At the Koko Teatteri 14 authors assembled to give readings and to start off a tour of 12 weeks across Europe which involves over 100 authors from 37 countries. This is the introduction to our journey.
A common Tuesday morning which calls for the most homely duties. Shaving my legs (melon scent and pink razors) while drinking the German filter coffee made from beans roasted in Berlin with an Italian roasting which I kinda love recently. Ah, I am food-porning myself right now, I think. I take a picture. Nothing so intimate as taking a picture and not posting it on Instagram. This is when one comes closer to turning into a screen for public discourse. I am here as a perfect replica of the world outside the bathroom. Thinking about stuff everyone thinks about, people at work, food, melon scent coming from the shaving cream. It reeks of commonness, this Tuesday morning. If anything, I am an ordinary woman in an urban city area. Standardly being an outsider. This is all. This is everything. Everything.
At one point or another I go into wizard mode in real life. Lately – and this again always happens to me in spring – I have a strong longing to go to a foreign country. I literally feel the scent of that country; I see the different architecture around me in a reversible figure of the very environment which is before my eyes. I just have to tilt the picture a little bit. Just lift the lid a little bit and the steam comes out.
I walk the street and meet a friend before going to work. We talk about refugees and how they have been treated recently in Germany comparing it to the UK and the US. We agree on the historical challenge Germany has to face now, a fairly homogenous country so far. I tell my friend of an educational clip I had seen a few months ago which was issued by the German state in the seventies. It was about an old German couple that have parts of their broken domestic installation fixed by foreigners, that is, Turkish people. Step by step with fixing a problem after the other in the household the Turkish migrants gain the old couple’s trust which in turn ends in the offer if the Turkish migrant wants to take a room in the house and subsequently a big party. Notably the Turkish migrant has no accent whatsoever and is a saint in front of god’s eyes. My friend was quietly listening to the story and then said: “Yes must be good to have a Turk in the household.” I was astonished. A small sentence so fully poisoned.
Let’s be blunt about it, we are undone by each other. Staying intact is not always possible. One also makes contaminated remarks now and then. But still, the personal is the political; that very fact demands political and aesthetic education. Foreign languages matter. They are a natural resource for a differentiated discourse. This is not my mother tongue. Yet, to show a horizon, a proper and at the same time unconventional use of language – that is one of the reasons literature is here for. This is what the written word is protective of, both sides of language. The horrible, the beautiful, the strange, the vexed – it is all included in language.
But in the eye of technological innovation, and modern forms of communication, traditional ways of disseminating literature may no longer be sufficient to transport a sensitive approach to language. The book or the mere text has become one of many kinds of media among others.
Yesterday was the opening for the bus tour OMNIBUS going from Finland via Turkey to Cyprus, crossing multicultural Europe in big sections with authors on board who might bring regional and national discourse and sensitivity for language to capitals and even more remote places. First take Helsinki, then take the rest of Europe.