February 28th, 2005


Not a cure.

I'm not sure when I decided upon "drink some water" as a solution for everything. (A solution. Oh, I am sorry. I did not mean to do that, really.) It was probably a few weeks after we got the Brita, at most. So we're talking on the order of at least two years. And you know what? I've had lots of problems in that time that have not been helped in the slightest bit by me drinking more water. Yet I still keep doing it: "I don't feel quite right. Maybe I'll go get another glass of water." Stupid brain! You finished your last glass of water not two minutes ago! "Maybe I need more." Water will not fix this book, brain!

It's a very un-watery book, actually. Very, very landlocked, this book.

I had a moment this morning of thinking, "All you Atlanta Nights people are hosers! You wrote one of the world's worst books on purpose. I did mine without even trying to be this bad!" I recognized this as a sign that I should put the book (metaphorically) down and back away from the book. So I started poking short stories very carefully with long sticks to see if any of them was the right short story to poke. A hundred words here, a hundred words there...and the answer is no, none of them was the right short story to poke, although I did have a good time with some of "Carter Hall Sweeps a Path." I have a feeling I'll be back to Thermionic Night revisions after dinner. Ah well. There are worse things. Even if it is one of the world's worst books. Because revisions will make it better! Or at least differently bad!

Hurray for differently bad!

Kalevala Day

It's Kalevala Day in Finland. This is my kind of holiday. (And my kind of country, to have a "national epic holiday.") And in celebration of that, here is one of my favorite bits, where Ilmarinen's mad at his wife in Poem 38:

Craftsman Ilmarinen said, reflected, spoke thus:
"Shall I now begin to sing, sing such a bride
into the forest as the forest's own or into water as the water's own?
I will not sing her to be the forest's own; the whole forest would be depressed;
nor will I sing her to be the water's own; the fishes in the water would think it
Rather will I kill her with my blade, slay her with my sword."
The sword understood the man's utterance, guessed the sense of the warrior's talk.
It uttered a word, spoke thus: "I have probably not been created to kill women,
to slay wretched girls."

Favorite word in the whole Kalevala: probably.

I have a good deal of sympathy for the women in this epic, for the girls who are given away as brides and do not go docilely. In the world of Thermionic Night and related works, it's very clear that Elias Lönnrot (the collector of the Kalevala) was a man with a very bad experience of magic-users of all sorts, so the stories he tells are skewed. But that doesn't mean the descendents of Louhi are always right, or even often right. They're just interestingly wrong.

The very end of the Kalevala makes me feel comfortable about doing things my way and seeing new stories from the old. It closes:
But be that as it may, I blazed a trail for singers,
blazed a trail, broke off tree tops, broke branches, showed the way.
Thence the way goes now, a new course stretches out
for more versatile singers, for ampler songs
in the rising younger generation, among the people growing up.

Thank you, Mr. Lönnrot. I'm trying to sing an ampler song. I can't always hit all the notes I want, but the harmonies are starting to come together in strange and sometimes lovely ways.