I ain’t tongue-tied, just don’t got nothing to say

Posted by – January 25, 2008

I haven’t managed to post as often as I intend to. It’s mostly because of school: I have too much of it. Not so much that I wouldn’t actually have the time to write, but enough to keep my mind from wandering much. Math is hard! I should train my brain to accept a greater workload – at the moment I just zone out once I’ve done everything I absolutely need to do.

As an example of what serious business mathematics is: in a weekly session where students demonstrate their solutions to assigned problems a guy rather cocksurely asked at the beginning of the session to do problem number five (out of six). Our tutor agreed, the guy went up to the blackboard, said something about how this is actually a special case of something coming up later in the course (some people like to pretend they know the material before taking the course: why?) and… totally shut down. He drew a graph for illustration, started to explain his approach and realised he didn’t know how to make it work after all. His voice faltered, each word took about five seconds to come out. Eventually he just gave up and even left the room, presumably to commit suicide. The tutor was nonplussed, as they often are, and asked someone to come up to do the first problem.

But mathematics isn’t the only thing that’s serious business; I should make an effort to spend my down-time more productively.

Went to see Tuntematon Sotilas at the National Theatre. It was pretty much the way I’d imagined it from the reviews. Perhaps that’s not such a good thing: art with a Mission that can be reasonably dismissed with one word (here it might be “iconoclastic”) is too uncomplicated to my taste. Luckily it’s pretty entertaining just as a show, which is the way most art justifies its existence anyway. I don’t know why people try to analyse it so seriously – the play is a purely emotional reaction. There’s no final opinion-type message that I could find, except “this is what it feels like”, and the feeling the play transmits isn’t one I particularly get from Finland or life in general. Perhaps the final refrain of “Finland is dead” was intended as a sort of anti-message: the whole flag-shootin’, icon-destroyin’ thing was evidence to me that Finland is very much alive and a big deal to the people who made the play.

As a sidenote: a shocking amount of utter twaddle has been written about how people who haven’t seen the play (or any work of art) shouldn’t criticise it. The prime minister said he didn’t like the idea of pictures of politicians being symbolically shot at at the end, and didn’t even intend to see the play. Cue the huddled masses of art-understanding people accusing him of being a philistine (which he may well be, but that’s beside the point). Were they suggesting that Vanhanen shouldn’t believe the reviews telling him what happens at the end? Sure, there’s context, but it’s still possible to comment on the thing without the context. Perhaps someone should tell people who study ancient theatre to stop doing it because they can’t possibly understand plays they haven’t even seen.

If you disagree, pose yourself the following question as honestly as you can: have you ever felt that someone else’s opinion on a work of art that they have experienced and you haven’t is stupid? I expect this has happened to everyone. I’m so arrogant that I feel like that all the time, but everyone has at least heard about nazis condemning Jewish art as “degenerate” and internally disagreed.

And finally, here’s my new favourite Fischer picture.

Kt-R6ch is a commie move!

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