Can you find Mr. Lenin in this photo?
Postcard from Russia: A Poem
When I try to understand this vast country, I imagine a canvas of rivers, roads and railways cross through the forests and fields, finding their beginnings and endings on the sea shores, the lake sides and the mountain ranges. I imagine the endless small village roads divert and lead deeper in to the woods, deeper in to the unknown... "Yesenin! Yesenin! Oh he is the Russian soul", I can still hear in my ears, two days later, Bogdan's voice saying with a considerable elevation. We had almost reached the end of the alphabets of Russian literature, and also the end of the bottle. Now aboard on a train, I think about the poet, a young fatherless man, who wrote about the seasons, the birds and the trees, who wrote about the sun and the moon, and their endless variations in the pastoral landscape, with a melancholic yearning. He was a simple man, who liked to drink, who loved women, who wrote perhaps to compensate the losses in his life. Outside the train window I see again another dusty winding road, like a pulsing vein, leading through the houses, shacks and fences, passing the birches and wells, deeper towards the woods. I can see the same path crossing the fields in the etiquette of the water bottle in my hand. The fellow passengers, who sit discreetly and withdrawn, know it, I am sure, and if I would be able to look in to their eyes long enough, I could see what the poet wrote. Somewhere out there, by some worn-out dacha, in a dimly lit room with a chair, a table and a cup, or in the half-wild garden, among the fragrance of the blooming bushes, the Russian soul hides, grows and dies.
On a late October day I went to walk the circle path of the Paljakka Nature Reservation. The previous night, I had stayed over at the Mustarinda-house, and in the evening the first snow fell light and almost silent. So in the morning, when I started walking, the old forest was covered with thin powdery layer of snow, breaking all the green tones towards the grey, except for the patches of clear ground, which the trees and bushes has left on their eastern side. While the snow had fallen, the wind had blown from the west. It was pretty amazing view, as though the clear areas were the shadows cast by the firs. Pretty soon after I had began the route, the sun peered out from the low crack in the clouds, illuminating the forest, with a fragile touch of light. I had with me an old Zeiss Ikonta film camera with five shots left. I took the photos quite fast, and then just enjoyed the rest of the walk, the silence and the solitude, which as a welcomed suprise, were only broken by a single raven who once made a circle above me, accompanied with loud cries, as if to check out who is there.
Every year, when the winter is drawing near, besides the need of pulling on the woollen clothes, a need of enchanting long pieces of music awakens in me. For the moments when a walk outside is not the most attractive option, and the local cinema doesn't have anything to offer, one can choose instead to relax and lie down, and listen to a lengthy composition or two for a piano, and this surely much rather than to lose oneself to fossil capitalism, and to drive off for a meaningless late night shopping. Therefore I have a list of pieces, which I can warmly recommend. The shortest piece is a bit more than seven minutes and the longest one five hours in duration. Here they are (with the performer in the brackets):
Julius Eastman - Evil Nigger (Kukuruz Quartet)
John Cage - In a Landscape (Stephen Drury)
Terry Jennings - Winter Sun (John Tilbury)
Peter Garland - The Days Run Away (Aki Takahashi)
Eva-Maria Houben - Senza Espressione (herself)
Linda Catlin Smith - Velvet (Mark Knoop & Philip Thomas)
William Basinski - Nocturnes (himself)
Ann Southam - Returnings 1 (Eve Egoyan)
Philip Glass - Mad Rush (himself)
Jurg Frey - Circular Music No.5 (Philip Thomas)
Arvo Pärt - Für Alina (Alexander Malter)
Laurence Crane - Piano Piece 23' Ethiopian Distance Runners (Philip Thomas)
Michael Pisaro - Akasa (Reinier van Houdt)
Morton Feldman - For Bunita Marcus (Marc-André Hamelin)
Dennis Johnson - November (R. Andrew Lee)
Inari, Lapland, Finland
Fuel for the Winter