joulukuuta 22, 2007

Home for the holidays

Christmas vacation started memorably this year. First we discovered that my car radio had got stolen over the past couple of days. Of course not a pleasant state of things as such, but it was still relieving that the thieves had not made away with the car itself. Well, it is a 1995 Toyota, so probably not precisely the first choice of any self-respecting car thief.

However, whether due to this or just as a coincidence the car started acting a little strangely almost as soon as we hit the road. The battery and the handbrake warning lights were on even though the handbrake was quite obviously down. At first there did not seem to be anything wrong with the battery, but ever so slowly things started dying out. The digital clock would disappear, the windshield wipers moved sluggishly as if they were pulling a ton of rocks behind them, the blinkers blinked no more... The car itself still moved, but then it too started to cough. It coughed until it could no more and then it just solemnly refused to progress another meter.

It was quite interesting really - steering the car, but the gas pedal not responding in anyway. I used to have these nightmares maybe five-ten years ago where that happened, but in those dreams the brakes would not respond either. Luckily this time they did, because it probably would have been a little too interesting had they not.

So there we sat, the car full of suitcases and x'mas presents and waited for the phoned in help to arrive. That did not take too long and after some twists and turns a shyly smiling man by the name of Markku told us that the battery had come to the end of its life and the charger (if that is what it is called) did not work anymore. In other words we had a very dead car in our hands and we were still a long way from where we wanted to be - the eastern parts of the country, that is.

Markku towed us to the nearest gas station and there we waited an hour or two for the cavalry to arrive so we could continue the journey. And so it was a couple of hours late that we got where we were supposed to be. And now the stomach is again full of food, the body and mind cleansed by that wondrous institution called sauna and the house is as full of people as it should be.

joulukuuta 21, 2007

Kotona jälleen...

I am back home - or rather at my sisters's, but back in Finland anyway.

I arrived yesterday and to my pleasure noticed that there is no snow here either. In fact it was quite warm as I stepped outside. The flight went well. It was nice to hear people speak Finnish again and to read Ilta-Sanomat. All my shopping plans on the other hand went awry. I had time, but by the time I had dropped off my bags and survived the security check the shops had disappeared somewhere. The shopping clearly should have been carried out somewhere between arriving to the airport and braving the security, but who was to know that. So there I was with just one shop at my disposal - offering the generic perfumes, Swiss and Finnish chocolates, booze and overpriced jewelry. That was quite upsetting since I had hoped to buy souvenirs for people and now I had to go back with practically nothing. It bugged me to no end. One should of course always do the shopping before the last hour, but my bags were so full that there was no room for anything else. Even now I had five kilos extra in the suitcases.

Ä came to pick me up from the airport and listening to x'mas songs in the car I was starting to get to an actual christmas mood. All the old TV shows and the familiar food in the stores were a nice thing to see too.

What, however, was quite disappointing, was yesterday's concert. Marilyn Manson didn't convince me at all. I like his music a lot, but the concert just did not work. First they needed over an hour to start to play after the support band, which did not help to build up the mood. The song that they started with didn't do that either. Even worse was the fact that Marilyn seemed to be more interested in putting up a fashion show than singing. They would play a song, then we would get half a minute of silence and an empty dark stage. If there is something that will kill the atmosphere better, I'm not quite sure what it is.

Yep, and then when they finally played a song that got the crowd really excited, they cut it in half and rapidly moved into something else via a boring solo. The sound didn't work properly, there was something wrong with Marilyn's voice, they only played little over an hour and Marilyn seemed to spend half of it speaking. And did he have anything interesting to say. Not a thing. One does not need to hear "Helsinkiiiiiii" hundred times, nor is it very fascinating to be told that we are the bestest and loudest and whatever -est public in the world. I mean, if this was the loudest crowd of the tour, then they had one frigging lousy tour. I am hoping that this was all the result of this being the last concert of the tour and therefore they all just wanted to be home. Not a moment of flow, nothing reminding elation as I walked back. Damn, I had really hoped that a concert would always be good, if I just liked the band.

Currently listening to: Simpsons

joulukuuta 19, 2007

Still so much to do...

It's over. My four months are over. Argh. Slight panic hit on the U-Bahn as I was heading back from the movies. It's back to the old life and I still haven't decided what to do to make it more interesting. Must - not - think - of - that - now.

I am going to miss this place. How cheap everything is. The beautiful, beautiful old towns. The green parks and the river and the fact that it is possible to see flowers in December. The warmer weather. The crazy way of addressing people by name, even if I never mastered it. The fact that one can spend extra two hours sleeping, because there is no need to waste it in trains and buses. The weird manner of mixing cola with beer, the tasty sausages and the schokobrötchen. The CD department of Saturn and all the bands that I never saw and who will never come to Finland to play.

Yes, Frankfurt left a good impression of itself. It may not be my favourite city in the world, but it sure beats Helsinki.

joulukuuta 18, 2007


For a while there I had forgotten how good movies are. I caught another one today, after some more autograph hunting, packing and closing my bank account. The autograph hunt went well, although I am starting to wonder how much of a formality this is. No-one asks me a single question or makes sure that I have actually returned the books or any of the other things. They just sign the form and hand it back. Of course they could all just have a phenomenal memory and keep all the relevant information neatly in their heads.

Closing the bank account was a matter of few minutes. Luckily, since I had started to wonder if I should have made an appointment for that too. But no, there was no need to fall back on the "but pleeease, I won't be in the country anymore in two days!" routine. I was quite happily surprised by the amount of money still on my account. Still nearly every euro of last month's grant left, not to mention this month's payment, which just shows that it is possible to live comfortably on a relatively few doubloons. I did proceed to spend a few of them today. I even contemplated buying a new camera, since this is a cheap country compared to Finland. Something I am going to miss very much, by the by. I didn't buy the camera, since I didn't see anything that I would have really liked and besides I am quite irrationally fond of my current camera even if the flash is out of operation.

After sitting for an hour in the Spanish place and trying out those waffles I went to the movies. A new theatre this time, a flashy one and I was afraid that they might ask incredible amounts of money for the pleasure of sitting in the plush surroundings. Another pleasant surprise as the young man behind the counter asked for only 5,50 euros. If that isn't a good deal, I don't know what is. The movies are much cheaper here than in Finland; even four euros can get you to a show on certain days. Naturally they have to get the money from somewhere to keep up the movie theatre, so this place had chosen to take it from the companies. Thirty minutes forth of adverts plus two meagre trailers, and I kid you not. Thirtyone minutes in fact, since eventually I got bored and dug out my handy to check the time. I was just about to get annoyed by this waste of time, when the movie started.

Then there was Russell Crowe and who could possibly be annoyed when there is Russell Crowe on the screen. Russell Crowe with his lopsided grin, Russell Crowe in handcuffs and chains and bleeding, which has always suited him rather well. Ever since The Quick and the Dead at least. This was another Westerner "3:10 to Yuma" and boy, wasn't it lovely. Sometimes I think that I should get all sophisticated and concentrate on these artsy films, but bugger's not often - more accurately never - that they can beat a good story with swords flashing and guns blazing. Emphasis of course being on the word good, since the trailers were again good reminders of what sort of brainless hogwash most action movies these days are.

Yep, if I have time I'll go catch another flick tomorrow. Jason Statham - who is not a bad looking bloke either - swings a sword in some fantasy oriented film, which didn't sound too bad at all.

joulukuuta 17, 2007

Hmm, it is getting quite late

Scanning is an interesting art. People these days apparently don't copy books anymore, instead they scan. Which - admittedly - is much more convenient, if you need to lug the documents somewhere hundreds of kilometers away. Much more cost-efficient. So thanks to Vera and her well appreciated advice I have just spent a couple of hours scanning articles. Also peeking into other people's folders to see what they have scanned, because even though a beneficial art in other regards, scanning is bloody slow. Two scans per minute was the going rate today.

Earlier today I was alerted to the fact, that one was supposed to give ten days notice before departing the institute. I naturally had forgotten all about that, so today I hunted autographs to show that I had behaved properly in all imaginable regards. Autograph-hunting needs to be continued tomorrow, but I think I got to a pretty good start. I also rummaged through the book shelves and returned books to the library, since an important part of the autograph hunt was to prove that one hadn't made away with any of the institute's books.

Later I went to the Montagskolloquium, since today's presentation actually seemed rather interesting. Something of a Law and Literature -type of approach with the speaker analysing a book by Goethe. It was quite fascinating, because some of the same issues that I have been thinking about lately came up there too. What is law and to what extent the question at hand needs to lie within a juridical discourse in order to still concern law, to be legal history? It was pretty clear that there were those, who thought within a stricter legal framework and those who started from a more philosophical viewpoint and therefore judged the matter differently. It was stimulating; the kind of discussions that can evolve from analysing a fictional book and a character of a mediator in it... Of temporality and the place of the Third, of the importance of silence in mediation...

Sometimes law really is almost like poetry. You feel as if there is something out there that you can almost touch. Something about the essence of law, which reminds me again to check out some philosophers. One of these days I am actually going to do it, instead of just always talking about it. Just like with writing.

After the seminar I practiced the skill of making fast decisions and decided to go to the movies, even if I had less than thirty minutes to accomplish that. This time I was actually already busily striding towards the movie theater by the time the movie was starting instead of sitting in a U-Bahn seven stations away. What made me a little worried though, was the fact that this was a different movie theater and they were not in the habit of showing 25 minutes worth of adverts and trailers before they started with the movie. I was three minutes late, but the screen was still blank. I even had time to settle down and read a few pages of my book, before the lights went out and the music started. That is all that happened at first, because this wasn't precisely the most luxurious or high-tech of all the movie theaters. After two tries they managed to get something visual to accompany the auditory output for the enjoyment of myself and the other avid movie goer.

Beowulf was the choice of today. For the first ten or fifteen minutes I was annoyed by the fact that it was one of those animated motion capture films, when I had thought I was getting real actors. Of course you could recognise most everyone and the men for the better part even looked relatively "human". The women unfortunately were much more doll-faced plastic figures. Has to do with the skin, me thinks. After awhile it stopped bothering me, because the story was actually quite captivating. But hey, if you have Neil Gaiman as one of the writers, what else could you expect? He does know how to tell stories, he does.

Beowulf also goes to the list of books to read. I actually have some books of mythology back home, all of which I haven't yet got through. I am quite looking forward to getting my hands on those again.

joulukuuta 16, 2007

letters in procession

Oh, happy Sundays. To stay in bed until you’ve nearly slept around the clock. Sit in the breakfast table with a large mug of hot chocolate, reading a good book, knowing that there is no hurry to go anywhere, to do anything.

It is not often one can reach that feeling. In fact it is only when you know that there are more of those same kinds of mornings just around the corner. It is in essence a holiday feeling.

On a regular Sunday the shadow of the Monday is always there lurking, the weight of the coming week is hiding behind your back, breathing shallowly. It is invisible, yet its urgent, hissing whispers are never far from your ear: “Enjoy now, only eighteen hours left, then it is time to work again, enjoy now!” and of course it is impossible to totally relax when you know that these few hours are laden with so much. Should be laden with so much. So you squander them away, forcing yourself to relax when you can’t force relaxation, unhappy if you haven’t done anything, unhappy if you have filled your time with activities and not stopped to have a breather.

Holidays are different. The memory of a happy mortal is short and for a while it is possible to convince oneself that this is all there is. The days follow each other in quiet procession, unhurriedly, undemanding, inviting you to just be. To sit in the breakfast table with a big mug of cocoa and enjoy a great book. To lay back in a swing on a summer evening and stare out at the lake, be one with the nature around you. Then the time stops and the future ceases with its meddling hushing and goading. You just are and the universe for once moves in step with you.

The sun is shining. It was shining most of yesterday as well as I went to Heidelberg. I went with my rucksack filled with a couple of books, a magazine, water bottle and mandarins, something warm to wear and money to spend. I was at the station early again and so I bought yet another book to take with me. I have been spending money on myself these past couple of days; sitting in cafés, buying books and a set of candles and those sticks you burn to see little wisps of smoke swirl around you and to luxuriate in the heady aromas. Such a wonderful fragrance.

My bookshelves at home are quite filled with books, but usually I only buy what I can get cheap. I do not like parting with my money and since libraries have been invented, it always feels a bit sacrilegious to give 15 euros for something that you read once and then abandon on a shelf. That is a method, which either leaves you dependent on book sales or means that you end up with a motley collection of authors, some good, some bad, some in-between. Yesterday, however, I decided to be bold and gave out 14 euros for a copy of Bill Bryson’s work. I read it on my way to Heidelberg and back, in the U-Bahns and in bed where I found my way right after having come back home. I read it in the breakfast table with a nice cup of chocolate.

Occasionally one comes across people who click. They say little things and you say “aaww, exactly so!” and smile and the universe seems a little friendlier place. Occasionally, ever so rarely, this happens in real life and you feel that someone is really able to understand you. More often it happens through books or lyrics of music and then your heart fills up and you feel a connection to human kind.

I do love books. (and music)

Thank you, Bill Bryson. (and Till Lindemann and Maija Vilkkumaa)

These cities that I have visited will probably end up being a collection of old castles and Roman ruins, parks and books to me. Mainz was the Drusus stone up in the hills, Wetzlar the old fortification ruins and Simone de Beauvoir, Darmstadt still Beauvoir and the big park, Marburg the wonderful medieval city and the imposing castle with a lovely little café up in the hill. And writing, Marburg wasn’t about reading, but writing. Heidelberg will also be a castle, half ruined, half operational, with lots of Japanese tourists and entrance fees to all possible places. Currywurst and Apfelstrudel. Sunshine, cold wind, a Christmas fair and hungry, grinning donkeys behind a wooden fence. And Bill Bryson and realising that I’m not the only one who dislikes parting with money or prefers peace and quiet to the noisiness of the modern age. Or wonders at the questionable pleasures of shopping or the crazy ideas of the architects of the 60’s and 70’s.

Smoke is beautiful. It makes little tunnels in the air, tiny tornadoes and twists into spirals, which end up in nothingness. Like Greek columns. Like time.

This is a beautiful morning.

joulukuuta 14, 2007

Less than a week left

The party yesterday was nice, even if the singing practice before that was actually more fun. I ended up sitting at the end of one table with few other relatively quiet people, which is why the conversation didn't precisely flow. The food was excellent though and the program quite entertaining.

Today I finally managed to go to the university library to copy this book for M. The place was much easier to find than I had thought and after some initial confusion I got my hands on the book itself. I had to wait a little while, since someone had originally marked the book as missing and so I took a look at the library. It seemed quite huge and very cozy. As I fetched my things from the locker I felt like a student again. I still often do, even though I am starting to agree with the old people, who say that the student years are wasted on the youth. At least all I did was study these boring subjects, which didn't interest me in the least, sat in the library for hours and hours and did hardly anything fun. No, those years haven't really left much of an impression on me.

Afterwards I went to the movies again and sat awhile in the Spanish Café, which has become something of a personal favourite of mine. I still want to try their waffles, so I think I have to head there one more time next week. Among all the other things that need doing. Tomorrow I will do none of them though, since I am going to Heidelberg. Yay! I think I perhaps need to google the sights a bit before actually hopping into the train. Yep, that is what I will do, so merry weekend to ya all!

joulukuuta 12, 2007

Cultural things

Tomorrow will be the christmas party of the institute and the custom here is that everyone needs to contribute somehow. Provide some kind of program or cooking or something. I wasn't too sure whether I was going to go, but yesterday Vera talked me into this so called "choir", which is going to perform some x'mas songs. We practiced today - I think there was maybe ten of us - and it was surprisingly much fun. I cannot really sing, but most of the others weren't that much better.

Our pianist actually knew something about singing and provided some tips on breathing and singing technique. He even claimed that nearly everyone can learn to sing. It was so much fun, you see, that I started to contemplate singing in a choir somewhere. Not a real choir, but the sort of "let's sing for fun" -type of ensemble that never even dreams of performing anywhere. It reminded me of one evening this summer when I sat in the sauna and sang make-believe songs to myself. I think I had read in a paper that day that singing releases some sort of positive energy and causes joy and happiness or some such thing. Singing yourself, not just listenig to someone else sing, that is. It definitely worked during summer. Today too, even if the idea of performing is not the most appealing. Especially after yesterday's musical performance, which was actually good.

The supply of evenings is getting quite short here, so later I went to see the Museum of World Cultures. Two German anthropologists had studied a tribe in New Guinea in the 60's and 70's and the museum exhibited the results of their work and the culture and traditions of this tribe. The exhibition itself wasn't very big, but it was quite interesting.

All in all quite a good day.

joulukuuta 11, 2007

Quality over quantity

Hahaa, I've had an actual discussion in German. I still sound like a stuttering five year old, but nevertheless.

The Tuesday colloquium had their last meeting before x'mas and I decided to go, since it was recommended and all. I'm still not hundred percent sure how appropriate that actually was, since I've never been to the actual Tuesday colloquium, but no-one seemed to mind. Vera knows a lot more people here than I do, so she introduced me to some of her friends. I talked to this girl from Berlin who waited very patiently as I tried to talk like the aforementioned stuttering five year old. It wasn't too bad.

Music was performed - Schubert and Grieg and someone else - and I saw again pictures in my head. I do that with classical music. I see pictures, even little stories sometimes: fields with dancing elves and rabbits peeking from their holes, trolls and fairies, children arguing with their parents, knights galloping and waterfalls, joy, love, death and sorrow. All sorts of things. It's quite lovely actually.

I also went out for a walk today - yesterday too. Yesterday it was particularly good. This time I didn't take it as something that I needed to accomplish - as exercise - but stopped for a while to sit at a bench and watched the preening swan and the quacking ducks. There were birds I did not recognise. Tiny little singing birds and two big black things with long slender necks. A lonely one that looked like a crane. It started to rain ever so softly and I stood at the bridge with my umbrella and watched all the objects that the rushing water had catched in its grips and refused to let go. It was very beautiful.

joulukuuta 10, 2007


The evening with DVD (Jenseits der Stille) and pizza turned out to be a longer affair than I had thought, so I wasn't in bed until after 1 o'clock. Vera is very extroverted and likes to talk, so there was no trouble keeping the discussion going on.

The evening got me thinking about friendships. The requirements, the limits and the reciprocal nature of it. Of the capability of saying no. In this case we have Vera, who needs company and would therefore like to hang out every single day. Then there is me, who needs company far less and would go crazy if she would have to hang out with someone every single day. The dilemma is how can you say "Thanks, but today I would like to spend the evening with just my book and my computer" to someone who thinks that being alone is a horror. Because they probably aren't capable of truly understanding the pleasure of being alone, they more likely than not think that you don't want to hang out with them - in other words get hurt. On the other hand I am not able to say "Sure, let's do something today too" day after day, because sooner or later - and usually sooner - I'll start to resent them and feel like I am being taken advantage of. Or I start to feel selfish if I want to do something alone. Or will start to feel that they are too clingy and as a consequence I feel like I am dominating the relationship, because their need is greater than mine, which is also very unpleasant. None of those feelings promises anything good.

Yep, yep, yep. That is one of those big issues, which needs solving. How does one maintain friendships, what to do career wise in the future, where to live, to have a child or not...

joulukuuta 09, 2007


Yesterday was a good day. I managed to get some e-mails written and went to the store to fill up my refrigerator again. It had gotten unhappily empty and urgently needed replenishment. As a result I had quite delicious creamy cauliflower for lunch and then sat down to write.

I have neglected writing in the past week or two, but I must remember never to do that again. I don't know if I have mentioned it, but writing is absolutely heavenly. Nothing like it in the world. I got nearly four pages written and the time just flew. Writing and good books are a paradise on Earth. Add to it sunshine and gardening and perhaps something good to eat and the way to nirvana is right there. Maybe a concert or two still thrown in as spicing.

I continued the evening crocheting my dragons, which was also very relaxing. Played a few games and then went to bed to read my book. I finished Glenkill already yesterday, so I continued with this novel about Roman history. It's not all that good actually: she doesn't get some basic things about Roman culture and the characters are a bit shallow. And yet someone thought it was good enough to translate. Hmm, makes you think, doesn't it? I think I have to check if literature studies belong to those subjects that are available to everyone.

Today the weather was lovely and the sun actually made an appearance, so in the midst of doing some laundry I went out for a walk. I haven't done that in a long time, since the weather has been so abysmal. I always forget how good these walks are, watching the river and the last green patches of lawn. The dogs - which the Frankfurtians seem to love - run after sticks and drink from the pools of rainwater and nearly without exception manage to make me smile. There was one cute little thing that stopped to stare at me with its huge brown eyes and sniffed my hand. Yes, I must also remember to drag myself out for walks even in worse weather.

And now I have to try and write some more mails. Vera and I planned another DVD-evening, with pizza this time, so the time to get things done is now.

joulukuuta 08, 2007

I am dreaming of my garden again

I've missed a couple of days, haven't I? It wasn't the intention, but life has suddenly intervened.

I came downstairs on Thursday and started the web surfing by ordering train tickets to go to Heidelberg. One more trip at least is in order before the German Experience is over. So Heidelberg it is, next Saturday.

I was planning to do the blogger next, when Vera suggested a movie. Or rather we had decided that we would go see one before I started with the Deutsche Bahn, but we just hadn't decided on when. Then thirteen minutes to six she suggests that we go see the one that starts at six o'clock - in a downtown movie theatre, nearly fifteen minutes on a subway to get there, not to mention the time it takes to get ready, get to the station, to the movie theatre, buy the tickets and everything else. The suprising thing is that we made it, had time to buy popcorn and even saw two trailers before the movie started.

The even more suprising thing to me was that some people can move so fast. To make decisions in a split second and then just act on them without pondering for ages whether one can do something or not. To just go without worrying about time or anything else. It must be a wonderful quality. If I only think about all the things it must be possible to do within one evening or one day, if one is capable of taking control of time like that. And making decisions like that. It's truly enviable.

So we saw the movie and then sat in a cafe near the Dom for couple of hours. That is a great thing about going out with someone else. The day doesn't have to end at four o'clock when it gets dark, but you can still be sitting in a cafe at ten in the evening like a normal person. Winter would probably not be such a drag if it would be possible to see the darkness as equally utilizable as the day light hours.

Yesterday I woke up with a headache that was not good for concentration. I tried reading this book, but kept nodding off every two pages. It was admittedly a quite boring book too, but the headache didn't help. At around three I fell asleep properly and woke up feeling much better. I had switched to reading fiction and was slowly planning to get to the blog, when Vera called and asked if I wanted to watch one of her DVD's. So instead of writing the blog, I watched "Wer früher stirbt ist länger tod" and had tea with honey. That was nice.

The book I was reading yesterday - the fictional one - was called Glenkill by this German author called Leonie Swann. Excellent book and I will thoroughly recommend it. One of the angles of the book is to look at people from the sheep perspective. The book and these two evenings have made me think about humans and whether we really are herd animals. More than one person has said to me during the past six months that they do not know how to be alone; that they need people around. And so this morning I started wondering about what it would be like: if there was someone always there you could talk to, to go out for a walk with, to sit opposite you in a table having breakfast and dinner, watch movies with... It is hard to really imagine what it would be like. I think there would be lot's of positive sides to sharing the life with someone, but on the other hand it doesn't always seem to bring happiness to people. Those who have what I don't, lack something else and are liable to different kinds of pain and unhappiness. That is what I've learned also during the past year or so. Everyone is in pain - even the ones who look like they have everything.

I think it is partly because life is too complicated. We are being torn to too many directions and are losing sight of what is important. All these ambitions and pressures to be something, to accomplish something. The soul yearns for simpler things. In our society there is just too much fear and too much need to put up protective walls. That Rousseau fellow really might have been onto something.

joulukuuta 05, 2007

Men, det var kiva

Back in Frankfurt again. Only two more weeks to go.

It was nice to have M here for a visit. We saw the christmas fair, which was a great experience, even if it rained cats and dogs. Reminded me of the one in Stockholm that I really liked. The fair in Helsinki on the other hand is not such a pleasant experience - everything is so crammed together that I have never even properly visited the park. Maybe I have to give it a try this year. Assuming of course that it is still up when I go home.

We also ate properly and I decided that I really have to learn to cook, when I go back home. As I've said before, my skills are very rudimentary so I cannot improve without recipes. Yep, yep, that is definitely a thing to do.

I abandoned M on Sunday morning and left for Copenhagen. The first step wasn't the greatest, since the airport security got me a little pissed. They took my shoes for questioning since they apparently looked very suspicious. They did get back in good health, but I found it more than a little ridiculous. Especially as they paid no attention to my crochet hook, which I assume could cause much more harm than my poor innocent shoes if I decided to go berzerk. They also never asked to see my passport. Not one single time. You would think it would be more important to check that people don't travel with a false passport, than worry about shoes. This is exactly the kind of behauviour that breeds paranoia and makes everyone look at their neighbour like they're the next mad homicidal bomber.

I eventually calmed down in the airplane. If I don't want to play their power games, I can always stop flying as the last alternative, can't I? Yes, I can. Not that I really contemplated that one, but it is a thing that has made me feel better many times in the past. Like in the university where many of the younger researchers are afraid to do this or say that, because they are afraid of jeopardising their future. I've never really worried about that. I may be worried about disappointing individual people, but I am not worried about my institutional position. Not because my position would be secure, but because no-one needs to play any power games. It is always possible to leave and do something else instead. That is what I call freedom.

Of course that has its downsides as well. You are incapable of really committing, because then one becomes susceptible to these pressures. Starting a family becomes more difficult. If you have a child then it is necessary to provide for that child. That means money is a must, a job is a must and then bang, you are a slave to the requirements of the system. If it is just you, it is always possible to go live at the summer cottage and take a job at McDonalds or something. You are free.

Except it may be that it is not possible. I think there may be some stupid law, which says that you cannot live the year around at your summer cottage. I've been thinking today about what law is really about. I don't have the most positive attitude towards law and I'm trying to find out, if it is possible to change that by thinking differently. But I keep coming back to these stupid laws that attempt to control your life in ways, which are irrational and unfair.

Okay, just checked google. There is a stupid law that prohibits living at your summer cottage permanently. Well, it is possible after a procedure if the cottage fulfills certain standards, but that is the point. What right does the state have to control what kind of living standards are enough for an individual. If I should wish to live like they did three hundreds years ago, without any modern conveniences, why can't I do that? Why is the state allowed to forcibly drag me into the society and then force me to pay for that? This law is an example of a control mechanism, which limits the right to choose an alternative lifestyle. An example of why I am not that crazy about all the laws.

Yes, but anyway, I was on my way to Copenhagen. Let's say that I have already arrived, found the metro and the hotel and been to see the city. Copenhagen looked nice; the little that I could see of it. It was already very dark, even if it was still quite early. I peeked at the Tivoli from behind the fence and walked to the sea. I like water, if you haven't noticed before. I walked around a bit more and then went back to the hotel.

We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant the first night, which was great. Almost as many courses as in that restaurant in Florence many years ago. It was really nice to see people. I haven't talked this much with the network people in any of the other seminars. I even had a talk with both of the keynote speakers the next day, which has never happened before. Part of it was perhaps the fact that I've stopped pretending that I would for instance understand Danish. Earlier I would have just sat there and smiled stupidly as if I would understand; now when this torrent of words descended upon me and I couldn't understand a word, I actually said it. So much better.

I also noticed that this policy of stating my mind and my wants is a good thing. As I said a couple of months ago, those who understand, do understand all the better and those who don't, they just have to be disappointed that I wasn't the person that they thought I was. But the net gain is still definitely positive. I still have to practice this policy of stating my desires, but I think I am getting to a good start.

The seminar itself went quite well. One of the keynote speakers mentioned lovely things like psychology, anthorology, society, ethics, morals and philosophy quite a few times, which made me happy. My own presentation went well and I got a number of good comments. I was the first of the doctorands to give my paper, which turned out to be a beneficial thing. I talked with altogether five people about my dissertation afterwards, which could never have happened if I had been the last to give the paper. It was interesting to notice that everyone had a different opinion about what I should do with the dissy. Three of them favoured a more society oriented approach and two a more legally oriented approach. It was very good to hear all these opinions and now I am again a little wiser.

I get reminded of a saying I read somewhere last week. "One sign of being an adult is the ability to make out the difference between an opinion and a fact". I thought that was very well said.

Oh yeah, it was a good seminar. We ate well, heard some interesting things, saw some interesting things, sat in the bar and had some good and interesting drinks... I felt part of the community, which is one of the most important things there is. I am starting to believe in friendship again, which is definitely one of the most important things there is. Yep. Thanks for the company waiting for the flight.

Currently listening to: the humming of machines

marraskuuta 30, 2007

occupational musings

Thank goodness the internet works. I spent half an hour earlier pushing the try again button and not a beep. For a second there I thought they might disconnect the computers for the weekend and I felt like the drowning man trying to catch at the proverbial straw.

I tried reading some of the books I borrowed yesterday, but they weren't really what I had hoped for. I am starting to think that my discontentment doesn't really have so much to do with the questions or viewpoints, as with research as such. I just don't have what is needed for research. I'm lacking in some sort of necessary critical attitude or an overpowering need for knowledge or a desire to find out deeper meanings and connections. I do like learning new things - if the subject is interesting - but I don't actually feel the need to give my five cents.

Yep, and that is why I am once again wondering what it is that I want to be, when I grow up. I've been thinking about all the meagre jobs that I've had during my life. A month in the hospital when I was fifteen (summer job), which convinced me that I did not want to be a doctor. Few summers delivering newspapers when I was already in the university - that wasn't too bad, but I couldn't wake up at two in the morning every night.The six months in the Ministry of Education as a lawyer, which convinced me that I do not want to be one. All the university stuff, which are out if I don't want to do research. And then the job, that I have enjoyed most. The library. I actually looked forward to those days, when I was on duty.

I didn't really do much, mostly sat behind the counter and loaned out books. The biggest responsiblity was counting the money and either opening or closing the library - depending on whether one was on morning or evening duty. I still liked that responsibility. It's nothing, a child could do it, but if someone wasn't there to do it, then no-one could use the library. It is one of those little things that enable bigger things. The invicible jobs that get taken care of, but only become a nuisance if they don't work for some reason - like the carbage disposal or cleaning.

It was nice, no stress, only six to seven hours per day. You got to meet people and yet there was also lot's of free time when you could read or play pacman or whatever. What I want is something equally stress free. Perhaps something with a more hands on -approach than the library, but still most importantly it has to be stress free.

Well, I am not going to solve that one today, so I'll head to writing some e-mails. M is coming to visit tomorrow and then on Sunday I am going to Copenhagen, so I may disappear again for a few days. I should be back by Wednesday.

marraskuuta 29, 2007

Pros and cons

The salon was occupied this morning, so I had to escape the cleaning lady to the library. I found a book that looked promising - about conceptions of judicial decision making in the 18th and 19th centuries. Quite pleased with my discovery I started to read and after only six pages I was ready to throw the book into the wall. It enlightened me on one rather important aspect of decision making and I realised that it didn't interest me one single bit.

So, there I was, about to fall into despair with the darling dissy again, also realising that I have only read about one third of the amount of books one really should read for a dissertation. And with no real interest to touch another. So I did what I do in cases of big decisions - I started scribbling down pros and cons. Or rather where the old research questions would lead as compared to the new approach. I discovered that the new approach leads to new questions and the old one doesn't lead anywhere, since I don't really get it. The pretending part didn't help after all. So I started to get excited again, looked at the magazines in the library with new eyes and then went to order some new books.

I found eight ones in perhaps fifteen minutes. Just like that. Just few search words typed in and pop. Lot's of books that just asked to be read. I had to wait for three hours for the books to be available, so I had lunch and then went to read another article in the salon. Disziplinierung stuff. Because that is what courts are about: protection and control. It's about who gets to protect and control, how and why those functions are carried out and what is considered worth protecting and necessary to control. Among other things. It is also about enlightenment and the values of an estate society.

It was a rather good article and proved what I had known all along. I do not have too high standards concerning research at all, I've just been working rather "unprofessionally" so far and nowhere near those standards. Of course lot of people think that anything to do with "softy" things like mentalities, values, equality or justice aren't really "professional" either - or at least do not belong to the law faculty. But of course the danger doesn't lie in the topic so much as in the questions and methods. Yep, we will see.

Now I think I will go fetch those new books of mine and then I will go eat. I've still got a few hours before I need to head out. Vera and I are going to the movies, you see. It is possible that I am in the process of acquiring one of those things, which in some circles are known as friends.

marraskuuta 28, 2007

Life is starting to smile again

Yesterday I continued surfing the net for an hour or two after writing the blog and ended up having a nice discussion with one of the other guests of the institute. A very nice Russian woman by the name of Vera. We talked for probably two hours - auf Englisch - since yours truly really can't carry a conversation in German.

She had explored the institute a bit more thoroughly than I and was able to fill me in on a few things. One among them was the location of the institute's "salon", which I then managed to find today. A television, newspapers, books... Was that a happy sight to see.

There were both books of fiction (Kafka, Hesse, Goethe and co.) and some of the institutes own publications. Wasn't that a nice suprise. I don't really like this system of ordering the books, because it means you are totally dependent on the titles and they don't necessarily tell you much. It's vital that you can leaf through the books to see what they have actually eaten. Of course some of those books would have been in the reading room as well, but that place is so public. I feel too exposed there to enjoy going through the books and I've never been able to concentrate on reading very well if I have to sit at a table. In the salon there are nice comfortable couches and at least today total privacy.

I found a number of books that looked quite promising and managed to read through two articles. I realised that research is sometimes about little details. A certain institution or practice can have different meanings in different settings. Well, I knew that already before, but I realised that it can be considered interesting. To me for instance a court or a method of conflict solution is basically just that, no matter whether we are talking about archaic, pre-modern, modern, alternative or whatever. It solves disputes and basta. When push comes to shove, all the differences and nuances and functions are just details, which don't really interest me. Or they do just from a very specific viewpoint. And yet that is what research is about - my dissy will only have a point if those differences and nuances are the focus; those are the ones that are supposed to make it interesting and relevant. I assume. I hope that it is, because it would explain the "why" of looking at the argumentation and all the other assorted questions of jurisdiction. It may not interest me all that much, but if I know that that is the point, then I can always pretend. I also realised that sometimes people - even big, respectable names - do just state things without explaining them. "The number of cases increased or decreased" and no explanation as to why. Or they just quote people. Yep. Maybe I have too high expectations on what research ought to be.

Well, who really cares. There are more important things in the world. Like television. How I had missed that little bugger. I think it may have been fate that lead me to this wonder of a salon today. Because what was there on MTV today, if not a nice, 90-minute special on that most exhilarating of bands - yes, you guessed it - Rammstein. It was only music videos, but you can bet I watched it. There have to be some priorities in life after all.

marraskuuta 27, 2007

life without internet

Yay, I managed to drag myself down here. I must say it was really a bit of an effort though. I'm not hundred percent sure I can do this every day, so if there's no word of me...

Yesterday the idea of an evening without the interaction of the internet sounded too daunting. I paced around the room for a while and then decided to go to the movies. I found a movie theatre which plays the original versions - for which thanks to all the deities and other supernatural beings. I have given up on German, you see. If I am meant to learn the language, it isn't during this trip.

I thought first of going to see Beowulf. Nothing like old legends, ay? It started rather late though so I decided on Jesse James instead. Nothing wrong with bit more recent outlaw legends either. It was a very good movie. Aesthetically impressive - some of the shots were like paintings. I liked the objectivity of the story telling and the psychological aspects were captured really convincingly - the charisma of Jesse James, the paranoia, the fear of betrayal and the eternal battle between loyalty and self-preservation. Yep, it had more or less all the elements.

It reminds me of childhood again. Reading all those stories of the wild west. Länkkärit. I must have had hundreds and hundreds of those magazines. I still probably do. I think they are somewhere in the basement in big boxes. I have to dig them up when I get home and see if I still like them. I tried reading some of the old Hank Jasons this summer, but I noticed that I had outgrown them a little. Perhaps had more to do with the fact that more or less every single woman in them was completely brainless. The fact that they were written something like 30-50 years ago, might of course explain that.

That reminds me of a German women's magazine I read last week on my way to the airport. It had a scary article about what women expect from men and if one is to believe it, then lot of German women still live and want to live in the 50's. A man is supposed to provide for the family and work hard so he has enough money to buy all the things that his little girlfriend/wife wants?? It was really quite unbelievable.

Currently listening to: Marilyn Manson - The Nobodies (courtesy of the MP3-player, it's only so long can listen to the humming of the ventilator after all)

marraskuuta 26, 2007

I can't speak English no more

I've been banned from my computer! :-( Or using the net on my laptop anyway. This means, I suppose, that I have to move into the library downstairs for the evenings. Well, at least I may be able to see more people this way.

Only thing to do now is to learn where the letters are on a German keyboard. Most of them are where you would expect them to be, but they have hidden the y on the lower left hand corner. There is an z on where the y should be, so if I keep writing zou then that means actually you and so forth.

The presentation is now over. It drove me absolutely crazy this morning and yesterday, but the actual discussion was quite fun. Milos, who is very, very sweet - even though he insists on calling me Lisa - was chairing and there were maybe ten people around. Nice and cozy. The folks seemed to think that even if I only presented my findings on the court in action, that would be more than enough. That there would be no particular need to go into the reasoning and decision making questions more deeply - especially as it actually may not be possible to get anything out of the cases. Maybe use a couple of cases as examples, but no more than that.

What was kind of nice is that they didn't seem to think it was stupid - what I had wrote. Or not enough - quite the opposite, they thought it might be too much. And they thought that, even though they had been properly pre-impressed by the Finnish standards of doctoral dissertations as compared to German dissertations. Strange. Or perhaps just that they aren't so familiar with the subject. An example: these people found it interesting that only in 1/4 of civil cases there were references to material law, something other than procedural law, custom or equity that is. When I said something along those lines back home in the last Reuna seminar I just got a pitying look and a "but everyone knows that, what was your point again?" comment. People always judge things based on what they themselves know. That is a sheer fact of life, but it makes writing the dissy difficult and confusing. One never knows what is as elementary as 1 + 1 and what would be considered relevant and interesting.

Yep, but this does make life a little easier. I'll keep it simple. Away with the unnecessary theories, and if one of the main findings just turns out to be that procedural justice was important, then fine! That may not be very fascinating or important, but - pardon my French - fuck that.

Currently listening to: The humming of the air conditioner

marraskuuta 25, 2007

Not a totally wasted weekend

Well, I have some kind of version of the presentation ready now.

One might think that I was so busy with the presentation yesterday, that I didn't even have time to come here. One might, but wouldn't one be so wrong. It was nearly two o'clock before I went to bed Friday - writing and music, what can I say - so I got up around ten yesterday. I had a nice, long breakfast and played some puzzles before I got to the computer. The idea of writing the presentation did not appeal to me at all, so I decided to play a game of spider for encouragement. I played a game, I played two. It was somewhat after noon, when I got started, then around three, six, eventually ten and finally again nearly two when I went to bed. Yes, I sat in my chair for about fourteen hours and played spider. One of those days.

I was supposed to be working, so I naturally couldn't do anything fun. I think I knew already when I started that the day would be wasted, but I couldn't bring myself to touch the presentation. This is the main reason why I do not spend two months writing papers these days. They paralyze me and then I get absolutely nothing done anymore. I have to wait till the last moment - when I have no longer any choice and then I am able to write out of sheer necessity. I wouldn't have gotten the presentation ready today either if it was just for Copenhagen, but I will use the same text tomorrow. Considering that this was suitably last moment.

It wasn't actually that bad when I got to writing, but presentations and I have not the best relationship. I can still remember one of the first ones in school, must be more than twenty years ago. It is the only time that I have totally blanked out. I started reading the paper - about a pirate - and the next thing I realise is that I'm already on page three and I have absolutely no memory of reading the beginning. It was a very weird feeling. Apparently no-one noticed anything - at least they didn't comment it in any way and the next year one of the boys said that my presentation had been the best of all - because it was about swashbuckling pirates and not about cats and dogs like all the other ones. I remember that too - and that he looked a little disappointed, when the next year's presentation was about something much more mundane.

I always hated being in front of the class - or on stage. It's not that bad anymore, but presentations still stress me. Maybe that boy should never have said that my presentation was the best - too much pressure. His name was Jani and he still owes me two marks, bloody boy. Yeah, he was nice, but just not as nice as that beautiful rebel of our class. Of all the real people in my real life (not counting gorgeous German singers) he is still my major crush. Considering that I was twelve that's a little sad.

How did I get to sixth grade? Oh yes, presentations. Hate-toleration relationship, that's what I have with them. I so wanted to bury everything that has anything to do with research under a very big rock in the bottom of a deep ocean yesterday. Sometimes I feel that my relationship towards research is very manic-depressive. It makes me elated or totally hopeless. Although the elated part usually occurs when I consider the possibilities, not the actualities. It's a total "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" -phenomenon.

Other than the presentation I got nothing done this weekend, so I think I have to sacrifice one day next week for writing letters and other assorted things. I have started to avoid e-mail and some forums already, because I don't want to remember everything I should do. Yep, I think I'll go play some spider now.

Currently listening to: Rammstein - Te Quiero Puta!

marraskuuta 23, 2007

exponential ramblings

I've been writing the presentation for Copenhagen. I will probably be writing the presentation for Copenhagen the entire weekend. The working week has only lasted three days after all.

I decided to start from a case. That's always something, huh? But I am torn, I am torn. I am writing the old stuff again, because I realised this morning that the new stuff may not work after all. I read a wee bit of Prodi again, you see, and I think I partly figured out why I didn't understand his view of justice. It's because he isn't really writing about justice. To him justice seems to be something that is the matter of conscience and ethics - and ethics something that belongs to theology and the church. Well, that was probably a misunderstanding, but he is making a far clearer distinction between law and justice than I would.

Well, anyway, a very long story short, I realised that the things that interest me have too much to do with morality. Not moral philosophy as such, but more morality/ethics in their original meaning, in the meaning of customs. Morality or justice is not the domain of the church or the lawgiver, but the customs and habits of the societies, communities. Of course the church and the lawgiver as well as the courts are some of those communities, because there are always multiple moralities in one time and place. The lawgiver and/or the court enforce a certain type of morality, but it may be contradictory to that of the population - and will always be contradictory to the morality of at least part of the population. The law can support its degrees by punishments, but they are not really relevant unless they carry with them the punishment of shame, which of course is a matter of morals, not of law.

That still doesn't make sense, does it? Yeah, I am skipping too many parts. But the point is that I can't really do the new dissy approach as such, because it wouldn't really be legal history anymore. And more importantly it would require time. If I write something that actually matters to me, then I don't want it to suck and I can't read myself into this in six months. I have to do the old thing and just add a new chapter. Or then not. It would mean that I'd be back into the old problems of not knowing what I am doing... Argh, the time is running out. And I am torn. I am torn.

But still torn or not, the thoughts swirling messily in my head or not, I am still loving this. I got an idea for an article today and that's new. Even in Venice the thoughts of research kept me entertained. And hopefully the things will continue to just pop into my head. But, alas, there is only a month left and I am not sure I can continue like this back home.

Currently listening to: Schandmaul - Hexentanz

marraskuuta 22, 2007

Just rambling today

Hmm, hmm, hmmm... "Sä muistit sen aamun, niin hauras ja viilee, ja hauta oli musta ja syvä, musta ja syvä, ja käärö hiljainen..." Maija Vilkkumaa is singing - or was singing. Till is singing now: "Wie viel Märchen dir noch bleibt, und um Erlösung wirst du flehen..."

Yep, this is again one of those days when procrastination is the way to go. I got up really late (read 8.30) and it took me nearly an hour and a half to get to working. I started reading this book by Paolo Prodi yesterday, which is supposed to be about justice, but he only talks about forums and the canon law as a system. That is very far from what interests me in justice and so after about thirty pages there were again vivid fantasies running through my mind. Not good for concentration that kind of thing, nope. It took me nearly three hours to read just fifty pages. Which is actually not that bad considering that the book was in German, but it was a bit discouraging, because I had hoped so much more of that book. Damn.

"I'm going to Jackson, look out Jackson town..." Johnny Cash this time. When you are playing everything randomly, you get very interesting combinations.

After getting my ass up from the library into my room, it took me couple of hours more to get to working again. I checked the mail, which had flooded me with nearly 100 new posts and did some major deleting. I think I will have to sacrifice tomorrow and get all the random things done before I'll be overrun by them. I also have to write the paper for Copenhagen, which was probably due tomorrow... And figure out what I am going to say on Monday... Five years ago I would have worked on those things for a couple of months, but now I've stopped with that. If I start two months earlier, I will spend two months on them; if I start two days earlier, then I will only waste two days and there's hardly a difference in the end result anyway.

I had a good day writing yesterday. The dissy, I mean. I got nearly three pages of new stuff written, no c&p job, but really new things. I'm trying out that new approach thingy and I think it may just work. Well, I'm trying it out in a modified form, since I can't bear to throw away everything I've done and therefore it may also actually hasten the finishing of the dissy, not delay it like I originally thought. I can use most everything that I have written, I just need to look at it from a different angle. It is really all about the societal role of the court, not about its jurisdiction or argumentation or functions and not really even about the establishment as such. This is really basically only an extended literary analysis: I start from the documents and then see how the reality reflects them. I have the ideals and the actuality as it is played out in the courts. Yep, it will hopefully work out. Fingers crossed. Knock on wood. Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story...

Currently listening to: Rammstein - Bestrafe mich

marraskuuta 21, 2007


Well, I am back. I've survived Ryanair and Venice in November.

I stayed in a nice little hotel in an area called Cannaregio, close to the bus and train stations, just off the Grand Canal and few steps from one of the main touristy routes going around Venice. I had a small room with very flowery furniture (or - as they like to call them - delightful 18th century Venetian style furnishings) in the third floor, bathroom in the corridor, Italian style breakfast included and all for 35 euros per night.

The place was called Hotel Guerrini and I can definitely recommend it, if someone is looking for a cheap stay in Venice. For 35 euros you obviously don't get any extras (like TV) and can clearly hear every word your neighbour utters, but who goes to Venice to stay in the hotel room anyway. You also get woken up by the near-by church every morning at seven o'clock, but if you can live with that, then it's a place to be.

When I arrived around six in the evening, it was already dark and Venice looked very appealing. The canals glistened, the houses were old and beautiful and even all the touristy things seemed exciting. I wandered around for maybe an hour and then found a nice little restaurant and had dinner. I think I even entertained thoughts of Italy possibly being a nice place to live at. The weather and all that.

The next morning rose somewhat gray and cloudy - giving the city a strange hue. The morning revealed the face of Venice and all those alleyways I had noticed the evening before. The houses that had looked old and beautiful in darkness, now seemed like they were falling apart. I don't think I saw one single house that wasn't in need of repair - even the best of them needed paint and most looked like they wanted nothing more than to crumble down. It was not once or twice that I felt the desire to pick up a brush and some paint, wash the statues and houses, fix the window panes and the gaping walls.

It was a little sad to watch the city. The sentence that adorns a few books "The days of its glory were long past" are very appropriate when speaking of Venice. She must have been gorgeous in her day, but those days are gone. Now the city is an expensive decaying museum with thousands of little ant people crawling all over it. And there were plenty of those. The amount of tourists was a little shocking and by Sunday evening they were making me quite edgy. All of those people on the narrow alleyways... I don't even want to think what it must be like in the high season.

On Monday the sun was shining and I decided to hit the museums. They weren't that easy to find, so I had bought a guidebook the day before. That didn't help terribly much, but I still managed to find quite a few. I experienced the shaking floors of the Doge's palace and gazed on the Grand Canal from the balcony of Ca' Rezzonico. In between I sat for a few moments in a cafe staring at the bay, had light lunch and tiramisu and read some Heinrich Mann.

Monday was good, much better than Sunday and by Tuesday I had almost gotten used to the crumbling face of Venice. I had abandoned thoughts of living in Italy though, since in the end I am simply too much of a child of the sterile North.

I'll add the photos to the usual place when I have more time. I also try to get to writing some letters very soon. I know it has taken forever, but the time just flies.

Currently listening to: Don Huonot - Tule sellaisena kuin olet

marraskuuta 16, 2007

Went to town to buy "grün & blau"

Since I have already spent time here today and there is still much to do this evening... Just letting you know that I am on my way to Venice tomorrow. Without the computer or any intention to pay 5 euros for the pleasure of spending an hour in the internet. I'll be back late Tuesday evening so I probably won't find my way here before Wednesday.

Now I need to eat, clean up, pack and write. Or possibly eat, write, clean up and pack. Did I mention that I got nearly three pages written yesterday? Such good flow. And I'm still kind of excited about the article this morning. It was fun to read and it made me reflect on what was written. Imagine if work could always be like that. If there would be books and articles that one actually wants to read; things that one looks forward to finding out... It sounds so exciting, makes life sound exciting. Even work, which takes such an insane amount of time, would be part of living, not something that just eats up your life. That would change everything.

Life is good. Yep. Now I will go eat and write.

Currently listening to: Feeling B - Hässlich

Crazy ideas

Inspired by yesterday's musings I decided to take a more active attitude to this research business this morning. I went to the library and leafed through the new journals they have there every week. They have some lovely ones and I found a great article called "Justice, Equality and Dirt in the Poems of Christopher of Mytilene". Then I read another, but it is noteworthy only because it was badly written and didn't have a point.

The articles made me think about my own dissertation. The author of the first article discussed interesting questions with folks like Freud, Bakhtin, Nussbaum and Mary Douglas. The other one just had collected quotations and random observations - well, it wasn't quite that bad, but still. Anyway, guess which one my own dissertation more resembles at the moment? Exactly. I don't have any framework, no theory, no conceptual apparata through which to process these questions, to provide order to my random observations. I am unable to find books that would interest me enough to be my Freud or Bakhtin.

Bill Miller - the same who has written that book about feuds - said in Reykjavik that one can't write a good book unless one is interested in one's topic. And that, as the Germans are want of saying, unterschreibe ich dick und fett. I haven't been able to read any of my meagre published writings in print, because they are so lacking in any reasonable point. I can live with them, since they are hidden in seminar publications that no-one will ever read. But can I live with having a dissertation that doesn't say anything?

If I want to have the dissertation finished next year, then the answer must be yes. If I won't continue with research, then it is one and the same how the dissy will turn out. But if I do wish to continue, I don't necessarily always want to be explaining the dissertation, be embarrassed by it. I may want it to reflect me and that has brought to my mind a possibly idiotic idea. Like I said yesterday there are those threads lurking even in my cases.

There is a moment in the inauguration ceremony when the king says (freely translated): "It is your task to protect especially those of the citizenry, who provide for and protect the country. When your care for their wellbeing has earned you their trust, then enlighten them of their true best: that they shall never out of ambition let themselves be tempted from the calling, which their birth has ordained them; that they shall never seek rights, which according to public order and established custom are forbidden to them."

That could provide an opening: into questions of authority, of equality and justice, of courts as places that on one hand protect, but on the other hand entrench the status quo. Into the rituals of justice and their place in preserving and shaking social values. Of the whys beyond, which would let me bring questions of authority, power and fears, even good old Freud into the table.

I doubt it would be done next year, but I bet it would be better than the way it is headed now. Now it is just a motley collection of information and I just cannot see the relevance or the point of it. Not to mention that concerning these questions of argumentation the cases just refuse to speak to me. Nada, zilch, zippo, not a beep out of them.

I have to go do some thinking now.

Currently listening to: Baroque (this is supposed to be good for the brain activity after all)

marraskuuta 15, 2007

I wanted a Monty Python quote for a title, but couldn't find a fitting one

This German experience is really one of the best things I've ever done. Except for the summers I haven't been this content with life in ages. Yay for the peace and yay for all the activity; yay for writing and yay for concerts, yay for traveling and yay for inexpensive cafes. If only one could live this stress and pressure free always, with no worries of tomorrow.

I walked to town again today. I took a different route and just followed the skyscrapers, without even really checking the map. That is a nice feeling, not really knowing where you are, but yet not lost, because you can always see the big things there reaching towards the skies.

I had planned to end up at the railway station. Practicing my usual caution I wanted to find the spot where I need to catch the bus to the Hahn airport on Saturday morning. Walking without a map does have its downsides though and I ended up too far east. Instead of going back I decided to alter my plans and go first to the cafe where I had planned to go from the station.

So I sat there again - in my usual Cafe & Bar Celona - had tomato soup and ice tea and coffee and read Miller once more. I like that place. I like that book. He can even make me laugh sometimes - the way he writes - and when has that ever happened when reading a "work" book. Presumably never.

It is a fascinating topic anyway: honour and power. How much people are willing to do to protect the one and to gain the other. The lengths they are ready to go to to machinate events in order to reach their goals. The forms those desires take in different societies, the extravaganzas they produce and the whys behind them all. Totally fascinating.

One can even get glimpses of those processes and thought patterns in my cases. That one judge arguing questions of precedence with the representative of the county governor; a dispute about giving way to officials on a country road, the importance of the stylus curiae... Not to mention the fights or the cases of infanticide. They lurk even there, in my relatively boring cases, these questions of honour and reputation and defending one's place in the society. They do not result in feuds like in the saga age, but they are always there - in every age including our own. Just getting different forms, being played out in different arenas: sometimes in judicial ones, sometimes not. More or less prevalent attributes of the society....

Bugger. I think I really will use some of those four years of mine to read some honour stuff. There are threads in my head already, like there have never been with my current topic. And I will so write in English, because this language flows so much better than Finnish. Ooh, yeah.

I am really loving this German experience, I am.

Currently listening to: Baroque radio (yes, again, but I rather like this...)

marraskuuta 14, 2007

Bourgeois pleasures

Frankfurt's Museum of Applied Arts. That is a place worth visiting. I've been, I've seen, I've thoroughly enjoyed.

They had a great exhibition of Biedermeier Furniture and the permanent collections of art, crafts and design were fabulous. And the scope was not just your general European, but there were also wonderful oriental artifacts. Who ever had put the collections together, definitely knew what they were doing. The lighting was perfect, the combinations outstanding, the objects chosen with care and originality and the layout worked like a dance. It was fantastic. Seldom, if ever have I visited a museum that flows so well.

I walked in these big, beautiful, open rooms practically alone. Except for the museum personnel I saw only two other visitors and I left them behind after the first floor. I looked at all that beauty and felt again that craving to be able to do the same. Have the skill for arts and crafts - even just the eye for interior design. How wonderful it would be to be rich, live surrounded by such style and elegance. Move from one city to another and be able to visit equally fabulous museums every week.

That museum made me again consider the option of living abroad. Only problem is that I can't imagine what I would do for a living. I don't think I am willing to do legal stuff even for that.

Currently listening to: Baroque music radio (since I am feeling so cultural today)

marraskuuta 13, 2007

Es regnet

I think I've finally got the Kolloquium-paper to a point, where I am ready to pass it on. I still have to figure out what I am going to say, but I will leave that for later. And then I have to write the paper for Copenhagen. I had hoped to be able to use a part of this paper without modification for Denmark, but it just won't do. They have heard me talk too often and things that are obvious for a Scandinavian, need some explaining for a German audience. That is perhaps one reason why I actually liked writing the first part of this paper. It was easy to fill lines with information that you couldn't use back home.

Hmm, it's raining again. Rain, rain, rain. It rains all the time. And gets dark so early. I realised today that I may have to change my daily rhythm a little. I need to start going out for walks again and I don't like walking in the dark. By the time I finish working, it is already getting dark, so I guess I'll just have to take a break during the day from now on.

Yep, well, I can't come up with anything to write today, so I'll just go make myself some jam sandwiches and then get on with the rest of the evenings program. I haven't done my writing yet and I hope to finish my book today. I should also work on my dragons a little and maybe learn some German. Probably a bit too much for one evening, but we will see.

Currently listening to: Gjallarhorn - Systrarna

marraskuuta 12, 2007

Candles are nice

The horizon is porkyish pink again and the trees from my window look beautiful. It is early to be writing, but I don't think I can bring myself to start working anymore.

I had lunch with I today. She was in town to interview some lawyer for her dissertation and we met before that. Fun, fun.

I've been wondering now for a couple of days how often one needs to meet up with people in order to be content. Once a month is not enough - at least on a long run - but if circumstances were otherwise optimal, would once a week suffice? As in if one was living in the middle of a forest, how often would one have to emerge from the wilderness to still prefer it to the city.

That is the question. Or one of them anyway. One can of course also turn the question around and ask what would need to happen, so that one would prefer the city to the wilderness.

Well, I can't solve that today anyway, so I'll just do some writing.

Currently listening to: Viikate - Iltasoitto

marraskuuta 11, 2007


The sun has set nearly 45 minutes ago and the last bit of horizon is turning from red to porkyish pink. Pretty in itself, but it is slightly annoying that the evening starts already at 5.30. That's one thing I love about summer. The day is so much longer and therefore you are capable of doing so much more.

I love the Midsummer time, when the sun only sets around eleven. The lovely thing is that I seem to be able to do that these days: close my eyes, I mean, and be there again, back in the summer, sitting outside the summer cabin and watching the sun set behind the lake. The sauna hasn't cooled down yet, the lake is still and everything is peaceful and beautiful. The dog may be still looking for her toys, but even she is starting to slow down. I have plans for that place, I do. And the house. Plans I do have.

Jep, there is nothing like summer.

Argh again, but the thought of summer is getting me also a little stressed. I need to get the dissertation finished before summer, because there is no way I'm going to waste any of my summer working. The Finnish Summer is short as a fly's eyelash and one has more important things to do during the summer - like living. Enjoying life.

Let's not think about that now. Breath out. Relax. Empty your thoughts. It's still weekend and during the weekend we do not let thoughts of work enter our mind.

Even thought it isn't summer, I have still enjoyed life today. I went out for a walk and came back a wee bit wet, but still in good spirits. As for the rest of the day, I've been sitting in the hall of a medievalish castle and listened to discussions about games of Vilonia. Isn't fiction fun? Isn't writing divine? Am I starting to repeat myself?

Porkyish pink has disappeared now and nothing but blackness stares at me from the windows.

Currently listening to: Emigrate - In my tears

marraskuuta 10, 2007

I'm so full...

I decided to be cultural again and went to the archaeological museum. The museum was in an old church, which gave it a clearly distinctive atmosphere. There were a group of children there for some kind of study hour and their voices echoed all over in a best possible old church manner. They were sitting in a circle, learning about roman culture and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I wonder if our museums do something like that.

It was very enjoyable. Lot's of beauty from the prehistoric times to the middle ages. Informative, yet dramatic enough to keep the interest alive. Even humoristic - someone had put two little figures from Asterix into the showcase about Celts and Romans.

I sat on the bench there for a while, staring at the impossibly high vaulted ceiling and feeling the stare of one of the statues in my back. It was part of a group of statutes that belonged to the cult of Mithras. Mithraic mysteries being a mystery religion that was practiced in the Roman Empire.

It was not so much Mithras though, than the grave found of three decapitated horses, which made me realise that I need to come up with religious practices for my story. I get to be the mighty god, who creates the rest of the pantheon of gods - not to mention the entire universe. Isn't that lovely. I'm afraid I really don't have any choice; nomen est omen after all. Most of the possible variations of my name are somehow related to gods, you see. Isa (more commonly Cisa or Zisa) was a Germanic goddess, Isabella means God is my oath (or originally in Hebrew more literally "he bound himself by (the sacred number) seven."), the sanskrit name of Isha means the One who protects, Isaiah is God is salvation and Isis is of course another goddess. Iisak doesn't quite fit the category, since it means He who laughs, but I think we will leave him laughing.

Oh yeah, this writing business does give me joy.

Now I think I will see if my computer is on a good mood today and agrees to play DVDs. I went to Saturn today to see if I could find Feeling B's new album, but it hadn't come in yet. Instead I bought some Subway to Sally, Schandmaul and Johnny Cash (yes, I know, but I decided to branch out a little). And Donnie Darko, which most people say is very good. I started to feel like watching a movie, so hopefully the computer will co-operate.

Currently listening to: Schandmaul - Sonnenstrahl

marraskuuta 09, 2007

200th post

Today was not the best of days, but it is rapidly improving towards this merry, starry night.

I read some Nehrman. And then I read some of the cases. Aarg, is all I will say. It is all well and fine to talk of discrepancies, but it is quite another thing to put that into practice. The cases still aren't talking to me, so I switched to recording some more easily recordable info. Now I know that most of the "criminal" appeals come from the country courts and that the people who live closer to the court also use it more than the folks from the wild east - probably, I think.

Oh, and I now also know that in the criminal appeals (besvär) there is no mention of the advocates. Which doesn't mean that they weren't used, since one advocate is looking for payment from the guy he defended in a treason case - very badly too, since the poor man lost his head. Unfortunately that case is not in the records, because the king sent it to Turku. It was treason after all and the king apparently thought that one of the judges in Vaasa might have been too lenient to the accused.

After that I started procrastinating again and generally feeling sorry for myself. Sad and lonely. I did that for a couple of hours, until food, music and writing cured me once again. Or rather not writing, but reading what I had written before. The current story has gotten a little stuck: they have done nothing but mooch around on a farm for 50 pages. I'll need a few more pages to get them moving again, but I couldn't be bothered with that today. So I dug up another story. I read it - and a couple of others already a few days ago. Probably most stuff that I have written is absolute rubbish, but then again there are also things that I do like. Which feel like reading a book and make me want to know what happens next. It's a strange feeling. It's the same with both fact and fiction actually: when reading the best stuff afterwards I often get hit with the same "Have I really written this?" feeling. Bizarre indeed. Yep, but now I'll have to go and see if I could produce something of the same level again.

Currently listening to: Schandmaul - Zauber der Nacht

marraskuuta 08, 2007

News on the work front

I’ve been working on the presentations and come to the conclusion that argumentation is a multi-faceted and contradictory issue. Partly a terminological problem, of course, but still. You see, what we have is first the division into the

1) Argumentation of the court; and
2) Argumentation of the parties and their representatives.

Fine, that is clear. Now however if we take only number one, the argumentation of the court, we can divide that into

1 A) The arguments given in the judgment to justify the decision (what the Germans like to call Entscheidungsbegründung); and
1 B) The arguments used to actually make the decision (Entscheidungsfindung).

Now again these both branch out. The functions and reliability of 1 A) is connected to the audience of those arguments. Are they directed to

1 A a) the court itself (for use in the current case as well as in subsequent cases);
1 A b) to the parties and the higher court (for the possible appeal procedure); or
1 A c) to the general public.

In the case of 1 A c) we can branch into discussion about precedents and the authority of the court:

1 A c I) The argumentation and authority of the higher courts in relation to the general public (argumentation bad for the court’s authority in an authority based society; necessary for justification in democratic society)
1 A c II) the argumentation and authority of the higher courts in relation to the lawgiver (argumentation good for the higher court, because it makes it not simply an applier of law, but also a creator of law - this however brings it to conflict with the authority of the lawgiver a.k.a. king/government etc.)

If then we get back to 1 B, we are faced with the question of how can we even know something about the actual decision making process. We have established that 1 A does not reflect 1 B – and as an authority argument we use dear old Weitzel, who probably knows what he is talking about. He and buddy Albrecht therefore suggest that

1 B a) the court’s internal protocols may offer more truthful accounts of the actual decision making process; or then again
1 B b) maybe not (in my case not, because the internal protocols have been written using precisely the same argumentational technique as the judgments); if not, then
1 B c) information about the actual working methods of the judges is needed.

Fine, so we need to know how the judges worked. And how do we know this then? Well, we can look at

1 B c I) what the law says they should do; or
1 B c II) what the scholars say they should do and what the judges therefore were supposed to learn in the universities.

Now, the problem is that we know that in these pre-positivistic ages what the law said and what the actual practice was, were not necessarily the same. We also know that the university education was fairly crappy and the actual knowledge of this judging business was often only learned in the courts. If the courts are the places were the judges actually learned their methods, we should actually look at

1 B c III) what the courts did and how they made their decisions.

I bet you can already tell where that brings us? Yes, the good old fact that

1 A) The arguments given in the judgment to justify the decision (Entscheidungsbegründung); and
1 B) The arguments used to actually make the decision (Entscheidungsfindung)

are not the same. Therefore we cannot really ask whether 1 B c III differed from 1 B c I or 1 B c II, because we only have 1 A as available material. We are running in circles and cannot really know how the court made its decisions.

Is this what I’m supposed to write in my dissertation? It’s all a big mess and ultimately we can know nothing?

Of course there are ways around it. Either forget the part about 1 B or – in a more research-oriented manner - accept that 1 B c II does reflect actual practice of the courts and then attempt to explain the discrepancies to get to some results. That still starts from the motivations, but the discrepancies may open ways beyond them. The bummer is that in order to do that, I have to think like and possess the knowledge of an 18th century judge. In effect I have to learn the material law and figure out what using natural law in court practice actually meant. And the analogy thingy. All the juristic things that I am really bad at.

Currently listening to: Subway to Sally - Unentdecktes Land

Death and joy

News on the world front

The news about Jokela reached us here yesterday afternoon. It is very hard to imagine something like that happening in Finland: children shoot each other in the States, where the gun-friendly atmosphere of the pioneer times still hasn’t been rooted out, but not in safe happy Finland. It’s sad to think of all these people who left to work and school yesterday morning, probably crumbling about getting up so early, picking up their books and tying their shoelaces and then never coming home. It is sad – and grotesque – that all of this was on the net to see, before it ever happened.

I can understand that the boy felt cut off from the world, but I’ve never understood why these people always feel the need to take others out with them. To finally get some attention? To become immortal through the notorious fame? Because they lack empathy to the degree that their world is the only one there is and so it doesn’t matter what happens to other people? Because of the deep-rooted jealousy of seeing others continue their lives, when their own is no longer meaningful?

I hope this creates discussion. Real discussion and not just the politic “isn’t that awful, someone should have done something” discussion. Of why we are the nation with the third-highest gun ownership in the world. Of why is it so easy to get guns. But first and foremost why is it that people get pushed to the margins; so far to the margins that they no longer feel they are part of humanity.

News on the personal front

When others lie dying or are tortured, others continue their lives. So it has always been and so it will presumably always be. There are such horrors going on in this world every day that no-one could remain sane if they concentrated on them. And so, when others mourned, I had a wonderful evening. I saw Subway to Sally and rocked the evening away.

The support band – Coppelius – was also good and proved that concerts are not only about music. The visual elements of the show are also extremely important. Especially when the music is less familiar and gaining the approval of the audience therefore harder.

The concert was great, the show well thought out, the music fabulous and I sang along the best I could. The venue was small, but that did not matter. There were again quite a lot of people alone there, also women. And so I have decided that I’m definitely going to continue this in Finland. Tavastia, here I come. Of course I’m not saying no to company either, but few people seem to share my taste in music. Viikate and Kotiteollisuus for example are on my list to see.

marraskuuta 06, 2007


I returned the argumentation book today and started to insert the notes I had taken. I think I may have finally figured out the way to make decent notes – well, alright, they are still on a very motley collection of bits and pieces of paper, but at least they are rather easy to turn into sensible sentences in the dissy.

I had written more than one page by ten o’clock, quite reasonable stuff too and was feeling quite pleased with myself. I like doing research on days like these. I even started positively drooling over some books. Not my own, but the girl’s next door. There they were on the shelf and I just had to go finger them a little. Books about medieval rituals, kiss of peace and trials by ordeal... Damn, did they look good.

I continued with the Kolloquium-paper, even if it didn't progress quite as speedily anymore. I also promised F that I would give a presentation in Copenhagen. I had originally informed him that I wouldn't, but had at the same time promised to come up with something in case they were short of presentations. And since they were... Well, it's fate and one can't fight fate.

I'll use the part of the Kolloquium-paper, which is about argumentation and they just have to be happy with it. If it's bollocks, then it is bollocks. It's not like I haven't given bad presentations before. No-one remembers presentations anyway, plus if one doesn't know the subject well then it doesn't necessarily sound like bollocks, even though it is. Not to mention the fact that what one likes is so bloody subjective. Some of the presentations that I have liked the most have not appealed to others at all and vice versa. And some people have even asked me to send them my paper after some of my most horrible presentations. Strange.

It's always just as impossible to know what people find interesting. I remember some presentations by other people in different conferences that I thought were really fascinating and they created no discussion at all. One or two questions out of sheer politeness and that was it. And then some totally dried up boringly idiotic subject (imagine details of taxation law or some equally ridiculous thing) and they just talk, talk, talk... Impossible to know.

Currently listening to: Subway to Sally - Auf Kiel (Yes, StS again, but I'm trying to learn the lyrics for the concert tomorrow)

marraskuuta 05, 2007

Gosh, it's 8 already

I had no internet connection yesterday. Completely dead. Not a beep. Or rather institute related beeps, since I could access their homepage, but that could hardly keep me entertained. Wasn't that something of a crisis?

Yes, it was. A boring day. Life would be very boring, if there was no media that requires some sort of interaction. I had to start a new book even though I had planned to just read Miller for entertainment. But yesterday was an emergency and I needed some total nonsense.

I was still on a crappy mood this morning and only the return of the net connection noonish restored the good spirits. I prepared lunch and then sat down to finally get started with the paper for the Monday colloquium. Only two weeks to go, but I got to a fine start today. In fact I think I managed nearly five pages. Yes, indeed. Not a bad start at all. I even figured out a couple of things that I can add to the dissy. Let's see what I can come up with tomorrow, when I get to the argumentation stuff. Since, after all, that is what I was supposed to be talking about.

Oh, and if I disappear again, it is because my computer is a one frigging dimwit. It keeps shutting down, doesn't like my headset, has taken to freezing up... At least it hasn't eaten any files yet, but I wouldn't put it past it.

Currently listening to: Runrig - Loch Lomond

marraskuuta 03, 2007


I am back. And the question we of course have to ask is whether it was worth 190 euros to go and see a band? Well, is the sky blue, is breathing beneficial to living, does ecstasy start with a letter E? Yes, it was utterly, totally, thoroughly perfect. The music was fabulous, the show was amazing, I have sung, rocked and laughed. I am so going again.

But, let us start from the beginning - as the saying so elegantly goes.

I left Wednesday morning in the chilly weather of four degrees, congratulating myself for having taken gloves along. The bag was just a touch too heavy, since I had decided to drag not only couple of books, but also my computer along. The trains were thankfully working - the strikers would not have gotten my full sympathy if they had prevented my seeing Eisbrecher.

I am getting utterly familiar with the main train station of Frankfurt, which reminds me a lot of its sister in Helsinki. Maybe it's the glass roofing and the fact that it's an end station. I was early - because of the fear of strikes and the need to find alternative routes - so I spent nearly an hour at the station reading the argumentation book (which I of course did not take away from the institute, since that is rather forbidden. It just...materialised there. I could not tell it to go back, could I now? I mean, that would just have been rude.)

I continued reading in the train, only occasionally being interrupted by the tunnels and the fact that the lights in our compartment did not work. They did get them fixed eventually, but by that time I had decided to give my attention to the scenery. I wish I had pictures, because it was really very beautiful. Well, just imagine valleys and hills and a thick morning mist blanketing it all.

After three hours and fifteen minutes the train pulled to the station at Augsburg. I found my hotel, which was very near the station and went to see the city. It's the second oldest in Germany and the name already hints at its founder - one Octavianus, also known as Augustus.

I got myself a map and decided to find the location of the night's concert. I wanted to know how long it would take to walk there and if I would feel comfortable taking the walk back to the hotel alone in the middle of the night. The route was easy and beautiful, mostly through the old centre, and took some 30-35 minutes. I found the Rockfabrik; thought I saw the guitarist going inside. He glanced at me - twice - but if he could remember my face from the couple of pics he may or may not have seen...well, then he has one phenomenal memory.

I headed back slowly, took a look in the cathedral and stopped to have a bite to eat before returning to the hotel. I got reacquainted with the modern day wonder called television and came to the conclusion that having one at the institute would have been a good way to learn German. It would also have been an effective way of distraction and I would probably never have started with the writing if there had indeed been a television available. So blessed be the tv-less state of existence.

Time went by, I got ready and walked to the venue. I knew that I would not blend in with all the goths, so I didn't even try. I got myself something resembling a cider and found a place to sit. Which turned out to be a fantastic choice, since I had an amazing view to the stage - which of course required sitting at the railing and then finally standing on the bench; sorry people behind, but you guys weren't even moving a muscle. The two goth girls next to me knew how to sing and headbang though, so I didn't feel at all alone.

It was utterly, totally, thoroughly perfect. Concerts at their best are such a physical experience. The music goes through your body and you can just yell and let go. In an Eisbrecher concert you can also laugh, because Der Kapitän is not only smart and charismatic, but also bloody, bloody funny. Fantastic.

I didn't stay and wait for the band to come out after the concert. They do that pretty much always, but that would just have been too much of the good stuff for one night. Maybe next time if I speak better German by then and have a camera that actually works. Because there definitely will be a next time. In fact they should be touring again next spring for the new album. If I'll start whining again about how much it costs to fly to Germany to just see a band, hit me on the head and tell me that there is no cost too high for a little piece of paradise.

Yeah, I bought myself a Schwarze Witwe t-shirt and walked back to the hotel. The adrenaline rush kept me smiling all the way back and the darkness smiled back at me. Plus a way too flirtatious young man who asked for a light and did get me to dig out my keys, but even he couldn't ruin my good mood.

Yes, it was perfect. And if you thought that was it, then dream on. We have just covered day one. This is, I'm afraid, going to be one those epics again. If you got tired, you can always skip to the end and click on the link to see piccies. They pretty much cover days two and three anyway.

Day two started with me slowly waking up. It was still fairly early so I just lazed around in bed for awhile, watched nature shows and worked on my dragons. There are three of them already and I still find them as meditative as ever. Finally I got up, took a shower and headed out again. I checked the map, decided on a direction and took off - daydreaming of the concert the night before and deciding that I needed a new character for my story, someone with Alexx's unbridled charisma and cheeky self-confidence. He gets to be someone powerful, "brutal und doch charmant" in the words of the song.

I put a stop to the daydreaming after five minutes or so, since I needed to concentrate on the town around me. It was very beautiful (see pics; the first ones last) and I strolled slowly onwards, turning to old narrow streets whenever fancy took me. I was happy and smiling again and a man on a midday stroll greeted me with a "Hallo schöne Frau!" - quite spontaneously and without afterthoughts, which made me even happier.

I saw Fuggerei - the oldest social housing project in the world from the 16th century. There are people still living there - for a yearly rent of 88 cents, plus three daily prayers for the founding family of Fuggers. Merchants and bankers, who were wealthier than the Medicis in their days and responsible for some of the opulence of the city.

There was the cutest little cafe on the premises of the Fuggerei. Attached to the gift shop, with only three tables in a small room with a fireplace. I had tea and homemade potato soup, which really breathed warmth into the body. The smallness of the room made it very familial and in a good way. If I had a cafe or a restaurant, I would like it to have exactly that sort of atmosphere.

On Friday I again got up earlier than necessary. My train back was scheduled to leave only after six in the evening, so I didn't hurry out of the room. I dug out the computer and decided to do some writing. Do you remember when I wondered if it would be nice to get up in the morning and just write fiction? Write for a living and call that the day's work, do some research to get the setting and details right, soak up experiences and impressions? Well, is the sky blue, is breathing beneficial to living? It would be so perfect.

Around 11 o'clock I left the hotel and took my bag to the train station for safekeeping. I had seven hours to see the city, which I had fairly thoroughly walked through the day before - the old town that interested me anyway. I decided to concentrate on the museums today and not be in a hurry about it. I saw art and walked in the footprints of Marie Antoinette in Schaezlerpalais; I saw the wonderful Maximilianmuseum with city history and most amazing models of old buildings. I examined, I peered in from the tiny windows to see the intricate staircases and beheld the water mills and towers. I saw the marks of chisels on the hands of the wooden sculptures and caught hints of how it is done. I marveled at coinage and silver work. It was all very exciting, but I am not quite sure what it means.

I bought a book from the museum shop which illuminates aspects of the city life in the 16th century from the crafts and guilds to water supply and coining, from the buildings to the people. It also has a nice, even if a little too small map of the town, which I can use for the story. I sat in the cafe for nearly an hour until it closed and leafed through the book. If I want the story to be convincing, I need to research the physical and mental worlds of middle, archaic and mythological ages. Which led me to the realisation, that the honour cultures also interest me mainly from the viewpoints of fiction. I don't really wish to answer research questions; I want to write fiction, maybe descriptive popular histories. Not that research wouldn't be "fictional" sometimes - how many of those theories are just opinions, wildly imaginative leaps of fantasy and word magic, which shrouds the fact that the point of a four hundred page long opus could have been stated in less than ten.

Yes, but that did not stop me from enjoying some aspects of honour cultures and Miller's book (which I of course did not take from the institute, but apparently it wanted to keep company to the argumentation book) on the way back in the train. I had to switch trains in Stuttgart and ended up in a strange old-fashioned (?) train with odd compartments. I should have taken a picture, because it might have been a good setting for a short story about misunderstandings and unactualized possibilities. If you excuse me, I think I need to go and scribble that idea down.

Pictures from Augsburg

Currently listening to: Subway to Sally - Die Trommel (bloody good song by the way)