The Savoy Vase designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto was put on display for the 1937 World Fair in Paris. Designed for the Savoy Hotel Restaurant in Helsinki it has gone on to become a kind of short-han] for Finnish modern design.
A minister invented the pronoun hän for God and added it to the Finnish language to elevate God from men woman and animals, who were all referred to as se up to then. Instead Finns just kept on using hän as though it were se also. See jayless for a longer explaination.
In Finland traditionally the Sauna is a seperate building within an enclosure of many buildings each with certain functions. The Sauna in Finland was where you were born into the world and when you died where you were laid out.
What was Finlandisation?
Today’s consensus is that Finland was not really independent. It was a time in which domestic and foreign policy could not be separated because what Moscow thought, or possibly thought, had to be always factored in. - observingfinland
A favourite insight of mine The Helsinki Bus Station Theory of creativity.
This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others." What’s the answer? “It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.” - Arno Rafael Minkkinen
Helsinki’s Pitkäsilta Bridge full of traffic and life on any given day still bears the bullet and shrapnel marks from the civil war over a hundred years ago. An echo of history if you stop and look.
Every man in Finland is required to do national service, people from the Åland islands are exempt. Women can volunteer. Service can be military or non-military.
Admiration for Finland which drinks the most coffee per capita in the world at 26.45 lbs (12kg) per person, most of it bad.
In 1820 James Finlayson was granted a License for a mill by the banks of the Tammerkoski. The company Finlaysons would build their own daycare, school, hospital, library and church. They had their own currency and in 1882 they switched on first electric light in Scandinavia.
A midnight sun paints dusk as a mirror image into the waters of Saimaa. We sit in a lopsided boat chugging out with thirty other revellers. On a rock a fire, only the flames reflect in the lake water. Then as the day changes we go back to the land to feast some more.
All spoken languages are the same age, they have all changed from a past form and are all changing continuously towards a future form. At some moment in time they change less or more that is all. A figure of at least 100,000 years is often given as the age of all human language.
Finished reading: Babel by R. F. Kuang 📚
I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means … Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Strait seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the Bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?
Started reading: Catalogue Of Shipwrecked Books: by Edward Wilson-Lee 📚
Madchester, Shoegaze and Grunge were a few of the scenes that I was introduced to in my first couple of years at college when I first left home at the beginning of the nineties. Bands like Ride, Happy Mondays, Cocteau Twins, The Fall, Pavement, Nirvana and of course Lush. At that time of life it’s often through music that you identify yourself and so those bands will always have a special feeling for me, everyone has their own band hiastory maybe.
Now some thirty years later Miki Berenyi the lead singer from Lush has an autobiography out Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved Me from Success, and it really is an involving, agoninzing and engaging read.
The book is split into two parts, Miki’s childhood growing up in London and then her time wtih the band Lush. Certainly there is a hell of a story to tell. Her upbringing is really unusual and at many points quite harrowing. This is all told delicately and with great skill, the worst of it is not really highlighted but it’s all there, involving but not showy, better and more involving writing than most biographies.
The second part of the book covering the band years is also fascinating and a knowledge of the bands is not necessary, Miki’s story is enough. The bad behaviour, sexism and hedonism is a timeless trope but it’s written about calmy and Miki doesn’t spare herself.
For my part I think Lush were underrated at the time and their melodies and lyrics are better and more intereting than most of their contemporaries. After reading the book forinsance I went back to their back catalogue. The lyrics from Light From a Dead Star especially hit hard…. It was all there in the lyrics for anyone to see all this time.
Overall it is a fantastic book that I loved and that I would recommend to anyone regardless of their own band history! 📚★★★★★
Lyrics from Light From A Dead Star
He lives his life in a world
Full of women and he takes
What he wants from their love
And he throws the rest away
I cling to him and pray
But still, he slips away
And now it’s just too late
To wish him back again
She won’t put up with this life
So she leaves him and she finds
Someone else, falls in love
And she travels far away
I say that it’s okay
And swallow all my pain
And now it’s just too late
To wish her back again
They left me here on my own
In a nightmare and I just
Can’t forgive any more
So I smile and I turn away
Don’t listen when they say
They wish that I could stay
And now it’s just too late
To wish me back again -Miki Berenyi
This is a list post of the short book reviews I have made here
The Autumn is always busy so the list is even more unachieveable than normal! There is nothing yet from the horror genre either and with the nights closing in and Halloween on the way I feel like I would like to add a few of those but have yet to look around for some recommendations in that genre.
Michael Cohens follow up to one of my summers favourite books is there also. Maybe I need to add some more fiction there too, especially for Audiobooks I prefer a fiction book i am much less tempted to take notes on! So I expect things to move around a little as the autumn progresses.
This is what it looks like at the moment.
For the first time ever I made a summer reading list for myself in order to try and find some good books and read them in a slightly more methodical way than the almost random method I usually choose my next book from.
First I listed out all the books I had already but haven’t read adding a couple from there. Long ago I reconciled myself to the fact this list will probably only get longer over time.
Then for the first time I really tried to use goodreads and together with that go through my old lists. What books might make good listens, which I should actually read on kindle or in the flesh even. I added in a few books from booktube recommendations , and tried to mix it up with book genres I normally don’t read (see the romances bellow). I really enjoyed my reads overall and the act of making the list and thinking what to add to it was fun in itself. I think it also helped to make the reading journey a little more satisfying, It at least felt more deliberate.
Two particular favourites that made my summer were The Left Hand of Darkness and A Place to Read which was recommended by Jamie Todd Rubin so a big thanks to him for putting up a review of it.
I will be making an Autumn reading list, I think it could become a seasonal thing. A way of making selections of the books I read more thoughtful and more rewarding.
Over the three months of summer these are what I finished:
With A Brief History of Equality Thomas Piketty’s new book brings his views on economics to the public as clearly and concisely as he can. At only 277 pages versus his last book Capitol and Ideology which was 1100 pages he really has made every effort to make this as readable as possible.
It is meant to be read not just prop up a coffee table and throughout I found it easy to read and engaging. So if you thought about taking the plunge with Piketty before well this is probably the one too start with for most of us. Piketty begins with clear intentions.
This book offers a comparative history of inequalities among social classes in human societies. Or rather, it offers a history of equality, because, as we shall see, there has been a long-term movement over the course of history toward more social, economic, and political equality.
He follows through on this for the most part, with a clearly stated ambition and detailed research which he uses well enough to illustrate his points without letting the main text to get bogged down in the detail.
Along the way he deals with the key reason we are where we are today by looking back at the last 300 years of economic history.
We might classify these under a few different headings or keywords of which I have brought out a few which I think cover much of what he talks about;
So he clearly sets out the history of inequality, how and why it arose, and slow diminishing over the last 300 years. But now we are at a possible inflection point and inequality has lately been rising again.
He proposes a set of economic tools to get us back on track as it were. To address the problems that are glaringly obvious to all at the moment. It’s a welcome relief from the cheap nationalism in much Western dialogue about economics.
In this book, I have defended the possibility of a democratic and federal socialism, decentralized and participatory, ecological and multicultural, based on the extension of the welfare state and progressive taxation, power-sharing in business enterprises, postcolonial reparations, the battle against discrimination, educational equality, the carbon card, the gradual decommodification of the economy, guaranteed employment and an inheritance for all, the drastic reduction of monetary inequalities, and finally, an electoral and media system that cannot be controlled by money
I hope it is read and debated fairly. I recommend it to anyone looking to make sense of the economic forces which all buffer us but we often are unaware of and in that sense whether you ultimately agree with Piketty or not it is well worth a read.
Evocative writing, engaging story, well rounded setting, and not too forced twists meant for a lovely read. The book splits its time line in two and I think this is really well handled also, making for a more gripping plot as the feedback loop from one time periods informs the reader for the other.
I liked the two principle protagonists although perhaps Kya’s story felt a little unbelievable at times her inner voice to me was authentic.
A romance / murder mystery might be a weird split and maybe we didn’t even really need the murder? But I recommend this as a great summer holiday read. 📚★★★★
Ropa is a ghostalker a young teenage dropout with a Zimbabwean background growing up in Edinburgh. She talks to the dead taking messages back and forth for them. Soon she is caught up in a strange case of child kidnapping.
T.L Huchu creates an Edinburgh perhaps in the near future definitely in a parallel world where magic exists and society as we know it has partially collapsed. A world which gives him a great chance of writing a gripping fantasy adventure series. The Edinburgh we know is partially regressed. The Nor Loch is back and the city is broken down, more mavelovent and more interesting as a result. Slums and high society mix and overlap as do this world and the next.
His imaginative descriptions of this new Edinburgh are wonderful, I particularly loved his description of Waverley stations roof under the water. Magic is also reimagined given a history linking it back to the enlightenment, to Scotland and Edinburghs history a lovely inventive twist which feels like it fits. So as someone born and bred in Edinburgh I really love the world Huchu has created.
Ropa’s adventures definitely bring to mind Harry Potter but Ropa is a bit more hard boiled than at least the early Potter books. A book like this needs a plot that pulls you through with anticipation and I am happy to say it did this with a wider arc hinted at also by the end.
I loved this book and would recommend and especially to anyone familiar with Edinburgh they will see a new and original twist to the city and some great adventures. 📚★★★★
Super influential he coined the term cyberspace in the 1982 short story Burning Chrome and later in Neuromancer and made famous the term matrix. Hard to think of a more influential book on the look of the near future than Neuromancer. My dad gave me a copy of this book as a teenager and it helped shape my ideas of the future of what was cool, a countercultural space physically and metaphorically.
So it was a real pleasure to read it again and rediscover the thrillingly graphic descriptions which light this book up still today. The 2000 version as a nice introduction by Gibson apologising for the omission of mobile phones amongst other things, and the afterword by Jack Womack makes some really interesting points about the past and future, what they mean to science-fiction. 📚★★★★★
Mustionlinna Finland 📷
Part memoir, part philosophical journey into work in the digital age. Like a hypertext the very idea of work has kind of exploded, smeared across reality divorced from our location and our private lives. A Life Lived Remotely was published before COVID gripped the world in which perhaps millions more people experienced some of the problems Mckeown looks at in this book. But rather than making the book obsolete it actually reinforces much of the insight. It might be useful as a practical guide to those a little lost between working from home and the office and it might be a good introduction to the opportunities and problems with work in the early 21st C. It’s entertaining and involving even though the memoir parts of the book often take a back seat to the historical and philosophical enquiry into work itself. 📚★★★★