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My summer paradise

What do you get if you multiply six by nine? Well, obviously, the answer is 42. The meaning of Life, Universe and Everything. Or, I mean, it is my birthday, I turn forty-two today. At the moment of writing this, it is 2pm, and I'm sllghtly drunk. But, to get to the present moment, let me start the story from an indefinite point in near-past. Several weeks ago, or so, maybe a month, or two - I don't remember exactly, and as you might guess, I don't care that much about exact measurement of time.

More or less randomly, with a little help from Sami, I discovered a song 'Paradiset'. Yes, it would be 'Paradise' in English. It is Swedish translation of a Finnish classic, Paratiisi by Rauli Badding Somerjoki. Although one can easily recognize the song being the same, the story is essentially different in the original Finnish and the Swedish translation by Bo Sundström. I have a feeling that there would be a lot to analyze here, but let's see if I manage to say anything meaningful in a concise way;

Badding's Paratiisi was originally recorded in 1973, a year before I was born. And, according to the statistics, it is one of the all-time most played songs in Finnish radio and other medias. A Finnish karaoke hit, no doubt. So, as far as I can remember, this song has been around and frequently played on air waves, chosen in jukeboxes and covered by other artist. The story starts with the usual setting - a man meets a woman, they go to a country-side cottage where it is just them two together, and they immerse themselves into the 'passionate rhythm of sea waves washing the shoreline'. Well, one would guess that in a classical fairy tale (or a pop song) when a man meets a woman and they have heavenly time together, from that on they will be happily together forever. (Or, if they aren't, then there is another breed of pop songs about broken love, when one is sad and mad about the love coming to an end, what you thought and hoped to last forever...) But the lyrics of Paratiisi come with a twist - for a moment the singer thinks how wonderful it would be to share all of his world with this special woman - but he decides not to do so, and just to enjoy the moment while it last, enjoy it to the fullest, and that's it - just for tonight.

Oh well, according to the wikipedia, lyrics to Paratiisi are by a poet Arja Tiainen and Badding himself. Since it is one of the most popular Finnish songs, I'd guess it has been analysed numerous times, but for some reason I haven't read any theoretical view of why the song is so popular. So, this is my own guess; There are so many songs about pain and sorrow after a broken relationship, and there is this cultural norm of 'being a decent man / woman' - which is about having a responsible long-term happy relationship. On the other hand, there is this melancholy, all so familiar especially in Finnish folk tradition; happiness never lasts for long, the heavenly paradise is anyway nothing but just a momentary escapism from the incomplete and painful truth of daily life. And, as the strict conservative values were questioned in 1960's and 70's, then comes Rauli Badding Somerjoki singing about heavenly yet casual sex, just one night spent together - no guilt, no blaming, no drama; just passionately enjoying a heavenly night together. I'd guess it strikes a chord with (secret) wishes of so many people; what if you don't have to care about social norms, what if you don't have to care about the future, what if you don't have to worry if a relationship lasts forever or not; what if you could just allow yourself to fully enjoy the moment at the hand and that's it. Well, then, on the other hand, one can also say that in Badding's Paratiisi the singer is already protecting himself against the evident pain and sorrow of the relationship coming to an end 'if things don't last forever, then why bother, I don't even try, let me just reap the ripe fruits while they are available'. (And, theoretically speaking, there is always the option that people aren't actually listening to the lyrics so carefully, they just pick the paradise-like mood so authentically conveyed in Badding's recording).

After not using my Swedish for a decade or so, I feel my language skills bit rusted. But, as far as I can understand the lyrics - and what help I got from my Swedish-born cousin, it appears than in the Swedish version the man and woman stay together forever. That they are glad to have each other in their own summer paradise, and their mutual love will last all through the winter snow and freeze. OK, I do admit that I like the Swedish version as well. It is a different story, a different version - but speaking of music, I think that is what makes a good cover. Instead of just attempting to re-do a classic, you bring in your own talent and make a stand-alone variation of the same theme. (Just for the curiosity, in the version linked above, the female singer Frida Andersson is from Swedish-speaking south-west of Finland, and in this version she sings in Finnish-Swedish dialect. Which, if you ask me, adds a layer of fine-tuned brilliant nuances of this cover. While Bo Sundström is from nothern Sweden, their combination of alike-but-yet-different dialects adds to the feeling of an unlikely encounter; 'oh I'm so lucky that I've happened to meet you, and I'm even more lucky to be able to spend the rest of my life together with you')

At the first sight, the Finnish original and Swedish cover might appear as near-opposites. The original celebrates a heavenly one-night encounter, while the Swedish version glorifies a no-matter-what-this-will-be-lifelong -relationship. But, purely from general outsider point of view, we have two alternative interpretations for Badding's piece. Let me use somewhat controversial labels for these two alternatives - The conservative one goes like this; 'the woman wishes for a life-long relationship, and offers both her sexuality and her heart together, wishing for the man to equally open his heart and to devote himself for a life-long relationship just me and you together forever'. And, the liberal one goes like this; 'Both the man and the woman know that this won't last forever, and neither of them wishes for eternity, so without too many words, they both accept to enjoy the heavenly moment at hand, and they are happy with it'. Well, given the popularity of Badding's Paratiisi, I'd vote for the liberal interpretation. It comes with a sense of maximal joy and freedom. So, seen from this point of view, both the Swedish and Finnish version share the mythical associations of The Paradise; the abundance of joy and happiness, the absence of struggle and contradiction.

Well well. Again, more or less randomly, couple of days ago I stumbled upon a freshly released Finnish indie song, SUPERKUU (Paratiisi 2.0). (Yes, "superkuu" is 'super moon' in English - those full moons when The Moon appears especially big and radiant). Before listening to the piece I was struck with a sense of wonder; 'What is this? Why would anyone title a piece as a version 2.0 of Paratiisi, isn't that equivalent to a musical suicide?, attempting to do something you honestly aren't?'. But, the heck, after listening to the piece I was completely sold. I do admit that I've been listening to this piece, over and over again, quite a lot for these two days. Also, it appears that Maria the singer-songwriter has background in movie-making, which is clearly seen in the official video. Although many of the visual elements are so deeply rooted in Finnish tradition, I'd guess most of it can be understood and enjoyed no matter where you come from. And the lyrics, they drift in a dream-like space of road-tripping in happiness with nightmares in the trunk. I mean, in Maria Mono's version the Paradise doesn't appear as the total absence of sorrow and darkness - the paradise is raw, embracing all the sorrow and incompleteness of human beings. The lyrics even refers to the Louisiana Swamp Monster; in a way, the horror travels with them, both she and he are more or less broken, but yet they happily drive down the countryside roads, every now and then they stop to swim in a lake to wash away their sins, and she wishes to see how he lets go of the sorrow. This, my dear friends, this is something I can relate to =) Moreover, Maria's lyrics don't say a word about if the man and woman are going to stay together forever or not, it doesn't clearly state if everything is perfect or not - there isn't that much a storyline, but the whole piece goes atmosphere first, and it does pretty good in that. Hehe, I'll save you from all the lengthy analysis of mine, and just drop in the final conclusion;

OK, I do understand that there is this mythical image of a paradise as total perfection; the total absence of pain and struggle (which, in real life, can only be momentarily met, but is doomed to vanish away when you have to return to the mundane reality of daily life). Well, but then there also is an another image of paradise. It is when your inner needs, feelings, intentions and wishes coincide with the flow of life, and with the needs, feelings and intentions of someone else. Although, seen from a wider perspective, I think that cats, horses, trees, soil, lakes, woods, rolling hills and white summer nights all count as 'someone else'. Paradise is a strange feeling. A feeling that you can't always say if it is strange in a good or a painful way, and in the end, personally, I don't care. For today, I'm just happy with my personal summer paradise, which - for me - is here and nowhere else. As, in a way, one of my deepest needs is a need of solitude. So here I am, fully enjoying my 42nd birthday, happy to be alive after all the strange incidents I've gone through. Happy to breathe, happy to see and to feel this world as it is today.

Today, after waking up and drinking my morning coffee, I heated up the sauna and the garden bath-tub. It was raining, and I immersed my body in the hot water of the bath tub. I could hear a thunder rumbling and moving somewhere to the south. Despite all the rain, I could hear summer birds singing in the nearby woods. I drank some beer, and listened to Maria Mono's Superkuu over and over again. And when the thunder was gone the rain eased, and more of the summer birds joined the chorus. The horses went grazing on the meadow, the roosters foraged around the yard, and I did the sauna and the bath, enjoying the abundance of life of my tiny little summer paradise. Well, soon it will be 4 pm - I'd guess it is time to post this and go to cook some food and pancakes =)

my summer paradise
my summer paradise
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Comments

>> six by nine
54 :)

Yes, but try it in base-13

Anyway, it is a quote from the world-famous trilogy in four parts by Douglas Adams, called 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. So, sorry for spoiling one of the plot twist for anyone who hasn't read the saga =) And in case you haven't, then I highly recommend to read it, it is not only enormously entertaining, but also intellectually so very inspiring.

Happy birthday, my friend =D

Thank You! And all the best wishes for you, too!

Aha! Happy belated Birthday, sir! My apologies for being late; I've been without internet access for a while.

Thank You! And no worries about being late - I don't believe that much in exact measurement of time =)

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