like bread

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Untitled
Pentti Saarikoski
Life was given to man for him to consider
in which position he wants to be dead,
grey skies float by, star-meadows hang
and the earth comes into your mouth like bread

Original

Elämä on ihmiselle annettu, jotta hän tarkoin harkitsisi,
missä asennossa tahtoo olla kuollut,
harmaita taivaita kulkee yli, tähtitarhoja riippuu
ja maa tulee suuhun kuin leipä.

Photo by Kym on Unsplash

swooned birds

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In the season of birds constantly flying directly into my closed windows…

Recollection
Eila Kivikk’aho
Words couldn’t move mountains
words weren’t even up to opening the door.

But when you’d gone,
I took them in, to shelter in the warmth,
like swooned birds that had hit the window.

And they never tire of singing.
And I keep on listening to them.

Cover up – Random gum of July 2018 soundtrack

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Cover up – Got just enough to cover you – Random gum – July 2018
www.comraderadmila.com / Follow me on Spotify

01 Alberteen – “We Are the Mods
Big thanks as usual to Ade – never in the same place. One of my favorites from Alberteen
02 U.S. Girls – “Rage of Plastics” …there’s no telling how long you’ll be paying…
Relatable sadness and all the nods to plastic. “There are scores of us born in the silent spring/Whose wombs won’t take, won’t bear anything”
03 Alice Skye – “Friends with Feelings” …I hope that tomorrow/won’t be like today, anyway…
04 Depeche Mode – “Cover Me” …Way up here with the Northern Lights/beyond you and me/I dreamt of us in another life/one we never reached…
Memories of some entirely other life. “Better take cover…”
05 Flesh for Lulu – “Postcards from Paradise” …And I fell under your spell/And I lay where I fell…
Weird memories of junior high school and that awkward, fragile friendship with Terra; had no idea until right now that the lead singer died about three years ago
06 Ultra Vivid Scene – “The Whore of God”…But a kiss on the lips is far too much for anyone…
This is like a taste of sophomore year in high school, the weekends of Leighanne, Gary and Terra
07 Bruce Springsteen – “Cover Me” …Promise me baby you won’t let them find us/Hold me in your arms, let’s let our love blind us…
I have no real love, but plenty of respect, for Springsteen, but the ‘cover’ theme must be covered, right?
08 Huri Sapan – “Karanfil Ocak Ocak”
A Turkish delight, naturally. I love how unnatural this sounds directly after Springsteen
09 Julia Jacklin – “Cold Caller” …Will I be a mother or will I always be a child?…
Oh, Julia among Julias. One of my favorites lately. “And some cold caller decides I’m not Ready to change Oh what if my body is but my mind remains the same?”
10 Trashcan Sinatras – “Obscurity Knocks” …Owner of this corner and not much more…
For SD rocking the Maryhill Tesco – but happily not shirtless
11 Love and Rockets – “Ball of Confusion” …Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors/Solid gold in demand, population out of hand, suicide/Too many bills, everyone movin’ to the hills/People all over the world are dying in the war…
Perfect for these tragic, confusing, bombastic times
12 TV on the Radio – “Love Stained”
“In the middle of the night, when fear comes calling/Singin’ it all dies, awfully scared, alone/I’m looking into your eyes to feel your call/Pretty thing that catches me so strong when I fall”
13 The Shacks – “Blue & Grey”
“What did you really mean to say?/I’m tired of waiting because/All we have is blue and grey”
14 Brandi Carlile – “The Joke”
“Let ’em laugh while they can/Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind/I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends/And the joke’s on them”
15 The Fernweh – “The Liar”
Liverpool
16 Coco Morier – “No Pressure” …Let’s mess around…
17 AURORA – “Life on Mars”
Because I don’t know that we’ll ever know how to live without Bowie, though he got out just in time
18 Peter Perrett – “How the West Was Won” …If I ever get really depressed/I’ll download Tor, buy a suicide vest/Leave a dirty bomb at a Wall Street address/Gatecrash a Rothschild party and leave it in a mess…
19 Savoy Motel – “Sorry People”
Groovy Nashville
20 Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown” …Thus starts the lonely walking/There’s always too much talking/I should have stayed home…
Glasgow… don’t blow my thicker-than-ever cover. Love to all my Dear Green Place folk & to Inga
21 Terry Bush, United Forces – “Maybe Tomorrow” (radio edit remix) …So if you want to join me for a while/Just grab your hat, come travel light, that’s hobo style…
For every person of a certain age in the UK who knows this theme song from a dog-led Canadian tv show, The Littlest Hobo, that Americans never had the dubious treat of seeing
22 Grupo Mogambo, Carlos “Chacho” Ramos – “Dime”
Because… MOGAMBO!!
23 Amber Coffman – “Kindness”
24 Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – “Monkeys on Juice” …laughing at such pointlessness…
25 Tom Waits – “Gin Soaked Boy” …Well, I’m on your tail/I sussed your M.O. …
26 Conspiracy of Owls – “A Silver Song” …You open your heart/And I drift right through…
“We’re not above it all/And we’re in love again”
27 Drapht, Indoor Fins – “The Come Down Was Real”
28 The Julie Ruin – “Just My Kind” …Don’t you know I really like how/You know my mind/But even more to the point is the fact/You’re just my kind…
29 The Moonlandingz – “The Strangle of Anna”
30 Rival Consoles – ”Ghosting”
I’m not too good at ghosting
31 Samara Lubelski – ”Soft Focus”
32 Värttinä – ”Kylä vuotti uutta kuuta”
A wee folk taste of Finland
33 Modern Studies – “Disco” …I used to be a totally different kind of person/and the difference it made…
Scotland Scotland Scotland
34 Triathalon – “3” …help me get myself in the groove…
35 Xmal Deutschland – “Feuerwerk (31.Dez)”
The old days in Hamburg
36 Klaus Johann Grobe – “Geschichten aus erster Hand”
The big Z-city in CH
37 Sonic Youth – “Bull in the Heather”
38 Coda Conduct – “Love for Me” …my love for you, boy, comes after my love for me…
Australian lady hip hop
39 Gwenno – “Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki”
Wales
40 Chapterhouse – “Pearl”
Driving through a painfully hot late spring day, suddenly feeling all the aimless pangs of teenage pain and insecurity stabbing me from the inside, again and again. Ugly. Uglier. Ugliest. Time.
41 Hovvdy – “Thru” …Cover for yourself all the time…
42 Au Revoir Simone – “A Violent Yet Flammable World”
Wondering whatever happened to Aurélien, to whom I owe the Au Revoir Simone debt. Twin Peaks reboot but makes me think of those days in 2008-9, the bittersweet of Paris, misery of Oslo, homesickness for Reykjavik
43 Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Spellbound” …We are entranced…
44 Phantastic Ferniture – “Fuckin’ ‘n’ Rollin’”
It’s no wonder I fell in love with this almost immediately – only after I was hooked did I wake up to the fact that this is another Aussie darling, Julia Jacklin, vehicle…
45 Grover Washington, Jr – “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”
46 Goldfrapp, Dave Gahan – “Ocean” …People collector/I’m on the move/For you…
47 Kings of Convenience – “Know-How”
“Just a little bit of danger/When intriguingly/Our little secret/Trust say trust me/Cause no one will ever know/That this was happening”
48 Class Actress – “Journal of Ardency” …You think I’m living it, living it, living it, living it up/In the spotlight/It’s a lie, lie…
“This game of cruelty/Hardly becomes me…/…’Cause everybody knows/Everybody sees/That this is the thing you do to me”
49 Air, Gordon Tracks – “Playground Love” …Yet my hands are shaking/I feel my body remains/Time’s no matter, I’m on fire/On the playground, love…
50 Emmit Fenn, Yuna – “Modern Flame” (acoustic) …Don’t tell me this doesn’t feel right/’Cause I’m thinking ‘bout it every night…

On Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness

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“Shy people unsettle others because they unsettle the tacit conventions of social life.”

Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness was not as great a book as I, a lifelong shy person, expected. It did not shed a lot of light on shyness and all its forms and shades – it mostly just introduced us to a slew of famous shy people and the various forms of shyness that ailed them. I expected something more informative or rigorous/scientific somehow, but oh well. Sure, there was some exploration of history, psychology and philosophy and what those disciplines have to say about shyness. But not quite enough.

A few interesting points but mostly it boils down to what I knew before (even if that seems arrogant to say; I know I don’t know everything): being shy is being shy, many people are surprised when they learn that you consider yourself shy, it is not a rare affliction, and sometimes you can fake it (i.e. fake not being shy) in certain circumstances. You never totally get rid of it, but you can tame it – it’s a strange and often mercurial beast.

It has been a swift read as a result of its brevity and lack of depth, so pleasurable and entertaining even if nothing I would necessarily recommend except for a few spots that intersect with topics and conversations I’ve touched on with different people.

Notable bits/quotes:

“Zeno founded the school of Stoicism, a philosophy of self-reliant estrangement from the world and of equanimity in the face of public approval, since status and fame were mere baubles. ‘Stoicism has qualities which foreordained for the bracing of shy souls, as if the men who framed its austere laws had prescience of our frailty,’ write Dalton in Apologia Diffidentis. ‘It is the philosophy of the individual standing by himself, as the shy must always stand, over against a world which he likes not but may not altogether shun.’”

 

“Unlike many of his compatriots, Taine did not think English reserve was the result of an obsession with rank and class that had constipated their emotional lives. It was rather, he felt, that they were brimful of feelings, which were all the more affecting for so rarely bubbling up to the surface to disturb dead-calm waters. The English expressed their passions in ways overlooked by the inattentive, but those who watched carefully could see ‘the emotions pass over these complexions, as one sees the colours change upon their meadows’.”

 

“Shyness may have its roots in human self-consciousness, but it leaves us at the mercy of our animal emotions — making us, in extremis, shake with fear, run away, and hide.”

 

“Shyness did not always have to be an inadequacy but could be a positive quality – something you were rather than something that stopped you from being who you were. Shyness’s energies are often reactive and damage-limiting…; “If you can somehow prevent your shyness from clotting into neurotic risk aversion, it can help you face the world with an added layer of gentleness and curiosity.”

 

(Society-level) shame has receded while (personal) embarrassment has grown: “Although we are more able to retain our self-respect in the face of others’ disdain, we are also more likely to feel ashamed when others might see no reason for us to be.”

 

Oh yes yes yes!: “All through history, letter writing has offered salvation for the shy.”

“A correspondence via the Royal Mail has the potential for show-growing intimacy, enhanced by a deliciously expectant wait between sending and receiving, which e-mail and text messages have since destroyed.”

 

“The Nordic countries rival Southeast Asian ones in the subtlety of their language of embarrassment. A shy Finnish historian I met once told me all the different Finnish synonyms for “embarrassed.” Nolo, the most common word, had a negative sense — for instance, in the phrase “Vähän noloa!” (How embarrassing!), “Nobody wants to be nolo,” he said, “because it also connotes being pitiful.” But there were others words, he added, that roughly tallied with embarrassment — kiusaantunut, vaivaantunut, hämillinen, hämmentynyt — which evoked a more general sense of confusion or discomfort and had a neutral or even positive meaning. Another word, myötähäpeä, the vicarious embarrassment one feels for others, what schadenfreude’s kinder cousin.”

 

(Charles) “Schulz came to believe, in a classically Minnesotan form of self-laceration, that his own inhibitions were upended narcissism. ‘Shyness,’ he wrote, ‘is the overtly self-conscious thinking that you are the only person in the world; that how you look and what you do is of any importance.’ But the lesson of Peanuts is quite the opposite. Who, after all, is a better model of humanity: Lucy van Pelt, who shouts at the world with bone-shuddering conviction, or Charlie Brown, whose shyness has made him a gentle, fair-minded stoic?”

 

“Cultures with a reputation for fostering shyness, such as the Nordic, seem to have a higher tolerance for silence than most. The Swedish ethnologist Annick Sjögren, raised in France, noticed that in her adoptive country the spoken word “weighs lightly” and is no sooner dispensed than it will “vanish into thin air”. French conversation is a rhetorical performance, detached from oneself, so one can say things without thinking, simply to enjoy the sound of the syllables on one’s tongue, without being afraid that one will be called to account for it. In Sweden, by contrast, what one says is a personal marker, and words are pondered for their meaning. Small talk is kallprata, “cold talk”, and Swedish words for the talkative, such as pratkvarnar (chatterboxes), pladdermajor (babblers), and frasmakare (phrasemongers), convey a suspicious attitude toward talking for its own sake. ‘Talking apparently never ceases to be a problem for the Swedes: a lean across an abyss,’ reflected Susan Sontag after living in Stockholm at the end of the 1960s. ‘Conversations are always in danger of running out of gas, both from the imperative of secretiveness and from the positive lure of silence. Silence is the Swedish national vice.’

The Swedish and Finnish words for shyness, blyg and ujo, carry positive associations of being unassuming and willing to listen to others. Many Finnish proverbs point to the value of choosing words carefully and not saying any more than necessary: ‘One word is enough to make a lot of trouble.’ ‘Brevity makes a good psalm.’ ‘A barking dog does not catch a hare.’ ‘One mouth, two ears.’ According to the Finnish scholars Jaakko Lehtonen and Kari Sajavaara, in an essay on ‘the silent Finn,’ the overuse among their compatriots of what linguists call backchannel behavior — nodding, eyebrow raising, saying ‘hmmmm’ while the other person is speaking — is considered intrusive and the preserve of drunks.”

 

My exact observations when I saw film in question; so few words: “The Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki’s characters are similarly sparing with speech. They work away silently in dull jobs at supermarket checkouts or kitchen sinks and drive through the country’s backroads, chain-drinking vodka while exchanging cryptic grunts. In The Match Factory Girl (1990) thirteen minutes pass, in a film just sixty-eight minutes long, before anyone speaks. …”

“Even in the Nordic countries, silence can carry awkward or hostile subtexts, Ingmar Bergman, in his autobiography, attributes his stammering s a boy to the determination of grown-ups not to speak to a misbehaving child until the child was visibly contrite — a cold shoulder far more painful, he recalls, than the ensuing interrogation, wheedled-out confession, and ritual fetching of the carpet beater. The SWedes have a phrase for it: att tiga ihjäl (to kill by silence). Different cultures may differently assess what constitutes a healthy balance between talking and listening. But silence can be deadly in all of them.”

New Zealand writer, Janet Frame, struggled with a lifelong shyness that crippled her, was subjected to extensive electroshock therapy and nearly lobotomized. Finally found a therapist who understood her (Cawley), who did not ask her to change herself but instead encouraged her to live alone and write – embrace her nature. Learn to live with shyness.

Storr (another psych), “Like Cawley, Storr came to feel that solitariness had its uses and that salvation did not always lie in others. … The naturally solitary could find meaning in their lives by embracing this inheritance rather than simply, as Freud advocated, trying to cure make-believe with cold reason.”

Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomins, was famously shy and retiring and not a particularly pleasant personality. And her Moomins reflect this. “Jansson was a great admirer of the book Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle toward Self-Realization, by the psychoanalyst Karen Horney… ; …According to Horney, there are three kinds of neurotic ‘solutions’ to feeling unsafe or unloved: the expansive, the resigned, and the self-effacing. The expansive neurotics pursue mastery over others; the resigned neurotics strive for independence and self-sufficiency; and the self-effacing neurotics are conflict-phobic, criticizing themselves before others have the chance.”

“Jansson’s lesson is not that shy people should come out of their shells; it is that they should learn to become unneurotic introverts. For Moomins may sulk and skulk fleetingly, but most of the time they are neither needy nor neurotic. Their response to a problem is to think deeply and then make something — a hut, a painting, a poem, a boat carved out of bark — as a way of whittling meaning out of a terrifying world.”

The book even delves into Morrissey and his awkwardness and shyness, which, unlike many others so afflicted, managed to make his shyness work to his advantage. And what I most related to: “In this pre-internet age Morrissey relied, like many other shy British teenagers, on the marvelous efficiency of the Royal Mail and the cheapness of its second-class postage to keep in touch with his fellow human from a distance. The most intense crisis of his adolescence, he later said with his trademark blend of flippancy and dead seriousness, was when the price of stamps rose by a penny.”

And within the Morrissey section, a sub-section on Keats:

“The natural mode for the shy lover was the lyric poem: it recollected one’s embarrassment in tranquillity, at a safe distance from the beloved, and eternalized it within a classic literary form. In Keats and Embarrassment (1974), Christopher Ricks argues that one of the great consolations of poetry, with its public articulation of intensely private feelings, is that it helps us to express embarrassment and put it to creative use, making us feel less lonely and estranged in the process. Keats, he says, was a poet particularly attuned to , and insightful about, embarrassment. He felt embarrassed by his lack of formal education, his lowly apprenticeship as an apothecary, his poetry’s poor critical reception, his height (only just over five feet tall)…”

Keats realized that “among the sane, fortifying, and consolatory powers (nature) has is the power to free us from embarrassment, to make embarrassment unthinkable.”

“Keats’s willingness to face the subject of embarrassment in his poems and other writings allowed him to turn awkwardness into ‘a human victory’.”

The keys, though, if you could even call them ‘keys’ as opposed to ‘grin-and-bear-it’ grit (just get through it) come nearer the end of the book.

When offered anti-depressants and other pharmaceuticals to help, the writer concludes pretty much what always crosses my mind: “The sadness caused by shyness is real, and helping others to take the edge off that sadness is a noble aim. But taking a drug for social anxiety — for feeling stupid, boring, or unlikeable — feels like shouting at the wind, arguing with the rain. It feels like trying to find a cure for being alive.”

“All the people I have written about in this book were as shy at the end of their lives as at the start of them. They found ways to hide their shyness, channel it, finesse it, or work around it, but it never went away.”