Answering Kirsty's Book Challenge 
Tuesday, 24 .October, 2006, 16:56 - English Entries, Literature, Online/Blogs
Kirsty, now in Amsterdam, has challenged me. Thanks a lot for that and don't believe what she writes about me. It took me too long (as always), but here is my answer:

1. The book that changed my life

Kassandra (Cassandra) by Christa Wolf.

Cassandra is the daughter of king Priamos of Troy and she has the ability to see the future, but she has also the problem that nobody ever believes what she foresees. The god Apollo cursed her with that. The story starts at the very end, when she is brought to the home of Agamemnon, the leader of the Greece army during the Trojan war.

It is the story of a woman, who is forced to get rid of all illusions and to look beyond all the lies around and inside her. This sounds great, as I wrote it here, but it is painful and that pain is expressed on every page.

At least in German the language of the book is simply amazing. Wolf writes cold but never boring. She writes the words of a person, that has left her whole life behind her, who saw the destruction of her home, but had to destroy everything inside her before.

2. The book that I have read more than once

The long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.

A story about friendship and love.

Ever from reading "The Big Sleep" I was a fan of Philip Marlowe, the great detective, whose ability in solving cases is surpassed only by his bad luck with women (they are either the victim or the perp - sometimes both), his loneliness and his cynical humor about himself and the world. Chandlers language is very poetic without being at any point pretentious or pathetic.

This is the best Marlowe story that exists. It is beautiful and grabbed me from the first sentence to the very last. It is a true work of art, not just a simple detective novel. I think I read it three times and I will for sure read it several times again.

3. The book I would take on a desert island

Also sprach Golem by Stanislaw Lem (original Title: Golem XIV)

A machine that develops higher intelligence than humans and then starts giving lectures to humans. This is not funny, this is amazing - it deconstructs mankind to a mental level that is close to subatomic.

But as this wonderful work is not available in English, I dare to chose another one:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles – by Haruki Murakami

I will never understand this book. I cannot say anything about it, as I, as said, did not understand it. It is a perfect story, one can follow it from A to Z, but everything in it makes no sense at all and you need to re-invent logic to come to some clues. A fantastic book in the true sense of the meaning - but be careful, it is very dark and depressive. So don't read that during Northern Winters.

4. The book that made me silly

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

If you have never taken drugs and you read that book, you will know how it is on LSD. It is such a big lie, with too much truth in it to not completly confuse you. Since this book I love it when a story plays tricks on me. Oh, it is good to be silly!

5. The book that made me cry

Betty Blue by Philippe Djian

Djian is one of the greatest writers that live on this planet. He makes no fuss, his books are driving you forward without a paragraph of hesitation - there is always something happening, most of the time it is about women and sex, but there are also the normal cruelties of life. It is highly unfortunate that his books are not all translated into English language - in fact Betty Blue, which is without doubt his best novel, is the only one.

In a way, this book tells the perfect late 20th century love story. It is charming, gentle and seductive. And then again it is wild, furious and brutal. And if the reader’s heart does not stop during reading, she or he will cry at one point - that is for sure.

6. The book I would like to see written

...challenges reality.

7. The book I hoped would never have been written

The Fifth Mountain [no link provided for this] by this Pauolo Cohello or however you write this overblown adjective-thrower. This is the book I regret every single movement of my hand, while reading the first third of it - after that I gave up. Every author should be forced to read his or her work at least once again after five years. I hope P.C. does this and suffers like I did.

If somebody gives this to you as a present, treat the person as your enemy.

8. The book I am currently reading

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

I read this again, it is great, completely self-contained. From a certain perspective I regard this as the perfect story. I can only recommend to read this, it is good entertainment at first sight, but the longer you think about it, the deeper you will get confused and will be left with nothing.

9. The book I’ve been meaning to read

The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Fenyman

Jukka took the Bible (without stating the author of that book), I take the other side of the medal, that explains the Universe. I cannot count how often I tried to read and understand this, it all sounds easy, but it is not possible to follow Richard. When I am old, I will be wise enough to just not care and will read it for fun. For sure I will! And until then, I will try to read it again and again.

10. I challenge the following five bloggers

Andreas Winterer - http://www.senfblog.de
Lewis - http://www.lewism.org
Anja Millen - http://www.corrupted.de
James - http://thefinnishgambit.blogspot.com
Sreehari - to finally establish a blog (it's about time) and to write about his readings
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This and That 
Tuesday, 03 .October, 2006, 01:29 - English Entries, Online/Blogs
There was a long break now and I am not really sure how to go on with this blog.

First of all I want to give a live-sign to all those people who did not recieve anything from me during the last months. I am sorry for being such a bastard when it comes to keeping contacts. There is no real apology to that, I hope that you are able to accept this apology.

During the last weeks I wrote a lot of stuff, that I did not publish here, as I did not see it as fitting to this blog. Some of these texts are posted already under http://www.fragmentspuren.de, some more will follow there. But still I am thinking of putting some of the texts here as well. Let's see.

I see that this blog needs more attention also on the technical side. A new version of the blogging-software came out, the spam comments need to be deleted, the links updated. It will happen, most likely during the next months.

Autumn is hanging around in Helsinki and it is - to my eyes - very beautiful: not too chilly and with a lot of weather that makes me feel ok when staying inside.

There would be a lot more to say, but enough for the moment. I'll be around, maybe somebody reads it. :)

Cheers
Georg
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ungh 
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Then and Now - a Reaction on Overreaction. 
Sunday, 06 .August, 2006, 14:07 - English Entries, History, Politics

Six centuries ago,
Serbia heroically defended itself in the field of Kosovo, but it also defended Europe.
Serbia was at that time the bastion that defended the European culture, religion,
and European society in general.

Slobodan Milosevic's 1989 St. Vitus Day Speech

About four weeks ago, Israel was attacked by Hezbollah. Two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, five others were killed.

Today Israel is in the middle of a war, which is understood by some as an act of self-defence. The Lebanon gets destroyed and faces a major humanitarian, social and political crisis. The good, the bad, the civilians - people die every day.

Five years ago, about 3000 people died in the World Trade Centre attacks. Since then we had bombings in Madrid, in London and several other attacks and attempts. The Western World, the free World is under attack by terrorists, who have a fundamentalist Muslim background.

Today US and European troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both countries are staggering towards civil war. People get killed every day, by fanatic believers, by panicking and cracked-up soldiers, by people who are afraid.

The Battle of Tours and Poitiers 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict


In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic held a speech in which he linked a battle, that took place in 1389, to the political situation in former Yugoslavia. I remember that everybody in the rest of Europe shook heads about this reference. Milosevic was already then a shady figure and not long after, he was stamped as a war criminal.

And today? We talk about defending our values, the clash of civilization and the spirit of the free world. We are afraid of the Muslims. We do not only have the right to defend ourselves - we have the obligation to defend ourselves even without being attacked. And if we are attacked, then we do not only have the right to overreact, we are forced to overreact. We have to put fear into them. War is the only language they understand.

Doesn't that sound as if Vienna would be under siege again? And that we should consider to march to Tours and Poitiers once more?

Or does that sound more as if it is time to shake our heads again? To hold our weapons. To prevent us from becoming the beast, that we think the others are.

Stop taking our values as an excuse to betray them.

Stop manipulating us.

Stop the war in Lebanon.


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Cycle Trip Through South-Eastern Finland 
Friday, 04 .August, 2006, 00:52 - English Entries, Cycling, Finland, Photographs, Travel

cycle-trip-2006
The trip

I kept a very short log of last weeks cycling trip with the camera and flickr-posting function of my mobile phone. Below you find the entries and some more pictures re-posted.

It all worked very well, also due to my bike, which at no point gave me any trouble or problems. It just stayed with me for six days and about 580 kilometers. The main reason why I ended the trip then was, that my sitting organ could just not be convinced anymore to have further contact with the saddle of the bicycle. Going further was a very tempting thought, but I was strong enough to resist it.

Road
The Road


Day 1: Tuesday, July 25th 2006 - from Helsinki via Porvoo to Loviisa

Today I started on a cycling trip towards Eastern Finland. I started at 13.00 from my home in Helsinki, with two fully loaded bags at the back of my bike.

Already last year i went by bike to Porvoo. It is a very beautiful city and they built some modern wooden buildings there since then, which really fit in very well with the old ones.

Lifeblog post Lifeblog post

I arrived in Loviisa, which is about 90 kilometers East of Helsinki, around 20.00. It's a nice town too.

Lifeblog postFor the moment i am just exhausted and tired. I have not done a longer bike trip for quite some time, so my body keeps telling me that it needs a bit more training. We'll see how the next days turn out to be.

Anyhow the route was very beautiful. I followed the kings road (road number 170) and it was not much traffic there. The temperature was quite high, around 27 degrees. But the landscape was just fascinating. Still i could not convince myself to stop and take pictures. The cycling was just too good and i could not stop. Anyhow, once you stop, sitting on the saddle again is pain (at least from a certain distance on).

The last longer cycling trip i did was in 1999, through all of Austria. Quite a while ago.


Sunset
Sunset in Loviisa


Day 2: Wednesday, July 26th 2006 - from Loviisa via Hamina to Virolahti

Hamina

Hamina is for sure one of most beautiful towns i have seen in Finland and i can only recommend visiting it. It has a lot of impressive buildings and a great seaside. I regret a bit that i did not stay there for a night.


Lifeblog post
A perfect place. A perfect moment. Close to Hamina

Lifeblog postI am very tired now and will keep this short. I went from Loviisa to Kotka and on to Hamina. After a break i went on to Virolahti, where i stay this night in a hut. Seems there are no hotels around here.

The next day, when I awoke, I layed for at least 20 minutes under both blankets and did not dare to move. It was unbelievable cold in the hut. From that on I only took hotels for the night.



Sky, Trees, Land
Sky, Trees, Land


Wooden House in Hamina, Finland
Wooden House in Hamina, Finland


Day 3: Thursday, July 27th 2006 - from Virolahti via Lapeenranta to Imatra

Unsurfaced RoadThat's what my map calls an unsurfaced bicycle road. They did not indicate that it means to push the bike instead of riding it. Did an 11km detour to see the Russian boarder. It was not visible, maybe Russia joined Schengen without me noticing it. Or the map again promised too much. Cheers :)


River close to LapeenrantaToday i followed the Via Karelia, first North to Lapeenranta and then North-East to Imatra. It was just great cycling, easy and good. The landscape was nice, but today i was more concentrated on moving on.


ImatraAfter more than 9 hours and nearly 120 kilometers i arrived in Imatra. The day was not so hot, which made it easier to cycle. Nevertheless there was a lot of wind coming from the North, but it did not manage to block me.



Cry
Seagull in Imatra


Alvar Aaltos Church of the Three Crosses (Kolmenristin Kirkko) in Imatra

Bell Tower

Even before I started the trip I had in mind to visit this building. It was maybe the only goal I had for the trip. It is located outside of Imatra, along a quiet road, sorrouned by pine trees and birches. I came there on a Friday morning and everything was absolutley silent.

How the Altar Receives Light

One of the most impressive things I ever saw in a church is how the altar receives light. The window in the ceiling is a hole for light, that falls onto the altar. Like in some pagan places of worship, where the light fell on a specific point at the day of midsummer or midwinter.

The whole Church of Three Crosses seems to be built only to emphasize one thing: Light. Every window is different, the light has so many different sources. Most likely the light falls even during the dark and long Finnish winters through that hole in the ceiling. Imagine a cold day in February, the nights are still longer than the days and then the altar gets enlightend.

And then - the window is not straight - that makes the shadows also uneven. The shadows of the crosses look different than the crosses themselves.

I have no clue about architecture, I do not believe in God and yet I stood there and could not grasp it.

All my pictures of the Church of the Three Crosses can be found here.


Day 4: Friday, July 28th 2006 - from Imatra via Ruokolahti to Sulkava

Day 4 of my cycle trip: from imatra to sulkavaI started at 11 and took it slowly. For nearly an hour i visited the church of the three crosses in Imatra. An amazing building, one of the most impressive i have ever seen.

For more than 90 percent of todays route i say no sign of civilization, besides cars and the road. No town, no filling station, no coffee place. It was wow!

The last 35 kilometers were only hills. Never before in my life was i that happy about growing up next to the Alpes. Finally, after 107 kilometers, i arrived in Sulkava.


Towards the Sky


Day 5: Saturday, July 29th 2006 - from Sulkava via Rantasalmi to Varkaus

Cycle trip through Finland - day 5: from Sulkava via Rantasalmi to VarkausToday i was close to giving up. Shortly after Sulkava came another 12 kilometers unpaved road, my right knee started to hurt and shortly after i got a cramp in my right leg. So i decided to take a hotel in Rantasalmi. But when i arrived there, the town did not really attract me. So i took something to eat, a coffee and a beer (for muscle relaxation) and went another 45 kilometers to Varkaus. It was then again much easier than thought.

My sitting organ emits pains that i never thought possible. The easiest is to just stay on the saddle. The moment i get off it, all hell breaks loose.

The landscape today was beautiful again. I was happy that the hills got less steep. I say cows today and there was fresh cut grass - i have not seen that form of earning yet in Finland. It reminds me very much of my home.

Most of the time on the bike i was singing all kinds of songs and had conversations with me. There was nobody around. As it was saturday there were even hardly any cars. So i sang along and entertained myself.

Varkaus has the bigger building that i remember in Finland. It is this hugge factory, that you can see on the picture. It supplies the whole city with a certain sour smell. At least i assume that the smell comes from the factory. Or maybe i started smelling. :)

It was a good but also a hard day.

A nice weekend to all of you.


Industrial Building, Kuopio
Industrial Building in Kuopio


Day 6: Sunday, July 30th 2006 - from Varkaus to Kuopio

Cycling Finland - day 6 - from Varkaus to KuopioI sit at the market place of Kuopio, the sun is shining warm, after it was cloudy and fresh most of the day. When i started in Varkaus it even rained for a while. Although i only went 82 kilometers today, i felt them quite heavily. But it still was fun to just go further. At the moment i am not sure whether i will go further from here or back to Helsinki by train. At the moment the sun is the best thing.



Juha Leiviskäs Männistön Pyhän Johanneksen Kirkko, Kuopio

Männistön Pyhän Johanneksen Kirkko, Kuopio, Finland

In a way this church was the ending point of the trip. I learned from the travel guide that it exists and walked there on Monday morning. Also here the impression was overwhelming.

Organ and Colours

All my pictures from the Männistön Pyhän Johanneksen Kirkko can be found here.


Day 7: Monday, July 31st 2006

On the seventh day God rested and I decided to go back. I spent the day in Kuopio and took the train back to Helsinki in the evening. The train ride took over 5 hours and my bike and I arrived save at home around 23.00.


Kuopio Market Place
Market Place in Kuopio

All my pictures from the trip can be found here.


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