Tag Archives: J. Karjalainen

Going round in Arctic circles

Today, the heating came on in the flat with a soporific vengeance. Unable to remember the dreams I had while nodding off over Freud’s On Dreams, I went out with Mrs. K. in search of fresh ones. At 5-Corners, we stopped into Digelius looking for an old disc, Lännen-Jukka by J. Karjalainen.  The kindly grey-bearded gentleman-proprietor whose name is Emu, said he didn’t have it but sent us across the road to Popparienkeli – (Pop Angel) who did. Listening to it now. It’s a wonderfully strange concoction of the Arctic and the Appalachian, Karjalainen sand-and-glue voice perfectly complementing the rhythmic chopping of the banjo.

Mission accomplished, Mrs. K wanted to go off to photograph buildings. I tagged along until she abandoned me, heading off to a meeting on the other side of town.

And as ever, I drifted into dreams, Helsinki revelries — confusion setting in with the long slide into dusk. Although everything was familiar, I was lost as usual — standing below St John’s Church in front of the Design Museum. I thought I recognized Punanotkonkatu where once I retrieved a much-prized coat from the Police Lost Property Office. But even with my love of recursion, I baulked at the thought of such a complex sentence as I’ve lost my self, has anybody handed it in?

If all else fails, I thought, I can follow the tram routes home but suddenly Number 10s seemed to come from all directions and I was as disorientated as ever. Finding myself outside an expensive kitchen shop where only yesterday we bought a little espresso machine, I thought I could go in and buy a spare washer. But there among the designer wettexes and banana holders, I couldn’t remember the size. The man who sold it to us wasn’t there and how could I form a a question in the perfect tense, with my imperfect Finnish, which would make sense to the fresh-faced boys fawning over their well-healed customers?

But as I walked out into the fresh air again, the mechanisms of dream formation became clearer and I knew their meaning, the alternate logic of their relations. I dodged the bullets on Tarkk’ampujankatu and found myself back outside Digelius. As I entered, Emu asked me, Oletko löytanyt? — Did you find it?

And in a moment, like a man who is truly lost, I couldn’t remember…

…what it was that I was looking for.

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