Historical Roots: Alternative Souvenirs

By Aneta Atsova, Shubhangi Singh, Maria Villa Largacha and Tommi Ollikainen. In the framework of VICCA Exploring Historical and Theoretical Roots in January 2017.

For updates check out: http://altsouvenirs.blogspot.fi/


Under the Counter is a collaborative process of exploring ways of countering dominant narratives within social and political landscapes by attempting to tip the scale towards the lesser narratives.

As the nation continues to build on emblems of national and collective identity, the project dives into Finland’s past, investigating its present in order to possibly subvert its future. By projecting (sometimes utopian and at other times just plain absurd) parallel histories that could have had the power to effectively influence the present as well as the future of a country, we inquire into paths that the dominant history may choose to, selectively and systematically, annihilate certain inconvenient narratives, memory places, and facts.

As an ongoing inquiry, Under the Counter does not look to arrive at conclusions, but rather it explores the possible lost histories within the folds of the history of a country, allowing the collective memories and imaginations to surface. Aspiring to share, learn and discover what is at stake in these national contradictions, the project hopes to create a dialogue around the inconsistencies between popular memory and history.


Photo: Lowar Sohad

The Birthday Mountain

In 2015, a group of Norwegians began a campaign to give the peak of Hálditšohkka to Finland for its centenary in 2017 by moving the border between the two countries by 200m (660 ft). The idea gained substantial public support in both countries, and in July 2016 it was reported that the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg was seriously considering ceding the peak.

The idea for this gift came from Bjørn Geirr Harsson, a 76-year old retired geophysicist who worked for the Norwegian Mapping Authority. In 1972, while conducting a border survey, Harsson discovered that the peak of Mount Halti was in Norway and only 31 meters from the Finnish border.
Since discovering the anomaly, Harsson has been pressing the Norwegian government to give it back to Finland as a sign of peace. If the gift were to pass, the peak of Halti would become the highest point in all of Finland.

A Facebook campaign to hand over the immovable present garnered 17,000 signatures. But a legal roadbump brought the friendly scheme tumbling down, halting the Halti plan. The lofty gift-giving idea ran up against article 1 of the Norwegian constitution, which stipulates that the kingdom of Norway is “indivisible and inalienable”.

Media coverage: The Independent Buzzfeed / The Guardian
Unique crown designed for the first and only king of Finland (Kemi, Finland). Photo: Roquai, 2008, via Wikimedia Commons

The Finnish King

Following Finland’s independence from the Russian Empire on the 6th of December 1917, and the Civil War (27 January – 15 May 1918), the German Empire, despite its critical situation by the end of World War I,  in an attempt to establish considerable influence in the Baltic region saving it from socialist republicanism, delivers a ‘noble gift’ —a king for the future independent  Kingdom of Finland. At that time the Germans were possibly the only ones to give real support to the forces of Finnish independence. They trained White Finnish military forces, supported them with supplies and war materials, and even troops to help them push the Russians out of their country and defeat the Red faction.

Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel was the brother-in-law of the German Emperor Wilhelm II. He was designated by the Parliament of Finland on 9th October 1918. However, with the end of World War I, in light of his German birth and the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II ending monarchies in Germany, the arrangement was quickly considered untenable by influential Finns of the time and by Frederick himself.

Frederick Charles renounced the throne on 14th December 1918, without ever arriving in the country, much less taking up his position. Finland subsequently adopted a republican constitution.

Sources: Wikia / Mad Monarchist AltHistory Wiki Helsingin Sanomat
Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant announcements,1977, via YLE

The Nuclear Power Plant

Soviet Prime Minister Aleksey Kosyg and President Urho Kekkonen inaugurated the first nuclear power plant in Finland in March 1977. The construction of the Loviisa nuclear power plant, commissioned by the Soviet Union, began in 1971. Originally, the plant had to be ordered from Germany. The nuclear power project became one of the flagships of economic co-operation between Finland and the Soviet Union.
Establishing economic dependency amongst developing countries has been the key strategy for Russia ever since the end of World War II.  During the communist regime this has been a fairly easy task. But even after its collapse, Russian nuclear hegemony has found its ways to prosper.  The recent scenario has included securing private-sector funds on international markets to build, operate, and own nuclear power stations in developing nations. This scheme has benefited those countries since it has become easier for them to procure the necessary funding, while ensuring long-term Russian influence over those nations because ownership of the plants usually has remained with Russia.
In 2010, the Government of Finland decides to grant permits for construction of two new reactors to Teollisuuden Voima and Fennovoima, a joint venture between RAOS Voima Oy, a subsidiary of Rusatom, and SF energy, a consortium of Finnish industrial companies. In 2011, Fennovoima choses Pyhäjoki, in northern Finland, as the site for the country’s third nuclear power plant.
Well aware of all the above, Finnish common scepticism for building a new nuclear power plant backed by Russia is easily justified. A bunch of internet platforms give space for an informal discussion on the topic, where the gesture of subsidizing a nuclear power plant is seen as a ‘gift’, with all the consequences that this may bring for the country.
Sources: YLE 2010 / YLE 2015 / New Europe / Wikipedia /Stuxnet / Fennovoima



Transcription | Recording 1. | Learning Center

M: Eventually, if the topic is so hot, maybe it is so difficult to grasp that the project could be creating a conversation with others.
T: Yes, I see that.
M: You are like, asking for help. And also going to the ones that are more connected to the topic in a way that they can help us look at it.
A: Can we pick the relatives by the names of those people?
M: Or even not direct relatives but any citizen, you know, that wants to talk about it.
S: But we can’t just go around asking people, it is not a vox pop, you know.
M: No, I am not saying just picking anything at random, I am saying that instead of focusing on objects we could focus on conversations. Now, how, with who, where —that’s to be established.
T: Hmm
M: I am just saying, moving away from arriving to an object…
S: I just want to bring this conversation back slightly, before we get there. I am still thinking about our immediate engagement with Mäntymäki. I still want to ask the question of what happens if we were looking at the space and project from an outsider’s  perspective instead of doing a project with engagement but instead, looking at it as observers and hence being slightly more non-committal to that history that we are not so familiar with. So, I just want to come back to that question that we were dealing with, like, what of we were to still engage with it by ourselves– four of us– instead of bringing more conversations. Are there ways we can still do it in the format that we were planning? but as observers and not as active participants, engaging with it. Do you think that is still possible? and how is that possible?
T: You are trying to grasp some sort of objectivity in that sense…or…?
M: …or you’re just renouncing the main voice, like, I am not the creator of this but I am here to listen.
S: Hmm… to learn.
M: Or… yeah.
S: Like, you know, when A said that she is not comfortable dealing with other people’s tragedies that she is not aware of, that makes sense. But there is no reason to completely wash our hands off it because we are coexisting in this landscape now. We are here.
T: Yes…
S: So how do we completely… You know, this sort of detachment isn’t going to help us either, to say, that ‘Oh, this is not my history and I am not going to work with this at all’, maybe. I am just saying: for me, I am happy to learn.
A: Yes, but…
S: I understand what you are saying, I completely… In fact, I agree with it. But how do we get to that stage where…
A: I am afraid that whatever we do, it would be a speculation again. How are we so well informed so that we are as close to the objective events as possible.
S: But we don’t have to be, you see? it can become a learning sphere for us where we are completely aware of our limitation
A: It depends how we portray it, if we put it as a debate, discussion over there and invite people to…
T: Hm. I think we are discussing more about the objectivity, more about the meaning. And the meaning of these events is different for different people. So maybe the discussion would be a justified medium in that sense: it would bring up probably different voices.
A: But if it were in the form of a statement coming from the four of us, this I am not comfortable with. Whatever kind of statement, it would be a statement still.
S: Sure.
A: And I don’t know if we should do that.
T: What is the non-aligned statement? I think that is an interesting question.
M: One thing is to enter a topic, a historical topic, thinking you can grasp the truth about it and then pick up the truth, you know.
That’s one way of doing it and maybe, in that sense, only the ones that are directly connected to it are entitled to having that voice, right? Nobody else can go replace them or pretend that they know and can speak for them. But the interest that we all had in this history is not based on the fact that we know the truth about it, but based on the fact that we see a missing thing here, an erased memory site. We don’t have to be a Finn or a descendent of the ones who died in the war to point it out. So, if the interest…
S: Or to just notice that…
M: To notice, to care about it, to want to have some gesture around it. So having a gesture does not mean that you know the truth about it. It means that you can, in your human solidarity, you know, echo that gesture and just make it more visible.
S: You just kind of acknowledge it, is what I am thinking of. You don’t even have to say that I, as a human, denounce that act. That kind of gesture. It can just be something of an acknowledgment like ‘this has happened here’. You are intrigued by this act. That is the approach I am thinking in my head. I am just intrigued by why this would have happened and I am curious to find out more.
M: What it means to others, also.
A: But this is so, by doing that, as people who are not directly involved, there is a slight colour of judgement: ‘Why was this erased?’ We are raising a moral issue here. Why was that erased? And it was erased by whom? It was erased by the Finnish people. No matter on which side they were, it were the Finnish people who were erased and they were erased by the Finnish people. I don’t know.
T: I think that to ask the question, ‘why’, why was some part of history erased, swept under the rug somehow, it can be a hot question or rather, it is a politically loaded question, but it is still a very simple question that, no matter who you are, you should be allowed to ask it. If you see something, or are even just curious about it because it’s not just really like…
M: Hmm… it’s a question of basic humanity that you would say: ‘Why were these people just taken out their burial?’.
A: Ok, this is good: curiosity. We can see from that perspective.
S: This also one thing that I want to say. I have been talking of making these invisible histories visible. This now is very much down that alley, because by trying to erase history, you make people more curious about it, it is counter productive. In the process of erasing stuff you are actually… like, there is a very dense forest, for example, and then suddenly one patch of trees is missing. The patch is missing and gone and everyone is curious as to what happened to that patch and where it is, so now, that void patch has brought in more questions than the dense forest would have. Suddenly you’d want to know what happened on that patch, what was on that patch, and where has it been transferred to. So, similarly, in the process of erasing history, I think, there is an un-understood creating of history that takes place too, which is what’s happened in Mäntymäki’s case, I think. If they had just left the memorials where they were meant to be or whatever, then so many curious minds wouldn’t have questioned or engaged with this act, I suppose, as there are now.
T: Well, not in the same way, at least. But I am not sure if I find the metaphor of taking a patch out of the forest clear because that leaves a mark. That is a way of erasing that leaves a sign. But if you paint over something on a wall, there was a scratch on the wall before and you painted over, then you might not even notice that something is missing and that is what happened, I think, with this aftermath of the Civil War. Things are really made invisible, that is: erasing wasn’t underlined…
S: Hmm… washed over
T: But what I read in one of the Finnish language articles is that the writer pointed out the different needs of the Whites and the Reds after the events. Emotionally, for the winners it was important to forget, not to hold on the memory of the victory, in that  sense, to make somehow life more normal again. But because of the defeated Reds, they were not allowed to have the necessary  rituals…
M: Their mourning.
T: …their mourning, it was important for them to keep on remembering. It is not only about erasing history, in that sense, but on a personal level, about memories. There are some nice quotes in some of the articles that bring that to light. So, that is one of the parts that makes the issue really sensitive, not only about the official history but for personal memories.
S: Open wounds of sorts?
T: Yeah.
M: Yeah, in that article they mention the open wounds as a risk of having the war start again because of this trauma. If you remember the suffering then it would create more suffering. So ‘we need to be at peace, we need to unite the nation’, you know, start over. That’s why you need to forget because otherwise you cannot have a country at peace.
T: I think these two opposing views of remembering and forgetting are quite interesting, because I don’t know which one I agree with more. I think both are needed in some sense.
M: That is exactly what is happening in Colombia. In the last three years they have come to a peace agreement and that peace means that they are forgetting some crimes. They have to establish the category of crimes that they will not forget and judge, but many have to be forgotten because otherwise the violence won’t stop, the retaliation won’t stop. So they have to forgive and there is a policy of saying that things are settled and, from here on, we try to work together because otherwise you don’t start a peaceful society. It is a very complicated thing because it means that you cannot give forgiveness without justice, there are certain crimes that cannot be forgiven that actually… the State has to ask the victims for forgiveness and… how do you say it in English, this… to ‘compensate’ the damage. So, that’s also being done. That, wasn’t done with the Reds. So there is no acknowledgement, and there is no…
A: Yes, but they aren’t living in the same conditions anymore and there is a long enough time after the events. So if the Reds, or the relatives of the Reds wanted some compensation, as you put it, they would have had enough time to get that already, I think.
M: In the 60’s they were trying to push for that…
A: But now, we are talking about now. Now, they can do memorials and they can do anything basically because, why not? Because we are not living in those times anymore. This is why I am suspicious about this subject. Why, at this point, you think Finnish consciousness is waiting for some foreigners to come and open the wounds again. I don’t think so. I think it is exactly what you are saying that this is a very unstable ground and people, maybe with time, are trying to reconcile and have their own peace and now we are kind of digging in the wound again and this is what I am afraid only of. That this subject is so fragile that…
T: But is this… this is the same language that the Whites use about the wounds, that the Finnish nation shouldn’t dig into the wounds because a similar war might break out again.
A: Yeah. But isn’t it so that it just might? I mean, hypothetically. Why dig more into something?… even if there is a 0.001% of, like…
T: Justice? to be…
A: Yeah, exactly, it’s a risk.
T: Well, yes. It’s a very interesting question.
M: The matter isn’t settled until the memory of the victims is kind of respectfully restored, in a sense.
A: But, I don’t mind… We should talk with… if we start from personal then we start from the personal but if we start from the political, let’s start from political. I mean, we are kind of mixing the two.
M: Let me then just rephrase what I am saying. Historically, the topic will surface again and again if there hasn’t been a process of settling it, openly from the government, like when the Catholic Church, this Pope apologizes for all the priests that have been covered by previous Popes in their abuse of children, right? He is doing it, even if they are dead and not going to be persecuted and judged for it, he is publicly apologizing and saying that we are guilty of this and we take the guilt. And that means a change. It changes the institution, in a way. So it is all on a political level.
S: Australia did that for the stolen generation as well. I think it happened in many places there where the aboriginal kids where removed from their families into the homes of the white Australians for them to start a new or “more settled life” than what they had.
M: Yes, it happened in Argentina too.
S: Yes, so that was called the stolen generation where they were forcibly separated from their families for which there was a public apology that happened from the government but at the same time, I am very interested in what A is saying. The question of ‘does it really matter’ is also a good point. We don’t know how much of the suffering and the process of healing that has been done in the past. So perhaps it doesn’t even matter to have justice for the dead and their memory anymore, a hundred years hence. Maybe the wound is just about healing for us to dig into it again.
M: I don’t think we are going to change anything by doing it. I don’t think that we are going to reveal any truth or change history or…  it’s a gesture of solidarity. I would see it like that. If we do something about this, if we create something around this topic, it is a gesture to point at something that is perplexing for us: that these people were removed and there is no memorial for them there and it would be just a gesture of questioning —How can something like this happen?
S: Yeah, but I am not sure of solidarity really is my reason. Because unless you completely understand history, how can you have a solidarity towards something? It’s just a notion towards them, which is completely flawed. So at this point, it wouldn’t be solidarity, it’ll just be curiosity that will draw me to this —which I still feel quite true towards, just to learn about what happened. I am curious to know about this event that underwent. I would be as curious to learn about that club that Marko Karo was talking about, the BatCave (I am just saying, to draw parallels very crassly where it used to be a big event and then it doesn’t exist, you know?) There is some form of curiosity as a foreigner that would draw one to learn more about the landscape, the environment that you coexist in. I wouldn’t call it solidarity because for solidarity you have to have to know about…
M: I don’t think you have to know about the truth, like specialized knowledge about the topic. You have to just care that something like that could have happened to a community. I think, you don’t have to be a scientist to feel a connection to a community. But, if that is the case, then we are saying we are not entitled to work with this topic because we cannot approach it.
S: No. I am not saying that at all. I feel completely energized to work on this topic.
A: But the thing is that the format of this course requires us to not just be curious but produce something with it.
S: But you would produce. In the process of being curious. How would you not produce?
A: Not only research but remember that we have an artwork or…
M: Yeah, but whatever gesture of curiosity …
S: …you would create, you will create
T: Yeah… the creation doesn’t have to be a statement, I think.
A: Okay. Let’s be aware of that
T: We need to be careful about not to make … because i don’t really like artworks that are statements, in a way.
M: …moralizing…
T: Moralizing or, trying to…
S: …be conclusive…
T: Yes, something like that. That is making one point. I hope that we can make something that opens something up, turn into a new direction.
S: Yeah. I am saying that no matter what, there would be a work that would emerge out of it, but the work doesn’t have to be conclusive.
T: And in this case it shouldn’t be.
S: Especially in this case, given who we are and where we come from, and our limited knowledge towards this, I think…
M: Okay, this is one line of…
A: And google translator… I am not very confident about that.
T: You can always check, of course with Finnish text you can always check if something perplexes you guys, you can ask me.
M: … going back to where we started, this is one line. The other line is: Do we still want to consider working with objects? The mountain, the king and maybe another one of our topics to think more on this souvenir shop and make these tiny monuments?
A: I kind of like the king more.
T: You like it more?
A: Yeah. More than the graveyard.
S: Hm… why? How do you look at it?
A: Because there is a satire element in it.
T: Hmmm…
S: Sure, it is funny, for sure.
A: Not only that it is funny but it is ironic: how politics work in general in the world.
M: Where it exposes the absurdity of politics.
A: Exactly, exactly. This is what I just love about it.
M: I have to admit that I love that too, yes.
T: Yeah.
S: Yes.
T: For me, at this point it would feel very un-motivating to change the direction because we have spent quite a lot of hours just to try to find a starting point. Well, we are recording now and we are getting somewhere with this and…
S: No, but the monarch and the mountain were always part of the plan, you know?
T: Hm. That’s true.
S: So we are still discussing that. Not changing, just thinking what direction tha’s headed in.
A: If the three of them were more coherent… The mountain and the king are kind of one and the same theme, but the Mäntymäki graveyard is totally different. It doesn’t belong here. So if we would have a third thing or just consider the graveyard alone, then that’s what…
T: Hmmm, a third option.
S: So now we have fragmented it. That’s the new option, right?
T: Yeah
M: Yeah
S: That either we do…
A: I am okay with the graveyard if we get some help from you.
T: Yes, of course, of course.
A: Then, why not, but let’s take it along.
S: But then the only problem is that we lose out on the humor aspect of the king plan, which was very very desirable also. I am sure for all of us. That aspect of having fun and satire and objects…
T: Yeah.
S: Having a souvenir shop and all that was pretty desirable. But you lose some and you gain some, I guess.
A: The only problem that is left for me with the graveyard will be still going to the graveyard and like… It is not only the cold, but graveyards are… a special place of hate… not hate, but trauma for me. It’s like that for everybody, I guess, but…
S: It is not just going outdoors that’s a problem? Because even to research the king and others, we’ll have to do some field trips.
A: Yes, this is fine.
S: We will need to visit the botanical garden…
A: This special, like
M: It is also that it puts us into this, rather, dark topic…
T: Yeah, it’s a dark topic, yeah.
A: Too dark… depressive.
S: Oh, well…
T: I usually tend to work with things which have some humorous aspect to it, but in this case, for some reason, I would lean more towards the events of 1918 but…
S: I think they are all relevant… I was going to say that maybe it is more relevant given the year we are in to work with Mäntymäki because, you know, if not this year then when? There’s that element to it. The four of us can put together the nuclear power plant and the king and the mountain in six months maybe, we can still do that… I don’t know… I am just thinking…
T: Maybe we can still think over lunch where we want to go?
S: That’s a good idea, maybe as a plan we can, over lunch, see if we can anyway weave the three narratives together, maybe that should be our lunch plan.
M: But I think what we agree is that we need to separate the two.
T: Yeah, that feels like a…
S: But what if we can…?
A: It’s too superficial, too superficial.
S: Just think of it as a lunch-time assignment, how about that?
A: Yeah, but it would be forced.
T: No, I wouldn’t do it.
S: Okay, I get it.
A: It’s a waste of time, I think, it would be forced. There is no natural connection between Mäntymäki and the rest.
T: Yeah.
S: Fair enough.
A: And if we can’t see that after three days of working in it…
T: I think the bigger thing for me would be, that it would require us to have… this Mäntymäki topic requires that it is treated
respectfully but can we, if we have with the other two, have some humorous element to it?  Well, and how to do both at the same  time —that would be super-interesting if that could somehow happen but…
S: Sure…
T: Like the fact that we can laugh at some level at these events, then the wound is, like, then the wound has really healed…
A: Yeah, the mere fact that we are putting it in the category of these other two that have this humour element is disrespectful, I think.
S: Sure, ya, okay.
T: Like there is this interesting contradiction, in that sense. As if we were telling some really ride jokes about the Reds and the Whites in the cemetery, that could combine the two in a nasty way.
(group chuckles)
S: Oh no… Harsh
T: Yeah, but it could have some liberating element in that activity as well, in that humor…
S: If we were all Finns then we could have definitely undertaken that, as a…
A: I completely agree.
S: As four Finns we could have done that. Like three foreigners and a Finn, is a dangerous idea.
A: Look at his position here: T has to… he is like a buffer here in the whole situation… he has to educate us on some level… he also
has to be like a referee and he…
T: But it’s interesting, because I am totally not a specialist on these events. Yes, of course, I am born in this culture with this history but, in that sense, I don’t personally feel that connected to the history or it doesn’t stir big emotions in me.
M: Maybe because you’ve heard this over and over again and kind of got used to it?
T: Maybe… I don’t know someone directly who I should be angry about this, about these events, that lived now or lived in the past.
S: Do you think it is just the years passed by that have healed your wound? And then was it…?
T: No, well, it was never my wound in a sense.
S: Sorry, my question is: Do you think everybody in your generation now is distant to this history as well, you think?
A: Maybe, except for the relatives that are still alive…
S: It‘s a fair bunch of them, you know? 36000 people and their relatives. It’s not just 36000 then, it’s them multiplied by the several generations that have come after, so it must have, actually, exploded in that, many folds over.
A: Sometimes it’s healthy to forget…so…
S: It is, but it’s probably hard as well.
M: So what we need to do is, during lunch is to decide in our heart what path to take.
A: I want to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t know how much I’ll be able to contribute to that, if we choose Mäntymäki graveyard… I’ll tell you exactly what my personal reasons are… I don’t want to be mystical about it. I have… I don’t even know how to call it. …… I have buried all my relatives except my sisters, so graveyards are already places that I try to stay away from. And this is a whole subject to dig into but of course, it’s not sentimental anymore but it’s more like I might block at some point and I don’t want that. Because sometimes it takes me back to my own memories and it’s very strong. I cannot do anything about it… so it’s still a recent thing… so… that’s the thing. But of course, this cannot be a reason why all of us don’t take it up. If you decide to take it up, I am with you, and I will do my best…
S: But you don’t have to…
A: I want to be honest with you…
T: Yes, thank you for that.
A: I will do my best.
S: Yeah, you don’t really have to put yourself through that. When we do field trips, you don’t even have to come, you know?
A: No, I will come, but I don’t know how present I will be, this is the thing.
T: Yes, that is totally understandable.
A: I might be drifting…
S: Hm, we’d understand that… yeah. You can tell us your extent of possibility of being where we are.
A: I will be with you everywhere, no problem, just that you know that I will try to contribute… as much as I can…
S: Yeah…okay. It’s good to know… Okay, how are feeling about it? During lunch? That’s about it —so let’s do lunch now.
M: What are feeling, in the sense, of ‘what are we going to do’? Which of the two projects? Or have we decided?
S: I think we kind o, feel like we have, right?
M: I haven’t, no.
S: Alright, so let’s take the time to think about it. And if we were to do that king and the mountain, just in case we are also creating that for an option, should we put in the nuclear power plant?
T: Yeah.
M: Yes.
S: Just because, it could be a good joke, you know?
M: And you know about those…
A: Yeah, in general.
M: I have no idea about them, so, it’s good that you have some context about them.
T: Contacts?
S: Con-text!
M: Context, context as in what they are like, I mean, what they stand for…
S: Contacts! wow!
M: Yeah, she can break into one, maybe
S: Yeah, next block party is in the nuclear power plant…
S: So our options for that path are the nuclear power plant, the king and the mountain in one section.
A: There could be that swastika, that was being hidden by the wearer in the pictures…
S: That sounds too boring…
M: Boring?
T: Boring?
M: It is very funny that you get this emblem that you hate so much…
S: Arre, but you don’t understand…
M: …that you don’t want to be exposed with it
S: Swastikas are a very different question altogether because it existed before, like the…
M: I know… I know that it pre-existed greatly and are present in many other cultures for many different reasons and stands for many different things, but in a globalized world…
S: Yeah, but still…
M:… nazis have completely marked that symbol in the political Western world.
S: Wouldn’t you denounce it? Because I know that in India several women are called Swastikas, like that would be their names. Would you stop naming something or referring to that symbol just because the Nazis corrupted it? I don’t agree. In fact, maybe there should be a process of reclaiming that symbol that always existed as, against, you know, giving it up to something when it was corrupted. So I think that the swastika topic is fully in another domain. I would think of it as a serious matter and not just a joke…
A: Yes, it is in a different domain but it is still funny. I think it is funny for the mere fact that… it is funny but, how to say… another
level… like it is Hollywood funny…
S: Sure, it’s not slapstick like the monarch and the mountain that way, it’s got more gravity to it.
M: Okay… so, let’s leave to at that. So, nuclear power plant…
S: The king and mountain is one fellow.
A: In a way, these are all important. All three of these are going to be important… the mountain (for the Finnish history) could have been important, the king could’ve important and the nuclear power plant too. By the way, about the nuclear power plant, there was this funny thing that, in my country, Russians also exported the nuclear power plant in the 70’s. I was working in that nuclear power plant for two and a half years as an interpreter there. We were going inside with a suit…
S: This hazmat suit?
A: Yeah, with the mask and the whole equipment and everything. They were making the repair of the steam generator that time, so representatives of the foreign companies were coming to put the insulation and stuff like that, and I had to interpret between them. They were English speaking, and our countrymen. So the funny part was that nobody could understand what was the alloy, the mix of metals that the Russian guys used to make the steam generator. No expertise, no lab-tests, no-nothing would do…
M: Decipher the mix.
A: Decipher the mix, the exact mix of the…
S: It’s not a mix, it’s a myth!
A: So, in that way they were keeping their know-how so strongly that nobody could repair the steam generator except the Russian guys themselves, because they knew what kind of mixtures they have made there. So they sent a team of workers, of engineers to fix it, a brigade. Of course, in Russia, the way to keep away from contamination is to drink vodka, or you know, whatever. So they were coming inside, all drunk, every morning, all drunk and of course we have rules that above a certain amount alcohol in your blood you cannot go inside at all. You will probably get fired as well. But they were allowed in there because…
T: …they were the ones with the knowledge.
A: Yeah, and they were coming totally drunk inside, and inside they were proceeding to drink because of course they cannot import the vodka, the portal will stop them, no, no, no. Like, whatever you bring inside your blood that’s the limit. Bring how ever much you have already drunk. So, inside, what they were doing was that they continued to drink the spirit that the ladies were cleaning with.
S: Shut up…
A: They were, yes!
S: Well, it was a matter of survival for them.
A: It’s a matter of so many things…
S: It’s not just for the sake of being drunk…
A: It was that, also.
S: Nooo… I am sure it more about survival…
M: Come on, alcohol is not going to protect you…
T: From radiation
M: From radiation!
S: Well, they wouldn’t be drinking spirit then, if it wasn’t for…
T: Well, some people drink anything…
A: It was in our course as well. Actually, it helps. It helps but of course, not to a high extent. It washes away the alpha and the beta particles of radiation that you may inhale or whatever, but in the long term it doesn’t protect you from …
T: Definitely not the best long term solution.
M: Anyway…
T: Might have more healthier cells to die in your brain.
A: Actually, I forgot to…
M: At least they die happy…
A: Wait, wait, actually, one second… I got carried away. The pinnacle of the whole story was that one day this guy who comes inside is the chief of the brigade and they stop him and say: ‘Hey you are too drunk, you can’t go inside’. He is like, ‘I am the manager here, I am in charge, you can’t just stop me’. They were like, ‘no, no, no, there has got be someone who is less drunk than you who can lead these other guys’. So they go find someone less drunk than him… he is within limits and he comes there. And they are like, ‘Is this really the best you can do?!’ The manager says: ‘Believe me, this is the least drunk guy we have right now’. So, they let him in.
S: Pretty funny…
M: Crazy