The Shadow Finlandia is out

Karri Kokko collected words, sentences, and thoughts from a number of Finnish blogs between April and June, 2005. The end result is Varjo-Finlandia (free PDF), a book that perhaps adds nothing new, yet is a new literary work of art: it's remix culture at it's strongest. The author has selected, anonymized, and organized sentences, thus giving the readers a glimpse of the Finnish blogosphere through someone else's eyes.

And boy, is it depressing or what. Reading through it feels like a hangover that never ends, a pain that does not go away, or a distant relative that keeps calling to demand the inheritance even though your granddad ain't dead yet. There are infinite ways to tell that things are not okay; and this book feels like it has most of them. It's like someone took all the bad feelings a person can have, slap the whole pile in front of you and say: "ok, here it is. LOOK, GODDAMMIT!" And all that from three months in the Finnish Blogosphere...

You can at least buy the book online from Kirja kerrallaan; don't know whether it's available elsewhere.

(A partial English translation is available.)


The backlash of the envious in 3... 2... 1...

--Jani, 18-Aug-2005


For the record: I liked it, even if it did make me sad.

--JanneJalkanen, 18-Aug-2005

Thanks! - Karri

--, 19-Aug-2005

Nevermind - just wanted to record my expecting some of those, whose words found their way in there, and especially those, whose didn't, to begin grumbling about it in a typical Finnish fashion.

--Jani, 19-Aug-2005

I was sort of expecting someone to start a rant about how this is stealing and how the blog writers will starve if they don't get proper compensation for the use of their precious words.

I am very relieved that I have not yet seen any comments like that.

--JanneJalkanen, 19-Aug-2005

Mm. From the afterword by Leevi Lehto: "All happy sentences may be alike, but every unhappy one is unhappy in its own way."

Well, I'd say we can consider that theory disproved; after a couple of pages, it all blends into one great chunk of whining. Not that I'm opposed to whining, mind you, but whining without any context becomes pretty much meaningless. It's just words that have been so far removed from the original authors and the original emotions that there's nothing left; you can't really tell bad days from truly self-destructive moments. You might as well type "I feel bad" in various forms and fill a few dozen pages with it, and it feels like the net result would be the same. Since all traces of personality have pretty much been removed from the text and there's no sense of narrative, causality or drama, there just isn't a whole lot in there to affect me one way or another. Compared to something like, oh, Burroughs' cut-ups, the lack of content feels kind of striking.

The only notable difference between Varjofinlandia and a similar (obviously hypothetical) collection of happier sentiments is that this didn't make me wish I had a shot of insulin handy -- but then, that's me. It doesn't pack much in the way of an emotional charge, really. It's like a million monkeys on typewriters. I certainly didn't find it depressing.

(There is a depressing element here, though -- that many, perhaps even most people read it just to see if they can spot themselves and figure out if they ended up in there and manage to convince themselves that this element is somehow relevant... that's depressing as all fuck, but it's also beside the point.)

Anyway, this isn't necessarily criticism. I do find the approach interesting enough; in all likelihood, the fact that the content -- such as it is -- doesn't do much for me says more about me than about the book.

Hell, it's certainly far more engaging than the vast majority of blogs out there.

--Mikki, 19-Aug-2005

i take it you're supposed to read it while listening to depressing finnish ballads...



--, 20-Aug-2005

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