jean and Thriller, we rolled on the floor laughing, and rolled into our beds, dreaming about our trip to Norway.