This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Helsinki from above (today)

HELfromtheairThese are the Eastern suburbs of Helsinki from above, at night. The bright spot to the far left is Vuosaari harbor. The black triangle cutting in to the top third from the right side is Vartiokylä bay. I grew up running around it and taking a plunge at the end. When my family moved to this part of town in the early 80s, our street was unpaved and ended in fields of crops and horse stables. The houses were all built right after World War II. There was an old broken horse-pulled rake of some kind lying by the side of the road for years. There were meadows and forests and a brook.

Now most of that is gone. The brook is still there, protected. But the meadow is tiny, and the forests, fields, and horses are gone. I am glad I had a childhood where I got to climb trees, jump around in ice cold water, and roll around in the meadows. The kids who grow up there today will not have such a childhood.

(Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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Only ice

icewakesThis was Helsinki in mid-March, caught underneath the ever-swirling polar vortex of the winter and spring of 2018. The cruise liner looks like one that shuttles between Helsinki and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. All cruise liners on the Baltic Sea are icebreakers, too. One has to dress according to weather, you see.

(Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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About Amsterdam and existentialism

amsterdam-1After 6.5 years I was back in Amsterdam. It was beautiful, as always in spring, and every cell in my body screamed “get me out of here!!!”. For four days I stayed on the South side of the Singel, and mostly even on the South side of the Amstelkanaal. At least I got to explore areas new to me.

I am currently reading a book on existentialism (Sartre, Beauvoir and the likes. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche if you are liberal). Existentialism as a philosophical movement claims that nothing has a purpose and that everything just Is, until you yourself make a choice and thus make meaning out of chaos. While existentialism is not my cup of tea, I can see how liberating it is to just let go of every meaning, memory, and association to pain: simply stating that I am free to choose and if I do not choose to make meaning out of it, it does not exist. It never did. Pain only exists when we choose to give it existence and meaning in association to something else important in our lives. If we just choose to be free, pain is gone. Poof. Neverwas.

(Thank goodness I could return home after just 4 days)amsterdam-2(Amsterdam, The Netherlands; March 2018)


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What is beauty?

factoriesWhat do you think, is this photo beautiful? Do you see light, color, and fluffy clouds matching the fluffy smoke? Or do you see a planet in destruction, no trees and no Nature anywhere?

Is there a collective, pan-human sense of esthetics, or is what our mind considers beautiful conditioned by the surroundings we are subjected to? How much of our sense of esthetics is objective, focusing on for example form, color, and light; and how much is subjective, weighed down or lifted up by our personal values, memories, and associations?

Complicated thoughts one morning above the Netherlands.

(The Netherlands; March 2018)


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Interlude: moomins in hiding

moomin-2One bleak Saturday we stopped by at the Helsinki Art Museum’s permanent exhibition of Tove Jansson’s works. You know, the author and artist behind all things Moomin. There were two large frescoes, one showcasing a party on the countryside and another a party in the city. All very 1940s post-war joy. And then I saw a little moomin, hiding away behind flowers and a glass of champagne. Right there, in a quite seriously adult piece of art.

Turning to the mural Rest after Work, I discovered a little Sniff hiding behind some other flowers. There he was, probably resting after a day’s efforts of not having to work at all.

I am now convinced that Tove Jansson never knew how to be 100% serious about her work. Good on her. Delivering results does not mean kill your sense of humor. moomin-1(HAM, Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)