Tag Archive: Finland


As many of you probably now, I´m of Finnish Descent 🙂 And today marks one of my Homecountries 99 year birthday! Blessed are the Finns today!

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Take care/ Maaretta

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Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Sam from ”Thoughts on Tomes” where booktubers and bookbloggers list their top five bookish favorites. This week’s theme is favorite Non-canon ships, which means that before we get started let´s do a rundown of some terms people might not know about: Shipping (deprived from the word relationship) is, as wikipedia states: ”the desire by fans for two characters to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of a relationship in a work of fiction”. With ”canon” one is referring to the original authors confirmation, with ”non-canon” one is referring to imagined alternative scenarios by fans. In this post I will mention five couples I wish were canon, or that I wish could meet. Let´s get started.

1. Consuelo x Polleke (from the ”Polleke”-series by Guus Kuijer): This takes a fifth spot since, unlike the other ships on this list I´m not that enthusiastic about this pairing, however I do believe it would have been much more logical and interesting than the canon couple in the middle grade ”Polleke”-series (even if, yes, both girls are straight in the canon material). The ”Polleke”-pentalogy was funny, sad and dealt with a lot of heavy issues, such as drug abuse and forced marriages. Polleke is a twelve year old girl who likes to write poems, and often feels confused in a world where culture clashes are around every corner. In the series third book she befriends the Native Mexican refugee girl, 14- year old Consuelo, which the series implies fled Mexico after suffering rape at the hands of police. By befriending Consuelo, Polleke starts to become more sensitive and understanding, taking a huge step in empathy. Consuelo on the other hand is fiercely loyal to Polleke, even in cases where Pollekes boyfriend Mimoun is not. Their friendship is precious and the girls stick together through everything, more so than Polleke´s canon love interest. It is arguable possible that Polleke and Consuelo´s relationship would be more balanced and happier; Mimoun had shades of an emotional abuser, while on the other-hand Consuelo is always kind to Polleke. So if it may be humble suggested, Polleke should have left Mimoun for Consuelo.

con-il-vento-verso-il-mare

2. Harry Potter X Luna Lovegood (from the ”Harry Potter”-series by J.K. Rowling):

In the ”Unpopular opinion book tag”-post, I mentioned that I was never that convinced by Harry and Ginny´s love story; in fact the big love story of the series seemed to belong to Ron and Hermione instead, with Harry and Ginny´s relationship feeling very sudden and out of left field. Harry seemed in fact to be bonding much more with Luna Lovegood, the quirky side character introduced in ”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. Harry is a little confused by Luna’s odd behavior, but regardless is open-minded about her ideas, and most certainly warms up to her in a noticeable way. When he even takes her on a friendly ”date” in ”Harry Potter and the half-blooded prince” the pair turns out to have interesting chemistry and bounce of off each other in a sweet, cute kind of way. It would have also been an interesting turn of events had Harry fallen for Luna, since him marrying Ginny followed a traditional childhood romance formula. Luna, like Harry, had experienced death at an early age and like Harry, had a intriging persona. These two would have just been an awesome couple, compensating each other in a heartwarming way.

huna

3. Emilia (from ”Othello” by William Shakespeare) x Song (from ”M. Butterfly” by David Henry Hwang):

This is a crack/crossover ship, but nonetheless their is a sense that these characters might have gotten along had they ever met. Both are snarky and cynical, yet have clear ideas about what is ”right”. Both react to a grand form of prejudice, in Emilias case she feels anger towards a world where women are seen as inferior. Song on the other hand makes it no secret that he is disgusted with the west´s exotification of Eastern culture. Both characters also express these dislikes with sharp, memorable lines, and both face abuse in their own plays (albeit different kinds of abuse). If they ever met in a ”Once Upon a time”*-type of story, it is no doubt that these two would probably click, and have much to talk (i.e. rant) about together, all day long.

4. Louhi (from ”The Kalevala” by Elias Lönnrot) x Cao Cao (from ”The Romance of the three kingdoms” by Luo Guanzhong)

Another crack/crossover ship, but also more of a ”dark ship”, since both Louhi and Cao Cao are villains. Louhi is the dreaded ruler from the north who does not hesitate to kill off men she deems unworthy of her daughters hand, Cao Cao is an ambitious but ill tempered man who while seeking power causes a lot of deaths. While clearly not good people, what is interesting is that while both characters are clearly evil, their ”evilness” is also in different ways exaggerated. In Louhi´s case, in ”The Kalevala” she is portrayed as a ruthless person but most of the time it seems like the protagonist are causing her more harm than vice versa. Cao Cao on the other hand is based on a real ruler, who modern historians claim was a fairly decent ruler by the times standard. So while I do ship these two in a villainous, dark way, I often imagine them as slightly (just slightly) toned-down villains who help each other out in climbing the ladder to greater power, scheming together how to outsmart everyone else. Both are real fighters, and together would probably be unstoppable, which appeals to lovers of a more twisted power couple.

caocao

5. Moomintroll x Gnorke (from ”The Moomins”-series by Tove Jansson):

I mentioned in a previous post that Moomintroll, one of the main characters in the Moomin franchise, was shown in the original novels as being one of the first to be able to reach to Gnorke, the scary but harmless creature that roams Moominvalley. While in the original novels Moomintroll only has a sort-of friendship with her, the japanese animated show from 1990´s did confirm that Gnorke had a one-sided crush on Moomintroll, which his friends and girlfriend tease him about. To me, this ship works for two reasons: 1. the novels are vague on the ages, so Gnorke and Moomintroll can be imagined as nearly equal aged, and 2. Moomintroll´s kind-hearted nature and willingness to help Gnorke while Gnorke in canon is clearly overjoyed by the contact leads to an interesting dynamic. Gnorke is the hopeless, odd individual in need of comfort; Moomintroll is a loving person who sees beyond what is told to him. As a couple, not only could one explore themes of loneliness and comfort and response, but also what it means that Moomintroll can go so against what he´s been taught. It has the potential for angst, fluff, a real roller-coaster of a relationship. Alas, this will forever only be in fans wildest dreams.

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Fan art by Sildesalaten

That´s my top 5 non-canon literary ships, comment below and tell me some of yours!

* Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale-retelling dramatic television series that premiered on October 23, 2011, on ABC. The show takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are characters from various fairy tales transported to the “real world” town and robbed of their real memories by a powerful curse. – Wikipedia

Fall Time Reading Tag!

Dear readers, Missmagic girl tagged me, so here it comes: my fall reading revelations. Many love fall time for the metamorphoses in nature, cooler environment and for Halloween. I on the other hand am suffering from post-summer blues; no more warm days that require little clothing to keep warm, and days of swimming in open rivers. Alas, times are changing, but luckily books will always be here for comfort. On to the questions!

1. Are there any particular books you plan to read this fall?

Well, for University I hope to read Marja Ågren’s ”Är du finsk eller?…” (”Are you Finish or…?”) which is a sociological study of Swedish people of Finnish descent (i.e. Sweden Finns). I also hope that I´ll be able to read Kari Tarkiainen’s and Jarmo Lainio´s ”Finnarnas historia i sverige del 2&3” (”The History of the Finns in Sweden parts 2&3”), which details the complex history of Finnish culture and language that has existed inside of Swedish borders; these two books cover from about the 18th century up to modern times. These books are bond to be very informal and interesting!

finnarnahis

2. September is associated with the beginning of a school term. What books did you most enjoy reading in school? And what were / are your favorite subjects?

My favorite subjects were history (which I always got the highest marks in), social studies and English. It was so fascinating to learn about the past and about today’s politics. English was also fun for reading and writing. When I was studying in high school I loved Psychology and Finnish. In the Finnish language class we learned all about Finland’s history, which the main Swedish classes left out, and also the history of our literature.

When it comes to books that were read aloud to us I was always fond of the “Vikinga” trilogy by Maj Bylock, which I have blogged about before. “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman was a favorite too, and “George´s marvelous medicine” and “The Witches” by Roald Dahl. I enjoyed “The Witches” so much I actually asked for the book as a Christmas gift and begged my mother to re-read the book to me, which she ended up hating because she fond it’s too dark and depressing. The enjoyment of a book truly is in the ears of the beholder.

the-witches

3. Halloween takes place in October. Do you like scary/spooky books and movies, and if so, which ones?

I don’t read that many scary books, but I guess my two favorites would be “The Bloody Chamber and other stories” by Angela Carter and “Arkham Asylum: A serious house on serious earth” by Grant Morrison. “The Bloody Chamber” is a collection of fairy tale re- tellings with a mix of erotic horror. The two scariest stories in this collection are definitely “The werewolf”, which is a red riding hood retelling with a terrifying twist and “The bloody chamber”, which is about a woman who gets married to a blue beard type of man and about her race against the clock to escape him. Those stories are clever, feminist and spooky while leaving a big impact.

bloodychamber

Grant Morrison’s comic “Arkham Asylum” is mostly spooky due to it´s fantastic art style; Arkham Asylum and the super-villains that live there look like a haunted house filled with terrifying monsters, that strengthens the comic´s paranoid atmosphere. The story on the other hand resembles more a psychological thriller, and features one of the best depictions of Two Face.

arkham-asylum-ashose-two-face

I would like to blog about my favorite scary movies later, but for a scary television show you should check out “Gotham”. It has a gloomy atmosphere with many scary criminal and serial killer bad guys, that are terrifying, especially in season two.

4. What books are suitable for cozy reads during the dark autumn evenings?

Definitely most of the Moomin novels by Tove Jansson, or either one from the Lewis Carroll´s “Alice”-duology, “Alice in Wonderland” or “Alice through the looking glass”. Both series are fairly humorous and written in a simple, clear tone that´s oddly comforting and relaxing. Reading these novels is like visiting old, beloved friends. ­

alice

Original illustration from “Through the looking glass”

5. Once you have crawled up on the couch with a cozy book, which hot drink do you choose to go with it?

I don´t really like all that many hot drinks. Except for Hot chocolate, but those I exclusively by time to time in Coffee shops, sorry to say.

6. Do you have any plans this fall you look forward to?

I´m going for a short, four day trip to Finland and to a week long trip to New York, both in October. So lots to look forward to there. I also hope to get to work on re-awaking this blog after a long hiatus. And of course, voting overseas in the 2016 presidential election 🙂

donkeydemocrat

Take care!/ Maaretta

Finland is a relatively young country. While other countries, like Sweden and France, have been independent for centuries Finland gained its independent in 1917 from Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. Before Russian regulation, Finland was under Swedish rule for hundreds of years, starting around 1100. In 1809, due to the fact that they had rapidly lost a war initiated (ingeniously!)  against Russia, Sweden rather casually handed over Finland as conquerors spoil. Luckily, Russia turned out to be an unusually kind colonizer, giving Finland autonomic rule. It was at this period that Finnish culture began to blossom and had a chance was given to the nation to develop a unique thoughts and a national identity. During the Swedish rule this had been impossible. Finnish people also, under the Czarist rule, began to demand an independent state and recognized language.

Whether under Sweden or Russia, it has never been easy to be a Finn. Sweden for instance, during the many  wars they engaged in as an imperial power, send proportionally more Finnish soldiers to the battle fields then Swedish ones (this little tale of injustice towards Finns is an often overlooked item in Swedish history class!). The Russians, as well, had done their share of cruelty, including the outlawing of the Finnish language.

Finland, since its independence, has had its share of rough times: a bloody civil war, an invasion from Russia during second world war (called the Winter war) and a re-eruption of that war (called the Continuation War) only slightly later. After the wars completions, repayments (in the treaty deals, which are “you pay because you lost” deals) and rebuilding of the country caused enormous and widespread poverty.

Still Finland was been able to pull itself together in the years which followed.  It became, in 1907, the first country in Europe to give women the right to vote(being the second country in the world to finally accede to this right!), they rank as number one in education and school systems, and are known all over the world for Nokia. Finnish people are, after all pretty tough. Yet they let themselves get wrapped up in strange self-loathing.

Finland is a country which suffers from the stereotype that it is a violent and intolerant nation. There is always a lot of talk about how Finnish people abuse alcohol and beat their wives, or others, in the violent haze of intoxication. Finland is also constantly attacked for being anti-immigrant and homophobic. The strangest thing is that it is usually Finnish people, or people of Finnish descent, who use and perpetuate these stereotypes in the most significant and harsh way. Finns tend to elaborate this thinking about of themselves and contribute to the perpetuation of the clique by painting a very dark image of themselves to others.  Writers like Susanna Alakoski, who spent her childhood in Sweden raised there by Finnish parents, has written two books in which the Finns seem to populate the novels by doing nothing, getting continually wasted,  and wagering with one other constantly (gambling is assuredly for the lower classes).  Mikael Niemi, continues the idea and uses the same plethora of stereotypes in his novel (and movie, later) “Popular music from Vittula”. But the most bizarre and offensive self-loathing act preformed by Finns to date is their new task (which they have “scientifically set for themselves) of “genetic research” to find the biological basis of this set of “behaviors”.

You see, scientists in Finland have begun research to find a so called mutation in the genes of Finnish people. This gene would be the supposed reason why certain people become violent after drinking too much alcohol. The idea being that they could warn the ones carrying this gene.  Words can’t describe what a mess this idea is. I would not mind if researchers where looking for proof of this  gene which could be carried by people of ALL NATONALETIES might be carrying, but the Finnish Scientists propound that the gene, or sequence of genes, is sought after because it is most  likely carried by the Finnish National Populace. This Biology of Value-Judgment is really a demonization of the Finns and their culture.

How this Finnish gene which causes this behavior would have gotten mutated only within the Finnish population is more than odd and stretches plausibility. According to the researchers, the mutation would have been a result of close inbreeding (i.e. the Finns only “did the deed” with other Finns) just doesn’t hold. Finland was colonized by both Sweden and Russia until the early 20th century. It seems highly unlikely that neither any Swedes nor Russians would have ended up in the beds of Finns at times, as well as the fact that during second world war German soldiers did impregnate hundreds of Finnish ladies. Even now many couples in Finland are cross ethnic with children to show for it. So even if this mutation in the gene would have happened, it wouldn’t be because Finns have only been doing it with other Finns. Also, the scientists state that they suspected that only/mostly males carry this gene. The story becomes more perplexing at every turn.  The summery of this behavioral gene would then be:  it makes it more likely a Finnish man will get violent and dangerous if he consumes alcohol. Meaning, Finnish guys have a scary spooky evil gene which turns them into raving lunatics at the sight of drink.

Oh boy.

I understand that Finns want to find solutions and ways to end domestic violence, but saying that it is in a special gene only Finns have is NOT the way towards a solution! Finding solutions to the problem of domestic violence doesn’t come from making the men of Finland into quasi-monsters who in the midst of alcohol can’t “help” their violence. Finns are not dangerous creatures that will spin out of control the by the mere touch of alcohol. Finns are human beings, no better or worse than any other people of the world and as with all cultures have their set of difficulties fostered within the system which must be dealt with! The cultural problems of violence and substance abuse are difficult enough for a society to deal with and become needlessly contorted when the populace, or a segment of it, starts viewing themselves and others as a potential threat to the world at birth. Saying that domestic violence is a problem which causes can be found in a gene won’t solve the difficult problems a society must confront. If anything, it will make the men that “have this gene” be able to find excuses for their behavior: “I didn’t mean to hit you honey, but you know we Finnish guys have it in our DNA!”  The society, as well, will be able to blame it’s problem of violence on biology, thus not have to deal with the real reasons for the issue and, as happens all too often, find ways to avoid confronting the problems within itself and its culture.

If we were to apply this odd and overbearing notion of the “DNA of Behavior” to all races, cultures and times, wouldn’t we be curious why white South Africans where so cruel and vicious to the black South Africans during the Apartheid? All that brutality, surely there must be some gene we can find in the whites of South Africa that proves that when in contact with different ethnicities they will automatically, through biological necessity, start to oppress and abuse the different people? What about Americans, surely if we did some research, we could find a gene which shows that fire arms are like magnets to them?

Finns suffer a lot from the lack of self-esteem and the constant belief in the negatives stereotypes. Finns, even the men,  are not mindless biological machines carrying out the need to” do nothing but drink” and the compulsion to give a sound “beating” to all around.

But it really comes to this: Would a nation of abusive drunks be able to create such a success as Nokia or have the best educational system in the world? According to “Newsweek”, Finland is the number one place to live. Would anybody, let alone a wildly read magazine, say such a thing if the land was full of alcoholics and dangerous violent men? No. Finns need to stop obsessing over the image of Finns as good for nothing drunks and be more proud of who they are. Not that they should be overly nationalistic, just recognize that even if there exists a large and extant problem of domestic violence (which every single other country in the world has as well!) it is a nation that has been through a lot and done pretty darn well. For instance, it is one of the few countries that has had a female prime minister, and not only once, but twice.  The election of women to positions in the government, half of the world’s population, still hasn’t happened in many countries, and even in Sweden, but in Finland this has occurred but two times. Finland is, also one of the few countries that elected a woman president who has had a child outside the religious/institutional frame of marriage (how conservative is the world?).  Lastly I cannot help but to mention one of Finland’s most popular and famous writers, at the moment, is Sofi Oksanen, is a an outspoken feminist, motivated Goth and writes about bravely and strongly about Estonia’s tragic recent history. Wow, how can you not be proud of being Finnish?

Lastly, I would like to say my take on domestic violence in Finland. Is it a common problem? Absolutely. But are the majority of Finnish men to blame for it? Heavens no. Every country on the planet earth has a problem with some form of violence against women. Whether it’s domestic violence, rape, honor killing, you name it, the world and all of the countries which compose it should find ways to end this terrible crime against humanity. But demonization won’t help. We need, as human beings, to reconsider how men in general view women and talk more about the lack of respect towards women by all of us. This is a serious problem in the world and more discussion should be made. However, it is also important that we don’t give up facing complex reasons behind this frightening phenomena and break to “it’s in an X’s nation’s men’s genes!”

So, bottom line: Finns, stop beating yourselves up! Acknowledge the great things in your culture, not only the bad things! Be proud of what you’ve accomplished!  And World, face your crisis of violence towards all beings!

Sofi Oksanen, celebrated finnish writer, known feminist and goth, just won the biggest nordic prize you can win for litteratur. As a person with finnsih roots, I’m proud and overjoyed that a finnish woman has gotten such an honor. She won it for her book “Puhdistus” (Purge), a book that explores dark themes as Estonias years under the Sovjet Union and sexual violence towards women.                                                                                                                                                                                    Miss Oksanen is the second finnish woman to win this prize. She is also one of the few writers that write in finnish get such high prays from Finlands “neighbours”. What makes me extra happy as not only is it written in finnish and written by a outspoken woman, but the novel it’s self is so blissfully “finnish”! Meaning that the book has some characteristicks that are typical in finnish litterature: it’s set during war time, it has strong brave female  protagonist and the story is beautifully, brutally melancholic.

Congratulations, Oksanen! Way to go, sister!