On becoming a forest

Issue 2/2006 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Extracts from Ei, siis kyllä (‘No. That’s to say, yes’, WSOY, 2006). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Propaganda-as-prayer-wheel is a powerful weapon, because it is a
prayer-wheel.
If there is nothing else to write about, it is always possible to write a
biography of Stalin, with all the spices.

A neat composition has always sufficed as good history, one according
to which an administration has done its best when it has elected itself.

Direct and indirect conclusions are impossible.
‘Legitimised historians explicate the nature of documents in a taciturn
manner…’

Scholarship cannot be based on what Aristotle did not say.
What Aristotle did not say is not a fact.

It is useless. Silence alone is a helpful rhetorical figure. But I do not know
how to use it. Nor am I trying to learn.

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This did not become a ‘People’s Home,’ a home for the people.
It became a rented room.

The landlord raises the rent, then compensates by furnishing the room
to match the rent.
This did not become a Sweden, it became an Americay, a land of serials.

In the imitators’ reservation, the signboards of the shops have already
been translated into English. To help the occupier to find services.

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Finland advises Russia on democracy. From Finland.
Here, with us, it already functions. From Brussels.

According to an in-depth study, the Finns are humanity’s wisest Finns.

This is acknowledged widely, ever more widely, day by day.

Thus a people’s capability and honour crashed on these snowy fields.

Blood does not flow. Only honour sinks down below the snow.

Honour? It is merely a shadow, but life is useless without it.

Honour. Well, it is merely a shadow.

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Anyone can be trained to become a president or a used car salesman.
But the sale of a used car requires a worldview and an understanding of the
client. Propaganda, on the other hand, requires dullness and repetition
when everything you are trying to say is used against you.
      To listen to silence. It is the organ of propaganda, changing the mind
like a drop of water, as it keeps repeating over and over again.

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When it is a question of Finland, the answer is Russia. There is no other
way to ask. You can answer whatever.
      Only after the answer has been received, the question is clarified.
There is no question without an answer.
      There is no answer without a question, and without knowing the
question you cannot understand the answer.
      But it has always been our habit to ask the question ourselves,
then answer it ourselves.
      That is the only way to gain scientifically valid answers.
      Therefore, questions must be constructed with exactitude, to prevent
their turning into answers.

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Whoever threatens the republic of Finland's lack of alliances is this
nation's enemy, from the outside or from within.
      Alliedness is no stranger than the arrival of spring here in the North.
The granite just begins to melt and crumble under our feet.

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I am writing on the verso pages of a stock register. I find it hard to steal
paper, even from myself.
      I do not know if it is possible to write about a war before it begins.
Later, at least, it has already been buried, and the green grass grows over it.
      NATO has grown into a solidarity club sponsored by America. With its
changing ranks, its aim is world domination.
      Join now, pay tomorrow.

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What am I saying? I say what I mean. As if we could not remain at peace
without a war, or at least a threat of war.
      Blood is in our blood. We are safe only when threatened, as in a bomb
shelter.
      Low self-esteem, a poor sense of self, in secret. A good play, bad
dialogue.
      Wavering mind, a small people afraid of silence. In silence, the sound
of trembling can be heard, then the rattling of arms covers it up, and one
feels better right away.
      That is why NATO is important to Finland, a test of manhood, a
confirmation.

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To begin with, one must note:
There are many wise men. But on the other hand, there is not a single
insane tree.

      We are allies, the forest and I, in the sense that the forest is my ally,
and that I am a representative and responsible person.
      There are many such alliances in the world.
      That is because they have not been studied much.

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I have written: ‘From the very beginning, the human being has been
designed as a throwaway item. It finds it hard to understand that, since it
did not create itself.’
      The human being is a superego. The trees know that.

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It is hard to communicate with trees because they do not want to speak,
read, count, or lie.
      It has become apparent to them that it is difficult to say a single truthful
word without insulting the public or objects.
      They do not speak because they do not want to insult or restrain the
public.
      They do not want to speak because they are afraid of being understood
by accident.
      They do not agree with flight or attack. They have seen war.
The sun might go out if trees started speaking, telling what they have
seen, asking for compensation.
      If they were to start asking questions, the questions would turn into
answers. And they would be accurate.

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I find this in my notes: ‘An illness of the mind dwells in man, the ape's
bad legacy. The human being is nowhere, its mind climbs and meanders,
counts and records, talks without interruption.’
      And: ‘If trees were able to write, they would write on parchment. They
would peel us and make the best parchment out of the skin on our backs.
      They would write on it, in their writing, the sublime writing of trees,
that the poor human beings should be protected to ensure their wellbeing.
      No, the tree does not complain, the grass does not weep. The forest's
eternity is tomorrow, the one that is forever, eternally, unreachable.
With no other ticket or tax but death.
      No, the tree does not intend to escape. It holds its position in the line,
in the hailstorm of madness. It does not panic.’

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The scribe's perennial task is to create a reduced image. Paper can be read
on both sides, but the tree always turns its back to us. It does not speak
because it does not believe. Because it does not believe that it would be
heard.
      The trees wonder how we were able to create this. This agreement on
the multiformity and exploitation of forests.
      Human conceptions of trees and forest are human conceptions of trees
and forest.
      That is the most profound statement than can be made about this
subject.
      The trees know everything about the forest, the forests know everything
about the trees.
      The trees do not speak because they do not believe they would be
understood.
      They tried, in their time.
      In the world of various thinking. In which fire and water made a pact.
      I have always been a tree before I became a forest.

Translated by Anselm Hollo