Confessions of a book addict 
Monday, 10 .April, 2006, 09:38 - English Entries, Literature

books Yesterday I re-arranged the better part of my books. Not all of them, only the novels. Most of the novels. Since months they were trying to conquer my little apartment, piling in every corner, hiding when I was looking for one of them. Books are cruel when you don't find them. Or when they are not strong enough to keep you reading. Then they end up somewhere in the kitchen or fall from the bedside table and wait for further attention. Most of them start closer relationships with dust, which is also very attracted to books.

I only read novels, nothing else. Since two decades I try to read books about science, biographies, psychological and philosophical literature. It never really works for me. I read the biography of Richard Feynman and "Fermat's Last Theorem" and that should be enough non-fiction for a lifetime. This nevertheless does not stop me from buying more non-fiction books. I look into them every now and then, spend some time inside them, but never really read them from cover-to-cover. One of my latest acquisition is "Die Rückkehr der Geschichte" ("The return of history") by former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. I started reading it. It was very interesting. In the middle of the second chapter I stopped and now it leans against a half-read Willy Brandt biography and smooches with dust.

There are also many novels that I own but did not read – yet. They just keep coming in and start living with me. They tell me that they are very interesting and worth spending money and time on them. Once they are bought, they are a part of me. It seems impossible to get rid of them. I know I am an addict - but books are not my only addiction and I cannot care for every weakness that I have, so let's don't get into an argument whether it makes sense to buy something that is only used to bind dust.

Believe me, I tried to free myself from the addiction. At least once every week I have this vision of a free life, in which I only own a bed, two chairs, a table and a laptop. Books I would lend from the library, as every sound person does. It is a wonderful thought, I always feel light and happy when I think it.

books During the last weeks I found out about BookCrossers, a group of people who intentionally lose their books. They register them beforehand in the internet, where they get a registration number that they write into the book together with a note that the person, who finds it, should go to the webpage and type the number in. That way the journey of a book can be followed. This sounded like the end of my addiction: I would lose all my books. I would take the best ones first, register them and share them one by one with the entire world.

Of course that dream was over when I stood in front of my shelf. First I took out "Post Office" and even before I had typed it's ISBN into the BookCrossers webpage I felt a scalpel sliding along the inside of my stomach. I was about to cut off an essential part of my body. Maybe I should start with a book which I have read several years ago, not one that I just finished. "Post Office" went on a pile again and I took out "The Music of Chance" – but no, not this one. Maybe a German book? Who wants to find a German book in Finland – it makes no sense to lose it here. Keep it, Georg, keep it! Even those that I had not read, that I never intend to read in the future, I could not decide to lose.

Yesterday I took a long look into the abyss of my character. Afterwards I gave in and decided to keep them all and to re-arranged at least the novels. Most of the novels. They went on several piles on my desk. German literature. Poetry. Crime. English and American writers. French authors. Finish stuff. The piles grew fast. I dragged the victims of my inattention out from every corner of the 42 square meter flat, blew the dust from them and put them on top of their pile. That was the easy part.

My shelf has four boards for fiction books, not counting in the crime and SF-stuff. Four boards of what some people might call "real literature". That is not enough, naturally. Some years ago I started to put there two rows of books on each board. This saves a lot of space and has many disadvantages. The books in the rear row are not visible, which makes it impossible to sort the books alphabetically by author, because either "Auster, Paul" or "Wolf, Christa" will end up in the back row, but to both of them immediate access is needed from time to time.

The moment I started to sort the piles into the shelf, the books began to quarrel. Hesse demanded the front row, as well as Sophocles and Frisch. Brautigan put out his elbows and had a longer fight with Coupland. I threatened them that I will lose them all via BookCrossers, but they did not take me serious anymore. "Put the old farts in the back" Kerouac said, which caused a heavier bi-lingual edition of "the Tempest" to throw itself in a suicidal act of revenge on top of "On the Road". They both survived.

It took me a while to gain back my authority. Putting "Illuminatus" next to "Animal Farm" into the back row was close to losing them. They looked at me with their paperback spines, implying that I would not love them anymore and I apologized woefully until Arthur Miller covered them from the front. It was not easy.

books The crime books were not that complicated to handle, as they all fit in the front of the philosophy books, that since long gave up to complain about their back row existance. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler took their established positions and seem to do well with each other, whilst Sartre and Camus go on discussing existentialism in the background.

After that I was exhausted. In an unbelievable effort of strength I switched on the vacuum cleaner, which sucked in all the dust. All the novels are sorted now and have their place. For a while at least. Time to care for the records and CDs next.

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Friday, 07 .April, 2006, 14:56 - English Entries, Self-Improvement

Enlighten yourself I decided to start a new category on this blog, which I will call "self-improvement". During the last weeks I found a lot of websites and blogs related to this subject, which I never was especially interested in. Nowadays it is very hard not to get aware of the issue of developing the own personality into something better and more valuable. Lifestyle journals embarrass you with next weeks horoscope, TV reports investigate the advantages of Buddhist meditation temples in the Swiss Alps and every now and then you stumble over some Wicca or Dianetik page in the internet. The proliferation of salvation is at the speed of light.

What bothers me most is, that there are only very few voices that criticize this movement. Many people just shake their head or declare the whole thing as nonsense. But that does not help much, as modern redeemers and pseudo-psychologists seem to be more and more accepted by the public. At least parts of their teachings have become common in many peoples life. I don't say that for example aromatherapy would not work - I don't know if it works, but there is a certain mindset that comes with this form of wellbeing, that frightens me.

All these esoteric or psychological efforts express idea that we are special and could be more effective or enlightened if we just work on ourselves. I don't believe in this, it sounds good, but it shows that we take ourselves too serious. It is just another "we are the center of the universe" idea of mankind, which needs to be dismantled else we get lost in our narcism.

So I thought it is about time to be annoying towards those who annoy me. Under this new category I will collect counter-posts to articles written on the web to which I disagree. I will also step by step try to explain, why I for myself think that working on my personal development is a useless thing.

Asian Spirituality My first-aid advice for those being already confused to a certain degree by the influences of self-improvement-preachers is the following: Stop making sense every now and then. Don't kill your neighbour, don't rape your colleague, just have a beer too many and teach your children how to pick on their teachers. Read books by Charles Bukowski, watch Monty Python movies, listen to the Dead Kennedys. Relax, don't be hectic, don't try to be effective - take a nap. Waste your time, your money and your life.

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Lauri Eriksson - Suomi Pictures 
Wednesday, 05 .April, 2006, 12:17 - English Entries, Finland, Photographs

Don't expect to see too many sunsets over beautiful lakes when you open Lauri Erikssons "Suomi Pictures". Suomi is the finish word for Finland and this illustrated book collects all kinds of different impressions from the Nordic country.

A young guy standing at the urinal, a snow-covered remote building in the forest which is labeled as a "disco", a midsummer nights fire at the island of Seurasaari and a red plastic chair in front of a wooden house – Eriksson captures the slience and loneliness of the frozen lakes, apartment houses and cold city streets. She finds a way to make them look attractive and depressing at the same time.

She photographed many young Finish people who just look into the camera - some of them shy, some relaxed, others curious. Some are swimming in a lake or can been seen drunken at a party or laying naked at the floor of a small flat. The moments she caught seem uncomplicated and to allow the models to be themselves, without any posing.

It is all just now, it is nothing special and shows a lot more about Finland than any book that collects images of mooses, wooden saunas and lakes.

A look on Lauri Erikssons homepage gives a first impression about her works. It can be reached by clicking here.

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on a pale afternoon 
Saturday, 01 .April, 2006, 16:40 - English Entries, Helsinki, Photographs

three colors against a grey day Yesterday my new camera, a Canon PowerShot S2 IS finally arrived. German and Finish postal services seem not to work very well together, it took over 8 days until the parcel arrived here.

During the last two days I was out with a friend, who is on a visit in Helsinki and as far as I can judge it, I did not return completly sober to my home after these evenings. This caused that on my first walk with the new camera the day as well as I were hang over. I like grey days, they are so calm and without demand. The sky was resting heavily on the city and I just walked again along Töölönlahti, towards the main station.

Behind Finlandia Hall the way was bloked with water from the meldet ice and snow. My shoes and trousers became soaking wet as I decided that I was too tired to deviate from the route. The walk ended in the main station (Rautatienasema), where I took a bus back.

dirty mirror flood
lights off Helsinki main station light

Click here for a slideshow of all pictures of this little walk. And click here for the song, of which the title of this entry is taken from.

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Some music for the audience 
Wednesday, 29 .March, 2006, 21:02 - English Entries, Music

These days I am listening to a lot of music and digged out some (meanwhile already "older") albums, which never became really famous, which is regrettable. I dare to comment on three of them, three very different ones, so maybe there is something for every taste.

Amazon: Touch and Go - I find you very attractiveMost likely you remember the song "Would you ...", that was a big hit some years ago and is played nowadays every now and then on radio. Rhythmic and catchy – trumpet and drums make the sound whilst a womans voice pretends several times "I noticed you around - I find you very attractive" before she asks "Would you go to bed with me?" The song is special foremost due the trumpet and I think you need to have a lot of valium in your system to not move at least one food to this music.

What can one expect from the album of a band, that played such a summer hit? Chances are high that such a CD might turn out to be a disappointing investment. I can only recommend the album "I find you very attractive" from "Touch and Go". The music - often dominated by trumpets or saxophone - is fresh and uses latino-style in a way that even I can stand them. In most of the songs, the lyrics are cheeky and easy, just the right thing to fade out from a working day.

The second half the album gets into a slower mood. Of these songs "Life's a beach" and the alterntive version of "Straight to number one" are the most beautiful ones, long stretched and completly relaxed.

I am for sure no friend of latino music, but this album always works as an easy-listening introduction to the hopefully upcoming summer.

Amazon: Transvision Vamp: Pop Art Transvision Vamps "Pop Art" flies in like a spaceship into a night of dark fate. An electronic voice tells us all the development the flower power generation has gone through: "From Easy Rider to Star Wars / From Che Guevara to Laurie Anderson / From Light Shows to Videos / From LSD to MTV / ...". Seconds after it is all punk-gone-pop: guitars, drums and the in no way innocent voice of a girl, singing about "trash city", a location one immediately starts to love. Try the next song - it is not any better. "I don't want your money honey - I want your love". How could I ever forget that even in the late 80s life was sometimes plain simple and easy to enjoy.

You don't need to see Wendy James, her voice and style is enough to just fall for her. It's all wild, loud, nasty and of course sexy, why else would you listen to it? There are also slow and atmospheric songs, such as "Sister Moon" and "Hanging out with Halo Jones", in which Wendy tries to stay nice, but she does not really manage.

Truth is, she is best in songs like "Psychosonic Cindy" and "Tell that girl to shut up", in which lyrics and sound are perfectly combined to a driving force that makes you greatful for the repeat function on your CD player.

Transvision Vamp did two more albums, of which I only know "Velveteen", which is also very good, but does not reach the raging heights of "Pop Art".

Amazon: Joan Osborne - Relish And finally Joan Osborne, coming obviously from the folk-rock tradition, with a voice that goes in an instant from crystal clear to rough undertones. Her album "Relish" (1995) is a milestone, but unfortunately also she was not able to deliver anything similar anymore in her whole carrer. Relish includes her song "One of us" that was famous in 1995, a slow, tragic tune asking questions about God. It is a good song, but after listening to the record again and again it becomes the weakest of the compilation.

Osborne is manifold, she interprets Dylans "Man in a long black coat" in a version that sends shivers down my back and few songs later on "Spider Web" she goes all rhythm and grooves about Ray Charles, who got his eyesight back and nowadays stays in bed with MTV. Her voice and the music work perfectly together, none tries to dominate the scene and they make unique works out of the softer tunes, such as "Let's just get naked" and "Crazy Baby" as well as the rolling rock songs, like "ladder" and "right hand man".

"Relish" could have been the beginning of a great career for Joan Osborne, who also wrote most of the songs on her own. Her later album "Righteous Love" is in no way comparable to "Relish", it seems that she changed everything that worked so well on her debut.

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