I sometimes joke that the past few years of my life have been a never-ending cycle of the same problems, with very little growth or pattern-breaking. It’s this point in the winter when I maybe start to feel this the most, like I am caught in a trap that may vary slightly from week to week, but never actually changes. I’m not complaining - I love the winter, and now the longer hours of daylight and heavy presence of snow make each day a pleasure. But as I had a second cast put on my wrist today - because the original was falling apart, and I need to wear it for one more month - I felt transported back to early December, as if everything reverted in a sci-fl momentary flash.
Maybe the holidays just lasted for three months and the routine is reëstablishing itself. My talk show returns tonight (and my suit has been dry-cleaned); this year’s Pixelache festival has already been announced (I am not a director or producer this year, though of course I will participate in some form); some dear friends have returned from a few months abroad. It’s business as usual here in Helsinki. Except that the country/continent has been gripped by a wave of nationalism and racism, and I’m also financially secure for the time being. But otherwise, yeah, things are back to ‘normal’.
Back when I was studying James Joyce I made a note to investigate Giambattista Vico, the Italian philosopher whose cyclical model of history influenced Finnegans Wake among other things (surely Delaney’s Dhalgren, subject of my master’s dissertation, even if by proxy). Of course, I never did, but now would be as good a time as ever.
This idea of repetition and patterns has been a major theme in the brainstorming sessions which Agnieszka and I have spent the past two weeks immersed in. As we’re trying to figure out what to do as our next venture, we’ve been reflecting on our past projects and collaborations, attempting to map out what we learned (and didn’t learn) from the successes and failures. This has raised a lot of questions about goals, motivations, breaking points, expectations, and the proportionate efforts involved.
If I feel any shift now in my thinking, it’s that I don’t fear repetition as much as I used to. So I move to a new country every three years; let’s say each time I invest an enormous effort (physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually) into whatever projects I am doing. And those projects inevitably end or mutate, and often these structures have to be torn down and discarded (both physically and metaphorically). My only sympathy for neoliberal thinking has been with their efficiency obsession; I feel that we in the culture world often duplicate effort and waste energy instead of using our resources more efficiently (though I don’t believe the private sector is inherently more efficient - quite the opposite, from my experience). But right this moment, as we prepare to possibly start a whole new thing (whatever that might manifest itself as physically), a thing which will surely be finite and possibly even incorporate its own decline and/or obsolescence into the design — I’m totally fine with the possibility that it all might get torn down in a few years and recycled into something new. Bring it on.
Finished up Docpoint with a few more. Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow and All Music Has Disappeared is about Bill Drummond’s conceptual participatory sound project, The 17, which a former flatmate of mine participated in back in 2006 or so (hi, Daniel!). It started on a dubious note, seeming like it would be one of those cutesy documentaries about a guy who just discovered Fluxus in his mid 50s and was using builders and construction workers unwittingly to make something to boost his own ego. But as it moves along, we slowly learn more about Drummond the person and his history, and the enthusiasm and energy is so genuine and unassuming that by the end I was really delighted. (Full disclosure: I’m a massive fan of Drummond and think he’s one of the only living artists who actually has lived his (Discordian!) principles to their logical conclusion.)
Mika Taanila’s new film, Atomin paluu, was rather hard to enjoy because Korjaamo crowded us into a non-cinema space to watch it on hard metal chairs. The screen was too high so my neck became sore, but it had to be that high, because of the inappropriate room geometry. And I still had to keep looking around the head of the guy in front of me. Whine, whine, whine. Anyway -- the film itself was an immense work that requires some delicate ethical unraveling, and while I would say I was disappointed overall, I can’t deny that there was something amazing there, at least in parts. It’s probably going to be always lumped in with Into Eternity because of the subject matter, and while Into Eternity is a far stronger work, the two films actually complement each other well.
I’m pleasantly confused by Louis CK’s new show, Horace and Pete. The man continues to amaze me, though I’m not sure if this is actually anything special dramatically, or just such a curious whatthefuck departure that I’m impressed with the ambition. I know that I'm really looking forward to the next episode, so I guess he’s doing something right.
Reading: paging through Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet slowly (when read in a linear fashion, it starts to hurt after awhile); re-reading the collection of Richard Meltzer’s miscellaneous music writings that I’ve had forever.
I don’t want to keep hammering on about politics but I felt the Bern on Tuesday morning and of course I’m excited. After finishing The Invisible Bridge I wonder if the Sanders campaign, should he fail to secure the nomination, might be the progressive version of Reagan’s failed bid in ’76. Yes, he didn’t get the nomination, but it laid the groundwork for the conservative movement that has ruined America so much ever since.
Not sure what to write about all the horrible racist shit happening here: the Soldiers of Odin jagoffs, or the jagoff president of Finland and his jagoff speech this week. It’s easy to feel insulated from it all in Helsinki, where multiculturalism is the law of the land, but the rest of Finland is a different matter entirely. At a pizza place last week with Tuukka, a typical friendly drunk Kallio type at an adjacent table heard us speaking English and shouted the usual ‘Where are you from?’ question at me — a question that I have received hundreds of times before from strangers in a bar. But for a moment, I froze - his friend was a large bald tough-looking type with tattoos and a goatee, and I stammered, in response: “…er, are you guys the Solders of Odin?”. They laughed - of course, they were freewheelin’ liberal Kallio dudes - but I realised that I was genuinely slightly scared for a second, which has never happened to me before. I also don’t know what I would have done if they had answered 'yes'.
I’m really delighted by the feedback each week - a few emails from people I haven’t talked to in years (Andy Andrezeski!), which makes this already feel more genuinely rewarding than Facebook or whatever. Thanks for reading.